The eighth generation of gaming has given adrenaline junkies more options than any other before it. Whether it’s a futuristic speed-off or even a race on-foot, there is no shortage of ways to make yourself suddenly start sweating when it’s neck-and-neck on the final lap, which is what some of the best PS4 racing games are notorious for.
Racing games have always been a part of the PlayStation family’s line-up, Ridge Racer and Gran Turismo being two of the most famous IPs in the genre’s history. While those franchises are either long dormant or not enjoying their greatest hour (the PS4 only getting a single, non-traditional GT game, for example), it’s been a great opportunity for other franchises to step in.
Without Forza to consider, this is a much more competitive and varied list than its Xbox One counterpart. We’ve gone for a mix of the conventional and the unique with our countdown of the best PS4 racing games with the top two certain to cause a surprise or two.
If you want to test your mettle online or fancy some friendly competition with friends when you’re two sheets to the wind on a Saturday night, here’s what you should be checking out.
Bear in mind that we are only including one entry per franchise, just for the sake of shining a light on some of the PS4’s more obscure racing games. Also, thanks to the wonder of backwards compatibility, don’t forget that all of these PS4 racers will also work on your PS5.
Developer: Three Fields Entertainment Publisher: Maximum Games
It’s true that Dangerous Driving falls some way short of capturing the brilliance of its most obvious inspiration: Burnout. In fact, its developers, Three Fields Entertainment, was founded by ex-Criterion founders and senior people. This spiritual sequel doesn’t quite hold a candle to its predecessor, though that might not matter when you’re crashing and burning at whim — and having fun, too.
The low budget is clear with there not being any in-game music, though some nifty Spotify integration helps to ease the pain. With an insane amount of speed at your fingertips and some lovely, edgy stylings that harken back to the PS2 generation’s attitude, this is a throwback available on the cheap that might bring back some fond memories.
19. Horizon Chase Turbo
Developer: Aquiris Game Studio Publisher: Aquiris Game Studio
It’s fair to say that not a lot of subscribers were happy when Horizon Chase Turbo was revealed as a PlayStation Plus game way back when. Fans had come to expect massive AAA titles by the time this indie homage to the early days of racing games was revealed.
That’s a massive shame, because while Horizon Chase Turbo doesn’t have the same amount of depth as its bigger peers, it’s definitely on the fastest racing games on the PS4. Watch on as its pixel colours turn to blurs with you being able to relive the heyday of pixel graphics alongside your friends from the comfort of your couch.
18. Team Sonic Racing
Developer: Sumo Digital Publisher: SEGA
Whatever Mario can do, Sonic can do, erm, a fairly adequate impression of it. Team Sonic Racing doesn’t have quite the same polish as its Mario Kart cousin (or even another PS4 racer that you will see later), but it’s a good alternative for those who want shared anguish in their racing games.
Arcade racing through and through, Team Sonic Racing tasks you with working together and sharing powerups with your teammates to be the first to cross the finish line with plenty of nonsense sure to happen along the way. It’s not that deep, but if you can get it on the cheap, Team Sonic Racing offers an afternoon of good fun.
It’s a little sad to see just how poorly Onrush performed when it was released. Perhaps it was the slightly skewiff price point or the beta’s connectivity issues that turned most people away, but Onrush never particularly grabbed the attention of enough players to even make a dent in the sales charts. A free stint on PlayStation Plus helped players to realise what a no-frills bit of fun it can be, however.
Onrush isn’t really a racing game in the conventional sense, more so a driving game where you have to drive harder and cooler than your opponents. Mixing elements of MotorStorm (would do bad things for another one of those, Sony) with Burnout (you too, EA), Onrush is an adrenaline rush of simple fun delivered straight to your veins that will at least offer you a few solid hours of entertainment on your PS4.
“Onrush is a lot of things. It’s brash, bold, experimental, but most importantly, really good fun to play. Its success will be determined by how well the team based concept catches on with gamers at large, but we’ve got high hopes for it.”
Here’s another PS4 racing game that had another lease of life thanks to PlayStation Plus. Those who are obsessed with realism and fine tuning car parts like the Stig’s understudy need not apply here. TrackMania Turbo is just a straight-up arcade racer in all its glory and holds no pretensions of being anything much more serious.
Treating racing like a toybox for you to mess around in, TT allows you to build your own tracks, which you can then share with other players to take on. This, combined with some excellent music, a robust single-player campaign, and its appealing pick up and play nature makes TrackMania: Turbo a racing game on PS4 that you shouldn’t overlook.
The Need For Speed franchise in the modern day always feels like it’s chasing the massive success of the Underground series on the sixth generation of consoles. While not without a few faults, Heat is probably the closest thing to a modern Underground revival that shows plenty of future for where the IP’s future lies.
