The racing game genre features more than a couple of decades’ worth of high-quality releases, both single-player and multiplayer. While the genre does not receive big titles quite often nowadays, what it does get is usually of top-tier quality.
From Xbox’s Forza Horizon and Motorsport titles to PlayStation’s Gran Turismo games, there have been some great additions to the racing game genre over the years. While no major racing title has been announced for release in 2023, fans of the genre can indulge themselves in some of the best racing games of the last few years.
Listed below are five of the best racing games players should try out in 2023.
Note: This article is subjective and solely reflects the author’s opinions.
2021’s Forza Horizon 5, Need for Speed Unbound, and 3 other amazing racing games to play in 2023
1) Forza Horizon 5
With Forza Horizon 5, Playground Games and Xbox Game Studios have perfected the art of creating an open-world arcade racing sandbox. Not only is the game the best “sim-cade” experience, but it is also a great open-world title with hundreds of fun activities littered across the huge map of Mexico.
Racing is a staple of the Forza franchise, and Forza Horizon 5 has an abundance of such events for players to complete. However, the Forza Horizon series is not just about racing. More importantly, it is about building a community of racing fans and automobile enthusiasts and giving them a playground to explore and have fun in.
In keeping with its predecessors, Forza Horizon 5 does not force any form of progression milestones on players. This gives them full access to the game’s roster of cars and race events right from the get-go.
Forza Horizon games have always been about giving players the freedom to pursue their own adventures, and Forza Horizon 5 is no different.
Players can choose their favorite rides from more than 500 different licensed cars and customize them to their heart’s content. From custom paint jobs, vinyl editors, and community decals to a robust performance tuning option, Forza Horizon 5 is equipped with everything a petrolhead needs.
With Playground Games constantly adding new cars and daily challenges to the game, Forza Horizon 5 is easily one of the best racing games in 2023.
2) Hot Wheels Unleashed
Who doesn’t like Hot Wheels? The miniature toy cars, featuring some over-the-top designs and body kits, are easily one of the favorite childhood toys of many racing fans.
Hot Wheels Unleashed is essentially a way to relive childhood memories while simultaneously enjoying a rather competent and fun racing game experience.
Developed and published by Milestone S.r.l., the team behind the MotoGP and RIDE series of racing games, Hot Wheels Unleashed is a fun single-player racing experience. It features multiplayer game modes as well as split-screen co-op.
Featuring courses straight out of the Hot Wheels track sets and a huge collection of iconic vehicles, the game is essentially a love letter to Hot Wheels fans. This collection of tracks and cars is backed by some incredible visuals that bring the toys to life, albeit virtually.
Hot Wheels Unleashed also boasts robust arcade driving physics, making racing through the many tracks a joy. The title makes for a fun arcade racing experience, something that fans of racing games should definitely try out.
3) Mario Kart 8 Deluxe
What if Super Smash Bros. was an arcade racer instead of a fighting game? Well, that is exactly what Mario Kart 8 Deluxe delivers.
Super Smash Bros. is known for including characters from multiple Nintendo titles (and even characters from third-part games) and pitting them against each other in a melee brawl. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe sees a similarly huge roster of Nintendo characters race against one another in some really fun arcade-like tracks.
The game features iconic characters from Nintendo’s flagship franchises, including Link and Princess Zelda from The Legend of Zelda series and the Inklings from the Splatoon series, among others. Each character also has a huge roster of customizable motorized karts to choose from.
Although Mario Kart 8 Deluxe can be played in its entirety as a single-player experience, the game is most enjoyable when played with friends. The title features robust online multiplayer game modes as well as co-op modes, allowing players to race against friends using their favorite Nintendo mascot.
Mario Kart 8 Deluxe also features split-screen co-op, making it one of the best arcade racing titles that also doubles as an incredible party game on the Nintendo Switch.
4) The Crew 2
Ubisoft is known for creating some mundane and cookie-cutter open-world experiences. However, there are some titles under the French publisher’s umbrella that do deliver a unique and fun experience.
The Crew 2 is one of the few games that, despite being developed and published by Ubisoft, delivers a fantastic arcade racing experience.
Much like the Forza Horizon games, The Crew 2 offers a massive open world and a large assortment of licensed vehicles for players to choose from. The game’s map is massive, and players have access to not just cars but also bikes, boats, and planes. Each vehicle has its own visual customization and performance upgrades.
While the performance upgrade system does not feature the number of options present in Forza Horizon games, the visual customization is top-notch. From body kits, both licensed and custom, to vanity items, players get access to a plethora of customization options.
The Crew 2 is an excellent arcade racing game that also doubles as a great open-world title. Much like Forza Horizon titles, it offers plenty of standard racing events but also features some unique racing modes, such as the Demolition Derby and Monster Truck races.
The Crew 2 is a fantastic racing game that fans of open-world arcade racers should not miss out on.
5) Need for Speed Unbound
The Need for Speed series is known for delivering excellent arcade racing experiences paired with a robust vehicular customization system. These two things are the strengths of the series’ most recent title, Need for Speed Unbound.
Following in the footsteps of its predecessor, Need for Speed Heat, NFS Unbound offers a staggering number of customization options and also features a robust selection of racing events.
Need for Speed Unbound is also one of the few modern racing games that prioritize single-player progression and story over multiplayer aspects. Much like Need for Speed Heat, the game features a rather intriguing plot concerning a rookie street racer trying to make it to the big leagues.
NFS Unbound embraces its “rags to riches” theme within its gameplay, as players start with a slow stock car and must earn their way to the expensive and powerful hypercars.
Need for Speed Unbound also sees the return of cop pursuits, which are relentless and can increase the difficulty of races. The title is a stellar Need for Speed experience and one of the best modern racing games, something players should definitely try out in 2023.