This is the perfect time, then, to break out that old Logitech and strap yourself in for hours upon hours of hotlapping and online racing. So, in an ever-growing market, what do you focus on? Let GRR take you on a quick crash course of what we’re playing while stuck at home. Here are our seven best sim racing games.
Let’s start with the big one. While many may be turned off by the cost factor (a monthly subscription is required to play the game), it’s safe to say that this is the choice of the pro sim racer.
The untrained eye may think that a 12-year-old game can’t hack it compared to its more youthful competitors, but they could not be further from the truth. Constant updates keep iRacing relevant and arguably has the best community of online racers going, thanks to its strict policies against reckless drivers. The majority of the eSeries cropping up to replace real-life motorsport this year are on the iRacing platform, the likes of Max Verstappen, Neel Jani, Juan Pablo Montoya and Antonio Felix da Costa, proving iRacing’s popularity.
NASCAR have stepped up the eSports game with FOX running full TV coverage for their iRacing races, which included the full pomp and ceremony of a normal NASCAR race, but in virtual form and even the return of retired legend Dale Earnhardt, Jr. IndyCar and Supercars series are due to start with a similar assortment of pro-drivers. Thus proves a key plus to iRacing – where else can you genuinely put yourself alongside Grand Prix winners and Le Mans champions in similar machinery and see how good you really are? That alone is worth the subscription price.
Project Cars 2
While there are plenty of sims out there for the PC gamer, the console user can often feel a little left out. While both of the big players have their own exclusive racing sims – Gran Turismo on the PS4 and Forza Motorsport on the Xbox One – neither feel quite the full rounded sim (although if we had to choose one at Goodwood HQ, it’d have to be Gran Turismo purely on the basis that we can race around our office…). When Slightly Mad Studios released the first Project Cars in 2015, it offered console gamers a taste of proper sim racing. The sequel provides even more for the player, and gives a wide range of options – want to race IndyCars at the Brickyard? Done. Ice racing? Yep. Porsche 917s down the old Mulsanne Straight? You bet (after buying the DLC). Many an hour can be lost just pushing the hot lap game as you strive for that extra tenth of a second around Spa-Francorchamps in the Toyota TS050 Hybrid.
The original rFactor was a goldmine for the modding community, meaning that even though it was a 2005 game, it was still hugely popular by the time of its sequel’s release in 2013. The varied nature of what you could find was incredibly broad, this writer remembers losing a day competing in Brisca F2 stockcars at Belle Vue thanks to a mod he found one rainy evening. Thankfully, the swathes of user-generated content have continued in rFactor 2, to the extent that you could pretty much pick a year of Formula 1 history and before you know it you’re playing as Ayrton Senna taking on Alain Prost at Suzuka. Just make sure that you have plenty of disk space available and that your internet is up to large downloads, as you’ll probably find yourself like a kid in a sweet shop once you start searching through the mod sites…
This may be a slightly unknown name to many, caused in no small part to the fact the game is produced by the lesser-known Reiza Studios, who had previously produced Stock Car Extreme, a game focussed on the Brazilian Stock Car V8 series. What it might lack in marketing ability, Automobilista completely makes up for it in the gameplay, widely regarded as one of the out and out best sims out there. Hugely popular YouTuber Jimmy Broadbent has been known to sing the praises of Automobilista, so if it’s good enough for Jimmer, it must be good enough for us.
These are the best car simulator games to play this season.