The best PC racing games

Take your virtual racing to the next level with on of these racing games on PC.

Best PC Racing Games

by Seth Walton |
Updated on

Growing up there were two main contingents of racing gamers – those who played Forza and those who played Gran Turismo. Strong, tight-knit, loyal - it was politics from the playground up and rarely did anyone defect over to the other side. However, just beyond the periphery of either circle was the PC lot. Pariahs of the gaming world and classroom outcasts, second only to those strange pub kids who grew up with no console to speak of yet could knock balls in on the pool table like it was their bread and butter.

Today, everything’s changed. While gaming on the PC may still be a source of confusion and unease to the unordained, with all the upgrade potential and access to online platforms, it’s become the console of choice for hardcore gamers and especially racers.

How does racing on the PC differ from consoles?

For anyone looking to get into virtual racing, a gaming console will provide an easier pathway, though they’re often favoured for arcade racing as opposed to sim racing. A PlayStation or Xbox could be used for simulation racing, just don’t expect the same capacity for configuration and authenticity as one would find on the PC.

Getting into PC racing will take more time and money, but for your efforts you will be rewarded with high-end performance, better motion quality and customisation potential in the form of mods. PCs also lend themselves to easy sim rig integration - if you want to recreate an authentic driving experience at home, we recommend using a PC as your bedrock.

How to race on your PC

To begin racing on your PC, you’ll first need to download a PC gaming platform. Every racing game has been assigned to a platform - like Steam, Epic or Origin - so finding out which you need to download should be clear and easy. Once downloaded, activate your game by inputting the purchase code, after which the game should appear in your purchase library.

Once you have your PC in place and ready to go, it’s time to choose a racing game. There’s no reason why you should to stick to one, but to help you make a decision we’ve compiled a list of our favourites and why.

Best Formula One game

Still the racing game of choice for all F1 fanatics, Codemasters’ flagship motorsports title returned last year as F1 2022 to acclaim from critics and virtual racers. For the first time, Codemasters wanted to expand on the lifestyle of an F1 driver, to improve on the authenticity and immersion value of the game overall.

The game mode F1 Life allowed players to drive road-going sports cars, customise the livery of their car and even run their own team. It was a commendable step forward for a game series in search of what and where to go next, but how does the game fare for sim racers?

As a hardcore, this-is-where-the-nonsense-stops sim racer, the consensus among sim racing fans is that the F1 series comes up short. The handling mechanics aren’t precise nor lifelike enough for the game to be ranked among the top online sim racers. However, when it comes to immersion – putting you in the seat of an F1 car with all the histrionics associated with the pinnacle of motorsport – there is no better game out there.

Best rally game

It’s F1 2022’s grubby yet no less venerated cousin. DiRT Rally 2.0 was developed with the help of real rally drivers to produce the most life-like rallying experience for PC and console gamers ever. Gone are all the theatricality and the scintillating graphics found on the flagship DiRT series – this game is all about rough, tough and strenuous driving on the absolute limit from the word go.

We especially like this game as it was the first rally title to deliver a sense of true realism, supporting VR and other game modes for the most authentic experience – features largely reserved for circuit racing games before this title’s release. If you want a rally game to play on PC, it has to be DiRT Rally 2.0.

Best sim racing game on PC

Assetto Corsa Competizione epitomises how PC gaming can trounce the efforts of major consoles with a little know-how. This title is all about racing simulation, from vehicle mechanics to dynamic weather changes throughout a race. While it may lack some of the twinkling graphics found on other racing titles, sim racing fans will appreciate its laser focus on pure authenticity.

A recent poll found that those running ACC on PC as opposed to consoles enjoyed the game even more, largely thanks to the superior frame rate and motion graphics inherent to PC gaming. We especially like this title for its fantastic online platforms and expansive car list, allowing players to sate whatever racing they crave.

Great car list

Project Cars 2 is another well-loved racing simulation game packed with over 180 elite brand road and racing cars for you to sink your teeth in. We especially like this title for its celebration of racing history, coupled with an unrivalled aptitude for really putting the player in the time and place of where they’re racing. Featured in the game are many older racing cars as well as original circuit layouts packed with period-accurate details for the highest quality immersion value.

Why have we chosen Project Cars 2 over Project Cars 3? While the latter is still an enjoyable racing game, we feel Project Cars 2 is more of a driver’s game and therefore a worthier choice for this list. The consensus among racing fans is that PC3 took on a more arcade-like feel, thus making it inferior to its predecessor, though ultimately we opine that it comes down to personal preference.

Best online platform

Unlike the other games on this list, iRacing is a subscription-based online-only racing game that allows racers to compete against each other from across the world. From trophy truck racing to time trials, iRacing is famed for its wide and diverse range of racing opportunities, but we especially like this game for its racing sim hardware support and even VR headset compatibility.

While the visual quality of the game may not hold up to some other sim racing games, iRacing is lauded as a more casual racing experience, though without losing any of the entertainment value in the process. For first-time players looking to test the water, this game would make a great choice as there is no large upfront cost – a mere £8.99 for your first month of racing.

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