What are the best racing games on console? If there’s one thing that keeps on improving with every videogame generation, it’s the quality of racing games. The best racing games aim to wow you with stunning visuals, impress you with their realism, or have you howling with laughter as you smash up opponents with some arcade mischief.
In this list of the best racing games on console in 2023, there will definitely be some franchise names you recognise, as well as a few you might not. From hyper-realistic racers that will have you tinkering with your suspension and gear ratios for the perfect flying lap, to the equivalent of a demolition derby, we’ve got great racing games from every part of the spectrum. Racing games are often overlooked when discussing the best games of all time, but this list is here to prove they really can push boundaries and provide amazing experiences, just like the best RPG games and best FPS games.
Best racing games on console
The best racing games on console are:
1. Gran Turismo 7
One of the best PS5 exclusives (and arguably the platform’s best racing game) is Gran Turismo 7. The prodigal racing series by Polyphony Digital has been delighting racing game fans for decades, and GT7 is its greatest achievement yet.
It is a racer’s paradise, with all sorts of Gran Turismo 7 cars on offer. The stunning tracks will put your skills to the test, and the tuning system will have you tinkering under the hood to extract every millisecond you can out of your lap time. It’s a truly next-level racing game – something we talk about in our Gran Turismo 7 review – and one you’d be bonkers to miss out on. While it is maybe more catered towards more hardcore racing game fans, casual or new players can still have a great time, though don’t expect mountains of regular content.
Oh, and Gran Turismo 7 supports VR, and playing it in virtual reality with PSVR 2 is a mind-blowing piece of videogame immersion.
2. Forza Motorsport
Xbox’s answer to the hyper-realistic racing of PlayStation’s Gran Turismo series is Forza Motorsport, and the 2023 entry is a sensational rival for GT7.
Forza Motorsport aims to offer both intense, hardcore racing and super accessible action for more casual players, and succeeds at both. With more settings and assists than you can shake a suspension spring at, anyone of any skill level can tailor Forza Motorsport to their abilities – which is great, because everyone needs to look at how gorgeous this game looks. On the Xbox Series X especially, this game looks frighteningly real sometimes.
Each of the over 500 Forza Motorsport cars is realistically rendered with stunning visuals, sound design, and unique handling that makes each one a joy to drive and master. Likewise, the Forza Motorsport tracks are better than ever, with several great returning track and a number of all-new tracks, with even more to come in future updates. With all the track variation, including alternative routes and how weather greatly impacts handling, there’s so much on offer in Forza Motorsport 2023.
It’s a hard call to say which is the better platform-exclusive sim racer out of Forza Motorsport and GT7 – so let’s just be thankful that both the green and the blue team have incredible, boundary-pushing titles to dive into, shall we?
3. F1 23
F1 23 is a must-play for Formula One fans. It’s arguably the best game from the racing game gurus at Codemasters yet, and part of that is due to the sheer amount of content on offer. The visual enhancements, along with the newer car models with updated physics and adaptive AI, make the races much more challenging and immersive. Alongside this, there’s also two new modes for you to get stuck into.
It is the most authentic F1 racing game to date – something you can read more about in our F1 23 review. The new F1 World mode is also the perfect replacement for F1 Life that fans found rather hollow in the previous game in the series.
4. The Crew Motorfest
‘We have Forza at home’ is what many – particularly those on Xbox – thought when Ubisoft announced The Crew Motorfest. However, Ivory Tower’s third entry into the arcade racing series represents a marked improvement over its predecessors.
Having traded the broad expanse of the US mainland for the scenic sights of O’ahu, Hawaii, The Crew Motorfest doesn’t just feature the best driving mechanics the series has brought to the tarmac yet, but an all-round deeper gameplay experience altogether. Be sure to read more on that in our The Crew Motorfest review, and check out our guide on the best Crew Motorfest cars, boat, motorbike, and plane if you do jump in.
Perhaps most importantly, The Crew Motorfest shakes things up with some incredibly unique races. It’s not just the simple A to B street or off-road racing you would expect, or even the plane and boat races that previously defined the series, but interesting twists on the structure of certain races, though we don’t want to spoil the surprise.
While we’d probably recommend that Xbox players go and check out Xbox exclusive Forza Horizon 5 further down this list for their open-world racing action if you haven’t already, The Crew Motorfest is an excellent alternative, especially for those on PS5.
5. Need for Speed Unbound
Need for Speed games have been a bit hit or miss these past few years but Unbound revived the street racing formula that made titles like Underground and Most Wanted icons in their own right.