Featuring an open world environment, a fancy assortment of cars, and that lovely blend of arcade and simulation driving that makes Need For Speed a great middle ground pick, Heat’s silly, Fast and Furious-lite storyline is the only thing that really lets it down. Still, if it’s a neon-infused corner-screecher you want, Need For Speed Heat can provide that in spades.
“Need For Speed Heat is the beginning of a new upwards turn for the long-ailing franchise. While it doesn’t get everything right, Heat focuses on the right elements needed to be a successful series once again. For the first time in a long time, I have a need for Need For Speed.”
Developer: Bugbear Entertainment Publisher: THQ Nordic
No, not a Wreck-It Ralph adaptation, but instead a wonderful throwback to the PS2 era days when every racing game had to have some kind of destruction. While not quite on the same level of carnage as something like Burnout, Wreckfest offers cathartic collisions aplenty.
A mixture of Flat Out and Destruction Derby, Wreckfest is not a conventional racing game with sleek, glistening cars and a booming EDM soundtrack. Instead, it’s all about ruining every pixel of the opposition, slamming into them and sending their ruined chassis flying.
If you don’t crawl over the finish line with your car on death’s door, you aren’t doing Wreckfest right.
An idea so solid that it’s a wonder they’ve failed to really nail it as they should, The Crew 2 is effectively Need For Speed meets The Cannonball Run with the dial turned up to eleven. The second entry in the franchise allows you more freedom of exploration than before, whether that’s by land, sea, or air.
As polished as it may look, that’s not really reflected in the gameplay stakes. The driving isn’t quite as beefy or as satisfying as its peers, but the open-world and huge amount of content means that this is one PS4 racing game that you can dip in and out of. Shame about the customary Ubisoft cheese, though: seems like they didn’t learn their lesson from Watch Dogs 2.
We had a good, long think about whether or not to include Grand Theft Auto V as a worthwhile PS4 racer for a couple of reasons. First of all, it’s really a PlayStation 3 game, having launched on the console in the tailend of its life. Secondly, racing is only a small part of the overwhelmingly large pie that constitutes a session within San Andreas.
We buckled, however, when we realised just how much straightforward fun it is to drive around in GTA V while inside an array of exotic cars, and even a few dumpster trucks.
As well as offering a few racing missions in the single-player, GTA Online provides so many different ways to race and take on other players that there are plenty who play it as nothing more than a chance to burn some rubber.
Developer: KUNOS-Simulazioni Srl Publisher: 505 Games
When you want to consider one of the PS4’s most underrated racing games, Assetto Corsa: Ultimate Edition may be one of the most detailed games of its kind, offering even the tiniest amounts of data and possible tweaks on its impressive roster of cars. It’s not the most approachable racing game out there, so that may rule it out as a game to just dip in and out with with friends.
If it’s pure solitary immersion you want, however, Assetto Corsa: Ultimate Edition has you covered. It’s been developed with those who eat and breathe diesel in mind with its cars being as close to their real-life counterparts as possible, so this might be pure escapism if you’re a passionate racer.
Developer: 34BigThings srl Publisher: 505 Games
Time and time again, the industry has proven that if you leave a gap in the market that people are desperate to be filled, someone will swoop in and fill it. With “PS1 style” racers no longer much of a thing with most contemporary racing games favouring realism, Redout offers a refreshing throwback.
Inspired heavily by the likes of WipeOut and Rollcage, Redout is a sleek and high-octane racer that’s perfect to play with a few friends, either casually or competitively. There’s actually quite the steep learning curve if you want to become good at Redout and not just approach it as a bit of fun, so there’s even something here for solo players to sink their teeth into.
A testament to patience and understanding, Project Cars was a rough diamond at launch that, thanks to regular developer updates and tweaks, managed to buff away its coarse edges and become one of the best PS4 racing games for those who love their racing to have no frills.
Realistic and uncompromising, Project Cars strips away the guff that undermines so many racers (see: The Crew 2) and delivers a straight racing experience. Similarly to Assetto Corsa, this is a game that rewards the dedicated, though the learning curve isn’t quite as punishing.
Project Cars is a nice middle ground between being a straightforward racing sim and a casual experience.
Gran Turismo Sport certainly underwhelmed plenty of people when it first launched, Sony’s decision to pitch it as an online-focused racer coming back to bite them. Sport has gone on to become one of the best PS4 racing games since with Polyphony including more single-player elements and a steady stream of new content.
It also feels as good to play as you would expect from a Gran Turismo game, though it does still lack the deep well of cars that its predecessors had. Its identity crisis is the only thing stopping it from being higher on this list, but make no mistake: if you want to prove your worth online against other passionate racing game fans, GT Sport could be your best bet.
