Table of Contents[Hide][Show]
Racing games aren’t usually the first thing people imagine when they hear “open world,” but you’d be surprised. Whether it’s exploring the city for a fun diversion or zooming down the open road looking for interesting tracks and challenges, here are our picks for the best open-world racing games across PC and consoles.
#16 Motor Town: Behind The Wheel
While you won’t find Motor Town: Behind The Wheel to be the most visually impressive game, it has its own unique style. This is a game all about driving. Players take on different jobs in the hopes of earning money, which can be used to fund new vehicles or upgraded parts. Everything is here, whether you’re wanting a competitive racing game, to work as a taxi driver, to deliver cargo for a trucking company, or to be a school bus driver. Players also enjoy the realistic physics this game offers. Currently, Motor Town: Behind The Wheel is in early access on Steam with Overwhelmingly Positive reviews and a 10/10 Steam rating.
#15 CarX Drift Racing
CarX Drift Racing is all about tweaking your vehicles to perform their best as you drift along different courses. You’ll get to tune your vehicles for different tracks in cities around the world. Ultimately, the more you drift, the more points you’ll rank up. With that said, it’s worth mentioning that this game features a few different DLC packs. These will grant you different skins or vehicles. Regardless, the base game has been well received since it launched in 2017, and for the low price, it’s an easy sell.
#14 Car Mechanic Simulator 2021
Car Mechanic Simulator 2021 is precisely what it sounds like. The game puts players into the shoes of a mechanic at a garage. Whether you find these beat-up cars at old farms or you buy them in auctions, it’s all about getting cars and flipping them for a profit. With the latest installment, players are given even more tools of the trade to help make the job easier. There are also new parts and aspects to maintain from the vehicles, such as fluids. Of course, when you’re not fixing up cars, you can test them out yourself by driving around.
#13 Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy – Definitive Edition
Grand Theft Auto: The Trilogy combines three games into a singular edition remastered for the PS5. Giving players full access to the iconic worlds of Grand Theft Auto III, Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, and Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas on new generation platforms, players can choose from a wide variety of cars to store at their homes and drive around at their leisure. That is, when you aren’t caught up in the chaos of San Andreas or in the mobster career of Tommy Vercetti in Vice City.
Racing isn’t the only way to engage with cars in GTA. While there are racing segments in each game, we wouldn’t call that the goal or main focus of the Grand Theft Auto series. As most gamers already know, the fun in Grand Theft Auto is messing around in the open world. To some, that may mean blasting a rocket launcher off a skyscraper toward unsuspecting civilians. To others, it may mean trying to survive a 5-star police chase. The sky’s the limit in these classic titles.
#12 Forza Horizon 4
The Forza Motorsport franchise offers players the simulation racer of their dreams. Surpassing other franchises in the marketplace, it offered an Xbox alternative to PlayStation’s Gran Turismo IP. Forza Horizon 4 is a blend of simulation and arcade-style gameplay, so players can expect the best of both worlds.
This time around, we’re thrown into a fictionalized Great Britain with the benefit of a dynamic weather system as well as seasons. There’s also a rather large map featuring different terrains, including rough terrains perfect for traversing in a rally car or city streets made for a beefed-up muscle car. As you probably could have expected, there are customization options for players to use to really tweak their car for performance or cosmetics.
#11 Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit Remastered
Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit Remastered is a racing game that brings Cops and Robbers to the next level. A remaster of the original Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit which came out over a decade ago, players will have to think quick whether they’re on the run from the law or chasing down criminals. The entire city is your playground and the possibilities are near limitless when it comes to discovering new routes and shortcuts.
#10 Grand Theft Auto V
Grand Theft Auto V is a great example of open-world game design that encourages players to venture outside of their main storyline objectives. Set in the fictional state of San Andreas in California, the game features a mixture of open countryside and city-based settings. The fictional city of Los Santos was based on modern-day Los Angeles, which lends a feeling of authenticity to the gameplay in a way that many players have really connected with. Players have a massive city to race around in a wide range of cars that are constantly getting expanded online. To really make use of the races, your best bet would be playing Grand Theft Auto Online as you’ll get a wider range of races.
#9 The Crew 2
Originally released for the PS4, The Crew 2 puts you in the shoes of an ambitious racer looking to become the best land, air, and sea racer on the planet. You’ll compete with 4 different families of racers unlocking specific car bodies and parts per family. The game really shines in its recreation of the United States–players can explore The Rocky Mountains, lock into the grid of New York City, or drive along the Mississippi River. As usual, the cars are customizable and have unlockable parts based on rarity that you can earn throughout the game.
While not necessarily a racing game, SnowRunner is more of an open-world-driving sim with RPG elements. You’ll drive a variety of trucks over challenging terrain transporting materials to complete tasks which will help you navigate the map more easily. You’ll deliver materials for drilling contracts, build pipelines, restore railways, rebuild truck factories, and much more. The game features 3 different regions, from the winding mountain paths in Michigan to the rugged peninsula of Northern Russia. Each region brings about its own environment with different challenges.
