Best racing games 2022: what is the best racing game for PS5, Xbox and Switch?
Drift your way through the best racing games for PlayStation 5, Xbox and Nintendo Switch
There’s no denying the timeless appeal of the best racing games, whether you’re a total gearhead or simply fancy the transcendent sensation of going fast. While you’ll find at least one ranked among the best PS5 games overall, those stuck waiting for the next PS5 restock might also want to take a virtual drive out after sinking countless hours into the best Xbox Series X games or the best Nintendo Switch games.
In addition to being pure, simple fun most people can enjoy without too much of a learning curve, racing games are often a great introduction to the automotive space. As a car enthusiast myself, I attribute my love of cars to the early Forza Horizon games – though Gran Turismo 3 had an impact as well. Although it’s not what first comes to mind when you think of the racing game genre, Mario Kart: Double Dash and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe are also some of the best racing games of all time.
If the LA Auto Show was any indication, the automotive space is revving up its (electrified) engine for an interesting future. As innovation stagnates in other industries, cars are in the same awkward in-between stage phones were when the first iPhone was introduced. If Tesla is Apple, right now Volkswagen is Samsung, or something like that. As the best racing games keep with modern automotive trends, the genre is more exciting by day. So turn on the ignition, fire up your engine and savor the adrenaline the best racing games of 2022 have to offer.
The Shortcut Skinny: Best racing games 2022
🚔 Need for Speed Unbound (PS5, Xbox Series X, PC)
Gran Turismo 7 (PS5)
🇲🇽 Forza Horizon 5 (Xbox Series X, PC)
🌟 Mario Kart 8 Deluxe (Nintendo Switch)
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How to pick the best racing game
🎮 See what’s available on the console or platform you own
🧐 Identify whether you prefer racing sims, arcade racers or something in between
🏎️ Look up the vehicle rosters and determine which game your favorite car is in
🏁 Ascertain the types of races found in each game as well as your preference
🎧 Choose a racing game with a setting and soundtrack that won’t get old quick
Release date: December 2, 2022
✅ Unique cel-shaded art style reminiscent of Jet Set Radio
✅ Great soundtrack, cool setting and old-school Need for Speed gameplay
❌ Lacks unified progression system
Before anyone goes for my throat, Need for Speed Unbound is probably not the best racing game you can play right now. For me, Forza Horizon 5 takes the cake, but it’s also over a year old and I’ve exhausted my time with it. Moreover, Gran Turismo 7 dropped in the first half of 2022 and is without a doubt the racing sim of choice for PS5 players. Unlike Forza Horizon or Gran Turismo, however, you can play Need for Speed Unbound regardless of platform allegiance. It also seems to have flown under the radar, which is why I decided to highlight it first. Bonus points for letting me drive an Alfa Romeo Giulia in a current-gen open world.
Color me surprised that Need for Speed Unbound is legitimately excellent. Not only does it a diverse cast of characters in its Fast & Furious-inspired story, but it also brings stylish anime-like visuals and a killer soundtrack featuring artists such as Playboi Carti, Maxo Kream, Rico Nasty and, of course, A$AP Rocky, whom EA has highlighted in much of Need for Speed Unbound’s marketing. That’s to say nothing of the gameplay, which bears more resemblance to classic Need for Speed entries like Hot Pursuit than more recent titles.
Need for Speed Unbound is, by and large, a return to form for the franchise. Although I’ll admit to taking issue with the separate progression of the campaign and multiplayer modes, I can also see most players either choosing one or the other. Perhaps I’m in the minority in wanting my cars, character and upgrades to carry over between modes. For now, I’ll probably skip the rest of the campaign and press on with the so-far consistently entertaining online street racing playlists set in the famously windy city known as Lakeshore.
Release date: March 4, 2022
✅ Realistic driving sim with extensive customization
✅ Celebrates the history of cars while providing lessons along the way
❌ Not a great fit for those uninterested in cars and prefer simple arcade racing
For a uniquely realistic racing simulator, Gran Turismo 7 puts you in the driver’s seat of anything from the exceptionally rare Pagani Zonda R to the perfectly reliable Toyota Prius. It’s the best mix of cars you’ll find in a modern racing game, and yes, it even has Tesla.