The game helps deliver everything a racing game fan could want with a new art style that compliments the world of street racing surprisingly well. And, with Unbound being next-gen focused, its stunning visuals are definitely worth the playthrough.
If you’re looking for serious competitive racing, Unbound isn’t going to provide that. But for more laid back multiplayer racing, and a half-decent single-player story mode too (which features rapper A$AP Rocky making a cameo) Unbound delivers, as we discuss in our Need for Speed Unbound review.
Need for Speed Unbound is available on PS5, Xbox Series X|S, and PC.
6. Assetto Corsa Competizione
Kunos Simulazioni is no stranger to racing games and with Assetto Corsa Competizione, it has upped the ante by making a proper racing simulator that has petrolheads foaming at the mouth.
ACC focuses on GT3 and GT4 cars, which makes it perfect for those looking for a bit of a challenge, and while there’s a big learning curve for this game, the end result is definitely worth it. Unless you’re willing to put some hours in perfecting your driving skills, this one is reserved mainly for the hardcore racers out there.
Assetto Corsa Competizione is available on PS4, PS5, Xbox, and PC.
7. Forza Horizon 5
No matter your experience or preference when it comes to racing games, Forza Horizon 5 is the racing game for you, me, and everyone. Featuring a realistic representation of Mexico’s landscape thanks to photogrammetry, you’ll never get bored in this gorgeous open world, which is packed with cities, deserts, jungles, and even a volcano.
Forza Horizon 5 has the largest in-game map in the series to date and it’s full to the brim with activities for players to dive into. The constant barrage of updates and free live service content also means that the game stays fresh, regardless of how much time you spend playing it. Tack on loads of user-generated content, an enormous range of vehicles, and gameplay that strikes a sweet balance between realism and arcade, and you’ve got what we think is the perfect open world racing game.
While our initial Forza Horizon 5 review gave it a very respectable 9/10, the fact it still draws us in all these years later and boasts a large playerbase suggests that, if anything, we were being a little harsh. The fact its free if you’re an Xbox Game Pass subscriber also still blows our mind to this day. So, hop behind the wheel of the Forza Horizon 5 best car and get racing.
8. Project Cars 2
Slightly Mad Studios brought a storm to a world obsessed with the Gran Turismo and Forza games with Project Cars 2. The series is underrated outside of the hardcore racing game community, but Project Cars 2 has surely earned its status as one of the best racing games.
Featuring realistic handling, car tuning, and weather conditions, its main plus point is how forgiving it is to beginners, despite the focus on realism. This is because, like it’s more arcade counterpart, Forza Motorsport, you can turn off most sim settings, like damage, tire wear, and fuel, as well as activating different assists to make things easier while still maintaining the sublime car handling.
With a huge variety of car classes, Project Cars 2 is a great way to enter the sim-racing scene, offering an approachable yet refined racing experience with immersive cars and detailed tracks.
Project Cars is available on Xbox, PS4, and PC.
If you want something completely different to the rest of the games on this list, then you’re going to want to play Wreckfest, a racing game with carnage at its core.
As a spiritual successor to the FlatOut series, especially FlatOut: Ultimate Carnage – one of our favorite racing games of all time – this title from Bugbear Entertainment features demolition derbies for those brave enough to handle them. If you love chaos, you’ll love this game – especially as you send enemies skyward and watch the mud, sparks, and bodywork panels fly.
Despite the emphasis on chaos and destruction, the handling isn’t any less exceptional. Sure, it’s not a racing sim, rightfully choosing to focus more on an arcade handling system, but every car has such great weight to it. This makes barrelling around a corner at high speed or crashing into another car a simple joy that never gets old, filling the FlatOut: Ultimate Carnage-shaped hole in our hearts. Whether you’ve played its stellar inspiration or not, it’s hard not to have a blast when playing Wreckfest, undoubtedly earning a place among the best racing games.
Wreckfest is available on PS4, PS5, Xbox, Nintendo Switch, and PC.
10. Burnout Paradise Remastered
It’s hard to explain how amazing Burnout Paradise is. Originally released in 2008 and remastered ten years later, Burnout Paradise Remastered is one of the best classic car games ever. And the best bit of all is that it makes crashing feel fun.
Plus, the soundtrack hasn’t aged at all. There’s nothing better driving through Paradise City listening to the likes of Guns N’ Roses and Killswitch Engage.
