Top 11 Best Open World Racing Games

Sometimes you want to just jump into a car and barrel down the open road. In this list, we cover the very best open-world racing games you can play right now for the PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, and the Nintendo Switch platforms.


#11 Forza Horizon 4

The Forza Motorsport franchise offers players a simulation racing gameplay experience. In a lot of ways, it surpassed other franchises in the marketplace and offered an Xbox alternative to the PlayStation Gran Turismo IP. Over the year’s we’ve seen new installments release that further enhanced the gameplay and realism for players. However, if you’re not a fan of realism simulation racing games, but instead enjoy the likes of arcade-style racers then you had the Forza Horizon series. That’s not to say that this is strictly an arcade game but rather a blend of simulation and arcade-style gameplay so you’re getting the best of both worlds here.

This time around we’re thrown into a fictionalized Great Britain map to race around in with the benefit of a dynamic weather system along with seasons. There’s also a rather large map to race around in. Not to mention, there are different style terrains for races so you could go through some rough terrains in a rally car or simply hit the streets with a beefed up muscle car. Furthermore, as you probably could have expected, there are customization options for players to really tweak their car for either performance or cosmetics.

#10 Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit Remastered

The Need for Speed franchise has been around for ages. After getting its start in 1994, this series has gained some massive notoriety. One of the bigger hits from this franchise came out in 1998 which was Need for Speed III: Hot Pursuit, and that was later remade in 2010. Much like other Need for Speed games, players are racing AI or other players across different tracks. However, there was the additional element of a police force being present that was tasked to take the players down.

It’s a cat and mouse style of game where you’re not only attempting to finish the race first but also keeping away from the police. This game also features an open-world to drive around within or simply travel to the next race. Fortunately, this game received a remastered edition last year, 2020, so you can enjoy this game on the likes of the PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch platforms.

#9 Grand Theft Auto V

The Grand Theft Auto franchise really blew up with the last mainline installment, Grand Theft Auto V. It was also the fastest-selling entertainment product in history to earn $1 billion in just three days. It might have launched in 2013, but this title is still thriving today, mostly thanks to its online multiplayer component, Grand Theft Auto Online.

Set in Los Santos, 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 different style races. They can be anything from racing within the city or even on makeshift courses floating in the skies.

#8 The Crew 2

The Crew 2 really expanded on the first game where the developers give players this massive open-world map of the United States to race through. Now obviously it’s not a direct copy of everything in the United States but more of a collection of cities and towns from coast to coast. With that said you can still expect to see staples featured in this game such as New York City, Las Vegas, and Detroit just to name a few.

This is a racing game but you’re able to freely explore as well. Best of all, the game doesn’t force you to stay in just a car as you can swap between a car, speedboat, on the fly. So you could be barreling down a road in a supped up race car, transition right into a plane to fly over on top of a lake before plopping down below in a speedboat.

#7 SnowRunner

Okay, so SnowRunner is not much of a racing game as it is a trucking simulation title that pins several challenges against players. In this title, players are tasked with gathering gear or transportation but doing it through a series of difficult terrain locations. For instance, you might find yourself in a snowy mountain to a swampy bog.

Knowing how to prepare for the journey and getting through the obstacles on this map is pretty key. Fortunately, as you progress in the game you’ll be rewarded with several upgrade paths that will allow you to get the necessary equipment or accessories that will allow your vehicle to keep on trucking. To top it off there’s a multiplayer component as well so you can enjoy some off-road adventures with some friends.  

#6 Driver: San Francisco

The Driver series got its start back in 1999 and over the years it’s received just a handful of installments, one of which is Driver: San Francisco. This game launched in 2011 where you take the role of a cop attempting to take down the crime flooding the city. There’s an overall storyline here for players to go through which we won’t spoil but it sets players up with several car chases. However, what sets this game out from the pack is that players can quickly snap into an overview of the city and select a random car to take control of.

