I’ve always liked cars, but the catalyst that tipped me into obsession was a thick stack of Sport Compact Car magazines and Gran Turismo 4 for the Sony PlayStation 2. This game totally changed the way I looked at cars and motorsport. At the time, GT4 was absolutely state of the art with accurate reproductions of real-world tracks and over 700 cars. I remember lapping Laguna Seca in GT4 to memorize every turn on the night before my first real track day.
PlayStation racing has come a long way over the last 18 years. Whether you’re a serious racing enthusiast looking for a hardcore and accurate motorsports simulator, a casual autophile looking for a fun and fast arcade racer or a kid just budding into the love of cars and car culture, the perfect racing game is out there waiting for you. To help you in your search, I’ve rounded up the best racing and driving games for Sony’s PS4 and PS5 consoles.
Like I said in my list of best Xbox racing games, this list is by no means exhaustive. It’s a collection of just the best driving and racing games for PlayStation consoles that I’ve personally played and enjoyed. I’ve played all of these games on the PS4 Pro — because the PlayStation 5 is still so darn hard to find — but all of them are also playable on PS5 and some even feature bespoke PS5 versions that take full advantage of the new generation’s extra horsepower and haptic DualSense controls.
Gran Turismo 7, Sony and Polyphony Digital’s flagship racing series, powerslides onto PlayStation consoles this year. In addition to the graphical and technical leaps made possible by the latest generation PS5 hardware, GT7 features a more extensive single-player campaign and retains the competitive online GT Sport mode. GT7 even runs and looks great on PS4 and PS4 Pro, if you can’t find the latest, greatest PS5.
From modest compacts to wild Vision GT concept cars, there are 424 cars to unlock and race on 24 real-world and fantasy tracks — each with multiple configurations. Overall, Gran Turismo 7 feels like a modern version of my personal favorite GT title of all time, Gran Turismo 4, so progression can be a bit slow. Thankfully, the racing is satisfyingly fast paced and GT7 is the most realistic PlayStation racing sims as you’ll find.
Screenshot by Antuan Goodwin/CNET
Assetto Corsa Competizione is a hardcore racing sim that’s laser-focused on the world of the Blancpain GT World Challenge. That means that the title lacks much of the breadth and variety of, say, Gran Turismo or Xbox’s Forza series, but it can also be a huge pro for fans of this specific style of racing looking for a more serious sim with more fleshed out offline play that GT Sport currently offers.
The game features real racing cars from the 2018 and 2019 series, complete with authentic liveries. Drop right into the championship, work your way up through the ranks in the career mode or head online to run wheel-to-wheel against players from around the world. The steering model and racing physics are extremely realistic and quite challenging — so much that it can be frustrating to play with a controller’s thumbsticks. You’ll definitely want to get set up with a good force-feedback racing wheel (and maybe also a racing sim cockpit) for maximum enjoyment.
The latest title in Codemasters’ F1 franchise builds on last season’s entry with new tracks, updated cars and a new My Team mode that lets you build and grow your own F1 franchise, rather than play one of the established teams. Got a friend who’s also an F1 nut? Play together in the new two-player career mode as teammates or fierce rivals.
The most interesting addition to F1 2021 is the new Braking Point mode. An evolution of the rivals feature that I loved so much in the 2019 title, Braking Point is a narrative story mode that follows your player as you navigate the victories, defeats and rivalries on track — as well as the drama off-track and in the pits — over multiple years of your F1/F2 career. If you’re a fan of the documentary series Drive to Survive or films like Rush, F1 2021’s Braking Point is definitely worth experiencing.
Slightly Mad Studios
The third entry in Slightly Mad Studios’ Project Cars series takes a hard left turn from its predecessors’ realistic simulation trajectory into the more accessible and, for many, more fun world of arcade racers. The controls are more forgiving, the graphics are brighter and shinier and the entire game has been restructured to be more accessible to casual gamers and franchise newcomers. That means shorter races and more emphasis on Need For Speed-style upgrading your favorite car to supercar levels. Is it less realistic to see a Toyota GT-86 hanging with actual GT3 race cars? Yes. Is it awesome? No doubt.
Longtime fans of the previous, more serious Project Cars titles may be a bit frustrated by the changes — which removes hardcore features like endurance racing, tire wear and fuel depletion (which also means no pit stops) — but casual newcomers to the franchise can still find a lot to love and hours of enjoyment in Project Cars 3.
Codemasters, Screenshot by Antuan Goodwin/CNET
Dirt 5 is another racing title that’s dived deep into the arcade racing end of the driving game spectrum. Dirt 5 focuses almost exclusively on off-road and rally style racing with a roster of 65 legendary rally and dirt racing vehicles ready to be piloted over 75 courses in 10 locations featuring sand, mud, ice and snow and dynamic weather that changes from lap to lap.
Most of this titles races are short circuit or point-to-point races but Dirt 5 mixes it up with gymkhana style stunt performances, rock-bouncing Pathfinder hill climbs and The Playground — a repository of user-generated stunt tracks and requisite track builder tools that allows players to create and share their custom courses with the community.