Burnout Paradise may be a relic now, but it has stood the test of time (and will probably continue to do so for many years to come). It is available on PS4, Xbox, PC, and Nintendo Switch too.
11. Dirt 5
If you want some serious racing, but want to slip, slide, and drift your way to victory, the Dirt series is the way to go, and Dirt 5 is the best of the bunch.
With a proper career mode, new events, and simple driving controls, Dirt 5 provides a top spec racing gear that’ll get you pumped in no time. On the PS5, it also has one of the best utilizations of the DualSense controller’s haptic feedback and adaptive triggers we’ve felt. For quite a lot of games, we’d recommended turning off all of that rumbling and trigger resistance, but Dirt 5 is one of the rare ones where we’d actually advise keeping it on!
12. Hot Wheels Unleashed 2 – Turbocharged
The first game was a blast, and developer Milestone has only gone and doubled the fun in Hot Wheels Unleashed 2. While the target audience of its content is definitely younger gamers, the actual gameplay and arcade racing experience is something everyone can appreciate and enjoy.
With extremely detailed and visually-excellent tracks, and a huge lineup of Hot Wheels cars to fling around them, it’s almost impossible not to play this game without a smile on your face. We expected the sequel to be good, but as you can see in our Hot Wheels Unleashed 2 review, we didn’t think it would be this good.
Hot Wheels Unleashed 2 – Turbocharged is available on PS4, PS5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X|S, alongside Switch and PC as well.
13. DiRT Rally 2.0
The final rally racer produced by Codemasters before it was acquired by EA, DiRT Rally 2.0 is an experience that isn’t for the faint of heart. As expected from a true rally sim, even the slightest slip-ups will see your vehicle of choice – there are a lot of them to choose from – bounce of the barriers.
If you’re new to the rally side of racing, then be prepared for a steep learning curve. But should you master the art, then you’ll become an unstoppable force, no matter which game on this list you opt for next.
Trackmania is the exact opposite of a realistic racer. Like Mario Kart, Trackmania seeks to inject fun, thrills, and creativity in every inch of its design. Echoing the same absurd tracks as the classic Nintendo racer or even the Hot Wheels toys, you’ll race through all kinds of whacky environments at Mach 10, from grand stadiums to winding loops and more.
Playing with friends or random players, races are pure chaos at its finest, with cars flying across canyons, falling off the track, and crashing into each other everywhere. It’s easy to learn but hard to master, making it a compelling racing game to whiz around in.
Perhaps most importantly, thanks to the Trackmania creation tools, you’re able to create your own tracks to race on and share, making it an active community to be a part of.
The biggest downside to Trackmania is that, while it’s technically a free-to-play game, its best content is behind a subscription mode. Nevertheless, you can at least jump into the driver’s seat and give it a go for free before thinking about upgrading.
15. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe
We couldn’t have a list of the best racing games without including the iconic Mario Kart series, with its most recent title, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, being the best yet.
Bringing many of the most iconic characters in gaming together, such as the titular Mario, Link, Donkey Kong, Bowser, Inklings, and more, you begin by selecting your favorite racer. There’s certainly something for everyone in this diverse roster, and even better is that each one controls slightly differently. From here, you get to customize your kart form a variety of unique parts that play into Nintendo’s playfulness, from flower karts to submarine cars and even BMWs, it’s hard not to have fun building your kart. If you’re looking for the best setup though, check out our guide to the best Mario Kart 8 karts.
Then you get to the actual racing, which is some of the best arcade racing around, with great visuals, track design, and immense track variety to bring it all together. You’ll get to speed through iconic Nintendo destinations, from Sunshine Airport and Electrodome to Moo Moo Meadows, Mount Wario, Ribbon Road, and even Cheese Land. Whether you’re playing against the AI or your friends (or even other players online), it’s a joy to race in MK8 Deluxe.
We should also mention that it’s very accessible for all ages, so if you’re looking for a great racing game to play with friends and family, then Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is the way to go. There’s a Smart Steering mode so you won’t go off the course, as well as the general light-hearted tone that permeates every inch of the game.
Unfortunately, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is only available on the Nintendo Switch, as it is a first-party Nintendo title.
And there you have it, the best racing games you can play right now. These are the cream of the crop when it comes to the racing genre. So, if you want to get your adrenaline pumping, get these downloaded now. Among the upcoming new PS5 games and new Xbox games there are plenty of exciting-looking racers, so expect to see more great games added to this list in the near future. See you out on the track.