There are so many sim racing games on the market, and each one brings unique features to the table. Some of the best simulators put a sole focus on the racing aspect, however some also offer excellent career or story modes. But not everyone knows which games do well at the latter.
The 4 best sim racing games with career/story mode are:
We have a variety of games on this list, and each one has its own unique take on classic career mode racing. If you enjoy sim racing and want to try something new, or simply love a good story mode, these games are the perfect ones to go for.
- • Really fun story mode
- • Plenty of racing events
- • Lots of customizability
- • Very realistic driving experience
- • Lots of different racing disciplines
- • Diverse career path options
- • (Kind of) old but gold
- • Realistic F1 experience
- • Decent career progression features
What Makes A Good Sim Racing Career Mode?
Level Of Progression
There are plenty of things to consider when choosing a sim racing game for its career or story mode, and the first of these is the level of progression that it allows for. You will probably want to go for one with a decent amount of it, especially if you are looking to only play the career mode and not too much of the multiplayer or other single player modes.
The progression of the game can come in several forms, and some opt for simple progression through championships or racing disciplines, while others involve more of a story aspect. These can involve several characters, or just the player themselves on their journey through the career. Whichever one you want to play, the longer it is the more playing time it will yield you.
How It Looks & Sounds
The way the career mode looks and sounds is important too. This includes the overall graphics of the game, as well as the finer details such as the way the characters or other career-mode-specific aspects look too. Voices and music might also play a part in the story, so soundtrack and narration could also be important factors in your decision.
Along with the way that the characters look and sound, you may wish to consider their range of development over the course of the story. If progression is your number one goal, there are games with limited character development and a focus on the racing. However, for a true story mode you may become quite involved with the characters throughout the journey.
Car & Track Selection
Things like car and track selection also play a part, but they will usually be covered in the progression aspect of the game. Some career modes limit you to using only one car or type of car throughout its entirety, while others involve an upgrade system where you unlock more cars as you progress. Knowing what you want from it will be key when choosing the right game for you.
Whether the career mode takes place across tracks or in an open world will also be important. There are games that stick to tracks on a set circuit, such as F1 2019, while some of the options we will discuss in the final section take place in an open world. You might also want to consider whether you want to play through real tracks or fictional ones as well.
The Realism Factor
Finally, you might want to pay some attention to the overall realism of the game. This is usually an important factor when picking any racing simulator, and for the career mode it is still a key thing to consider. If the driving doesn’t feel quite real enough for you, you might find it tedious to play through an entire story or career mode using those physics.
So, now that you know what to look for when choosing a sim racing game for its career or story mode, which ones are the best?
The 4 Best Sim Racing Games With A Career/Story Mode
Released: 2019 | Platform: PC / Xbox / PlayStation
Up first we have Grid, which is the tenth in the TOCA series from Codemasters. The game has plenty to offer, but its career mode is really where it shines. It utilizes multiple racing disciplines and delivers a very collective experience. This means that no matter what type of racing you prefer, Grid’s career mode will give you a chance to try everything.
Lots Of Progression
Starting off with the range of events and the level of progression, Grid has plenty to offer. There are 104 events to play through, and these range across six different racing disciplines. From touring cars to stock cars, and tuner events as well as GT races, there is something for everyone as you battle towards the invitational series and reach the top.
The first five disciplines each have 13 events in them, and once you complete them all you will take part in a showdown race. This is essentially a boss-type race, and it adds an extra element of difficulty and excitement to the already packed career mode. Once you reach the invitational series, things get a bit more difficult and the story develops further.
Fun Story Aspects
The story involves rivals throughout it, and at the end of the invitational series you will have to take on the best of the game’s opponents in order to be crowned victorious. However, before you do that you will have to start by creating your own team and selecting things like car liveries, which adds a decent level of customization into the mix.
The game looks and sounds great, and since launch back in late 2019 there was a lot added to the career mode. This makes Grid ideal for those that want a lot of replayability, and you will certainly have plenty at your fingertips with this racing sim.
- Excellent story mode
- Lots of different events
- A lot of customization
- Driving physics are not the most realistic
2. Project Cars 2
Released: 2017 | Platform: PC / Xbox / PlayStation
Next we have Project Cars 2. This game has appeared in a lot of our best lists, and for good reason. The game has plenty to offer sim racers of all levels of experience, and it has several very enjoyable game modes to choose from. What really sets PC2 apart from its simulator-type competitors however is its career mode, which provides hours of progression.
Excellent Driving Experience
Starting with the driving experience in Project Cars 2, there are not many that beat it. The high level of detail in aspects like the force feedback and general driving physics make this game one of the most realistic on the market. Its LiveTrack 3.0 track dynamism is carried over to its career mode, making for some challenging – but entertaining – story mode racing.
The layout of the game’s career mode is also fairly unique, giving you the option at the very beginning to choose where to start things off. Once you select your starting position, you will be thrown into several events of varying difficulty as you try to progress towards becoming a champion. You can choose the type of car to start with, as well as which team to go for.
Variety Of Disciplines
The game boasts a lot of variety throughout its career mode, with six tiers of racing across five different racing disciplines. This means you can follow your own path and become a master of multiple disciplines throughout one single career game. You can even choose the length of the racing calendar, which means you can play one long season or several shorter ones instead.
In terms of realism, it is not just the driving physics that score highly. The entire layout of the tier system is supposed to accurately reflect the journey that a real racecar driver would go on throughout their own career. Another aspect of this is the way that you interact with manufacturers, as earning affinity can lead the way to sponsorships and unlocking specific cars.
