Whether you’re looking for an ultra-realistic driving simulator, or a heart-pumping underground street action, a good racing game will always take you to the edge of your seat. Racing is more than just a gaming genre at this point; it describes a feeling, an idea, an adventure. When you’re on that last bend, head-to-head with your opponent, that is the moment you feel most alive, pressing down on the accelerator and looking for any and all nitro that is left if the tank.
That adrenaline rush is racing games are played. No matter how real it feels (or doesn’t) or how good the graphics are, a good racing game will always keep you on the edge, always wanting more action.
Picking a good racing game is no easy task; it is about many different factors such as realism, game progression and character development, car and track variety, graphics, and the heart-thumping, adrenaline-pumping action.
Here are our picks for the five best PC racing games you can play in 2018.
1. Dirt Rally
Dirt Rally by Codemasters remains the best PC racing game money can buy. The latest installment, Dirt 3, is the best offering by the developer by far. The game features a much more realistic handling mode and gets rid of the arcade feeling that its predecessors were plagued with. In a sense, this makes the game one of the first ‘proper’ rally games out there.
Dirt 3 is not just about drifting on dirt tracks and going sideways. It is also about the endurance racing that rallying is really all about. Beyond that, you also have to carefully plan maintenance on your car, which introduces an element of strategy and resource management that’s all too rare in games like these.
Dirt Rally has inspired a sizable chunk of the gaming community into creating mods and tweaks for their game, which can massively improve the experience you get from the game. Everything from gorgeously rendered car skins to the subtlest of weather and lighting changes are available to tweak through these mods, making it the most extensible racing game available right now.
2. Project Cars 2
Project Cars is all about giving car racing an authentic and realistic feel without having to make it uber challenging. Many racing games try to add realism by exaggerating tough moves to be even tougher. For example, you don’t necessarily have to end up in a heap of your own car’s rubble when you try to accelerate through a corner. Real cars don’t do. In fact, they make graceful turns in most cases, and that is what Project Cars 2 wants to put out there.
You don’t necessarily have to be punished for not hitting perfect apex on a high-speed turn. Sure, you will lose seconds but hopefully not your car. This makes Project Cars 2 a very easy-to-experience yet very lifelike driving simulator.
3. F1 2017
If you’re in search for ultra-realism, then this is where it ends. This 2017 title might be a little dated, but it still remains the best and most authentic recreation of Formula One ever created. The game has seen a lot of additions with time; a massive checklist of new features that make it the most immersive it has ever been.
Each race in the game is technical and highly realistic. Manual starts at the beginning are what begin to test your skills and concentration, and it does not end there. Every corner is challenging, every bend must be micromanaged. If you are winning the race but fail to hit that last apex, you might have opened a wide gap for your opponents to cross you. F1 2017 is unforgiving, which is why we still love it.
The game has a new R&D system that gives you points for developing a specific car over a season. It also retains a lot of rules and mechanics from the real-world Formula One (such as KERS, DRS etc.). If you’re a realism fanatic, then you will also love tweaks such as the ‘slide of the car as you over-accelerate out of a turn; the gentle squeeze of the brakes so you don’t slide into a smoke-billowing lock-up; the aquaplaning as you stray away from the safety of the racing line in a monsoon downpour’ and so on.
4. Forza Motorsport 7
The Forza franchise has been exclusive to the Xbox for a very long time. Forza Horizon 3 changed that, but it did not truly carry the Forza Motorsport legacy onto the PC. That’s what Forza Motorsport 7 is here to do. It is the most graphically stunning racing game you will ever find, and while it may lack the level of realism that other titles such as Project Cars 2 have, it makes up for all that with great accessibility and beautiful presentation across the board.
5. Forza Horizon 3
For the longest time, great titles such as Forza have been exclusive to consoles, leaving PC gamers having to resort to other alternatives or buying a console just to play those games. That finally changed with Forza Horizon 3. The game brings much of the spirit of the Forza series that many of us have come to love but takes a very different approach from the ‘steely’ and ‘serious’ to the much tamer high-octane car festival.
The idea is to build your Horizon festival in the Australian Outback. You compete with attending guests in a series of events which range from simple races to stunt jumps and even long endurance tests. The best feature of this Forza installment, however, is the open world where you can drift through dusty corners and hurtle past blue waves of the Pacific against a backdrop of a classic Aussie landscape.
If you ever find yourself in need of some adrenaline-packed racing action, you should be able to get the edge off with these great games. If instead you want to take your gaming mobile, be sure to check out these great mobile titles to occupy your time.