Racing games have always been in a…well…race for the most realistic feel when playing.
Whether it’s improved graphics or more realistic handling, game makers keep improving the experience.
I remember the first time I played Gran Turismo with a PlayStation steering wheel.
It was awesome! Now there’s VR.
Virtual reality is the natural, next step for putting gamers into the driver’s seat.
As always, though, not every Virtual Reality racing game is as good as the next.
In this article, I’ll review the 8 best VR racing games of 2021, so you can hop in the driver’s seat and have a great time doing it.
- All-in-one VR: No PC. No wires. No limits. Oculus quest is an all-in-one gaming system built for virtual reality. Now you can play almost anywhere with just a VR headset and controllers.
- Oculus touch controllers: arm yourself with the award-winning Oculus touch controllers. Your slashes, throws and grab appear in VR with intuitive, realistic Precision, transporting your hands and gestures right into the game
Project Cars 2
This sequel to Project Cars makes a huge leap forward. It was made from the ground up with VR in mind and you can tell. The handling of the cars, which was a major complaint in the first project cars, is phenomenal in Project Cars 2, allowing for much greater control of your vehicle whether using a steering wheel or control pad. The cars grip the road in a much more realistic way and also lose that grip in a realistic way when you overdo it.
Project Cars 2 also comes with an impressive array of cars, motorsport series, tracks, and venues right out of the box. You won’t need to spend your next paycheck on upgrades and custom cars and tracks to enjoy this game.
Visually, Project Cars 2, doesn’t disappoint, either. The graphics are beautiful and hold up pretty well while you’re driving. It isn’t perfect, though. Occasionally, you’ll get hiccups in the video, more on consoles than on a high-end pc. Overall, though, it’s very good. The audio is also excellent, from the squeal of the tires to small details like the sound of kicking up gravel. This attention to detail does wonders for immersing you in the experience.
Don’t let the 2008 release date fool you. iRacing is possibly the most realistic racing simulator out there. The developers have deals with NASCAR, INDYCAR, IMSA, and others and use both laser scanning and AutoCAD for track and car development.
iRacing.com continually develops and improves iRacing. So, while iRacing was technically released in 2008, what you are playing was likely developed much more recently. In fact, its realism has drawn praise from the likes of Dale Earnherdt Jr. and other professional race car drivers.
iRacing is visually stunning and the handling of vehicles is incredible. It currently boasts over 80 race cars and over 80 tracks with new cars being added regularly. You can race NASCAR, INDYCAR, Rallycross, and more. Simply put, iRacing is the next best thing to getting in a real race car and a lot less expensive…though a lot more expensive than other racing games.
Cost is the one weakness of iRacing. Rather than a one-time purchase, iRacing is a subscription service starting at $9.16/month if paid annually and going up from there. So, it tops our list in terms of cost, but with the continual updating and real-world car and track simulations, it’s definitely worth checking out.
Dirt Rally VR
Dirt Rally VR has a lot of good qualities. It has great racing, it’s challenging, and the controls are good, but what I love best about Dirt Rally VR is that it’s a ton of fun. Other racing games are realistic and enjoyable, but Dirt Rally amps up the fun.
Another amazing aspect of this game is its design for VR. This game doesn’t feel like a game that was adapted to VR. It feels like a game that was built from the ground up for VR. In fact, if you’ve played the non-VR version of Dirt Rally, the VR version will make more sense and play better.
If there is a downside to Dirt Rally VR it’s the graphics. Honestly, they aren’t great. However, if you’re like me, once you’ve played it, you won’t care.
Race the Sun (RTS)
Race the Sun (RTS) is a different kind of entry onto this list. RTS is an endless runner type game where you are racing to see how far you can get and how high a score you get rather than trying to get to the finish line of a track. The concept of the game is that you are in a solar powered glider and the sun is setting. You race towards the horizon to keep up with the descent of the sun and keep the glider in the sunlight or you run out of power and crash.
In addition to the sun setting, there are plenty of obstacles that threaten to end your game either by crashing into them or by staying in their shadow too long and losing power. There are boosts you can collect along the way, such as a magnet or speed up, and challenges to complete to make things more interesting.
Race the Sun is an addictive game that has the capacity to have you saying, “Just one more time,” over and over. It can serve as a quick break in your day or more likely a quick break that turned into 3 hours.
