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Sim Racing Product Guides » Best Racing Games 2023: Which Sim Racing Game To Play First
In this guide we take a look at some of the sim racing games that you should pick up to race with first. We've included sim racaing titles on all platforms including PC, Xbox and PS5.
There are a good number of racing games that we would recommend picking up in 2023. The sim racing community has really grown in the past few years, and the release of big console exclusive racing games such as Gran Turismo 7 has helped ensure every fan of racing games and motorsport has a collection of good racing games to buy. Games such as iRacing, Assetto Corsa Competizione, the F1 game series, Gran Turismo 7 and more are all considered among the very best racing games. We show you our top recommendations in this guide.
Sim racing is becoming more popular than ever. As a sim racer myself, this is great to see. Gone are the days when I tried to explain what sim racing is to friends. Now they only look half as confused when I start talking about Assetto Corsa and mastering the racing line!
Esports has risen sharply in popularity, and it has taken sim racing with it. This is in part due to more high-profile drivers participating in Esports events. And Formula 1 hosting their own official Esports events has helped.
With the rise in sim racing, brings with it a host of new sim racers. It is fantastic to see online lobbies fuller than ever, and seeing new racing leagues popping up all over the place.
One of the first questions that many potential new sim racers ask, is what is the best sim racing game to start playing. In this guide, we will show you our recommendations for the best sim racing game. We’ve broken this guide down into segments including the best racing sim for PC, Xbox and PS5.
Some of the racing games I’ll look at below are cross-platform, however we have only included them once in our list. We will note next to each game which console platform they are compatible with.
Sim racing games were designed to be played on PCs. With a PC game come a lot of positives that consoles just can’t match. PCs allow for much better graphics and performance. And you can also get much better compatibility with racing wheels and controllers. So it is no surprise that the majority of sim racers choose PC sim racing as their platform of choice.
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There are some major sim racing games, which are only available on PC. Including the mighty iRacing and rFactor 2. These are two racing simulators which go above and beyond being just a game. They host organised events, with full driver ratings and unique subscription and DLC services.
A few other big hitting sim racing games including Assetto Corsa Competizione and the F1 game series are also among the best sim racing games on PC. However, we have reserved them for our console categories, despite being just as good on PC. Let’s take a closer look at the best sim racing games for PC.
iRacing is much applauded as the pinnacle of sim racing games. Many racers will say it is the best sim racing game available. To some extent this is true. iRacing boasts some of the most competitive sim racing available across all sim racing games.
Despite being launched years ago, iRacing is continuously supported with new content updates four times a year after each iRacing season. It also boasts some of the highest active player numbers of any sim racing game in 2023.
It utilises a unique platform where sim racers have to pay a subscription fee to participate in events. On top of this subscription, racers will also have to spend extra on DLC. The add-on cars and tracks are required to be able to move up through the rankings and participate in more competitive seasons and events.
The way iRacing works is that you buy a basic subscription. (Check our working iRacing discount codes for a cheaper subscription) This subscription includes everything you need to start your racing journey. You then jump into exclusively online events, which are arranged at specific times. You choose a car and race a complete season in that car.
If you are competitive enough and skilled enough you move up through the rankings. This, in turn, opens up the game to allow you to drive in faster cars. Some of which you will have to purchase. As you move out of the beginner leagues, you will be required to buy new tracks as well. As higher-level championships require different tracks to those you are given at the beginning.
This subscription method makes iRacing a daunting prospect for beginner sim racers. It can prove costly in the long run, much more so than more traditional games. And the competitiveness of the iRacing community can scare away many racers.
Read more – How much does iRacing cost?
Beginner sim racers who are looking to invest in their own sim racing journeys should look at iRacing as one of their first sim racing games. It offers the most realistic and competitive sim racing community, which constantly drives you forward (no pun intended!) to improve.
To make iRacing cheaper, you can use a variety of promo codes that give you a discounted iRacing membership. View all current working iRacing codes in 2023.
rFactor 2 is a sim racing game that has been around in one form or another since 2013. That is a long time! And in that time it has come on such a long way. There are a plethora of DLC add-ons available, and one of the biggest modding communities in sim racing. In fact, rFactor 2 was designed to be easily expandable.
rFactor 2 features an extremely complex physics model, putting it up there with hardcore sims such as iRacing. In fact, many sim racers say that rFactor 2 has the very best tyre simulation out of any sim racing game in 2023.
