20 Best Driving Games to Play Today
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20 Driving Games to Beat the Social-Distancing Blues
Crank open the foot rest on the recliner because once you start playing these games there's no returning to reality.
Apr 14, 2020
Ryan OlbryshCar and Driver
Video games take the difficult, and oftentimes the impossible, and turn them into reality. With the advent of VR, next-gen graphics, and online multiplayer options, the gaming world offers a digital equivalent to nearly every hobby. And while we'd prefer to spend our time behind the wheel of a real car, sometimes that's just not possible. Enter the wide world of driving games.
From demolition derby to Formula 1, there's a high-quality game enticing enough to occupy us for hours at a time. Whether you're bored and looking for a new distraction or a competitive racer looking to sharpen your skills, one or more of these 20 driving games is sure to appeal to you.
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Wreckfest is just good, old fun. While wrecking is the name of the game, that's not all this modern title has to offer. It's also a bona-fide racing game with solid vehicle dynamics and realistic crash modeling. Motorized couches and car-eating harvesters, however, stand as a reminder that you're playing a game like no other. If you feel like testing your mettle with other players, there's an online game-play mode. The more introverted, however, have access to a vast selection of single-player events.
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Who hasn’t dreamed of being a stuntman? Stuntman: Ignition follows the life of a Hollywood stuntman hungry for stardom. Players have to perform a variety of picture-perfect tricks behind the wheel of several types of vehicles. Released in 2007, this game may take a bit for the casual player to get into. Still, we think trying and trying and trying again to pull off the perfect stunt is a great way to fill a rainy day. Action!
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Dust off the PlayStation and get ready to rumble. As if real NASCAR wasn't wild enough, NASCAR Rumble cranks everything up a few notches. Think of Jess Harnell, the game's omnipresent voice from on high, as your personal spotter motivating you to bump and grind your way to success. Instead of just trading paint, players can employ everything from oil slicks to natural disasters in their effort to get ahead. Which means yes, you can send a tornado to take first place in this smash hit.
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Car and Driver
Gran Turismo Sport
If you're playing Gran Turismo Sport with a controller, you're doing it wrong. GT Sport is the marque's latest release, and it adds layers of polish to previous titles. This latest version's bread and butter is online play, which continues to move the series away from its roots. Where older versions sat squarely in the arcade category, GT Sport blurs those lines with simulation-quality vehicle dynamics and realistic wheel-to-wheel action. If you haven't caught a live national event yet, we suggest subscribing to their YouTube channel to watch the entertaining FIA-certified National and Manufacturer Series Championships.
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My Summer Car
Typically, survival games simulate what it's like to have to eat, drink, and fight zombies. My Summer Car nixes the latter for the sake of an odd little narrative and a project car. Prepare to be lost in rural Finland as you put together a Datsun 100A look-alike. Earn money emptying septic tanks or selling kilju (home-brewed wine) to your alcoholic neighbor who has no intention of recovery. This indie title is rich with humor and silliness, and it breathes new life into a genre that often smells like diesel fumes and cigarette smoke. It's a good time.
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Car and Driver
Forza Motorsport 7
Forza has always been a visceral game, and the current installment, Forza 7, does a great job continuing that legacy. The game's biggest strength is its variety, offering players the ability to pilot more than 700 unique vehicles. Want to race a trophy truck? It's here. Want to race an Arctic-ready Land Cruiser? Sure. And the list goes on. Forza 7 takes the best aspects of a racing sim and arcade driving game and smashes them together into a high-octane digital meat pie.
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American Truck Simulator
They can't stay home, they're truck drivers! But now you can stay home and pretend to be a truck driver with American Truck Simulator. Your goal is to deliver the goods and make money, upgrade your trucks, buy new ones, and hire drivers. You know, you get to build the biggest and best trucking business out there. The game takes place in a world geographically similar to the western United States, and you visit cities like Las Vegas, San Diego, Phoenix, and Seattle. Under the current advisory against travel, ATS might be the best way to visit cities in the west.
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iRacing is the king of racing simulators. Used by new and professional racers alike, this simulation gives its players access to a broad network of top-notch competitive series and championships. So, what's the catch? Well, for some it’s the $12 per month it's going to cost you to play. For anyone looking for a serious, intense, and rule-based way to virtually improve your real-life skills on the track, however, this is it.
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Car and Driver
Grand Theft Auto Online
The GTA series has spawned some of the most awesome scenario-based games the world has seen. Its online mode especially has given birth to a number of interesting communities. Last month GTA threw yet another one on the pile with the introduction of both F1 cars and competitive races. It doesn't deliver the realism of a dedicated racing sim, but we're happy to see motorsports integrated into an already fantastic experience. It's a violent type of fun.
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Need for Speed: Heat
Like all the NFS games before it, Heat arrives with intense street racing and relentless police officers . The game features plenty of great, customizable cars with options ranging from paint jobs to engine tuning. There's a companion app called Need for Speed: Heat Studio, which allows you to customize cars in the app and then send them to your game. The story mode is engaging, and the police chases are ruthless, as are the street racers you face off against.
