Since the early ’80s, the racing genre of video games started to gain popularity, and in the 90s when the first Need for Speed game called “The Need for Speed” made its way to the shelves it escalated to a whole new level. When we mention racing games, Need for Speed is always somehow ahead of every racing game, but there are plenty of racing games out there. We also covered another article on the best driving games which is more of a “driving-experience” focused list.
In this article, we will cover all types of racing games including cars, bikes, and any other form of vehicle. If you want to differentiate between them, we have separate articles on car racing games and bike racing games which have always been popular among gamers, as they represent a thrilling and immersive experience that keeps you want more from both genre.
Usually, these games are divided into two categories: simulation and arcade racing. Arcade racing is focused more on the action and unrealistic car handling, compared to simulation racing, where steering, physics, and car handling are almost realistic. Even though the overall gameplay seems similar, as you start playing it for hours, you will feel the difference. These are the best racing games for PC.
1. Forza Horizon 5
The latest installment from the Forza series, the Forza Horizon 5 breaks all the horizons of how good-looking a racing game could be. Developed by Playground Games and published by Xbox Game Studios, FH5 provides an immense car racing experience with one of the best life-like control mechanisms we have ever seen in a car racing game. With a slightly expanded map from its predecessor FH4, you can now explore the world much further.
2. Dirt 5
Dirt 5 is probably the best off-road car racing game that came out in a while. With good gameplay mechanics and much more entertainment than its previous installments, this version of the Dirt is really eye-pleasing. If you are an off-road fan with a pure focus on enjoyment and graphics, you might find this one interesting. The lack of customization options for the deep levels might be a setback, but that isn’t the focus of this game anyway.
3. Forza Horizon 3
First and foremost, let’s begin with Forza Horizon 3 which is a delicious treat for graphics lovers. It’s a beautiful open-world racing game with tons of exotic and sports cars. Motorcycles are not available in this game, but it isn’t a con, as there are over 100 licensed cars like Lamborghini, Aston Martin, Koenigsegg, Mercedes, and so on.
Its environment varies from open roads to forests, seasides, and lakes which make the game extremely beautiful. Graphics and gameplay are the strongest elements in this game, and the soundtrack didn’t fail to deliver. It’s a fairly new title, so we still have to wait to witness the glory of the Forza Horizon 3. From our expectations, within no time, the game will break down the records created by its siblings.
4. Project CARS
Project CARS is a simulation racing game developed by Slightly Mad Studios. This game is somewhat like a Shift 2 Unleashed, but with an updated engine and physics. There are tons of licensed cars here and real-life tracks. With car and controls modification and customization, this game is a pure example of simulation. However, if you want to run this game, be sure to upgrade your PC because it looks absolutely stunning.
5. MotoGP 21
The MotoGP series has been the user favorite for a while when it comes to bike racing. The much-awaited 21 release of the series can be considered the best yet. With a focus on realism both in the controls and the graphics, the MotoGP 21 could be a very entertaining title for racing fans. There are much more customization options, bikes, and other preferences to choose from. If you are a MotoGP fan, chances are that you will love this title.
6. Need for Speed Most Wanted (2012)
I remember back in 2011 when this racing game was announced. It was one of the most anticipated titles of that year, and with reason. NFSMW 2012 is just more of the same formula that worked 7 years ago, with some improvements in graphics, soundtrack, gameplay, and features like multiplayer, which is one of the greatest in the Need for Speed series. Cars in this game cannot be purchased, instead, they are scattered around the world for you to find. Customization is back, but it isn’t more detailed than in the previous Most Wanted game. Every car behaves differently, but what’s common for all of them is drifting mechanics, which is the main focus of the game.
The soundtrack is great and it moved away from hip-hop and heavy metal in previous Most Wanted to Drum ‘n’ Bass and electronic music so there is a little bit for everyone. Overall, a great racing experience offering tons of races to play.
7. GRID Autosport
Codemasters made some really good racing simulations in the past, for example, Colin McRae: DiRT and DiRT series. GRID Autosport continues Codemaster’s tradition with yet another racing simulation. It’s very similar to Project Cars; simulation with some arcade elements. The game isn’t an AAA title so you can get it for a lower price, which doesn’t mean that the game isn’t great. In fact, it’s very good.