Despite not being as well adopted as iRacing, this is certainly a hardcore sim racing game at heart. Unlike iRacing, rFactor 2 works much more like a traditional racing game. You buy the game once, then buy add-ons and DLC as you wish.
But the thing that makes rFactor 2 different from every other racing game on this list is its modding community. rFactor is so easy to install custom mods, that whole seasons, cars and tracks have all been modded into the game. There is a huge community of rFactor modders who spend days and weeks creating custom mods.
This hardcore sim racing title may be a little rough around the edges compared to some of the other racing games to come on this list. But it features almost infinite content in comparison. If you are looking for a rough and ready racing sim that you can truly experiment with, rFactor 2 is for you.
Automobilista 2 is a racing game that isn’t overly spoken about outside of the sim racing community. However, inside the sim racing community, Automobilista 2 is regarded as one of the best well-rounded sim racing titles around.
Automobilista 2 is a crowd-funded racing game that has very sensibly teamed up with one of the biggest players in sim racing. The developers behind Automobilista partnered with Slightly Mad Studios, the guys who make the Project Cars racing series. And they have received full use of their game engine.
At the outset, this makes Automobilista 2 look very similar to Project Cars 2. It features similar lighting and other graphical features. But behind the glossy exterior lies a racing game which is a love letter to Brazilian motorsport.
This serious racing sim has included all major racing tracks and racing series in Brazil. And it goes beyond this to include some of the most famous cars and tracks from around the world. This focus on Brazilian motorsport and the inclusion of other forms of motorsport make AMS2 a very varied racing sim game.
AMS2 ultimately sits in the space between the likes of Assetto Corsa Competizione, rFactor 2 and Project Cars. It has force feedback and physics that are up there with the most hardcore racing simulation games. And it has the graphical fidelity of the Project Cars series.
These facts, combined with the unique Brazilian flavour which you won’t find in other racing sims. Make AMS 2 the perfect sim racing game for those who are looking for something a little bit different to the norm.
Racing games on the Xbox come in a wide variety of styles. You have your console-exclusive Forza series which combines arcade and sim features. The Forza series of games are fantastic in their own right, but don’t belong on a true list of the best sim racing games in our opinion!
Looking outside of Microsoft’s first-party games, there are a couple of great racing sims that beginners should check out. We’ve listed two of the best sim racing games for Xbox below. But also want to give a shout-out to the F1 series of games which feature in our PS5 section. The F1 game series is compatible on every platform and is one of our favourites. We’ll touch on why in the PS5 section below.
Assetto Corsa Competizione (ACC) is one of the most realistic racing games on Xbox, PS5 and PC. This is a racing game which has changed massively since its launch. Back in 2019, ACC launched in an early access state to a mixed reception. Since then it has gone on to become one of the best sim racing games available.
If you are unfamiliar with Assetto Corsa Competizione, it is unique in that it is solely licensed by the GT World Challenge Series. This means it features GT3 and GT4 cars from a variety of racing series including the GT Challenge Series.
Although this limits the cars available in the game, you should look at it in a similar light to the F1 series. Every car, track, team and driver is represented in the game, and you can race through complete GT Challenge seasons. It also helps that ACC features some of the best driving physics available.
Without a shadow of a doubt, ACC features one of the best tyre models of any other sim racing game. The complexity of its tyre model exceeds even iRacing, and it makes it one of the most realistic representations of GT3 cars in any racing sim available.
This is a racing game that any sim racer should own. It features a great multiplayer rating system which pairs you with real drivers with similar skills to your own. There is a full online progression system allowing you to track your improvement as a driver.
The fact that ACC is now on consoles, gives console gamers a great opportunity to experience this fantastic racing sim. Of course, you can also enjoy Assetto Corsa Competizione on PC as well, but we didn’t want to include this racing game on our list twice!
Buy Assetto Corsa Competizione on Amazon
Project Cars 2 is a racing game which divides opinion within the community. It is designed to be one of the most accessible sim racing games available. And it really achieves this. It is available on every console, and includes a wide variety of cars and motorsports and a simulation physics engine.
The physics engine itself is focused heavily on real world simulation, making Project Cars 2 much harder to drive than games such as Forza. The reason I say it divides opinion is that there are a few glaring omissions from Project Cars.
The overall driving experience isn’t as accurate or simulation heavy as games such as iRacing or ACC. And most of the tracks aren’t laser scanned. This is a big thing for a sim racing game, as it means a lot of the tracks in Project Cars 2 aren’t as accurately represented. This is especially true compared to games such as ACC, where every single track is laser scanned for 100% accuracy.
