Sim racing is a gaming niche that is stacked with variety. From hyper-realistic track racing titles such as iRacing, to the arcade free roam of Forza Horizon 5, you’ll never find yourself lacking for choice. However, it isn’t always easy to find the best sim racing game for your particular needs.
The 13 best sim racing games are:
- Assetto Corsa
- Project Cars 2
- Gran Turismo 7
- F1 2022
- rFactor 2
- Forza Motorsport 7
- DiRT Rally 2.0
- Assetto Corsa Competizione
- Automobilista 2
- Forza Horizon 5
The games mentioned in the list above all have a variety of defining features, with some being suited to more experienced sim racers, and others being appropriate for casual gaming. In this article we will list these features, as well as outlining which game is best for PC, PlayStation and Xbox.
The 13 Best Sim Racing Games
Released: 2008 | Platforms: PC | Developers: iRacing.com Motorsport Simulations
Over the many years since its initial release, iRacing has seen its reputation grow astronomically, cementing it at the forefront of the sim racing scene. Revered for its incredibly realistic game physics and hugely impressive multiplayer experience, the game is perfect for those who want an immersive and competitive sim racing experience.
iRacing’s multiplayer aspect is the feature that sets it apart from its competition. Each player is issued an iRating, which is judged by how clean and fair you are during races, as well as your overall skill level. This will ensure you get matched up with racers of a similar level, allowing for balanced races. The standard of racing can be very high, making it perfect for experienced racers.
High Quality For A High Price
iRacing operates on a subscription-based system, so you’ll pay a monthly fee rather than a one-time payment to play the game. It costs around $13 a month, with slightly cheaper options available if you commit to several months at once. It also doesn’t have a great deal of cars and tracks available straight away, and instead offers users expensive DLC packs if they want to unlock more content.
For the high continuous costs of the game, you will get an immersive and incredibly realistic experience, with near-perfect car physics and beautifully designed surroundings. The game is also updated regularly, which is partly the reason that it has been able to maintain and improve its quality since its original release back in 2008.
The game features a wide variety of racing disciplines to immerse yourself into, including NASCAR, open-wheel racing, rally/rallycross and dirt racing, among others. iRacing is also home to various eSports championships, including the official eNASCAR tournament, where the qualifying is open to public entry if you have a sufficient iRating and an eligible Class A Oval License.
iRacing is fully encouraging of sim racing hardware and is at its most immersive when played with a wheel and pedal set as well as other sim racing accessories like shifters and handbrakes, depending on the racing discipline. This makes it ideal for experienced racers who want to make the most of their sim racing setup.
- Incredibly realistic car physics
- Great online experience/community
- Variety of racing disciplines
- Expensive monthly subscription
- Expensive DLC packages
- Not the best for beginners
2. Assetto Corsa
Released: 2014 | Platforms: PC / PlayStation / Xbox | Developers: KUNOS-Simulazioni Srl
It can safely be said that there aren’t any other sim racing titles with the number of possibilities as Assetto Corsa. Not only is the game packed with content from the beginning, offering a realistic racing experience to boot, but you can also make use of masses of community-created content to make the game even bigger.
Available on all major platforms, this is the ideal game for those looking for an immersive and realistic sim racing experience, while still remaining very user friendly. Highly moddable, this is a racing game with almost limitless potential.
The game is mod-friendly, meaning you can add hordes of user-created content into your experience, from unique cars to weather packs and much more. Mods do tend to vary in quality depending on who made them, but there is some exceptional content out there to be explored.
No Mods Required
If mods aren’t for you, then you will still be able to enjoy the game, as it has a sizeable car and track selection, and a variety of racing disciplines. These include drifting, rally and road circuits, as well as standard track cars. There are official Assetto Corsa DLC packs, but there are still 15 tracks and 88 cars to enjoy with the base game.
The drift mode on AC is one of its standout features for those looking for some extra fun, with plenty of cars to choose from, as well as a bespoke drifting track. The weight transfer physics really make drifting feel immersive, and Assetto Corsa’s strong force feedback will leave you wrestling hard with your steering wheel. The excellent car physics also carry over to standard race types.
