The most popular esports racing games

The most popular esports racing games

From realistic Formula 1 simulations to dirty rallycross – the top esports racing games explained.

Photo credit: F1 2020 / iRacing Twitter

Unlike most esports genres, there is not one single esports racing game in which most players compete. Instead, there is a variety of different titles which all have their own tournaments and communities. Some games focus on racing series such as Formula 1, others on motorcycles and still others are far from simulations and send you into crazy futuristic settings. The amount of titles can be overwhelming, so we prepared an overview of the most important games in esports racing.

Esports racing games can be sorted in different categories, the most important ones being simulation and simcade titles. Simulations aim to convey the physics and feelings of real-life cars and circuits as realistically as possible. Simcades are not quite fully-fledged sims, but neither can they be considered arcade racers like Mario Kart, which have nothing to do with reality at all. They are designed in real-life settings and include mechanics such as tire wear or weight distribution, but their impact is not as heavy and close to reality as in simulations. If you want to learn more about the categories, you can check out our article on the different genres.

Assetto Corsa Competizione

Publisher: Kunos Simulazioni
Platform: Windows, Xbox One, PlayStation 4
Genre: Simulation

One of the most recent publications in the realm of racing games is Assetto Corsa Competizione which got released for PC in 2019 and for consoles earlier this year. The game is the official simulation of the 2018 and 2019 Blancpain GT Series season Sprint and Endurance Cups with its official drivers, teams, cars and circuits, as well as the Total 24 Hours of Spa endurance race.

ACC offers five different game modes: Championship, Career, Special Events, Single Player and Multiplayer. A special part of the game that might spark your interest, if you don’t sport an expensive PC: ACC is the only full-on simulator available for console. The base game offers GT cars like Ferraris, Lamborghinis and McLarens, as well as Sprint cars which you can take to classic circuits such as Spa or Nürburgring.

DiRT Rally 2.0

Publisher: Codemasters
Platform: Windows, Xbox One, PlayStation 4
Genre: Simcade

From a highly polished simulation straight into a dirty action game: DiRT Rally 2.0 focuses on rallying and rallycross. The game’s ambition is to deliver a realistic off-road experience with life-like physics. It features locations in New Zealand, Argentina, Spain, Poland, Australia and the USA. And while the tracks are set in muddy paths and are often even dimmed more by its impactful weather changes, the game still manages to portray aesthetic visuals.

DiRT Rally 2.0 also has a “My Team” mode and a tuning feature, in which the set-ups of all cars and individual parts can be adjusted. The Freeplay part of the game features a Historic mode, Time Trial as well as the FIA World Rallycross Championship. DiRT‘s cars range from a historical Lancia Stratos to a brand new R5 Volkswagen Polo.

F1 2020

Publisher: Codemasters
Platform: Windows, Xbox One, PlayStation 4
Genre: Simcade

The new Formula 1 2020 game was released in June. As the name already suggests, it is all about the current season of Formula 1 and Formula 2 series. Players can race on the laser-scanned circuits that the real racers are competing on. The famous F1 teams and drivers are part of the game as well, of course. The special 2020 Schumacher edition honors German legend Michael Schumacher and comes with four cars the icon raced in, as well as historical F1 content as DLC.

Apart from the classic Time Trial, Multiplayer, Quick Race and Career Mode, the game also offers a fantastic My Team mode in which you build and manage your own team, starting with F2 drivers. The rookies can be developed to be even faster than the F1 allstars, but you can also follow the career of an already established driver like Lando Norris or Sebastian Vettel.

Since F1 2020 is not a fully-fledged simulator but a simcade title, it is quite suitable for new racing fans. The game supports newbies with assistance features, but it can still be played on a highly competitive level.

Forza Motorsport 7

Publisher: Microsoft Studios
Platform: Windows, Xbox One
Genre: Simcade

Forza Motorsport 7 does not portray an annual season of any motorsports class, but is a giant melting pot of all kinds of real tracks and cars, as well as fantasy vehicles and circuits – with a total of 700 different cars to choose from which have a focus in GT cars. The game is quite accessible to beginners as it can be even played with a controller, but it also hosts a vivid esports scene.

A new title in the series called Forza Motorsport recently got announced, so check out our article on the new trailer.

Gran Turismo Sport

Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment
Platform: PS4
Genre: Simcade

Gran Turismo Sport is the newest title of the series and was released in 2017. To nobody’s surprise, the game is focused on GT class racing. This means a lot of its cars are classic Grand Touring vehicles: luxurious cars designed for high speed, long distance and style. There are currently over 324 cars and 82 tracks in GT Sport.