Although visually I found it lacking compared to Forza Horizon 5, Gran Turismo 7 also serves as a proof-of-concept for some of the PS5’s more innovative features. The DualSense controller’s haptics, for instance, are used to reproduce the satisfying feedback of a precisely timed gear shift. You’ll also feel resistance from the triggers when accelerating and braking. It’s a harmonious marriage between hardware and software that almost makes it worth the nearly 10-year wait since Gran Turismo 6.
The most underrated aspect of Gran Turismo 7, however, is its educational value. From the outset, you’re presented with an opening movie that Top Gear aptly referred to as “eight minutes of car heaven.” The campaign is structured into 39 menu books accessible at the Gran Turismo Café. Each is a history lesson on a different class of car, including JDMs, European hatchbacks, American muscle cars and many more.
Release date: November 8, 2021
MSRP: $59.99 (free with Game Pass)
✅ Vibrant open world with no shortage of activities
✅ Expansive list of cars with deep (but completely optional) upgradeability
❌ Missing key brands like Tesla and Alfa Romeo
Explore the diverse landscapes of Mexico in your choice of a Corvette Stingray, Ford Bronco or Toyota Supra – at least when you first get free reign over its intimidatingly large map. In the latest open-world racer from Playground Games, Forza Horizon 5, you’ll get the chance to drive over 600 cars through deserts, mountains, beaches, cities, and more – and you don’t even have to pay for it as long as you’re subscribed to Xbox Game Pass.
If you’ve played a Forza Horizon game before, you know what to expect. As part of the Horizon Festival, you’ll participate in several different types of races, including road racing, street racing, drag racing, dirt racing and cross country racing. Based on the names, you can probably guess what each type of race involves. With the credits you rack up from winning races, you can expand your vehicular roster or upgrade existing cars from your garage.
While I’ve had more connectivity issues in Forza Horizon 5 than its predecessor, online play is back and better than ever. Sure, there’s the new Mini Missions you can play with a buddy to get a little silly with it, partaking in activities like smashing piñatas together. But the best improvement is the relaxed limitation on car selection. Finally, I can live out my dream of plowing through street races in a gas-guzzling Hummer H1, and that’s beautiful.
Release date: April 28, 2017
✅ Wholesome and accessible enough that most people will have a good time
✅ Best-in-class local multiplayer with tons of content
❌ Certain items can make races feel unbalanced
Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is an arcade-style racing game where you can put popular characters from Mario and other Nintendo properties behind the wheel of more than 20 different vehicles. You can take control of a go-kart, motorbike or even a Mercedes-Benz (though not the latest E-Class EV, unfortunately). 32 courses exist in total, half of which are new while the other half can be found in previous Mario Kart games. Mario Kart 8 is best known for its anti-gravity mechanic, which lets you drive upside down and sideways on certain tracks.
But the original Mario Kart 8 for the Wii U is so old I almost missed my high school graduation ceremony to play it. In 2017, however, Nintendo dropped Mario Kart 8 Deluxe on Nintendo Switch, an enhanced version that included all the DLC, a few new characters and finally added a Battle Mode that didn’t suck.
Nintendo then revealed in 2022 that 48 more tracks would be added to Mario Kart 8 Deluxe by the end of the following year. Those who buy the Booster Course Pass will be able to play all of them in both single and multiplayer modes. However, even without paying for the DLC, you can still take the new courses for a spin while playing online as long as at least one person you’re playing with owns it. The tracks are being released in six waves of eight tracks.
Why trust me?
I started writing about video games professionally almost a decade ago. You can still find my bylines across sites like Digital Trends, PC Gamer and GamesRadar, where I covered everything from reviews to news to industry deep dives.
Although I don’t play games nearly as much as I used to, that’s mainly because I discovered a new passion a few years ago: cars and driving. Ever since owning a 2013 Miata Club NC (which I’ve since traded for an M Sport-edition BMW 4 Series), I’ve immersed myself in car culture. Back in October, I started the only Cars & Coffee in NYC, which will soon be expanding into a network for New York car meets. Matt has also been kind enough to let me exercise my automotive reporting abilities here at The Shortcut.
Needless to say, I happen to be one of the few people in media whose expertise aligns with both racing and games – substantiating my qualifications as someone you can trust to speak on the best racing games. While I believe you should check out all of these games sooner or later, I hope my recommendations help you decide which is the best racing game to pick first.
Let me help you out
Still not sure which racing game to get? Give us a shout on Twitter and we’ll help you scratch that itch with a recommendation that has everything on your wishlist. And if you’ve already made up your mind, well, give us a shout anyway and tell me how I did – whether you agree with my picks or not!