These games are as realistic and as immersive as they come

Virtual reality gaming has exploded in popularity in recent years on the strength of technological innovation. There once was a point in time when VR gaming was thought of only in the imagination of people. Those days are gone, especially in the world of video game simulation racing where several video game titles and franchises have transitioned their wares into the realm of VR gaming.

These days, popular titles like Gran Turismo Sport, Project CARS, and Driveclub all support VR gaming. New games are also arriving specifically for this new platform, and with video game technologies continuing to advance at a rapid pace, it won’t be long before VR racing becomes the norm rather than the exception. Ahead of that inevitably, we have picked out the best VR racing games that you can play today. Immerse yourself in this new world of video game racing. The realism behind all of it is going to make your head spin.

Project Cars

For the longest time, the Gran Turismo and Forza Motorsports franchises have dominated the racing simulator scene. Then, in 2015, a new challenger arrived from developer Slightly Mad Studios. Project CARS bust into the scene five years ago, and in short order, it has established its own cult following among hardcore video game racers.

What {iRacing} lacked in years of being under the sun, the game made up for by being one of the first titles to embrace VR racing. That gamble has paid off handsomely for the fledgling racing game franchise.

Project CARS boasts one of the best VR experiences you’ll ever get. It’s compatible with just about every VR headset in the market, including Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, and, of course, Playstation VR . If there’s one VR racing game/simulator that you should look into if you’re interested in entering this new subculture of the video game world, your choices should either by Project CARS or the game that came after it.

Gran Turismo Sport

{Gran Turismo Sport} is one best video games in the market. Forget about genres for a second and absorb the previous statement. The kind of acclaim naturally translates to obscenely high expectations.

So when Polyphony Digital jumped into the VR pool, everyone was keen to see how the game’s richness in every aspect would translate into the world of virtual reality. So far, Gran Turismo Sport VR has lived up to the hype. The graphics are so accurate that even the tiniest of details — like the stitching in the racing gloves — stand out.

Drop the VR headset over eyes and it feels like you’re being transported into the game. It’s still not as expansive as the standard Gran Turismo Sport, but those are tradeoffs that you should have no problem making. After all, virtual reality gaming is as much about the experience as it is the gameplay.

Assetto Corsa

Launched for the PC in 2014, Assetto Corsa was never intended to be a VR game. But opportunities arose for developer KUNOS Similazioni when the VR movement arrived. Now, you can enjoy Assetto Corsa in the world of virtual reality, bringing a realistic racing experience to go with enough old-school race cars to transform you back to the 1950’s. Assetto Corsa doesn’t have as expansive an offering as other VR-compatible driving games, but it does offer a transformative and immersive racing experience that you don’t get from other games .

You’re going to have to work your way around some of its flaws — the mirrors, for example, aren’t accurate — but if you can move past these handicaps, {Assetto Corsa} provides ease-of-play and high-quality visuals.

The VR game supports a host of VR headsets, including Oculus Rift and HTC Vive.

iRacing

{iRacing VR} doesn’t straddle the murky line that separates racing games from simulators. It doesn’t distinguish one from the other because, at its core, {iRacing} is a simulator.

More than most VR racing games, iRacing VR has become the go-to game — or is it more like a practice tool? — among real-world racers who are looking to sharpen their racing skills from the comforts of their own living rooms. The game’s attention-to-detail is incredible and the realism is just as impressive. On the other hand, the game is hard.

I’ve played it a handful of times, and it is, without question, one of the most challenging VR racing games that you can play.

Perhaps that’s one of the reasons why real-world racers enjoy playing iRacing. Not only do they get a chance to immerse themselves into the world of virtual reality racing, but, more importantly, they can clock precious practice time while doing it. Like most games on this list, iRacing is compatible with a lot of VR headsets, including the Oculus Rift and the HTC Vive.

Need For Speed - No Limits VR

The oldest car racing video game franchise planted its flag in the VR world with Need for Speed - No Limits VR. I’ve tried my hand in this game, and I can tell you that it lives up to the lofty standards of the Need for Speed franchise.

Gameplay can get frantic — it’s a common characteristic of VR gaming — but {Need for Speed - No Limits VR} manages to compensate that with an easy-to-understand control scheme.

Playing games on VR is more enjoyable when you don’t have to stress out about the controls. There’s no cause for concern in this game with regards to it. Need for Speed - No Limits VR is available on the App Store and is designed for DayDream View. You don’t have to invest in expensive headsets to enjoy this game. That’s another bonus that often goes unnoticed.

Live For Speed

Live for Speed has been around since 2002, but it wasn’t until the ascension of VR that the game’s potential was finally tapped.

It’s still not the most realistic or visually impressive racing game out there and there are some bugs to sort out if your computer can’t handle the game’s processing powers, but {LFS} has always had that ability to surprise VR gamers.