GT Sport features an Arcade and a Sports mode which are equivalent to a single and multiplayer experience. There also is a Campaign mode, as well as a place to create your own lobbies. In collaboration with the FIA, Gran Turismo annually hosts the FIA-certified Gran Turismo Championships, but also offers multiple smaller leagues and tournaments throughout the entire year. Publisher Sony already announced that they are working on a sequel titled Gran Turismo 7 for PlayStation 5.

iRacing.com

Publisher: iRacing.com Motorsport Simulations
Platform: Windows
Genre: Simulation

iRacing belongs to the premier class of racing simulations. The biggest and most professional tournaments take place in this game. While iRacing was released already twelve years ago, its visuals and content are still up to date due to constant updates. The game features most motorsports disciplines such as NASCAR, IndyCar, World of Outlaws Sprint car or FIA series, all in a realistic setting with laser-scanned tracks.

LASERS AND RUBBER: HOW IRACING TRACKS ARE MADE

As iRacing follows a subscription-based model, users have to pay for their membership monthly and for additional content too. Upon purchasing the first license, players get access to 21 circuits and 26 cars such as the Ford ’34 Coupe or the Riley Mk XX Daytona Prototype. New content can be purchased individually or in bundles, so you only have to spend money on the things you really want.

MotoGP 20

Publisher: Milestone S.r.l
Platform: Windows, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, Stadia
Genre: Simcade

The market for racing games does not only offer traditional Formula 1 or GT cars, there is also content for motorcycle fans. MotoGP 20 is a simulation of the annual real-world MotoGP Championship and counts as most popular motorbike game. The 2020 edition features the Grand Prix as it was originally planned, not like the current season progressed with all its limitation due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Since there are no real sim rigs or any other comparable hardware for motorbikes, the game is played with gamepads. MotoGP 20 offers a Career mode, multiplayer, quick races and a historic mode where you can follow in the tire marks of legendary road racers such as Marc Márquez or Valentino Rossi. The 2020 version introduces more realistic physics and graphics, while you can also completely customize the latter as well as the design of your own bikes and riders. The career mode has options like creating your own character, hiring technical staff and researching technologies, which will further modify the experience and performance playing.

NASCAR Heat 5

Publisher: 704Games
Platform: Windows, Xbox One, PlayStation 4
Genre: Simcade

NASCAR fans do not have to limit themselves to driving cars in iRacing or rFactor, there also is a dedicated game for the stock car championship. NASCAR Heat 5 is a simulation of the 2020 season, including all tracks, cars and drivers. Naturally, the game focuses on stock cars which originally was the term for automobiles that have not been modified from their original factory configuration. Nowadays, the vehicles are highly modified to go full speed.

The NASCAR Heat series is the only major game that is strictly about oval racing, referring to the classic oval racing tracks. The game offers several modes including a single player with challenges, Career, Quick Race and Championship, as well as a multiplayer where up to 40 players can join the lobby.

Project CARS 2

Publisher: Bandai Namco Games
Platform: Windows, Xbox One, PlayStation 4
Genre: Simcade

Similar to DiRT Rally 2.0, Project CARS 2 offers off-road racing and rallycross in addition to its traditional racing on real-world circuits. What makes the game special is its plethora of types of cars, such as GT3 or Hypercars.

Project CARS 2 is a mixture of serious sim racing and casual arcade. It also boasts with its incredible graphics which are arguably of the highest quality among all racing games. The title features a career mode, as well as options for quick plays including Custom Races, Online Multiplayer, creating your own online event or Private Testing. In the upcoming Project CARS 3, the career mode will get you to work your way to the top by going through all racing classes the game offers. There will also be a Rival Mode where players can race against ghosts of other users, as well as a skill-based matchmaking multiplayer system.

rFactor 2

Publisher: Image Space Inc.
Platform: Windows
Genre: Simulation

rFactor 2 is another racing simulator that embraces all variations of four-wheel motorsports disciplines, featuring Formula 1 cars as well as GT and stock vehicles. The stand-out feature of rFactor 2 are its extremely realistic physics and accurate simulation of vehicle dynamics. Therefore, the game is often used as a practice tool for teams’ professional drivers and to work on their race cars’ development.

Users can of course either race alone in a singleplayer mode, or against others in multiplayer. rFactor 2 is a one-time purchase, unlike iRacing which requires a monthly subscription. However, you still need to purchase additional circuits and cars. There are also plenty of mods available to dive into, so if you want a twist to your usual racing, why not put on the helmet and suit of a 1991 Formula 1 racer and compete against Nigel Mansell?

RaceRoom

Publisher: Sector3 Studio; SimBim Studios
Platform: Windows
Genre: Simulation

RaceRoom‘s concept is similar to rFactor2, as the game offers plenty of different real-life tracks and car classes. But RaceRoom also expands its car library to Prototypes, GTO, hillclimb or historical classes. What also makes the game special are its licenses for touring cars, which allows them to include the DTM or WTCR tournament. You can choose to play the singleplayer mode, multiplayer or competitions.

The basic version of the game is free to play, but fans still have to take their wallets out to enjoy the full experience, as additional circuits and vehicles have to be purchased.

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