A game that we once erroneously referred to as the Dark Souls of racing games and ended up in a PewDiePie video for for about two and half seconds as a result, Dirt 4 is not what you would call an entirely casual experience. Rallying itself requires inch-perfect co-ordination, and Dirt 4 is no different.
Pitched as the ultimate experience in off-road racing, Dirt 4 has a wealth of content for a relatively niche racing game, as well as offering potentially endless playtime with Your Stage.
Players can create a track whenever they like and challenges themselves (and others) to best it, and with Dirt 4 being one of the most approachable entries in the series, it may be a good entry point.
While people may argue about Burnout even needing to be taken into the open world, there’s no denying that Burnout Paradise may just be one of the most varied racing games on the market. Its remastered edition really doesn’t provide a massive step up over its original edition, but it’s still just as irresistible as ever.
Featuring traditional races that you can either embrace or ignore, Burnout Paradise also allows players to cause destruction to win the day. It’s not even slightly realistic and it knows it, so purists may not get a kick out of it, but the second you load the game up and hear Guns N’ Roses’s iconic Paradise is a moment that you will be unlikely to forget.
And also destroy a street filled with innocent vehicles.
F1 2019 is arguably the definitive Formula 1 video game experience, it showing lessons learned from previous iterations to make something that’s almost as good as sitting like a slob in front of the TV on a Saturday afternoon and watching all the things go vroom.
It’s not for the faint of heart, however, many races coming down to the smallest of details — just like the real thing. F1 2019 is not something you can just pick up and play, but its improved career mode and extra depth of content make this the perfect entry point for those unfamiliar. Just don’t panic when you can barely get off the starting line to begin with.
Worth noting that every subsequent F1 game has been just as good, if you want a newer entry.
“F1 2019 is without a doubt the definitive Formula 1 gaming experience. With upgrades and improvements made to practically every aspect of the game, F1 2019 looks stunning, and gives driving enthusiasts plenty to get to grips with.”
Developer: Beenox/Naughty Dog (original game) Publisher: Activision
How do you pay homage to a PS1 classic while also bringing it revving into the current generation? Apparently all you need to do is follow the example set by Beenox with Nitro-Fueled, which has already gone down as one of the best video game remakes of all time.
Featuring even more content than the original game and a whole host of extras from the less appreciated CTR games, Nitro-Fueled is the best kart racer that isn’t exclusive to a Nintendo platform, though you could argue that it’s a step above Mario Kart 8. CTR isn’t as fun and carefree as it looks: it will drive you as crazy as Ripper Roo until you master those turns and the art of the boost.
“While its initially harsh difficulty may ruin your happy memories of the original in a hurry, Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled is kart racing nirvana with an abundance of content to dive into that makes it more than just an exercise in nostalgia.”
No game really reflects the “cool” of the original PlayStation quite like the WipeOut series. With the Omega Collection, Sony have gathered some of the franchise’s greatest hits into a high-speed racer that’s still just as dependable for entertaining company as it was two decades ago.
PlayStation VR owners are also in for a treat with the WipeOut Omega Collection being fully playable within a headset. You’ll soon discover why WipeOut inspired many imitators; only F-Zero has really matched its breakneck and unrelenting pace. Hopefully, with the success the Omega Collection has had, we may see a brand new WipeOut game for the first time in half a decade.
An unconventional game for an unconventional list, Sprint Vector is a PSVR racing game with the action taking place on-foot. Anyone with bad memories of GTA V’s Mary-Ann may instantly be put off by the concept, but don’t worry: Sprint Vector is unlike anything you’re likely to have played before.
An arcade racer where your arms are your “weapons”, Sprint Vector is not a game for the lethargic. You need to constantly be using your upper body to swing across courses, avoid traps, and, most importantly, lose a few pounds each time you play.
Sprint Vector will make you swole if you can handle it, with its swell community meaning that this is one of the PS4’s most underrated but also beloved racing games.
Developer: Evolution Studios Publisher: SIE
We have chosen to die on this hill, and we have no regrets about it. Quite simply the most underrated racing game ever released and also one of the PS4’s best exclusives that just doesn’t get the love it deserves, Evolution Studios’ Driveclub really could have been a Forza beater if people had just given it time to find its feet.
Driveclub is the best PS4 racing game as it finds a comfortable middle ground between being a sim and an arcade racer, as well as having content for days at a time while still also boasting some of the most gorgeous visuals seen on the PlayStation 4. Change the weather to raining, choose Holmastad, load up your chillest Spotify playlist, and find total racing nirvana.
It’s a crying shame that its online is effectively dead, but regardless of that, it’s still a fantastic racing game to play solo.
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