8. DiRT Showdown
DiRT Showdown is a multiplayer-based racing, or should I say brawling game? This game packs quite a punch with its various multiplayer modes where you can just choose your vehicle and fight with other players online or enjoy some gymkhana events in Ken Block’s style. The available optimization options allow for playing even on low-end machines and its price tag isn’t as high as other games of this quality, so it’s accessible to everyone.
9. Rocket League
Rocket League is essentially soccer with cars. It’s not actually a pure racer, but rather a hybrid of racing and soccer. This game can give you a lot of fun moments if you gaze into it. There are single-player and multiplayer modes available, so you can practice in single-player and then get to play multiplayer, which is fantastic. In the beginning, the game seems to be hard to play, but once you get used to it, it can be very fun, plus the game is cheap in price.
10. Need for Speed Most Wanted
If you consider yourself a fan of racing games, you must have played this title! This game in the Need for Speed series is surely one of the best and most played games of all time, featuring many great sport and exotic cars like Lamborghini, Mercedes, BMW, Corvette, etc. It really is a hardcore, angry and furious racing game, with constant tension even when not racing, because police are lurking behind your back at every moment. It’s kind of an open-world game, but calling it an open world isn’t exactly the most precise as it’s rather a semi-open world game.
In this game, you are an unnamed driver trying to take down every member of the blacklist. There are 10 members and each requires various skills to be taken down. To make things harder, police are lurking behind every corner, and police chases are one of the hardest in the whole Need for Speed series! This game is a must-play for every racing game enthusiast.
11. Assetto Corsa
Assetto Corsa is among the top racing games available for PC. This game gained a lot of popularity when it came out. In fact, many people still play it. It’s a simulation racing game with some very clever AI. Realistic handling, random weather conditions, and clever AI make this game very, very hard to play. Not only that Assetto Corsa is challenging, but it’s a gorgeous-looking game, so you’ll need a very good PC to run it properly.
12. F1 Series
When we talk about F1, there isn’t much to be said. It’s a straightforward sport, F1 racing, where you can make your own driver profile or choose from one of the existing drivers and races. In our opinion, F1 2015 and F1 2013 are among the best in the series. The game can be a little more like arcade racing by turning on braking or steering assists, but it’s best when you turn these things off and enjoy the full potential that these games have to offer.
13. Colin McRae – DiRT
Whether you like PC racing games or not, Colin McRae surely is someone you’ve heard of. Well, this hardcore rally simulation is all about getting dirty and fast in various parts of the world. You can race in Sweden, Norway, Portugal, Germany, etc. and all these countries will give you different types of terrain. For example, Sweden can be snowy making your handling harder. Portugal is generally sunny but features a lot of gravel. Such an immersive and intense experience!
14. Need for Speed The Run
With this race game, EA took a different approach. The Run is a more story-driven experience, while still managing to have that Need for Speed feel. This one is different because there are sequences that allow the player to exit out of the car to complete mini-games necessary for the player to survive various police chases. You are tasked to win a big race across the USA, racing through rainy, wet roads, snow, and forests as you make your way to an end.
15. FlatOut 2
FlatOut games have somehow always been underrated for no reason. FlatOut 2 delivers solid street racing, further improved than its predecessor. At the beginning of the game, you are prompted to buy a car from a junkyard and by racing and earning points, you get to upgrade your car. Various game modes are present here, from street races to stunt races. Simple but effective game mechanics.
16. MotoGP 15
Racing with motorcycles is getting a little bit forgotten, but MotoGP 15 is here to remind us of how motorcycles can be angry and fast. If you are a fan of MotoGP in general, this game will please you with great gameplay and overall graphics. Handling is, of course, a little different than other racing games, but changing some settings can help you optimize it for your needs. So if you are looking for some kind of racing game for Windows, MotoGP could be the best choice.
17. Burnout Paradise
Burnout Paradise is another open-world title featuring unlicensed vehicles- cars and motorcycles. It may sound similar to Test Drive Unlimited, but there aren’t many similarities here except the open world. The game is set in a fictional town, called Paradise City. We’re pretty sure that Guns N’ Roses served as an inspiration for this game, not just because of Paradise City, which is their track, but because of the great soundtrack in this game, which revolves around the same music genre (hard rock and glam rock).
