The PlayStation brand of consoles has always had a strong tie to the racing genre. Each console has had a great mix of exclusive and third-party racing titles that looked, and played, fantastic on the hardware. The PlayStation 4 was the biggest success Sony had since the PS2, but at the same time seemed to have far fewer pure racing games released on the system. All of Sony’s marketing and promotion shifted during this generation to its big first-party exclusives like The Last of Us Part 2, God of War, and Ghost of Tsushima with little to no love being shown to the racing fans.
Even though Sony itself wasn’t pushing the genre, the PS4 has some of the best racing games ever developed ready for you to set a new course record on. The number to choose from is a little overwhelming, but we’ve culled the pack down to only the fastest, brightest, and, most importantly, fun racing games the system has to offer. Racing, as a genre, is broader than some people may think, so we’ve included a little bit of everything to help you find a game that matches your speed.
- The best racing games of all time
- The best racing games for the Nintendo Switch
- The best PS4 exclusives for 2021
Where else could we start than with the series that helped define the original PlayStation? This exclusive racing series has been pushing every Sony console’s graphics to the absolute limit, and Gran Turismo Sport is the best example of that to date. If visuals are your thing, then playing GT Sport on the Pro allows for Checkerboard 4K visuals and 60 fps gameplay for the best looking, and feeling, racing experience you can get.
With more than 150 cars to race in 18 distinct locations, totaling 54 different track layouts, this game goes the distance. It is also one of the most beginner-friendly racing sims on the market. The game comes with a robust level of customization and accessibility features to learn the ins and outs of how cars handle, how to break, and how to master the track. As a nice little cherry on top, the game is also PSVR compatible for anyone who wants the absolute highest levels of immersion.
Read our full Gran Turismo Sport review
While it may not be the first thing that comes to mind for a racing game, the extreme sports game Riders Republic offers tons of racing in the more manual sense of the word. This game is just packed with different ways to race — from snowboarding, skiing, and mountain biking to jetpacks and wingsuits, this game aims to be the ultimate thrill ride. The game takes place in a massive open world where you can participate in any and all of these different events. You have a full-on career mode, plus tons of extra challenges and even collectibles to hunt down. For progression-minded folks, there’s a nice supply of gear and upgrades, plus crazy cosmetics, to keep you grinding (sometimes literally) solo or online with friends.
Nipping at GT Sport’s heels is Project CARS 2. Another beautiful game with a ton of content, boasting a massive 140 tracks in 60 locations set all across the world, Project CARS’ most impressive feature is the seasonal and weather systems. Every track must be approached completely differently depending on whether it’s a clear summer day, wet with fall rain, or coated in winter snow. Even the way the temperature, with no physical weather, impacts how a track feels is realistically simulated. The roster of vehicles spans everything from supercars to karts that all handle and perform differently.
This is a game tailor-made for hardcore racing fans. Project CARS 2 has become the flagship game for the racing e-sports scene, including the SMS-R World Championship and regular ESL Cups. Even if you don’t want to compete online, there’s always the robust career mode, which gives you a lot of freedom in deciding which events you want to take on.
Read our full Project CARS 2 review
One of the biggest regrets of the last console generation is that we never got a true new installment in the Burnout franchise on the PS4. In lieu of a new worthy arcade racing title that hits as hard as this classic series, we can still fall back on Burnout Paradise Remastered. Even non-racing fans can find the pure bliss of boosting into an opponent, shunting them into oncoming traffic as time slows down so you can watch the sparks fly, hood crumple, and tires pop, while you drift around a corner at 120 mph. It isn’t nearly as photo-realistic as the sims on this list and wasn’t trying to be even at the time of release, but at least now it runs at a rock-solid 60 fps while you race around the open world.
This game feels a little bit more like an arcade racer mixed with an open-world RPG with how you can take on races and challenges, find collectibles (which you typically drive through rather than collect), and unlock new cars every time you level up your license. It might have a few extra years on it, but Burnout Paradise Remastered still runs like new.
We’re really going off the rails (or road, as it were) with WipEout Omega Collection. As we said, racing comes in many forms, including jet-powered hovercrafts. This is another remastered collection that never got a proper PS4 title, but again takes full advantage of the new hardware. All three games, WipEout HD, WipEout HD Fury, and WipEout 2048, look the best they ever have and, of course, 60 fps. You pick your ship based on different stats related to handling, thrust, speeds, shields, and firepower from 46 unique and visually awesome ships. The collection gives you nine game modes to pick from, including tournaments, time trials, elimination, and career modes, across 26 futuristic tracks that don’t need to restrain themselves to realism like other racing games.