A Well-Rounded Career Mode
There are some extra features such as invitational events and career mode setup options that help to make Project Cars 2’s career mode one to consider. If you are looking for a wide range of racing disciplines to choose from paired with some highly realistic driving physics, PC2 could be the game for you.
- Plenty of realism
- Several disciplines to choose from
- A lot of gameplay
- Can be difficult to master for beginners
3. F1 2019
Released: 2019 | Platform: PC / Xbox / PlayStation
Next on our list is F1 2019, which although not the latest instalment of Codemasters’ fully licensed series of Formula 1 games, it does deliver on many of the aspects that go into making a great sim racing game, and its career mode is one of them. If you are a big fan of F1, you will love this game. If you are not a big fan of F1, you will definitely still find enjoyment within the career mode.
Obviously, this is a very discipline-specific racing game. That does also mean that there is a discipline-specific kind of progression involved. This is where F1 2019 really comes alive, as it offers gamers the chance to race through the real-life (then) 14-country racing calendar of the F1 circuit. This is a great way to experience the true thrill of F1 racing in your living room.
Plenty Of Options
You even have the option of starting your career mode in Formula 2, which is how a lot of real F1 drivers make their way into the F1 circuit. This adds another layer of progression to F1 2019, and when combined with the customization capabilities when it comes to vehicle liveries and weekly challenges, you will always have plenty of fun things to do.
Great Looking Game
The way the game looks also sets it apart from other racing sims, as there is a lot of detail within every aspect of the game. Aside from that, it sounds great too. The driving physics also improved from the previous iteration, as the cars handle better and behave more closely to the way that they would in real life. But if you want a better iteration of the driving physics alone, you might prefer F1 2022.
You can enjoy nighttime races as well, which are a fun way to experience the excitement of Formula 1 under the floodlights. Even if you are not a big fan of F1, you will be sure to find enjoyment with F1 2019 and its engrossing career mode.
- Lots of fully licensed F1 cars and tracks
- Plenty of customization
- Realistic progression through the F1 calendar
- While better than before, driving physics are not quite spot on
- Limited to driving F1 cars
4. Dirt 4
Released: 2017 | Platform: PC / Xbox / PlayStation
The final game on our list is another discipline-specific title, this time in the world of rally racing. Dirt 4 is also from Codemasters, and is aimed at rally fans that want to experience the thrill of the dirt track on their screen at home. It is a great game that really puts its focus on the progression aspect of the career mode, and is ideal for sim racers of all experience levels.
This is a great choice for fans of the rally discipline of course, but it's also great for anyone that likes a challenge. There's a detailed progression system, along with plenty of cars to choose from.
Excellent Rally-Style Progression
Dirt 4 already provides some excellent gameplay for fans of rally racing, through its Your Stage feature that allows for procedural generation of a rally stage that nobody else has ever raced on before. However, it also offers unique gameplay and progression via its career mode that provides sim racers with even more playability and hours of fun.
You start off as a beginner rally driver competing in both national and international competitions. As you win events you will unlock new licenses, and these will allow you to use new cars and of course progress to the next tier of events. Once you show your worth, you will unlock the Triple Crown events that present extended championships and give you the chance to achieve ultimate rally glory.
Great Rally Career Mode
The driving physics of Dirt 4 are not the best out of all the rally games on the market, but they are still good enough so that playing the game with a wheel or gamepad can be a lot of fun and quite realistic. The career mode also looks great, and the in-game sounds are also lifelike. This is definitely the sim to go for if you want to experience the progression of a real rally driver.
- Lots of room for progression
- A lot of realistic cars to use
- Looks and sounds great
- Only rally racing on offer
- Physics are not the best
Other Games Worth Mentioning For Their Story Modes
That concludes our main list of the best racing sims with a career mode, but there are a few games that we believe are worth mentioning for their unique approach to the story mode of sim racers. Two of these games are on the arcade side of sim racing, while the final game is more of a simcade racer. Regardless, they are still reasonable choices for racing games with a career mode.
The Crew 2
The Crew 2 presents a unique playing environment, with a map that is based on a realistic interpretation of the USA. This means you will progress through events across a wide range of disciplines that take place in various areas of the open world map. The game does not focus on realism, but it does offer hours of arcade-style sim racing progression.
Forza Horizon 5
Similar to The Crew 2, Forza Horizon 5 offers players a range of racing challenges through its story mode that takes place on a scaled down version of Mexico. This is also much more on the arcade side of sim racing, but nonetheless there is plenty of fun to be had with a wide range of disciplines to enjoy, although there’s not a strict career progression path.
Gran Turismo 7
Gran Turismo 7 offers a more ‘simcade’ experience, and its career mode is based on simply winning races in various tiers. You take on a range of challenges, ranging from car-specific races to front and rear wheel drive competitions, and as you win more events you will unlock further tiers. This game doesn’t offer much in the way of progression, but there are loads of events to play.
Each of the games we have listed above gives you plenty in the way of progression with their career and story modes and are ideal for sim racers that are not interested in the multiplayer aspects of sim racing. You can have a lot of fun with these games, while also improving your overall skill and abilities as a sim racer.
There are some games that offer more creative takes on racing career modes, while others try to balance realism with the entertainment factor. However, there are a few that really stand out from the rest. If you are a fan of a specific motorsport discipline, F1 2019 or Dirt 4 might be your best option. However, for a more general racing experience, Forza Horizon 5 is our top pick.