Best Sim Racing Game For Beginners
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 in to segments including the best racing sim for PC, Xbox and PS4.
Some of the games 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.
Best sim racing game for PC
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.
Lets take a closer look at the best sim racing games for PC.
Compatibility – PC Only
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/if not the most competitive racing game available.
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. This subscription includes everything you need to start your racing journey. You then jump in to 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.
Beginner sim racers who are looking to invest in their own sim racing journeys should investigate iRacing. It offers the most realistic and competitive sim racing community, which constantly drives you forward (no pun intended!) to improve.
Compatibility – PC Only
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 addons available, and one of the biggest modding communities in sim racing. In fact rFactor 2 was designed to be easily expandable.
rFactor features an extremely complex physics model, putting it up there with hardcore sims such as iRacing. Despite not being as well adopted as iRacing, this is certainly a hardcore sim at heart. Unlike iRacing, rFactor 2 works much more like a traditional game. You buy the game once, then buy addons and DLC as you wish.
But the thing that makes rFactor 2 different from every other game on this list is its modding community. rFactor is so easily to install custom mods, that whole seasons, cars and tracks have all been modded in to the game. There is a huge community of rFactor modders who spend days and weeks creating custom mods.
This hardcore sim may be a little rough around the edges compared to some of the games to come in 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.
Compatibility – PC Only
Automobilista 2 is a game that isn’t overly spoken about outside of the sim racing community. In fact, as I write this guide, this racing sim is still in early access and hasn’t actually been officially launched. But the content that you can play is mighty impressive.
Automobilista 2 is a crowd funded 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 series. And they have got full use of their game engine.
On the outset, this make 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 dedicated 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 inclusion of other forms of motorsport make AMS2 a very varied racing sim.
AMS2 ultimately sits in the space between the likes of Assetto Corsa Competizione, rFactor 2 and Project Cars 2. It has force feedback and physics that are up there with the most hardcore racing sims. And it has the graphical fidelity of the PCars series.
These facts, combined with the unique Brazilian flavour which you wont 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.
Best sim racing game Xbox One
Racing games on the Xbox One come in a wide variety of styles. You have your console exclusive Forza series which combine 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 F1 2020 which features in our PS4 section. The F1 game series is compatible on every platform, and is one of our favourites. We’ll touch on why in the PS4 section below.
Assetto Corsa Competizione
Compatibility – PC, Xbox One & PS4
Assetto Corsa competizione (ACC) is just about to launch on Xbox One and PS4, despite being available on PC for over a year. This is another racing game which has changed massively since its launch. Back in 2019, ACC launched in an early access state with a host of bugs. 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 only GT3 cars from both the 2018 and 2019 GT Challenge Series.
Although this limits the cars available in game, you should look at it in a similar light to the F1 series. Every car, track, team and driver is represented in 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 the best tyre model 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.
This is a racing game which any sim racer should own. It features a great multiplayer rating system which pairs you with real drivers with similar skill 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 making its way on to console, gives console gamers a great opportunity to experience this fantastic sim.
Project Cars 2
Compatibility – PC, Xbox One & PS4
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, 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 PCars.
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 PCars 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.
PCars does have a great single player career mode, allowing players to experience multiple different motorsport disciplines. This variety is where PCars truly shines. And this is also one of the reason why it is one of the most accessible sim racing games for beginners.
Jumping in to PCars 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.
Best sim racing games PS4
PlayStation 4 is a platform that hasn’t lent itself overly to sim racing games. The racing games which are console exclusive to PlayStation have typically been arcade racers. Games such as Driveclub and Gran Turismo occupy the space between arcade and sim.
Up until recently, if you want a true sim racing game on PS4, you had to look at third party games. Games such as F1 2019 and Project Cars 2 were the best options for a PS4 sim racer for a while. But recently Gran Tursimo Sport has come along and changed that. GT Sport is a true competitive multiplayer sim racing game, exclusive to PS4.
With that in mind, lets take a look at the best sim racing games for PS4.
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Compatibility – PC, Xbox One & PS4
The F1 game series by Codemasters is compatible with every platform. However we have included in our PS4 section because other than GT Sport, PlayStation is a little short on options! But lets jump in to why F1 2020 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 the most of our time with. All the way back to the rather shameful 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 2020 features 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 along side their favourite drivers. And the career mode itself is very engaging. It is 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 F1 2020.
Gran Turismo Sport
Compatibility – PS4 Only
We’ve progressed on to the last sim racing game on our list. This doesn’t mean that we think its the last game you should pick up. In fact, if you are a PS4 owner, GT Sport is one of the first games you should pick up.
This sim racing game is a departure from the original Gran Tursimo 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 multiplayer focused sim racer, 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 sims. But they are certainly very good. Most sim racers will feel comfortable and happy racing in GT Sport.
If you are a PS4 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.
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