Gran Turismo Sport (GT Sport)
Unfortunately, the number of unique tracks and cars is lacking when compared to other racing games. Also, the weather effects are weak. However, the controls for Gran Turismo Sport are excellent whether on a controller or a wheel.
One of the interesting aspects of Gran Turismo Sport is Sony’s dedication to an online experience. Sport mode, as it’s known, is an online racing venue. Polyphony Digital has done an excellent job of creating a stable and engaging online experience.
Regularly scheduled races against real human opponents are fun and kept relatively fair by Gran Turismo Sport’s Sportsmanship Rating. If people are running other cars off the road and playing too aggressively, their sportsmanship rating will show it and eventually they will be racing other “bad sports” and kept out of the races of those who play fair.
As good as the online experience is, it’s where most of the gameplay happens. If you aren’t online, you are limited to Arcade Mode. Arcade Mode is still good, but it’s limited.
Gran Turismo Sport is an excellent racing game with great graphics, solid audio, and a good online experience. As long as you have a good internet connection, this is an excellent choice for a racing game.
Need for Speed – No Limits VR
Need for Speed – No Limits VR is another great entry in the Need for Speed franchise. The VR experience is visually and audibly very good. You can adjust things like the distance to the steering wheel and how high up you are sitting, which surprisingly makes a big difference in your sense of immersion.
The spacial audio is also very good for immersing you in the game. Unfortunately, you are using a controller, not a wheel, which immediately removes some of that realism.
The game is a little different than other racing games. If you are familiar with the Need for Speed franchise, you know that you aren’t just racing on a track with racecars, you are racing on the road where the police will come after you.
In addition to simply racing, there are missions you can complete to earn cash with which you can modify your vehicle or buy a new vehicle.
With up to 60 events, 12 tracks and lots of cars to drive, Need for Speed gives plenty to keep you entertained for hours on end.
The audio is good and the visuals are spot on. The car interiors, in particular, are highly detailed and look great. There are occasional stutters in the video, but it’s better than most games. The menu, on the other hand, is frustrating and unintuitive.
The racing aspects, however, leave something to be desired. The opponent AI is a little too good and their cars seem oddly less affected by physics than your car. Where a bump from the AI may send your car into the grass, a similar bump from you won’t have much effect on their car. In addition, you have to finish in the top 3 to get any benefit from the race when playing in career mode, where other games account for lower finishes that still affect your career.
Assetto Corsa did a phenomenal job with the driving simulation.If they would have done as good a job with the racing simulation, they would be higher up in this list.
DriveClub VR has good handling and audio. Where it truly excels, though is the sheer amount of game time built into it. You can easily play for over 100 hours and still have more to do. There are plenty of cars and tracks to keep you entertained.
The graphics on the internals of the cars are very good and the game even has some impressive lighting effects. That said, graphics are this game’s great weakness. When you look much beyond the car, itself, the resolution drops off significantly. Unfortunately, that’s where you want to spend most of your time looking when you are driving.
The graphics issue causes two issues. First, it makes it more difficult to play as it’s hard to make out what’s coming on the road more than a few feet in front of you. Second, it can strain your eyes after a while.
Overall, DriveClub VR won’t blow you away, but it is a good VR driving game. With a low price point, it makes for a great entry point into VR racing.
Top 3 VR Racing Games for PlayStation 4:
PlayStation has been making racing games for over 20 years. Virtual Reality was the obvious next step for realism and excitement.
Here are the top 3 VR racing games for PS4.
Top 3 Oculus Rift Racing Games:
Oculus Rift was the first platform to make VR available to the common consumer and they have been at the top of VR development ever since.
The top 3 Oculus Rift racing games demonstrate that.
Top 3 Driving Games for HTC Vive:
HTC has followed right behind the Oculus Rift and done a fantastic job of producing great VR games.
If you’ve got the HTC Vive, I’m sure you haven’t been disappointed and you won’t be disappointed with these top 3 driving games for the HTC Vive.
What do you need to play the best VR racing games?
First, you need nerves of steel. Then you need control. So many people fly into turns recklessly or slow down too much, but if you learn to handle turns at high speed while maintaining control of your vehicle, you’ll win most races.
You’ll also need the following gear:
If you haven’t tried racing games in VR, you’re missing out. Maybe it’s time to get back into the virtual driver’s seat.
What Do You Think?
So, what do you think of my list?
Which VR racing game is your favorite?
Are there any VR driving games you would include in your best VR racing games list that I left out?
Post your comment below and let me know.