If you’re looking for a cooperative game, this one is for you! SnowRunner features crossplay between Xbox One, PS4, and Nintendo Switch platforms.
#7 Driver: San Francisco
The fifth installment in the Driver series, this 2012 game sees players exploring a fictional version of San Fransisco while solving missions in a collection of swanky real-world cars. The title allows players to switch to any car mid-mission without having to start over. Since you’re controlling a cop, the game is all about catching the bad guys–but the game also includes an impressive cops and robbers split-screen mode. Police chases and old-school fun with friends? Sign us up.
Unfortunately, the game has been delisted online which means you’ll need to hunt down a physical copy to enjoy it. However, there is a petition online that’s gained traction, pulling in over 100,000 signatures pleading for Ubisoft to bring this game back for players to purchase once again online.
#6 My Summer Car
My Summer Car is a bit of a wacky simulation game. Players are given a small garage and parts to assemble their car, asking them to do everything from constructing the motor to applying the finish. From there, you’re able to roam the open world, complete missions, earn money, and further upgrade your car. There’s also a survival element to this game as well, with players needing to watch the protagonist’s vital signs such as hunger, thirst, and when they need to use the restroom.
Right now, the title is only in early access on Steam, but it’s been a hit. You’ve likely seen YouTube videos or streamers enjoying it, and for good reason. It’s a great game to play when you want to laugh with your friends.
BeatmNG.drive is a unique racing game as it’s mainly a means to showcase a more accurate physics engine. The video game highlights the soft-body physics that the developers put into the game. When players go through the races or simply drive around in the open-world map, anytime you hit something, you’ll see the vehicle behave a bit more realistically.
From metal caving in or bending from either a hard hit or a small fender bender, the physics are frighteningly accurate. This game is still in early access since being launched in 2015, so it’s tough to say when we can expect the full game to launch. Either way, if you love cars, this is a curious little title to add to your library.
#4 Burnout Paradise: Remastered
Originally released in 2008, Burnout Paradise Remastered is a racing game defined by destruction. Smash the NO2 to speed up or smash your opponents in this high-energy arcade racer designed to allow you to cruise for hours on end in Paradise City. The game handles very well and has some cool visual effects like the screen shaking or showers of sparks shooting up behind your vehicle as you tear up the city streets. You’ll find yourself not only driving a car but also switching to a motorcycle from time to time. The game also features multiplayer and a versus mode called Cops and Robbers.
#3 Assetto Corsa
Assetto Corsa is an enigma among the other games on this list. While others feature high-octane races with dramatic jumps and stunts, Assetto Corsa remains grounded in reality. Take to the streets while actually feeling the weight of the car you’re driving and watch your momentum. Realistic driving physics are the name of the game here, making this a more immersive experience.
This game is full of different maps both official and mod-created. Fans have created all kinds of different maps, from the L.A. Canyons to the Shuto Expressway in Japan. There’s an active community online that’s constantly adding more open-world maps, so jump in.
#2 Need for Speed Heat
Originally released for the PS4 and Xbox One, Need for Speed: Heat is an open-world racer that features a day and night mode. During the day, you can partake in sanctioned races, allowing you to earn money to purchase new cars. At night, you can take part in illegal street racing which earns you a reputation to purchase new gear. Both times of day are switchable and are not dynamic. The game also features an app allowing you to customize your cars from your phone.
The game looks like a really fun arcade racer, but perhaps a little dead when it comes to the population of the world. Either way, the racing bit is top-notch.
#1 Forza Horizon 5
What started as a spin-off from the stricter Motorsport series, Forza Horizon has continued to grow with each iteration. From America to the UK and right back to Mexico (albeit fictionalized versions of each), Horizon boasts some of the lushest graphics and realistic interpretations of era-defining cars for petrolheads to play around with. There’s also plenty to see and do, taking in gorgeous views as you find hidden cars, coves, and collectibles along the way. You’ll also be dealing with a number of weather conditions, from dust storms to tropical downpours.
Developed by Deep Silver, Dakar 18 is a game based on an intensive annual off-road rally race organized by the same group behind the Tour De France.
The game is absolutely massive, featuring over 11,000 miles of explorable land split between South American countries Bolivia, Argentina, and Peru. The environment is also completely dynamic, simulating a real environmental cycle. Besides the in-depth exploration aspect, you’ll also be able to compete in races online and offline in three different modes: Rookie, Competitor, and Legend. In Rookie Mode, players have a compass and vehicles are more difficult to repair. In Competitor Mode, there is no compass, vehicles are more fragile, and repairs cost more points. Legend Mode is unlocked once the player beats competitor mode.