There are a ton of different racing video game titles out there. It’s a big market and a wide variety of titles launch that is great for newcomers and fans of the genre in general. However, those that want a more simulation approach to driving will find the list of titles to be a bit more limited.
In this list, we’re going to be focusing on games that put more focus on simulation-style driving rather than arcade racing games. It’s not a lengthy list either but some of these simulation games have held up incredibly well over the years and they are well worth playing today.
#8 Driving Essentials
Driving Essentials is a rather different game compared to some of the other driving simulation games on this list, but it’s a solid choice for those that are not old enough to get behind the wheel yet. With Driving Essentials, kids have a better understanding of different aspects of driving. Think of this as a teaching aid for those that are getting ready to get into driver’s training.
It’s a title that offers a look at different beginner lessons such as using signals, what certain signs may mean, driving with a certain amount of distance from another vehicle, using your mirrors, checking the blind spots, to different accident scenarios that may come from being distracted. This is a great way to start getting kids to understand the responsibilities of being behind the wheel.
#7 Assetto Corsa: Ultimate Edition
Assetto Corsa was released quite a few years ago at this point after its initial launch into the marketplace in 2014, but it’s still a fan favorite racing simulation video game. This video game is packed with content and it’s thanks to the long line of DLC releases that brings in well over a hundred different vehicles into the mix. You’ll find cars that range from styles and eras, which all seem to have plenty of detail put into them. As a result, there’s plenty of immersion here for fans that want to feel like they are driving in a different vehicle than the last.
It’s not all about the change of speed and design but instead a change in how the car will behave on the road. For a slightly older title in this list, this is one game that we can still recommend if you’re wanting a driving simulation style of the video game. With that said, it’s best to go for the Assetto Corsa: Ultimate Edition which will come with all the previously released DLC.
#6 Dirt Rally 2.0
Dirt Rally 5 may be the mainline installment available but those wanting a simulation-style game may want to divert their attention to the 2019 release of Dirt Rally 2.0. This is a strict simulation racing game where players are having to pay attention to the course alongside their vehicle. If you’re not the biggest Dirt Rally enthusiast then it might be best to enjoy Dirt Rally 5 which is certainly a lot more accessible all around. With that said, Dirt Rally 2.0 will deliver a driving simulation challenge.
The courses hand-built up are not only gorgeous to look at but designed to mimic a white-knuckle race. Your vehicle will react with each bump in the road and if you’re not careful, you can very well run off the course, hill, or just flip your car over. With that said, this game does feature the ability to make several tweaks to your car along with hiring crew members that can further buff up your tuning before races.
SnowRunner is a driving simulation game that puts more of a focus on the various difficult terrains you’ll be navigating through. Players are essentially driving through different paths that might be muddy mountains to a snowy tundra. While driving around these courses are some of the main focuses of the game, there are a series of different challenges as well. These challenges can be varied as well such as getting another vehicle of a difficult position or helping out a stuck truck that’s out of gas.
Of course, to get through these different terrains, you’ll need to ensure your vehicle is suitable for the job. That may require fine-tuning your vehicle or adding some extra goodies to it such as an exhaust snorkel. There’s even four-player cooperative gameplay which means you can have a bit more fun driving through these rough pathways.
#4 Project Cars 2
The Project Cars franchise has three solid installments available but there can be some debates between the latest installment, Project Cars 3 along with the last entry to the series, Project Cars 2. This latest installment tends to give players a more arcade-style feeling so we opted to select Project Cars 2 for this list. Just because this game came out a few years ago doesn’t mean it’s not going to hold up great today. It’s a fantastic style simulation racing game and it unloads on all kinds of options along with features. This title features a ton of different vehicles and a wide range of race track courses from around the world. It’s worth noting that you can tweak how these courses behave a bit thanks to the dynamic weather options.
Whether you want a calm sunny morning, a late-night race, or you can get a bit chaotic with options such as heavy rain and blizzard-like conditions, it’s all here for players to make use of. These conditions will of course alter the driving experience and give players just another step of a more realism style racing game. For those of you who like to work under the hood, there are options for making a variety of tuning selections for your vehicles but even if you’re not a pro at what to do when you open up the hood, there are guides to give tips and suggestions.
#3 F1 2020
2020 was a bit of a missed year for a lot of things but we did receive a really solid F1 video game. F1’s series of video game titles always delivers in some pretty great simulation-style races, but F1 2020 takes things to a new level. The racing simulation is on point here and you’ll find that there’s plenty of realism to give F1 sports fans the feel of racing through some incredible courses.
However, where the game shines is not just the driving simulation, but the management component of a career mode. Players are not just the driver of an organization but the owner of one as well. You’ll create a team and begin hiring for various staff members. From there it’s all about building your organization up and not just tweaking your vehicle.
This means keeping an eye on your profits and gaining those sponsorship deals to ensure you’re able to compete against other iconic teams. However, if you’re a newcomer to the franchise and may feel that this game will be a bit too much for you to handle then there are some assist modes to help you along the way. There’s quite a few assist options at that as well with different aspects such as aiding in fuel, DRS, to more traditional assist settings such as braking and driving proficiency.
#2 Nascar Heat 4
Nascar has a strong following and the latest installment available is Nascar Heat 5 in terms of video game franchise. However, Nascar Heat 4 edges out the latest installment for quite a few fans out there. This is a strong focused simulation game and it can be a bit much for newcomers who might find all the tweaks and tuning options to be cumbersome. The game offers two career-style modes one of which you can take control as only the driver and another that gives you access to building up your team. The latter will also come with its share of challenges such as hiring staff, ensuring your facility makes improvements, gathering sponsorship deals, along controlling your finances.
Fortunately, there is the option to start at any series you’d like rather than having to complete each series in a succession to progress. So if you rather jump right to the Xfinity Series then that’s available to you which I imagine is a plus for plenty of fans. Meanwhile, as I mentioned earlier, there is quite a comprehensive tuning selection for your vehicle and each course will require a new tune for your car. Players will be able to tweak several aspects of their vehicle such from categories including tires, springs, shocks, to the weight.
This will give your driving simulation experience a bit more realism for the player, but again those that are new to the series or might not have as much knowledge behind the effects each decision has may find it a struggle to tune for each race. With all that said, if you’re wanting a bit more tasks during your races then there’s a variety of challenges implemented in the game as well. These challenges can vary quite a bit such as starting a race with a car already having a massive lead.
#1 Gran Turismo Sport
The Gran Turismo franchise has been a popular racing simulation video game that’s exclusive to the Sony PlayStation line of consoles. Each installment really unleashes the power of the console with a slew of detailed vehicles, courses, and stunning backdrops. One of the latest installments for the franchise is Gran Turismo Sport and the creator Kazunori Yamauchi noted that this was the first installment to a brand new era of Gran Turismo video games. There are three main game modes featured here in this title which include a campaign, sports mode, and an arcade mode.
While gamers can race both online and offline with Gran Turismo Sport just like the previous installments of the franchise though it will lack dynamic weather and a day-night cycle. One of the biggest new features for the Gran Turismo series in this game was the fact that there is a VR option. Players could get an even more immersive game experience if they opt for the VR headset and go through the VR Tour mode. It certainly brings a more simulated experience if you have the headset. However, it’s completely optional so you’re not out of luck if you don’t own the PSVR.