Do you the need for virtual speed? Perhaps you only truly feel alive when you’re burning rubber across the asphalt at hundreds of miles per hour. Thanks to the modern sorcery we call “virtual reality,” you can place yourself in the car of your dreams with the click of a button. Or perhaps you prefer the highs of crazy stunts and sensations of hurtling around a tight corner without the physical risks? Whichever flavor of adrenaline rush you crave, you have the rare opportunity to bring it right into your home whenever you like.  

Rev your engines, folks — it’s time for the Top 5 Best VR Racing Games. You’ll find my top pick at the end of the list at spot #1.

5. RUSH

RUSH
Image Credit: The Binary Mill
  • Website: https://store.steampowered.com/app/844040/RUSH/
  • Platform: Windows (Valve Index, HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, Windows Mixed Reality)
  • Playstyle: Seated, Standing, Room-scale
  • Developer: The Binary Mill
  • Release: Jul 13th, 2018
  • Price: $19.99

Believe it or not, cars aren’t the only way to get your racing fix. Starting at #5 in our list, RUSH brings the little-known world of wingsuit racing to VR, pitting you against other folks “falling with style” toward the finish line. Bring your friends along in multiplayer and laugh as they try some death-defying stunt and fail spectacularly. RUSH lands firmly on the arcade side of the realism meter, and the graphics reflect the cartoony angle — though it never breaks immersion. 

Once you plug into this VR experience, it’s hard not to feel like you’re plummeting at terminal velocity down a perilously narrow canyon. Using the default VR setup, you’ll be spreading your arms to guide your descent like a bird (or leaf) on the wind. RUSH may be the most unexpected bird simulator. And it’s without a doubt the most unique VR-capable racers on the market.   

4. Distance

Distance
Image Credit: Refract

If you’ve spent any time in an arcade after the year 2000, you likely saw (or played) one of the games in the Rush racing series. They were tons of janky fun, with improbable jumps, crazy stunts, and plenty of fender-bending crashes. Distance picks up where the arcade Rush games left off, setting the perfect atmosphere with its vaporwave-inspired neon and CG environments. 

As you can probably tell, realism isn’t the focus here. Don’t expect rigorously tuned physics or wheel simulations. But Distance doesn’t suffer from its focus on fun; it embraces the chaos wholeheartedly. Watch the points stack up as you perform increasingly audacious tricks. With the addition of VR, it becomes a surreal 80’s music video for you to tumble through at absurdly high speeds. And you’ll likely spend as much time flipping through the air and boosting off ramps as you do with all wheels on the ground. For retro-futuristic arcade racing, Distance goes the extra mile to distinguish itself in a league of its own.   

3. Project CARS 2

Project CARS 2
Image Credit: Slightly Mad Studios
  • Website: https://www.projectcarsgame.com/
  • Platform: Windows (Valve Index, HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, Windows Mixed Reality)
  • Playstyle: Seated
  • Developer: Slightly Mad Studios
  • Release: Sept 21st, 2017
  • Price: $59.99

Looking for an authentic racing experience without paying a monthly fee? Project CARS 2 may be just the game. Like iRacing, the simulation in Project CARS 2 is top-notch. There are even seasons and weather conditions for that extra bit of immersion. Slipping and sliding around a track during a rainstorm in VR is one of those rare moments where you’ll find yourself soaking in the scenery more than racing to the finish. 

Fortunately, Project CARS 2 finds a happy medium between arcade and realism. It provides an experience that manages to be the best of all worlds without severely compromising in any one area. And you can take on other challengers in online races here too, though without some of the frills of the iRacing league system. With hundreds of cars and tracks to choose from, you’re bound to find what you’re looking for in Project CARS 2. Just remember to steer into a skid.  

2. iRacing

iRacing
Image Credit: iRacing Motorsport Simulations, LLC
  • Website: https://www.iracing.com/
  • Platform: Windows (Valve Index, HTC Vive, Oculus Rift)
  • Playstyle: Seated
  • Developer: iRacing Motorsport Simulations, LLC
  • Release: Jan 12th, 2015
  • Price: Subscription-based

In a novel move, iRacing opted for a subscription-based model. But never fear; for the racing enthusiast with octane in their veins, the content more than justifies the recurring price tag. The VR here is top-notch, pressing you back into your bucket seat as the scenery whips past your windows. 

Unlike most racing games, the focus here is on simulating full-fledged racing leagues. You can join dozens of official and private leagues, racing against other members around the world in pulse-pounding competitions as you work your way up the ladder. Just about every racing paradigm is available here: from time trials to mixed class races, team races, and more. 

If Assetto Corsa is our Forza Horizon stand-in, then iRacing is Gran Turismo — providing the most authentic simulation of real-world racing possible. For those who crave the thrill of competing against other racers in a structured format, iRacing is the sim for you.

1. Assetto Corsa

Assetto Corsa
Image Credit: Kunos Simulazioni
  • Website: https://www.assettocorsa.net/home-ac/
  • Platform: Windows (Valve Index, HTC Vive, Oculus Rift)
  • Playstyle: Seated
  • Developer: Kunos Simulazioni   
  • Release: Dec 19th, 2014
  • Price: $19.99

Our #1 pick for best VR racing game is Ansetto Corsa. Assetto Corsa — allegedly Italian for “Race Setup” — maybe the Forza Horizon of the VR Racing world. While it boasts a physics engine capable of “the best possible accuracy” and “tactility of feeling,” it’s at its best when you aren’t expecting the most realistic simulation. The sense of place when you’re in VR with both hands on a steering wheel peripheral is second to none. 

And it’s one of the few VR games to integrate truly robust modding support. You can drive dozens of officially licensed cars right out of the box. With mods, you can add almost any other car your heart desires — not to mention the user made tracks! Give yourself déjà vu while drifting on the Akina Downhill, or even race around miniaturized tracks straight out of childhood. Assetto Corsa is what you make of it. Thanks to the strong foundation, you have plenty of paths to take.

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