It doesn’t hurt, too, that the game’s developers — Scawen Roberts, Victor van Vlaardingen, and Eric Bailey — have done a great job keeping the game as up-to-date as it needs to be in the face of growing competition in this pocket of the gaming world. LFS’ “walk” mode, in particular, is particularly enjoyable, especially these days when a lot of us can’t go out of houses. If you can’t walk around the neighborhood, you can walk around the tracks in this game.

RaceRoom Racing Experience

RaceRoom Racing Experience has all the hallmarks of a top VR racing game that you need to experience. It wasn’t developed for that purpose by Sector3 Studios, but with the advent of virtual reality games, it didn’t take long for the developers to jump in on the VR bandwagon.

The result is a game that fits the virtual reality mold seamlessly. It’s compatible with a lot of VR headsets, including Vive and Rift, and it has impressive HUD dynamics and gameplay that’s easier to get used to, at least compared to other VR racing games in the market.

With so much attention placed on the Gran Turismo and Forza Motorsports video game franchises, RaceRoom Racing Experience might be the best racing game that you’ve never heard of.

Driveclub VR

Developed by Evolution Studios, Driveclub VR is one of the best VR racing games in the market.

It’s not without its faults — it robs a little of what made the {Driveclub} game franchise so incredible — but for your money, the game’s environment is as rich as any VR racing game you’ll get to play at this point.

The game’s realism is its calling card, but you’ll also get your money’s worth with all the available cars and courses in the game. You can run up hours upon hours of game time, either by yourself or with your friends. Driveclub VR is also a PlayStation 4-exclusive game so if you own a PS4 and you’re in the market for a VR racing game that can exceed your own expectations, Driveclub VR is a solid choice.

DiRT Rally VR

Whereas some VR racing games are more interested in showcasing technology over actual gameplay, some games kill both birds with one stone. Dirt Rally VR falls under the latter category. Now I have played my share of VR racing games, but there aren’t many that can match the all-around comprehensiveness of Dirt Rally VR.

This game doesn’t just put you inside a rally car and allow you to run roughshod over the competition. It takes an advanced and nuanced type of driving skill to succeed in this game. It’s a serious VR racing game for the serious VR racing gamer.

The realism of driving rally cars around some of the most dangerous racing environments requires as much skill as you can give. Dirt Rally VR is available on Oculus and Steam, and the game offers support for Rift, Index, and HTC Vive.

Project CARS 2

How do you follow up on a successful first offering with an even better sequel? That’s the question that game developer Slightly Mad Studios had to grapple with when it came time to start creating the follow-up t the highly successful Project CARS racing simulator.

It wasn’t enough that {Project CARS 2} evolved from the same formula that gave life to its predecessor. It had to be {better} in a lot of ways to justify the hype surrounding it. For the most part, Slightly Mad Studios nailed that.

Project CARS 2 isn’t just the successor to Project CARS; it feels more like an expansion of the first game and an evolution of what makes for a tremendous VR racing simulator . Like most VR racing games, Project CARS 2 isn’t perfect; but as far as boasting the best all-around experience that you can get from a VR racing game, Project CARS 2 is one of the best titles in the market. You get what you pay for with this game — and so much more after that.

What PC Racing Games Work with VR?

There are a host of PC racing games that work with VR. Among the popular ones include Project CARS 2, Driveclub, RaceRoom Racing Experience, and iRacing. This list is expected to grow as more PC racing games are developed for virtual reality.

What racing games are VR Supported?

A lot of today’s car racing games and simulators are VR supported. Assetto Corsa, DiRT Rally, Rush, and Sprint Vector are all VR supported, either through PC VR, PlayStation VR, Oculus Rift, or HTC Vive.

What Racing Games Support VR?

Numerous car racing games and simulators support virtual reality. Since the application of the technology works well in this setting, a lot of car racing games — even those that predate the arrival of virtual reality game application — have updated their games to support VR. Gran Turismo Sport and Driveclub VR are just to of the games that support VR.

Why Can’t VR do Racing Games Well Yet?

As popular as VR gaming has become in recent years, the technology has barely scratched the surface of what it’s fully capable of. The marinating process takes time, especially when you consider how expensive it is to set up a VR rig to fully maximize the virtual reality experience that these games offer. There will come a point when VR explodes and becomes a household gaming setup. Everything will line up when that happens, including the quality of racing games that will be available at that time.

Kirby Garlitos
Automotive Aftermarket Expert - kirby@topspeed.com
Kirby’s first exposure into the world of automobiles happened when he caught Knight Rider on television as a five-year old boy. David Hasselhoff didn’t leave much of an impression on him (that happened later on in Baywatch), but KITT certainly did. To this day, Kirby remains convinced that he will one day own a car with the same ‘spirit’ as the original KITT (not the 2008 monstrosity). He doesn't know when that will be, but until then, he’s committed to expressing his love for KITT, and all cars for that matter, here at TopSpeed.  Read More
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