For almost as long as there have been video games, there have been games about driving fast. It's not hard to imagine why: Driving is one of those truly universal pleasures, and whether your preferred vehicle of choice is a tube-frame kart or an exotic supercar, there's a racing game out there you're sure to enjoy. From party favorites like Mario Kart to punishingly realistic simulators like Project Cars 2, here's our list of the best racers on every platform.
The benchmark for sim racing dating all the way back to the days of the original PlayStation, Gran Turismo finally arrived on Sony's latest hardware last fall in the form of GT Sport. While previous titles in the series adopted a car-PG approach, GT Sport is a more modern experience centered on competitive online multiplayer. That's not to say it's any less visually stunning or satisfying behind the wheel — Gran Turismo has long been a technological tour de force for Sony's hardware, and GT Sport carries on the brand's legacy for painstaking realism and attention to detail.
Criterion Games' 2008 combat racer must be pretty special to come back a decade later and earn a spot on our list. Burnout Paradise was a revelation when it released, and there's a very good reason why it's gone down as a cult classic: It's simply the most fun you can have on four (or two) wheels. Paradise took the formula perfected in Burnout 3: Takedown and expanded it to an open world teeming with spaces to discover, epic jumps to clear and collectible billboards to smash. It was a game you could fully enjoy alone and somehow came even more alive when you were running amok with friends in free roam. And its diverse soundtrack (which returns in full in Remastered) only enhanced the action. Seriously, what better driving music could there possibly be than Avril Lavigne's "Girlfriend"?
OnRush is a team-oriented combat racer that borrows as much from modern hero shooters like Overwatch as it does from the likes of Burnout and Blur. However, there's no conventional racing in OnRush. Rather, your duty is to score points, deliver ruthless takedowns and drive through checkpoints for your squad.
The aim differs depending on the game mode. Switch, for example, starts all contenders on bikes with a number of lives, before moving them up to heavier vehicles every time they're destroyed. The last team standing wins. Another mode, Lockdown, is kind of like Domination in Call of Duty or Battlefield, with all drivers trying to occupy a zone for as long as possible to take it for their side.
OnRush was developed by the team responsible for Driveclub and Motorstorm, before the studio was shuttered and moved house to Codemasters. That means you can expect jaw-dropping visuals and handling with pinpoint precision — not to mention one of the most thrilling multiplayer racing experiences you're likely to find this generation.
If you grew up with sprite-scaling joyrides like Out Run and Top Gear, you're going to love Horizon Chase Turbo. This is the latest incarnation of a retro-inspired racer that originally debuted on iOS and Android, but has just made its way to PS4 and PC. The Turbo release throws in even more send-ups of legendary vehicles, as well as a modernized interface and enhanced low-poly graphics that would look perfectly at home in the arcades next to Sega's Virtua Racing. There's even a four-player mode to teleport you and your friends to the heyday of couch multiplayer. But you could argue Horizon Chase's best feature is actually its soundtrack, which was composed by Barry Leitch — the very same man behind the original Top Gear's score more than 25 years ago.
Credit: Aquiris Game Studio
Out of literally nowhere, rally games have made a stunning comeback. Between the likes of the WRC series, Gravel and the recently-announced return of V-Rally, off-road fans will soon have more options than they've ever enjoyed at any point over the past decade. That said, Codemasters maintains the benchmark in the genre with Dirt 4. The career mode has been fleshed out from Dirt Rally, allowing players to run their very own team by hiring and firing crew, signing sponsors and designing liveries. And with the innovative Your Stage system, no two legs of a rally are exactly the same, which embodies the unpredictable nature of the sport. Perfectly tuned physics and a plethora of vehicles including Group B legends, as well as modern subcompacts and stadium trucks, complete the package.
In terms of scope, there's no other racing game that does what Microsoft continues to do with its Forza Motorsport series. With 700 cars, Forza 7 contains the largest roster of any racer of this generation. Add to that a laundry list of customization features, a redesigned career mode, and 32 tracks ranging from fictional fan favorites like Maple Valley to historic locales like Monza and Le Mans, and there simply isn't a bigger racing experience in the world right now. Did we mention it looks absolutely stunning in 4K on Xbox One X?
There's a reason Mario Kart 8 Deluxe set a record last year for the fastest-selling game in the franchise. The original Mario Kart 8 debuted on the Wii U, where it was hailed as an all-time great kart racer, although it found a very small audience on Nintendo's doomed last-gen console. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe on the Switch carries over all of the earlier version's DLC and brings back Battle Mode, a mainstay of previous games in the series. Between its astonishing track design, buttery-smooth gameplay at 60 frames per second and 1080p (when docked) and the ultimate challenge of the F-Zero-fast 200cc mode, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is the wildest thrill ride Nintendo has ever produced.