Enjoyable Game Modes
The developers have really put a lot of effort into ensuring their game is fun for players at all levels of ability, with an excellent single player career mode, which involves ranking up through multiple car divisions before finally racing in an F1-style open-wheel series. The multiplayer is also good, and Assetto Corsa’s huge player base will mean you’ll always find a race to take part in.
One issue with AC is that the graphics are beginning to feel a little dated. This is expected from a game that came out in 2014, especially with the new next-gen standards that have been set. But guess what – there are mods to help here as well! Texture and shading packs, as well as weather mods are available to add extra detail into the game, extending the game’s lifespan.
- Mod-friendly – the possibilities are endless
- Lots of great game modes
- The car physics are up there with the best
- Graphics are slightly dated
- Console version doesn’t offer modding capabilities
3. Project Cars 2
Released: 2017 | Platforms: PC / PlayStation / Xbox | Developers: Slightly Mad Studios
Project Cars 2 was released in 2017, to acclaim from both critics and fans alike, with major improvements on its predecessor, Project Cars. The game features car physics that rival its main competitors, with the handling of the cars being especially realistic. The game is optimized for wheel users, although if you do use a controller, you will still be able to experience the joy of this game.
This game is a powerful racing simulator that is perfect for beginners and more intermediate racers. With a massive variety of cars, tracks and game modes, it's packed with hours upon hours of sim racing fun.
The Project Cars series is known for its stunning graphics, and the attention to detail within this game is exceptional. Weather and lighting changes add to the immersion of the racing, presenting challenges such as glare from the sunlight and even increases in the rate of rainfall. Puddles will form and shrink away in the heat as they would in real life, adding unpredictability to the racing.
Huge Variety Of Tracks And Cars
Project Cars 2 offers 60 different tracks and over 180 cars, covering a variety of racing disciplines, meaning it is one of the most versatile sim racing titles out there. The game doesn’t just stop at 60 tracks, as you can choose to race them in their original format as well as in various layouts, meaning you’ll never get bored of them.
There is variety in the game modes too, with a rewarding career mode option that will keep you wanting to chase glory as you move up through the racing divisions, in addition to a vast multiplayer experience where you’ll really be able to test yourself. The multiplayer section has a license system like iRacing, which makes the races more balanced.
Those who enjoy racing in single player may notice some questionable driving from the AI, but this isn’t unique to PC2. On the whole, the AI tend to be good, offering up good competitive racing for all levels of ability. So, whether you prefer multiplayer or single player, Project Cars 2 is an ideal choice regardless of your experience level.
- Great driving physics
- Impressive dynamic track and weather system
- Vast number of cars and tracks available
- AI isn’t the best
4. Gran Turismo 7
Released: 2022 | Platforms: PlayStation | Developers: Polyphony Digital
Gran Turismo 7 marked the return of PlayStation’s most popular racing franchise, following on from 2017’s Gran Turismo Sport. It is also the first Gran Turismo to be designed for the PlayStation 5, and graphically it doesn’t disappoint. The way the sunlight reflects through the windscreen, the changing of the weather, and the transitions from dusk to night are all beautifully crafted.
The latest instalment in the Gran Turismo franchise is the perfect sim racing game for those on PlayStation. Featuring a breadth of game modes, cars and tracks to enjoy, it plays well regardless of whether you use a wheel or controller.
If you race with the PlayStation DualSense controller, you’ll instantly feel the detail of the haptic feedback when braking and accelerating, as well as the vibrations when you go over kerbs and bumps in the track. However, the game is also optimized for wheels and pedals, so it’s an ideal choice for both beginners and intermediate sim racers alike.
On top of its looks and feel, the car physics are fairly realistic, and the highly detailed tuning section brings the customization up a level from the game’s predecessors. The game sits firmly in the simcade category, but there is a lot of potential here regardless of how experienced you are.
The main feature within GT7 is its all-new café mode. This involves you spending time in a virtual café collecting menu books, which are essentially sets of three cars from either a similar era or manufacturer. You then need to come third or better in a selection of races to win the cars, before you head back to the café and do it all again. It’s a nice idea, albeit repetitive for some.
