If you’re just getting into Sim Racing, you might be wondering which sim racing games and race car driving simulators out today are worth your time. Let’s take a look at a few of our top race car driving sims for PC that combine realism and fun.
In this article, we’ll dive deeper into some of the best titles out now for new sim racers.
Forza Horizon Series
The Forza Horizon series doesn’t usually win for most realistic race car driving sims. We don’t care because it’s one of the most fun!
Forza Horizon 5 is the latest in the series and features a beautiful open world representation of Mexico to drive around in. The map is giant and 50% larger than Forza Horizon 4. Players can free explore the open world and compete in multiplayer races, tune their cars and create custom liveries. Also, Forza Horizon 5 has a Hot Wheel’s DLC that lets you drive Hot Wheel cars around.
Forza Horizon 5 does have some downsides: Players report that the game doesn’t work great with a steering wheel vs a controller. It can take some tuning to get it working right. Forza Horizon also is unrealistic. Cars can bunny-hop over mountains, crash into walls and keep moving.
There’s nothing wrong with an “arcade” race car driving sim, it’s just a different feel from traditional sim racing games! Forza Horizon 5 is more casual. It’s a game to kick back with and and cruise around.
|Huge Open-World Experience
|Not very realistic, more of an arcade race car driving sim
|Tons of Cars to Choose From
|May not work great with a steering wheel, some players suggest it’s better suited for controller
BeamNG.drive is an interesting title. It’s not really a race car driving sim, but more of a car driving sim. It’s branded as a vehicle sim game that features soft-body physics. This means it can simulate realistic damage and handling of vehicles. Most elements of the car are simulated, meaning the game gives sim racers the option to crash cars into walls and simulate tearing off oil-pans, fenders and other car parts.
We’ve heard BeamNG.drive described as a mix of Minecraft and Race Car Driving Sims. The game offers tons of customization and add-on mods from the community.
BeamNG.drive is centered around a few modes: campaign, time trials and freeroam. The campaign mode has players complete small scenarios based on themes like stunts, races and chases. Time trials are a race against the clock to set the best lap-time. Freeroam is just that — a mode to drive around in without a goal.
|Detailed and realistic physics engine offers hours of chaos and fun
|Not focused on sim racing
|Sandbox features make BeamNG.drive customizable
|So many options can mean it’s hard to get started
|Can be very demanding on slow computers
Automobilista 2, developed by Reiza Studios, is a hidden gem among race car driving simulator titles. The game shows off a wide range of cars and tracks while showing great attention to detail. The graphics are stunning.
The handling and physics are praised for their authenticity. Also, AI opponents offer a challenging racing experience. Whether you prefer single-player or multiplayer, Automobilista 2 has something for everyone.
|A wide range of cars and tracks with a strong focus on Brazilian motorsports.
|Smaller player base compared to some other race car driving simulator titles.
|Stunning graphics and attention to detail.
|Limited licensed content compared to some other franchises.
Assetto Corsa Competizione
Assetto Corsa Competizione isn’t a sequel to the classic Assetto Corsa, but more of a spinoff. Assetto Corsa Competizione (often abbreviated to ACC) is the ultimate choice for fans of GT3 racing. With a focus on GT3 cars, ACC provides an unmatched level of realism and immersion.
The attention to detail is stunning, from the detailed recreated tracks to the life-like car physics. Assetto Corsa Competizione’s intense multiplayer racing and graphics make it a top pick for competitive sim racers.
|Unmatched authenticity in GT3 racing.
|Limited to GT3 cars and related championships, limiting variety.
|Outstanding graphics and track accuracy.
|Limited mod support compared to Assetto Corsa
Assetto Corsa isn’t a new kid on the block. It was released way back in 2014. While Assetto Corsa Competizione focuses on GT3 racing, its grandpappy, Assetto Corsa, offers a wider selection of cars and tracks. But don’t let that slow you down, because Assetto Corsa has been kept alive with tons of community and mod support. Mods like Content Manager bring the old-school GUI into the modern-age. Further mods like Pure give this classic car racing simulator a graphical update to the modern age.
Assetto Corsa has a great physics engine and plenty of different race types and cars to use with it. Offline races have challenging AI and online servers offer more fun. Assetto Corsa goes on steam sales all the time and you can grab the game and DLC for about $10.
Assetto Corsa is a top sim racing pick for us.
|Not very graphically demanding, can run on nearly any PC
|Takes some time to get mods setup
|Often on sale for $3-$10 with tons of content
|Console versions are lacking features compared to PC
|Tons of customization and mod support keep Assetto modern
iRacing is a controversial title. It’s hard to call it a game because it really is a realistic race car driving simulator. It’s divisive because iRacing is a subscription-based race car driving sim. You pay monthly for the game which gets you some base cars and tracks to get started with on your sim racing journey.
iRacing’s biggest draw is that it enforces a realistic motorsports environment. Players are told to read a document called the sporting code that describes the race car sim in great detail. You’ll gain or lose safety points based on how safe you drive in the game. If you hit someone, you’ll get points taken away. Additionally, players are assigned an iRating. This rating allows for matchmaking that ensures you get a fair set of opponents in your next online race.
One of the best things about iRacing is that you can hop into an online race at any hour of the day. You opponents will have a similar rank as you so you don’t get discouraged. Due to iRacing’s focus on safety, races tend to be less chaotic, although crashes still happen on track. iRacing also has great graphics, but they aren’t going to need a super modern PC, you can play on most any recent gaming computer.
Once you get out of the Rookie league in iRacing, yoy’ll decide which series you want to participate in. Series last for a season, which is 12 weeks long. During a season, the series will use the same car and have a track that changes each week. Outside of the rookie league, you’ll have to purchase a car and tracks for the series you want to run. However, you’ll “own” that car and track for other series that may use the same tracks or cars.
If you’re anything like us, once you try iRacing, you’ll be addicted. There’s nothing quite like perfecting your lap time over and over again or fighting a tough battle with opponents. As soon as you start to get familiar with a track, it changes next week.
For these reasons, we give iRacing the top pick for race car driving simulators. It’s a sim racing game that punches above it’s weight. Give it a try — you won’t regret it.
|Around the clock races available easy matchmaking
|Steep Learning Curve to learn race fundamentals
|Realistic physics engine
|Can be expensive to get started
|Huge catalog of cars and tracks from around the world
|Limited single player options
Our Sim Racing Game Top Picks
Whether you’re new to race car driving simulators and sim racing games or just getting started, we hope our guide helps you pick a great game to begin with! Enjoy your sim racing journey!
By the way, you might want to pick up a sim racing cockpit to play your sim racing games in. Check out our article What in the world is a Sim Racing Cockpit? to learn more