Racing games can really be separated into two different categories: arcades and sims. While arcades may offer beautiful graphics and real-world vehicles, the driving experience they offer is centered around fun. This, while entertaining, compromises on the realism of the whole experience. On the other hand, real gearheads will be drawn to games that pride themselves in delivering a more authentic, serious, and immersive driving experience that aims to closely resemble real-life. In this article, we have compiled the 10 most beautiful, immersive, and utterly realistic autosport games that will make you forget you're sitting in front of a screen. Let's get started.
10 Project CARS 2
One thing this game definitely boasts is an overall graphics quality - it's absolutely stunning, and easily comes out in the top three most beautiful car games out there. The dynamic weather effects and track conditions add to this impression. As such, it is quite system-intensive as well. The physics don't disappoint, either, as they're a massive improvement over the previous installment. Now, this doesn't mean they're perfect, as some other racing titles we're about to mention have this game beat in terms of physics. The sound is also satisfactory, even for a game as new and lauded as this one, and online forums are not quick to complain about this aspect of the game, which is always good sign. The game revolves around real-world racing scenarios, and currently offers 140 tracks and 189 different cars - from hypercars to go-karts, with an overall very rewarding gameplay experience.
9 Forza Horizon 4
Lauded as one of the most realistic and entertaining racing simulations out there, Forza Horizon 4 competes for the best-in-class slot when it comes to graphics quality. The praise doesn't stop there, it offers a magnificent, completely open world inspired by the outbacks of Britain, and absolutely takes the cake when we talk about the selection of cars it offers. In Forza Horizon 4, users can choose between a remarkable 450 vehicles from all eras of automotive history and use them to compete in numerous events with other players, such as circuits, rally, drifts, and many more. Apart from that, the cars you choose have one of the most detailed customization options out there.
Now to the physics: they're great. We could not find a major drawback. Weather conditions severely affect the driving experience, as does the type of road you're on, and even the type of tires you're using. There's so much more to talk about when it comes to graphics and physics in this game, so just take our word when we say they're amazing. On the other hand, you may hear some complaints about the depth and bass when it comes to sounds of the vehicles in game, which may be the game's only drawback. Nevertheless, the attention to detail when it comes to sound is still top-notch, and you can hear everything from detailed city sounds to rain droplets bouncing off the top of your car. Kudos to Forza for this one.
8 Assetto Corsa
Physics is a strong suit in Asseto Corsa. The game was developed back in 2013, but released in 2016, with the aim of being a completely realistic motorsport experience. Although it has a relatively wide selection of cars, it features mostly European vehicles, most of which have Italian heritage. But that's fine, it's still one of the best sims out there. The game also offers rich customization options. However, it falls behind the competition in terms of graphics – something many gamers put a high emphasis on. However, those looking for a realistic drive that's complimented by incredible physics, look no further. Driving in this game is amazing, and you can feel cars responding to different bumps, curves, and conditions on the road. Sound isn't bad either, and it definitely has games such as the older GT beat.
7 RaceRoom Racing Experience
Commonly referred to as R3E, this game is a free-to-play racing simulation geared towards serious automotive enthusiasts. It's designed by RaceRoom Entertainment AG strictly for Windows, as a realistic recreation of car models, sounds, and real-world race tracks. Nothing new here. However, the game has managed to distinguish itself as one of the most realistic sims out there. Although it was released in 2013, it's still a go-to sim for a realistic and authentic racing experience. Since then, the developers have managed to continuously update and improve the game, where it's now a solid competitor for THE most realistic and immersive virtual autosport experience out there. You can't complain about the sound or the graphics of the game, and the physics are its strongest suit.
6 Dirt Rally 2
While some of the games on this list might struggle when it comes to sound, Dirt Rally actually excels at it. The game is a top-of-the-line racer offering a realistic rally experience on various different wild and taunting tracks. The immersive sound quality does not compromise on the graphics, either. Codemasters made a point of this game by adding impressive graphics and physics details: bumpers assume different shapes when being hit in different ways, unique dents form upon smaller impacts, and even the weather effects work together with the car damage, you can see how rain or dirt gathers in the car's deformations. The view inside the cabin is good, nothing spectacular, but competes with the better games out there. Yet, the sound quality astonishes. Pebbles can be distinctly heard hitting the underside of the car, and car engines sound different from inside the cabin or when damaged.