It does almost feel like a side hustle rather than being key to the game, which is slightly underwhelming once you’ve collected all the cars and the credits begin rolling. And they do roll, for a very long time! Café mode is also responsible for producing some of the most bizarre lines of dialogue in a sim racing, which we’ll let you find out for yourself!
This game mode is an attempt to be endearing and sentimental, but it just falls short for us and isn’t the most impressive feature. However, GT7 is stacked with various game modes, including a whole load of individually crafted missions, a License Center mode, a music mode, a bustling multiplayer section, and a photo studio, where you can snap pictures of your cars in a variety of settings.
A Good Addition To The Series
Gran Turismo has been a mainstay on PlayStation consoles for many years now, and this edition is the best one they’ve produced for a very long time. It has a broad selection of cars and tracks, and suits both beginners and experts. The daily multiplayer races keep the online experience interesting, and the variety of disciplines, including rally and track racing, make GT7 a worthwhile purchase.
- Variety of cars and tracks
- Works very well with the DualSense controller or with a wheel
- Wide variety of game modes and features
- Only available on PlayStation
- Requires internet to play most game modes
5. F1 2022
Released: 2022 | Platforms: PC / PlayStation / Xbox | Developers: EA Sports / Codemasters
New F1 games always cause a stir, which is inevitable considering the global appeal of the sport. The latest edition, F1 22, got off to a rocky start upon release, with the PC version suffering from lag issues. However, a couple of patches later and the gameplay was running well, making this another great entry in the fully licensed Formula 1 series.
This is the game to go for if you're a fan of the fastest motorsport on the planet. Featuring a great career mode and smooth, immersive gameplay, this is suited to both beginners and more advanced racers alike.
The game is beginner-friendly, offering players more assists to use than many other sim racing games out there. There is also an adaptive AI feature, which means the rest of the grid won’t ever feel totally out of reach, which stops the game becoming demoralizing for newcomers. The AI can be temperamental at times, often pulling off some suspicious moves to try and ruin your race!
Immersive Career Mode
F1 22 features an immersive and addictive career mode, allowing you to either start a driver career as a made-up character or real driver, but you can also choose to run your own F1 team instead. You can choose to start your journey in F2, or go straight to a top-level team, which is perfect for those who don’t want to put in the hours and grind their way to a championship victory.
One noticeable addition to F1 22 is the glitzy, yet totally unremarkable, F1 Life. Designed to give you an insight into how F1 drivers spend their downtime, F1 Life lets you loosely decorate a house, as well as allowing you to dress your character in a variety of jeans and t-shirt combinations. You can also collect supercars which you can drive in some challenge game modes.
All these items can be purchased with the in-game currency, ‘Pitcoin.’ (Yes, they really did name it Pitcoin.) You can acquire Pitcoin from achieving things in the game, or even by spending real money on it in the F1 22 store. Whenever EA are involved, there is always going to be some form of microtransaction, but taking people’s money in return for a virtual rug or sofa is almost unforgivable!
F1 22’s online multiplayer aspect is enjoyable, although wildly chaotic, with regular featured races to keep it interesting. You can even start up a two player career mode with a friend, which is a really great section of the game. This game is obviously aimed at fans of the world’s fastest motorsport, and if you’re one of them, it’s definitely worth picking up.
- Great career mode
- Immersive and smooth gameplay
- F1 Life is pretty lackluster
- AI can be very unpredictable
6. rFactor 2
Released: 2013 | Platforms: PC | Developers: Studio 397 / Image Space Incorporated
Considering it was first released all the way back in 2013, rFactor 2 remains a top-level sim racing title, with its strong and loyal fanbase meaning you won’t struggle to find an online lobby. It is also still being updated regularly by the developers, with 2022 seeing a new, revamped user interface, replacing the unattractive and complicated UI that it previously had.
In terms of gameplay, rFactor 2 matches the level set by its other high-end competitors, with realistic car physics meaning you can feel the changing grip of the tires, as well as feeling the shifting of weight loads in the car when turning around corners. The cars behave exactly how you’d want them to in a simulator, with realism and believability.
The developers have clearly spent time perfecting the gradual weather changes that take place during a race, as well as making the effect that they have on the track and cars feel realistic. It’s the realism of the gameplay that makes up for the slightly dated looking graphics in the game, as after all, it was released about a decade ago.