Project Cars 2 does have a great single-player career mode, allowing players to experience multiple different motorsport disciplines. This variety is where Project Cars 2 truly shines. And this is also one of the reasons why it is one of the most accessible sim racing games for beginners.
Jumping into Project Cars 2 will allow you to experience a wide variety of cars. From here, if you decide you take a shine to GT3 cars, you can move on to ACC for example. Overall, PCars is a great place for a complete beginner to start.
While Project Cars 2 does have a direct sequel, Project Cars 3. We haven’t included that game on this list as it leans much more heavily on an arcade racing experience, going away from the core gameplay that fans loved.
Also, as a side note, Project Cars 2 has currently been removed from Steam due to expiring licenses. This makes it impossible to now buy on Steam, although it is still available to buy using other methods, and is still available on Xbox and PlayStation 5.
PlayStation 5 is a platform that hasn’t initially lent itself overly to sim racing games. The racing games which are console exclusive to PS5 have typically been arcade racers. Games such as Driveclub occupy the space between arcade and sim.
Up until recently, if you want a true sim racing game on PS5, you had to look at third-party games. Games such as F1 22, ACC and Project Cars 2 were the best options for a PS5 sim racer for a while.
But recently Gran Turismo Sport and Gran Turismo 7 have both come along and changed that. GT Sport is a true competitive multiplayer sim racing game, exclusive to PS4 and PS5, and Gran Turismo 7 is an all-around car collecting and racing sim.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at the best sim racing games for PS5.
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The F1 game series by Codemasters is compatible with every platform. However we have included it in our PS5 section because other than Gran Turismo 7 and GT Sport, PlayStation 5 sim racers are a little short on options! But let’s jump into why the F1 game series is one of the best sim racing games for beginners.
As you can tell from this website, we’re rather fond of the F1 games. Throughout the years, they are without a doubt the game we have spent most of our time with. All the way back to the rather uneventful F1 2009 on Wii!
The Codemasters F1 games give gamers a taste of participating in Formula 1 in a game which isn’t too simulation heavy. It does lean more towards simulation than arcade. However, due to the wide popularity of Formula 1, Codemasters have had to ensure the game is accessible to all types of players. This holds it back from being the full-blooded simulation racer that we all want.
What the F1 games do extremely well is their single player game modes. F1 22, F1 23 and previous games in the series featured a selection of engaging single player career modes, including a mode where you can create your own F1 team.
This single player experience allows F1 fans to virtually compete alongside their favourite drivers. And the career mode itself is very engaging. It is possibly the most polished single player career mode of any other racing game on this list.
If you are a fan of Formula 1, or just a fan of great single player career modes in racing games, you should pick up the latest F1 game.
We’ve progressed on to the last sim racing game on our list. This doesn’t mean that we think these racing games are the last game you should pick up. In fact, if you are a PS5 owner, GT Sport and Gran Turismo 7 are some of the first games you should pick up.
GT Sport is a sim racing game that is a departure from the original Gran Turismo formula. There is no real single player game mode that is worth talking about, and you can’t customise cars like you can in the main game series (other than a livery editor). Instead, GT Sport is a multiplayer-focused sim racing game, looking to emulate the formula that iRacing has built.
There is a heavy emphasis on GT-style cars, although there are a range of other motorsport disciplines available. The main bulk of GT Sport comes from its multiplayer game mode and its ratings.
In a similar fashion to more hardcore sim racers, GT Sport features a complex rating system and daily online races. These daily races are pre-organised and allow drivers within a certain criteria to race. From there, if you race safely and well, you can increase your rating and progress through the online ranking system.
The driving physics within GT Sport are simulation focused and are reasonably realistic. They aren’t quite to the same level of complexity as some of the hardcore PC racing sims. But they are certainly very good. Most sim racers will feel comfortable and happy racing in GT Sport.
If you are a PS5 sim racer who is looking for a multiplayer experience, GT Sport is a fantastic game. It will offer a bite sized iRacing experience without the subscription cost, and on your console.
Gran Turismo 7 is a return to the normal car collecting, upgrading and racing formula that we have known and loved for years. There are hundreds of cars to buy, upgrade and tinker with, and a huge variety of races and car collecting events to participate in.
Much like GT Sport, GT7 doesn’t feature the most realistic driving physics of any racing game, but the simcade physics lean more towards simulation than arcade. Overall, GT7 is an incredibly complete racing game, and one that racing fans should look to pick up if they own a PlayStation 5.
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