Fuelled by an explosion of racing-sim allure over the last few years - amplified during lock down - the market for racing games is now more fruitful and diverse than ever. Ranging from household arcade games to the latest in hardcore simulation, racing fans can now be sated in every facet of their interest.
In conjunction with the raised profile of the genre, the technology on which to play these games has also gone supersonic, with the latest in 4K monitors and PlayStation 5 quality offering the most pin-sharp, visceral racing experience ever - all from the comfort of your own home.
Here are CAR’s picks of the best PS5 racing games right now:
Gran Turismo 7
PlayStation’s resident racing juggernaut Gran Turismo has long been venerated for its diverse appeal, accommodating the needs of every racing enthusiast from first-timers to Lewis Hamilton himself. The flagship series returned this year to universal critical acclaim, seeing many beloved features of GT fans - dynamic weather conditions and the GT simulation mode to name two - back in a new package.
The PS5 version has been well received for its 3D spatial audio and haptic feedback in the DualSense controller, as well as the 60 FPS and the immersive experience in 4K. Like previous_Gran Turismos_, GT7 arrives with one of the biggest virtual car lists on the racing game market. With over 420 to choose, from the Porsche 917 to the Fiat 500, you’re likely to find whatever it is you’re after.
The ever-improving F1 series from Codemasters returned last year with F1 2021. Sadly, the classic cars feature was omitted on this game, and was instead supplanted by an epic story mode named ‘Braking Point’. Similar in premise to FIFA’s ‘The Journey’, this story follows the career of young rookie Aidan Jackson as he fends off rival drivers in F2 and then into the top division.
Featuring cameo appearances from real drivers and members of the Formula One community, if you’ve ever dreamt of living vicariously through the journey of a young racing driver, this might be the most immersive experience ever.
Three years on from the 2017 release of Dirt 4, Codemasters’ flagship rally series returned in 2020 with Dirt 5 - packed with even more loose traction action. Just like the game’s Codemasters big brother, F1 2021, DIRT 5 features a narrative-centric career mode as you battle against AI rivals through a series of events. Showcasing stunning visuals, dynamic gameplay, and a plethora of Rally cars to try - both old and new - it is the best PS5 rallying game going right now.
Remedies to a stress full day are varied: some enjoy hot baths, some like to go for long walks, and some like to destroy clapped-out muscle cars on a demolition derby game. The Wreckfest title has been offering its services for the latter since 2014, only now your fix of catharsis by vehicular combat can be even more immersive on the latest generation consoles. Released in 2021, Wreckfest on PS5 features the same three game modes of career, multiplayer, and custom race events, with heavy focus on the physics and graphics of vehicle damage. Smashing.
The Assetto Corsa series is considered by many the last word in no nonsense, hardcore race simulation gaming - the choice of the discerning sim fan. Well, almost three years on from Assetto Corsa Competizione’s release, it has finally arrived on PS5. ACC teased gameplay on PS5 last year, showcasing the impressive graphics and bumped frame rate - now running at 60 FPS. Reluctant to give up your game saves and DLC from the PS4? Fear not, for all can be transferred over to this latest edition. In fact, owners of the PS4 or Xbox One version can automatically upgrade to the respective next-gen versions free of charge.
Hot Wheels Unleashed
Need a break from the sim but insatiable racing appetite not yet quenched? Hot Wheels Unleashed might be the chipper arcade title you need to fill the void. This game charted fourth in the UK upon its release in 2021, and the PS5 version was praised for its sleek, colourful design and intricate detail, presenting 1:1 scale recreations of 60 classic Hot Wheels cars. The track and racing environments are meticulously detailed for pure nostalgic charm; if you’re looking for some cheerful downtime, or trip down an orange, looping memory lane, this is it.