Limited Solo Experience
There are three game modes in rF2: Single Player, Multiplayer and Competitions. It does feel as though the developers put a lot of their eggs in the latter two baskets. The single player mode only allows you to race around tracks on your own or against the AI, which is great for practicing and learning tracks. However, this is seemingly where it ends for single player mode.
There is no story mode or championships to keep you engaged, just one-off races, and with no levelling up system or unlockable content, winning a race can leave you feeling a bit flat. Multiplayer also has a similar issue, with no rating system to differentiate skill levels, meaning you aren’t always going to be involved in a tight race, and if you are, then there’s very little to fight for.
Overall, rFactor 2 must be primarily judged on its ability to simulate the feel of racing, which is something it does very well. The quality of the gameplay outweighs the lack of game modes, and with an extensive number of cars and tracks available in-game, it will be a long time before you completely run out of things to do in this game.
- Realistic car physics
- Updated simplified user interface
- Realistic gradual weather changes
- No ranking system for online multiplayer
- Lack of expansive game modes
7. Forza Motorsport 7
Released: 2017 | Platforms: Xbox / PC | Developers: Turn 10 Studios
Forza Motorsport 7 boasts one of the most impressive lists of cars available in a sim racing game. It’s a petrolhead’s dream, with cars from all different eras available for use. The developers have also gone into an insane amount of detail when creating the vehicles, with screws, vibrating windscreen wipers and specks of rust all visible in this incredibly fun racing game.
This is one of the largest sim racing games out there, with more than 700 cars, 30+ tracks and around 200 different circuit layouts. The game also offers beautiful graphics and plenty of enjoyable game modes.
It’s not only the details on the cars that are picked up, with weather changes and lighting being a major factor in this game’s overall beauty. The sound engineering is also to an impeccable standard, meaning FM7 is undoubtedly an immersive, graphically beautiful masterpiece. One thing that does consistently let the Forza franchise down are the arcade-style car physics.
FM7 is no exception to this, so if you are looking for a pure sim racing title, this may not be the one for you. Saying that, the movements of the individual cars do resemble the way they would move in real life, just not to the level that they would on iRacing, or even Gran Turismo 7. However, the game was in large part designed to be played with a controller.
Enjoyable Story Mode
The story mode for FM7 is very straightforward, with players required to race in a set of championships in a variety of disciplines. It has a very linear structure, but this doesn’t detract from the fun, as you have the freedom to race in a multitude of different cars. These include NASCARs, muscle cars, supercars and more, making it one of the most diverse campaign modes available.
- Huge range of cars to drive
- Incredible graphics
- Rewarding story mode
- Car physics aren’t the most realistic
- On the edge of an arcade racer
8. DiRT Rally 2.0
Released: 2019 | Platforms: PC / PlayStation / Xbox | Developers: Codemasters
The DiRT Rally series is the most popular rally focused line of games, and for good reason. As it’s a niche within a niche, the developers have been able to apply added focus to the car physics, as well as crafting interesting and enjoyable bespoke track stages. These stages are arguably the best looking in any rally game, and even feature degradation, reducing grip later into the event.
This is the ultimate rally simulator, perfect for those looking to test their skills on some of the world's toughest stages. With beautiful graphics, great car physics, and plenty of customization, this is a game that will have you hooked from the start.
As it is a game focused solely on one discipline, it lacks the versatility of most sim racing titles. However, there is a good selection of cars and tracks, as well as the ability to take part in rallycross races at a selection of real-life racetracks. If rally racing is your preference, you won’t be disappointed.
Good For All Experience Levels
DiRT Rally 2.0 is aimed at those who have a genuine interest in rally/dirt racing, no matter what level of ability you race at. The game has a slider-style difficulty system, so you can find the level of difficulty that you want with precision. Unfortunately, there aren’t any tutorials or classes for absolute beginners, which means you’ll have to learn on the go.
The game has a solid multiplayer experience, with an annual open-qualifying eSports tournament, should you really wish to test your abilities. The career mode is a little basic but will still hold enough worth to keep you interested. Overall, if you’re looking for a rally sim, this is the best option available.