You might not think a racing game featuring only hovercraft could give you the same sense of speed as a real car, but neon visuals, visceral feedback, and sound design will make your head sweat by the time you cross the checkered flag.
Roads? In The Crew 2, you don’t need roads. Other games have featured multiple vehicles to race in, but none at such a polished level as this Ubisoft racer featuring cars, bikes, boats, and aircraft all in one massive open world that replicates a small-scale U.S. If you know Ubisoft games, especially its open-world titles, then you know what to expect here. The map is basically overflowing with objectives, races, challenges, and content of all kinds. This is the most social-focused title on the list, bringing you into the persistent world populated with other players at all times. Naturally, you can still jump into traditional racing events with up to seven others including ranked races, demolition derby, and co-op challenges. You do need to be online at all times while playing The Crew 2, so bear that in mind if you want to race on all terrains.
When you think of racing games, Need for Speed is one of the first series that comes to mind. The latest game, Need for Speed Heat, aims to be everything fans of the series loves. The game doesn’t try to reinvent the wheel, so to speak, and puts you in control of a street racer participating in the Speedhunter Showdown. Competing in these races, on and off-road, and drift competitions will earn you Bank. When the sun goes down, however, you can start testing your luck in the underground racing scene. These races are off the book, meaning the cops will be on your tail as an added level of chaos as you’re tearing down the pavement. The contrast between day and night races keeps you from getting too comfortable behind the wheel, always feeling like you’re almost out of control, which is exactly what you want from a game called Need for Speed Heat.
If you’re not the most careful driver out there, or just feel like causing some damage, Wreckfest sits at the top of the pile of demolition-type racers. Technically, you are still participating in races, but every driver is out for blood here. If you’re not either wrecking or getting wrecked at all times, the game isn’t doing its job. The courses themselves are designed to cause as much chaos as possible, with intersecting lanes and opposing traffic to all but ensure massive pile-ups. Or, if you’d rather skip the pomp and circumstance of a race, just head into the pure demolition-derby arenas and slam your car into your opposition with as much force as you can muster. You can build your car up for either type of event, focusing on things like engines and fuel systems for races or roll cages and bumpers for the derby. Make sure to check out the challenges where you’re put in crazy vehicles like lawnmowers and school buses.
The war between Mario and Sonic platformers has long since died, but the two are still fighting for the lead in the kart-racing scene. Team Sonic Racing obviously doesn’t have the same selling power as Mario Kart, but the quality and fun are absolutely there. If you haven’t played any of the Sonic racers, you can imagine how it works. You pick a team of racers and your car and speed down the colorful and diverse themed tracks while hitting boost pads, performing tricks, picking up power-ups, and battling the other racers. The team dynamic is where the game introduces some unique mechanics. Each character has its own ability, and you can share any power-ups you pick up among your team. What might turn some people off is the fact that races are won by the best team, not necessarily whoever finishes first. The more you work together with your team, the more a meter builds up for a speed boost. If you can wrap your head around it, there’s a lot of fun to be had with Team Sonic Racing.
Back from the PS1 days, Crash Team Racing: Nitro-Fueled is the other alternative to Mario Kart on the PS4. This is a more bare-bones offering than Sonic’s, but as mechanically tight as the best arcade racers. Drifting into a boost, smashing through boxes, and unleashing your weapons on the competition is even more satisfying now than it was in the original thanks to the improved graphics and frame rate. Plus, if you were already a fan of the original, you get even more tracks and karts to play with in the remaster. A solid online mode for racing against friends completes the package for this classic kart racer.
If you’re the kind of racer who can memorize all the corners of their favorite racer and is constantly wishing for new, unexpected tracks, Trackmania Turbo is your dream come true. With 200 tracks to unlock, mastering all of them is a feat few have ever even attempted. These tracks run the gambit from traditional street races to gravity-defying loops, arenas, and off-road terrain. Just looking at single-player content, you have 200 tracks, five difficulty levels, and four game modes. When you take the game online, the insanity only ramps up with some modes allowing up to 100 racers to participate at a time. Finally, if all that somehow still isn’t enough for you, the game offers its own track-building mode. Create your own challenging tracks, or check out the ones made by the community. While it technically isn’t endless, the amount of content in Trackmania Turbo is the closest we can think of.
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