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Project Cars 2
Despite being slightly lost in the shadow of franchises like Forza and Gran Turismo, Project Cars 2 holds its own as a proven simulator. All 140 available track layouts are superb, thanks to the game's LiveTrack 3.0 system, which uses AI to change each track as the race progresses based on surface temperature and weather. PC2 improves on the original Project Cars by including manufacturers like Porsche, Lamborghini, and Ferrari, to name a few. History nerds will love the selection of vintage Indy cars and some of the most nostalgic gran-touring cars ever.
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Mario Kart 8
The latest installment of a perennial favorite, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is available exclusively on the Nintendo Switch. For those of you who have been away from the Mario Kart series, worry not, as 8 Deluxe is as true as ever to the original Super Mario Kart that came out in 1992 on SNES. You still have wacky tracks, an arsenal of items, and a character lineup that's only grown since the original. Recent versions have added gliders, underwater racing, motorcycles, and vehicle customization, all of which only add to the entertainment. No matter how long you're stuck at home, chances are you'll still have fun playing Mario Kart.
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Assetto Corsa Competizione
Do you yearn to try your hand at an endurance race without the perils associated with driving for such a long period of time? If so, we would highly recommended Assetto Corsa Competizione for you. It sets itself apart from traditional racing simulator games thanks to its unique game-play choices, including two different weekend racing options, one of which simulates an endurance race like the 24 Hours of Spa. The game is an officially licensed simulation of the 2018 and 2019 Blancpain GT Series for both sprint and endurance races. It also serves as a major e-sports platform for serious gamers. If you've got extra time on your hands, maybe that's an avenue you’d want to explore with Assetto.
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This is undoubtedly the most meta game on our list. Its designers at Capcom made something special by applying a cel-shading style to the visual design, which gives it an anime-like feel. Despite the game's variety of modification and vehicle-tuning options, Auto Modellista died upon its release because of subpar driving dynamics. Seventeen years later, however, it's aged handsomely and is one of the most interesting games of the last 20 years.
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Tokyo Xtreme Racer: Drift 2
Drift 2 might be the most nostalgic game on this list. That's not because it was wildly popular, because it wasn't, but because its artistic simplicity and angsty-teen intro music remind you of that one summer back in '08. Ignoring the fact that Adam Sessler told those who originally bought the game to throw it in the trash, Tokyo Xtreme Racer: Drift 2 is more than meets the eye. It's Play Station 2's version of Pong. Crack a fresh can of iced tea, grab that grease-covered controller, and spent an entire day reliving your formative years. You'll thank us later.
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Road Rash: Jailbreak
Road Rash: Jailbreak is the type of game best played with a friend. It's got terrible graphics, it's silly, and it's about as simple as a Metallica drum beat. But all of that gives it a bit of novelty. The objectives of this motorcycle game are fairly straight forward: Win by any means necessary. Depending on the character you select, that could mean whipping opponents off their motorcycles with a chain, tipping them over with a few well-placed kicks, or out-maneuvering them with help from a buddy riding in your sidecar.
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Parents not wealthy enough to buy you a seat in an F1 car? That's too bad. Probably means they can't fork over the change to buy a manufacturer, either. The easiest way to get into a Formula 1 car is through the latest F1 game: F1 2019. Featuring every car, driver, and track from the 2019 F1 season, the game is a great way to rewrite history and fight for the championship as any driver you choose. The story mode is also updated, allowing you move up the ranks, starting as a Formula 2 driver, with rivals, teammates, and AI driver changes in the off-season, a first for a Formula 1 game. With the 2020 F1 season on hold, many drivers, like Lando Norris and Max Verstappen have taken to the track virtually thanks to F1 2019.
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It would be easy to call SnowRunner an off-road simulator, but it's much more. Set for release this spring, the sequel to the impressive MudRunner title combines a vast open world with objective-based, vehicle-focused play. True-to-life physics, beautiful graphics, and a diverse set of tunable vehicles should make for a wildly fun and immersive experience.
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DiRT Rally 2
We have a soft spot for the sport of rally racing, especially after spending a week learning how to do it properly . Still, those of us who grew up on a healthy diet of Richard Burns Rally and Rally America have, maybe unfairly, been a bit weary of the DiRT series. It seemed too suit-and-tie for such a rebellious sport. The reality, however, is that DiRT Rally 2 is a fantastic game. It's easy to get into, the physics are solid, and it has a wide variety of vehicles to thrash around.
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BeamNG.drive is an open-world vehicle simulator that does one thing better than any other: crashes. The designers worked tirelessly to ensure their game's players could see exactly what would happen if a semi-truck collided head-on with a Ford Focus at 85 mph. Moreover, we're specifically calling it a vehicle simulator, because it's damage modeling just scratches the surface. BeamNG is a playground capable of doing, in the words of its designers, just about anything.
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