- Beautiful graphics
- Good car physics
- Precise difficulty selector
- No in-game tutorials
- Basic career mode
9. Assetto Corsa Competizione
Released: 2018 | Platforms: PC / PlayStation / Xbox | Developers: KUNOS-Simulazioni Srl
Assetto Corsa Competizione was released as the follow up to the hugely popular Assetto Corsa. Instead of following up with a similar yet improved game, the developers decided to focus on a single discipline: GT3 racing. This was a smart move, allowing the developers to focus heavily on a single niche, as well as avoiding the inevitable comparisons to its predecessor.
If you're a fan of GT3 racing, this is the perfect game for you. Featuring incredibly immersive driving physics and very enjoyable game modes, this is a brilliant endurance racing simulator.
Note: While it’s mostly GT3 racing, there are some GT4 and GTC cars too, along with the BMW M2 CS Racing TCX car
ACC is also aimed at a smaller demographic of serious sim racing enthusiasts due to its more focused approach, which may be a turn-off for beginners and casual racers. This also means that the game isn’t really suited to controller use, with low degrees of rotation in the joysticks likely to be an issue. With a wheel, it’s great, especially with the game’s enhanced force feedback.
One of the major improvements made to ACC was the intelligence of the AI. They will battle fairly, taking sensible lines without cutting you up or sending you flying into the wall. This makes single player game modes a lot more enjoyable, and far less frustrating. The single player career mode is great fun to play, with more structure than AC’s career mode due to its single discipline approach.
Obviously, the game is limited for car choice, but it has a great selection of laser-scanned, real-world tracks, including favorites like Laguna Seca and Spa-Francorchamps. The graphics and sound quality are also heavily improved, with changeable weather one of the major feature upgrades. The weather adaptations provoke realistic changes in the cars’ physics, as they would in real life.
However, ACC’s console version does let it down. Inconsistent frame rates mean that the game won’t feel anywhere near as smooth as it does on PC. But while this game is definitely targeted at a more niche market, it does have a lot to offer and is a brilliant choice for those looking for an endurance racing simulator.
- Intelligent AI
- Good career mode
- Vastly improved graphics and audio over AC
- Poor framerates on older consoles
- Single discipline won’t suit everyone
Released: 2013 | Platforms: PC | Developers: Sector3 Studios / KW Studios
While Raceroom is very much an established title, it is rarely talked about in the same vein as iRacing, Assetto Corsa and Project Cars 2. However, this free-to-play racing game may be the ideal choice for those on PC that are just dipping their toes into the world of sim racing.
The game features adaptive AI, meaning the other cars will adjust their performance based on your ability level and speed. This ensures that beginners won’t get left behind and will be able to be competitive from early on. The AI will make mistakes around the track, instead of offering a generic lifeless performance that you often see in sim racing games.
While the game is free to play, you don’t receive much content after you originally download the game. There aren’t many cars or tracks until you buy the DLC, so it effectively acts as an indefinite free trial. But the DLC isn’t too expensive and allows you to pick and choose what you’d like to pay for, so you won’t have to pay over the odds for a bundle when you only want one thing.
Raceroom is one of the best titles out there for sound quality, with realistic engine roars and chassis squeaks. However, the graphics are beginning to show their age and don’t really hold up against some of the other games released around the same time. You also can’t race at night or in weather other than sunshine. This may eventually leave you wanting more variety, but it’s still worth trying.
- Free to play
- Great sound quality
- Great AI
- Poor graphics
- No change in weather or nighttime racing
11. Automobilista 2
Released: 2020 | Platforms: PC | Developers: Reiza Studios
In the months following its release in 2020, Automobilista 2 got off to a rocky start. Despite using the same game engine as Project Cars 2, the game didn’t feel refined or truly ready for release. However, updates have gradually been released, turning this title into a game that’s truly worth playing.
Upgrades have been made to the physics of the cars with over/understeer feeling more refined. The AI have also been upgraded and are now far less susceptible to careless driving, adding a much-needed layer of predictability to the game. The game still doesn’t feel as though it is on the same level of the sim racing classics iRacing and Assetto Corsa, but it has made steps forward since its release.