Aside from the soundtrack, the game has some pretty good gameplay, vehicle upgrade, and a customization system. Cars feel great, but in our opinion, motorcycles are the highlight of this game. They are fast, like really fast, and controlling them isn’t easy, but once you get used to them, the feeling is amazing! Stunts are also possible with motorcycles, and they allow the player to earn points for an upgrade. This game also has some pretty solid graphics and in addition, it boasts multiplayer, which is a big plus for this type of game.
18. Need for Speed Hot Pursuit (2010)
The NFS games never failed to deliver some great gameplay and soundtrack. Hot Pursuit manages to do so by returning to old-school gameplay with a focus on police pursuits. You can choose to play as a racer or a cop and immerse yourself in a race where you can either try to evade the police or be a member of the police and chase down suspects either in Single-player or Multiplayer. Aside from that, there are some power-ups like EMP, Road Block, Helicopter, and Jammer to help you in your racing. This one is an absolute classic!
19. Test Drive Unlimited
Just a year after the famous NFS: Most Wanted (which we’ll talk about later) was published, Test Drive Unlimited came with something refreshing and new, and it’s the gameplay. Graphically, this game didn’t represent anything new, but as a racing game, it still looked great. What makes this game different from Need for Speed Most Wanted, is an open world where you can drive or even get out of the car, and explore. There is even offroad racing, which is done great in this game.
Sure, there isn’t much to explore, as this is a pure racing game, but it’s interesting to roam around with your friends in multiplayer. This game offers over 100 licensed cars and even motorcycles, which you can buy, sell, upgrade, and customize, which is essential to a player’s progress. The island in this game is absolutely huge and will keep you wanting more for a long time. To this day, Test Drive Unlimited remains one of the longest racing games, immediately after its sequel Test Drive Unlimited 2.
20. Trackmania Turbo
Trackmania has some seriously good games in its series, and Trackmania Turbo isn’t an exception. This game represents some of the finest examples of extreme, arcade racing where you can be a driver. Sure, there aren’t police chases, no car upgrades, and no brutal slams into opponents, but expect nothing less than pure speed and adrenaline. This game is all about getting the fastest time, doing some crazy stunts and reflexes, and offers over 200 completely different tracks to race on.
It has four locations: Rollercoaster Lagoon, Canyon Grand Drift, International Stadium, and Valley Down & Dirty. You get one (unlicensed) car for each location, so there is a total of four cars in this game. Those cars differ in handling, speed, and overall performance. For example, in Valley Down & Dirty, the player is racing through various off-road terrains, driving through water, sludge, and mountains. This one requires not that quick reflexes, but precision. The overall game, however, requires very quick reactions and generally favors fast pace and use of stunts. The only downside is that there are no car upgrades, but there are visual customizations. In our opinion, this game is one of the hardest games on this list.
21. Need for Speed Underground 2
If you played Underground 2, you simply can’t say that it isn’t a great game. This Need for Speed pure, old school street racer that can still be a challenge even by today’s standards. Sure, the graphics aren’t that good if you play it today, but it still manages to bring back old memories. When it came out, 14 years ago, it quickly became one of the bestsellers, and we believe that many still play this game today.
22. The Need for Speed (NFS)
The Need for Speed was launched back on August 31, 1995, for PC on MS-DOS platform. It contains some of the best sports cars of that time, with several exotic models like Lamborghini Diablo VT, Chevrolet Corvette ZR-1, Ferrari 512TR, etc. This game made it on our top list of racing games simply because it was way ahead of its time when speaking of graphics, sound design, and overall gameplay.
Like in almost every other NFS game, next to pure racing, there are thrilling police chases, where the player can be arrested or given a ticket (3 tickets equal arrest). This game, however, lacks a two-player mode, but the AI is good enough to make up for that. If you are a fan of old-school racing and supercars, feel free to try this game. It’s also a good introduction to the Need for Speed series. One more thing, this is not for those high-end graphics game lovers.
23. Mario Kart series
Mario Kart series began as a spin-off from the traditional Super Mario series, and in fact, great spin-offs. Mario Kart is a classic arcade racing game that you can play as Mario or any other character in the Super Mario series. Tracks are set in a world of Super Mario and power-ups are given to the player, as well as the other players or AI. This game will provide players with many hours of fun and will be challenging most of the time.