The Crew 2 boasts a roster of over 270 licensed cars, trucks, motorcycles, boats and planes that players can swap between on-the-fly as they explore a scaled-down version of the United States. The open world map is absolutely huge and is populated with other players also seeking adventure.
There’s also a wide variety of arcade racing event types to engage with as you make your way from coast to coast, including drift challenges, street racing sprint events, stunts and more.
With the Dirt series pushing deeper into the arcade end of the racing sim spectrum, I was glad when WRC 10 debuted last year to scratch my itch for rallying realism.
WRC 10 improves over its predecessor with more cars, locations and ways to play, including a new 50th anniversary mode that celebrates and recreates great moments from World Rally Championship history dating back to its inception in 1973. The sim now features 19 locations and environments — breaking out to over 120 rally stages to master — and 22 legendary and historical cars from Mitsubishi, Peugeot, Subaru, Toyota and more.
The physics engine has also been updated, with improvements to aerodynamic and suspension simulation, which makes vehicles feel more accurate to their real-life counterparts. Newcomers to digital rallying can activate a revised selection of assist features to help ease into the franchise. Graphic and sound quality have also been improved to take advantage of the processing horsepower and haptic controller feedback offered by the PlayStation 5 console.
Normally, opponents crashing into me during a race is the bane of my existence. In Wreckfest, putting your opponent into a wall or spinning them out of a corner is par for the course. Encouraged even. This demolition derby title pits drivers piloting all sorts of beaters — from muscle cars to panel vans to ride-on lawn mowers (yes, freaking lawn mowers) — against one another on a variety of dirt and tarmac tracks. Players can choose to be a bruiser or, with surprisingly good driving physics, rely on skill and nimbleness to be the last man standing.
Comparison of the best PS4 and PS5 racing games for 2022
|Best PlayStation racing game overall||Gran Turismo 7||$70|
|Best PlayStation circuit racing sim||Assetto Corsa Competizione||$40|
|Best PlayStation Formula One racing game||F1 2021||$20|
|Best PlayStation arcade racer||Project Cars 3||$23|
|Best PlayStation off-road racing game||Dirt 5||$40|
|Best PlayStation rally racing sim||WRC 10||$43|
|Best PlayStation open world racing game||The Crew 2||$20|
|Best PlayStation demolition derby game||Wreckfest||$30|
Racers, start your engines
As I mentioned, this is by no means an exhaustive list and, with the next generation of consoles now pretty well established — and the juggernaut that is Gran Turismo 7 right around the corner — I expect to rediscover enhanced versions of my favorites as well as a few new additions to this list. And for more picks, check out our list of best racing games for Xbox — most of which are cross-platform titles also available on PlayStation consoles. Have fun and drive safely… or go all out, full send; they’re just games after all.
PS4 and PS5 racing games FAQs
What is the best racing game on PS4 and PS5?
The best racing game for PlayStation 4 and 5 consoles depends on whether you’re looking for an accurate racing simulator or something more arcade-y and casual.
At the realistic end of the spectrum, there’s Gran Turismo 7, which boasts a large collection of real-world cars and courses and the most high-quality graphics and physics the PS5 can muster. Players looking for arcade racing fun and high-flying fun (a la Xbox’s Forza Horizon 5) should check out the fast-paced and brightly styled Dirt 5 or The Crew 2.
What is the most realistic driving game on PS4 and PS5?
Currently, the Gran Turismo 7 is the most realistic racing sim on PlayStation consoles, particularly on PS5 where it features ray-traced graphics for showcases and replays, an overhauled audio engine with 3D spatial sound and some of the best tire and suspension simulation we’ve seen on the platform. (Though, the dirt rally portions of the game still leave something to be desired.)
GT7 is a game focused on appreciating the history and tiny details of each car and pinpoint precision in the pursuit of speed. But that means progression can feel slow and tedious — particularly the license events required to progress through the career mode — which may put off fans of more exaggerated arcade racers.
What is the best open world racing game on PlayStation?
The best open world racing game for PS4 and, soon, PS5 consoles is Ubisoft’s The Crew 2, which features free-roaming racing across a scaled-down — but still absolutely massive — version of the United States. There’s a generous roster of cars, as well as planes and boats, and a wide range of activities to choose from. Yes, this title originally debuted in 2018, but it’s still being supported with new content, is a ton of fun and will soon get a framerate update for PS5.
Does the PS4 and PS5 have special accessories available for racing games?
A racing wheel can help players to get the most out of highly realistic racing sims like Gran Turismo 7 and Assetto Corsa. Look for a high-quality wheel and pedal combo that is supported by your game of choice with immersion-boosting force feedback. We’ve rounded up our favorite racing wheels for PlayStation consoles in a range of budgets to get you started.
More arcade-style racing games are usually built around controller play and may not benefit from a wheel or, in some cases, may play worse due to poor implementation. For these types of games, stick with the tried and true PS4 DualShock 4 or the PS5’s new DualSense controller — maybe even pick up a second one for player two.