5 Forza Motorsport 7
Released to the public in 2017, Forza Motorsport is one of the go-to simulations for a realistic motorsport experience featuring everything from real-world racetracks to a detailed cabin view and rich car tuning capabilities. Guys at Xbox made this game one of the most beautiful and optimized virtual racing experiences currently available. As opposed to its competitors, Forza Motorsport 7 offers on of the most rewarding multiplayer experiences out there, with constantly updating events and numerous game modes to choose from, such as casual, competitive, and drift modes. It is even used for TORA's British GT and Le Mans e-sports championships. To make the impression complete, Forza Motorsport 7 features details like lighting and changing cloud conditions, early morning mists, and incorporates advanced physics simulations such as shaking cabins. This sounds like the perfect game, so what are the drawbacks? Well, there are none, except maybe in the bass and overall sound quality departments.
4 Gran Turismo Sport
We're all familiar with Gran Turismo and the effect it's had on the automotive gaming community. The newest Gran Turismo Sport does not disappoint. It amazes. The game was released in 2017, and it has most, if not all, of its competition beat when it comes to graphics quality. It features every possible design element that makes for great graphics - bodywork reflections, sunshafts, perfect lighting, and realistic racetracks. No complaints about the physics, either. You can really feel the weight of the cars your driving, and details like aerodynamics and downforce severely impact the way they drive. As with all the games on this list, plugging in your wheel simply completes the experience. Although there were complaints about how the earlier GT games sounded, guys at Polyphony really made sure this is not the case with this one. Each car offers a unique, rich sound, and details like shifting gears or tires squirming sound orgasmic. If you're looking to buy a realistic motorsport game, that excels in every aspect of the experience, look no further.
iRacing was created as a pure racing simulation for those hardcore gearheads out there. It's also one of the most popular. However, players wishing to participate might be deterred by the steep price you need to continuously pay in order to play this game. It's obvious iRacing has aged a bit, as it was first released in 2008, yet we can't exclude it from this list due to the attention to detail and an inclination towards making this a realistic, real-world racing simulation.
Graphics are nothing special, at least compared to some of the games on this list. Yet, the attention to detail when it comes to sound and things like tracks getting progressively more dirty, and the amount of crowds increasing makes iRacing quite an immersive experience. This is bolstered by a great sound (which definitely exceeds the graphics quality), and an engaging competition system.
2 F1 2019
This year's F1 improves much from its 2018 predecessor. This means better graphics, handling, and evolution in sound design as well. Lighting was the main way Codemasters decided to bring the already impressive graphic quality of F1 2018 up another notch - this is especially visible on nighttime tracks, where the lights dance as they reflect off the cars. The game features realistic F1 racing scenarios on real-world racetracks across the globe and incorporates incredible attention to detail when it comes to weather effects and how they affect the racetrack visuals and driving conditions. Codemasters added details like rain puddles on the track, rain droplets on the vehicles, and even drying patterns on the racetrack after the rain had stopped. The sound quality is deeply impressive, and includes nuances such as transmission noise, wind sounds, and radical differences in engine sounds. F1 2019 is definitely the best formula1 racer out there.
1 rFactor 2
The fact that this game was designed to be used by professional driving teams for race car testing and practice purposes says it all. rFactor (2) compromises on the fun of its competitors to deliver completely raw, realistic physics, with details perhaps most ridiculously realistic of any game. Special attention was given to the tires, which can be seen flexing, wearing out, or even puncturing during a race. Your grip will actually depend on the tire marks left on the road by other cars. On the other hand, the graphics deserve no special praise. They are not bad by any means, but having been released in 2013, the game is starting to show signs of aging. The sound quality will vary from car to car - some will be orgasmic, while others will be downright annoying. This, however, is a minor drawback that shouldn't really deter you from one of the most realistic virtual driving experiences out there.