A Simple Experience
The graphics are steady, and the game will hold consistent framerates, so you should be able to enjoy a smooth racing experience. A lack of car manufacturers and limited game modes mean that this title is geared more towards casual players who just want to race. While it may not be considered a top-tier sim racing game, AMS2 offers an easy-going experience.
Another perk of this game is the moddability available. While only available on PC, there are lots of mods out there in the community that can enhance your experience with Automobilista even further. It also supports VR, so it’s a great choice for those looking for a virtual reality sim racing experience.
- Updates have improved the game
- Decent graphics
- Reasonable AI
- Still faults with braking consistency
- Below the standard of the bigger sim racing titles
12. Forza Horizon 5
Released: 2021 | Platforms: PC / Xbox | Developers: Playground Games / Xbox Game Studios
If you own an Xbox or PC and are looking for a racing title where you’ll be able to sit back and relax while playing, then Forza Horizon 5 is the perfect game for you. It features an explorable open world Mexico-based map, filled to the brim with races, challenges and all sorts of other gameplay content. It also carries on the Forza tradition of being stacked with hundreds of unique cars.
The latest in the Horizon series is one of the most beautiful racing games ever made. While not for those seeking realistic driving physics, this game features a massive open world map and plenty of cars that will provide endless racing fun.
FH5 is perhaps the most beautiful racing game out there, with sandy beaches, arid deserts, and colorful cities to explore. The way the light dances off the sea water or how it struggles to penetrate through sand being kicked up off the desert surface is thoroughly impressive, and it really allows you to immerse yourself into the game.
It’s An Arcade Racer
It can’t be classed as a racing simulator, despite racing being a major feature in the game. This is because of the arcade style in which the car physics are represented, rendering it an arcade racing game instead. Still, if you want a game where you don’t have to think and can just drive, FH5 is the perfect choice.
The level of customization for collected cars is great, as well as the amount of tuning you can do to them. The multiplayer is good fun, but it can get quite chaotic. There are lots of multiplayer races, as well as a Battle Royale-style mode, which involves racing against cars that you find within an ever-shrinking circle.
A Truly Great Car Game
Forza Horizon 5 represents what many a sim racer would have dreamed of as a child, with the ability to throw a supercar around a seemingly endless world with no consequences. While this won’t scratch the itch for those looking for a realistic racing experience, FH5 is bound to throw up some of the most fun you’ve ever had behind a virtual steering wheel.
- Beautiful open world map
- Hundreds of cars to drive
- Endless content, endless fun!
- Arcade-style physics
- Online map can become crowded in certain areas
Released: 2019 | Platforms: PC / PlayStation / Xbox | Developers: Codemasters / Feral Interactive / Swordfish Studios
2019’s GRID is another arcade racer, but we couldn’t not include it on our list. It’s a game with plenty to offer, especially in the fun department. If you’re looking for a racing simulator, you can skip this one. But if you just want a fun racing experience, look no further!
This game is the ultimate arcade racer. With excellent graphics, a decent car and track selection, and some very entertaining AI, this is the perfect sim racing game for those that put a focus on good old fashioned arcade racing fun.
The good thing about GRID is that it doesn’t try and pretend to be anything it’s not. It substitutes realism and racing etiquette for all out fun and chaos, with single player mode even including angry AI opponents. If you bump into one driver too many times, they will actively seek you out and aim to knock you off the track!
The game is centered around a long career mode, which sees you starting from the very bottom of the racing class, with the aim of working your way up to better, faster cars. It’s addictive and fun, although the limited number of tracks does leave you wanting a bit more variety after a while. But the game does have a wide range of cars in multiple shapes and sizes.
Despite the lack of detail in the cars’ physics, each car type has its own characteristics, so you wouldn’t be able to throw around a Honda Civic in the same manner that you would a Ferrari F430 Challenge.
Overall, GRID is another fun simcade title that shouldn’t be talked about in the same vein as hardcore titles, because that’s clearly far from the intentions of the developers. It is however a perfect game for casual racers or even experts that just want to kick back and relax and race without limits.