Of course, outside of the missions, there are different style races players can partake in around the city. Unfortunately, the game has been delisted online which means you’ll need to hunt down a physical copy to enjoy this game. However, there is a petition online that’s gained quite the traction of over 100,000 signatures pleading for Ubisoft to bring this game back for players to purchase once again online.

#5 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. Everything from constructing the motor to the finish of your vehicle is available. 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 having to watch the protagonist’s vital signs such as hunger, thirst, and even urine. As I said, it’s a bit of a wacky game.

Right now, the title is only in early access on Steam, but it’s been a hit and you’ve likely seen YouTube videos or streamers going through this game. As mentioned, this is an early access title so you will see some additions to the game throughout its development such as new support features and challenges. If you’re wanting something a bit more out there then My Summer Car might just do the trick.

#4 BeamNG.drive

BeatmNG.drive is a bit of 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. So what this means is that when players go through the racing game or simply drive around in the open-world map, anytime you hit something, you’ll see the vehicle behave a bit more realistic.

From metal caving in or bending from either a hard hit or a small fender bender, the physics is pretty on point with this game. Likewise, you’ll see the car react a bit more realistic on different terrains as the car body will shift from side to side when going across rougher pathways. With that said, this game is still in early access since it launched in 2015 so it’s tough to say just when we can expect the full game launch into the market.

#3 Burnout Paradise Remastered

The Burnout series has been a popular video game racing franchise for several console generations now. Originally, Burnout Paradise was released in 2008 that included an open world map, several different types of races, and select game modes. Now just a couple of years ago we have a remastered edition to enjoy on more current generation video game console platforms. This is just a fun game to play where you have this big map that really opens up different pathways you can take to reach either your destination or just a different area of the city.

If you’re familiar with the Burnout series then you know it’s an arcade-style racing game which means you’re going to barreling down these roads at unrealistic speeds. As a result, you’re going to crash a whole lot. Fortunately, the game makes each crash feel intense and mesmerizing as you watch your car or bike flip around the street and deal even more damage to the surrounding area. Being that this is a remastered edition, you’re going to get all the previously released DLC packs.

#2 Assetto Corsa

Assetto Corsa is a big difference from Burnout Paradise Remastered, our previous game. This is a more simulation racing game with the development team offering detailed physics that even goes as far as tire simulation on the tracks. You have a wide assortment of different races that you can partake in both online and offline, but the reason we have this game on our list is the open-world aspect.

This game is full of different maps both officially and mod created. Fans have created all kinds of different maps to some that are just big cities to different areas from in real life such as cruising through the LA Canyons or the Shuto Expressway from Japan. There’s a really active community online that’s constantly adding more open-world maps to free roam in, all you have to do is search around online to find which you want to explore first.

#1 Need for Speed Heat

Lastly, we have Need for Speed Heat. This is the latest offering for the franchise that isn’t remastered. Released in 2019, Need for Speed Heat throws players into Palm City, a fictional city that resembles Miami, Florida. Much like the series is known for, this is another arcade style racing game that players can race around the city, partake in races, along with customizing their vehicles. If you’ve been a fan of the Need for Speed franchise for very long then you might find that this game acts a bit like the Underground series which for a lot of people, is a good thing.

Visually, the game is quite stunning, it’s a tropical kind of setting that offers both a day and night option. Really, where the game looks best is during the night with the neon lights illuminating the city and puddles on the road which makes the map kind of pop. Again, as of writing this game description, Need for Speed Heat is the latest installment available so you should find a pretty active community online.


Bonus

Dakar 18

For a bonus game, we wanted to bring up Dakar 18. This is a rally game that’s actually based on the annual rally raid held by Amaury Sport Organization. In the game, players can race across these massive sand dunes where you’ll work with your partner as they give out different navigational points. However, you can still just get lost and race around this open world sand dune map. Best of all, you have multiple different vehicles to race around in such as a car, quad, truck, motorcycle, and UTV.