- Great looking game
- The AI are entertaining and competitive
- The cars are fun to drive
- Limited number of tracks
- Inaccurate car physics
Summary Of The Best Sim Racing Games
|iRacing||Very realistic driving physics|
Massive online community
|Steep learning curve for beginners|
Expensive in the long run
|Assetto Corsa||Decent driving physics|
Ability to mod on PC
|Console versions lack mods|
Graphics are a little dated
|Project Cars 2||Great selection of cars and tracks|
Beginner friendly but still realistic physics model
|Not the best AI|
Not as realistic as iRacing or rFactor etc
|Gran Turismo 7||Huge number of cars and tracks|
Works well on controller or wheel
Many modes are online-only
|F1 2022||Best choice for F1 fans|
Immersive career modes
|F1 Life feature isn’t that great|
|rFactor 2||Very realistic physics model|
Great dynamic weather system
|No online ranking system|
Not ideal for beginners
|Forza Motorsport 7||Massive range of cars to race|
Plays great on a controller
|Physics model isn’t the best|
More of an arcade title than a sim
|DiRT Rally 2.0||Immersive rally racing with good physics|
The game looks excellent
|Not super beginner friendly|
Quite a basic career mode
|Assetto Corsa Competizione||Brilliant GT racing sim|
Decent AI system
|Single discipline racing|
Quite limited cars and tracks
|Raceroom||Free to play|
|Graphics aren’t great|
No dynamic weather/night racing
|Automobilista 2||Highly moddable|
Really good graphics
|Quite a lot of bugs and other issues|
Not as fleshed out as other titles
|Forza Horizon 5||Beautiful (and huge) open world map|
One of the most fun
|Arcade racing physics|
Online modes are a bit hectic
Entertaining AI system
Poor car physics
How To Choose A Sim Racing Game
Starting out on your sim racing journey can be daunting, and it is not recommended that you jump straight into the deep end by delving into titles such as iRacing, which are suited for experienced sim racers. iRacing, for example, doesn’t have any in-depth tutorials or training modes for new players to help with learning racing strategy and technique.
However, a lot of other titles, including Gran Turismo 7 and Project Cars 2, are very beginner-friendly, with extensive single player game modes and a broad range of AI difficulty levels to help you settle in. GT7’s license mode offers a helpful and detailed look into the fundamentals of racing, which will also help you adjust to the physics of the game.
But if you are looking for realism, and prefer something that is more suited to advanced sim racers, you’ll want to steer clear of the arcade and even simcade racing games. Understanding what you expect from the game before you even look at any titles will ensure you pick the right game for your abilities and preferences.
Multiplayer sim racing is a factor to consider when choosing your sim racing game as it can often be very hit and miss. iRacing has the best multiplayer sim racing experience, as it is heavily regulated and rewards you for clean races. It’s also an expensive game with a monthly subscription fee, which tends to deter any non-serious drivers, leading to (mostly) competitive and fair online races.
Some games lack regulation in their online lobbies, which can lead to carnage on the racetrack. The lack of consequences to poor driving means that other racers aren’t shy to push you off the track, ruining your race and overall experience. It is important before you invest in the game that its online community will suit you, offering the racing you experience that you desire.
Even if you don’t need high levels of competition but want some degree of fairness, pick a game with a built-in rating system. If you’re simply racing for the fun of it and don’t mind some crazy races, arcade racers and even some simcade games will be better suited to you.
Graphics & Physics
Understandably, most people will want their sim racing experience to be as immersive and realistic as possible. A lot of this immersion will come in the form of the game’s graphics and car physics, as they will be instantly noticeable features. Unfortunately, not all games will have both, with ‘simcade’ games such as Forza Horizon 5 being beautiful yet unrealistic in their physics.
Hardcore dedicated sim racing titles such as Assetto Corsa and iRacing have tweaked their game physics to perfection, offering players realistic feeling cars, as well as the bonus of having high-definition, detailed graphics. Despite this, some may prefer to play more arcade style racing games, as they are a lot more accommodating for newer or casual sim racers.
Car & Track Variety
It’s important to check whether the game you wish to play has enough cars and tracks to keep things exciting for a long time. Not all games are well stocked with cars and tracks, with some titles offering expensive DLC packages in order to beef up the amount of content within the game. This can quickly add to the overall cost of your sim racing experience.
Games with a great selection of cars and tracks include Gran Turismo 7 and Project Cars 2. DLC content is available for both games, although it’s definitely not essential. Another thing to look out for is the variety in racing disciplines available in the game. This will help you maintain interest for longer, as well as allowing you to find your favorite racing style.
Whether you race on either PC or console will narrow down your options when looking for a sim racing game. PC offers the most titles, including PC exclusives such as iRacing and rFactor 2. As Microsoft are heavily involved in the gaming PC scene, you will also be able to play the Forza franchise. Consoles don’t offer as many sim racing titles, with iRacing being the most obvious omission.
However, both consoles have their own premier sim racing franchises, with Gran Turismo on PlayStation and Forza Motorsport/Horizon on Xbox. If Formula 1 is your thing, then you will be able to play F1 2022 on both PC and console, and the same goes for the top-tier rally sim DiRT Rally 2.0.
KEY POINTS• Choosing a sim racing game involves first deciding what you want to get out of the experience
• The game modes on offer and the multiplayer experience are important to consider as well
• Whether you play on PC or console will affect the games you’ll have access to
Best Sim Racing Game For PC
iRacing is the most famous PC-only sim racing title, and for good reason. It has been meticulously designed to give PC players the most rewarding and realistic sim racing experience on the market. The developers have previously stated their lack of desire to create a console version of the game, as it is difficult to replicate the quality of the game with the reduced power available on consoles.
PC is also the favored platform for many sim racers, due to their capabilities of displaying better graphics, operating multiple pieces of hardware simultaneously, and producing higher frame rates. There is also no guarantee of iRacing being able to compete with the consoles’ much cheaper and already established flagship sim racing titles, Gran Turismo 7 and Forza Motorsport.
Best Sim Racing Game For PlayStation
Gran Turismo 7
If you’re into sim racing and own a PlayStation, it’s certain that you’ve played at least one of the games in the Gran Turismo franchise. It is currently PlayStation’s best selling exclusive franchise, and 2022 saw the release of its latest edition, Gran Turismo 7. GT7 caters to all types of racers, from beginner to experienced. It features a multitude of game modes, including the Café mode.
There is a lot to sink your teeth into in GT7, and for PlayStation sim racers it is an exciting, realistic, and beautifully designed game. You can instantly tell it has been designed for the next-gen era. There is even a museum section that highlights over a century’s worth of automotive and cultural milestones. It is more than just a sim racing game, and instead a motor racing experience.
Best Sim Racing Game For Xbox
Forza Motorsport 7
The Forza franchise is Xbox’s highest selling sim racing franchise. There are two sections to the franchise, with Forza Horizon being a more arcade style racing game, with its open world features, compared to Forza Motorsport’s more serious, but still simcade, racing approach.
One thing that makes FM7 such a fun game to play is its wide range of cars from various racing disciplines. It features both modern and retro vehicles, from both big and small manufacturers, making it ideal for someone with a genuine interest in different cars from around the world. Much like GT7, it is suitable for beginners, with a variety of game modes for online and offline play.
What Is The Most Realistic Sim Racing Game?
As if we haven’t sung its praises enough, iRacing also takes the prize for being the most realistic sim racing title. It features laser-scanned tracks, so you’ll feel every bump in the tarmac as well as being able to take the exact racing line as a professional driver would. Laser-scanning means that the track is identical to the millimeter of its real-life counterpart.
The physics of the cars is second perhaps only to rFactor 2 (although iRacing is the better game of the two), with the suspension, grip of the tires and overall feel of the cars garnering praise from professional drivers including Max Verstappen and Dale Earnhardt Jr. These two drivers are among a wealth of professionals who use iRacing when preparing for their next race.
One of the best things about the game is the fact it is constantly being improved year after year, with routine maintenance to iron out any issues. It is likely that iRacing will be the standout name in sim racing for many years to come.
Sim racing has come a long way over the years, with next-gen consoles and PCs displaying better graphics than ever before. However, some of the older titles still hold up just fine, with iRacing being the perfect example. If you’re a console racer, GT7 or FM7 will be your best choice, while Assetto Corsa and Project Cars 2 are also great options for racers on all platforms of any experience level.
I created and have been writing on this site since 2019, collaborating with drivers, coaches, engineers and manufacturers to provide you with the most reliable information about motorsport. Find out more about me here.