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Start your engines and set your shifting to automatic! Video game fans have been infatuated with the need for speed since the ’80s arcade bar. With the power of modern-generation consoles, racing games have taken on a visually stunning persona to match their high-octane gameplay. So what are the best racing games for PlayStation 5? We’ll break each game down by its single-player campaign, multiplayer, and overall performance.

Hot Wheels Unleashed

Cars racing on orange track in hot Wheels Unleashed.

Hot Wheels Unleashed takes childhood bliss and injects it into a visually stunning current-gen video game. Unlike other Hot Wheels games that went the realism route, Hot Wheels Unleashed shrinks down to the miniature cars and orange tracks you know and love. Hot Wheels‘ attention to detail helps parents appreciate the reimagined toys they grew up with, and its easy-to-master controls make the game accessible to everyone in the house.

The Hot Wheels Unleashed campaign keeps things simple, which may turn off players looking for a more immersive experience. In City Rumble Mode, you’ll either race against the A.I., doing your best to finish third or better, or race against the clock in a series of time trials. A competent gamer should have no problem speedrunning the campaign to unlock as many cars as possible. You won’t be barred by must-have wins and can rest on your bronze-medal laurels to get through the entire game.

Hot Wheels Unleased‘s multiplayer supports up to 12 racers online and two-player split-screen. The game features cross-gen support; however, it does not feature cross-platform support. So, PS4 and PS5 players can join the same lobby, but PlayStation and Xbox players will remain separated. With 66 unlockable cars to choose from, you’ll have plenty of variety in both single and multiplayer. You can drive real-world cars, iconic Hot Wheels classics, and famous rides like the Delorian from Back to the Future. So how do you unlock new cars in Hot Wheels Unleashed?

Hot Wheels Unleashed features two ways to unlock new cars, and neither is linked to spending real-world money through microtransactions. Players can spend their in-game coins on Blind Boxes, rewarding them with a random car. They can also choose from a rotation of vehicles that changes every four hours. Both options often give you cars you’ve already unlocked. Thankfully, you can dismantle duplicate cars for gears, another important in-game currency.

Finally, Hot Wheels Unleashed features an immersive custom track mode allowing you to build the Hot Wheels track of your childhood dreams. While the UI may take a few hours to master, you’ll eventually understand the nuances of bending tracks and placing jumps.

Wreckfest

Cars smashing into each other in Wreckfest.

If you’ve ever wanted to throw yourself into the world of derby racing, Wreckfest is the game for you. As one of the best racing games on PS5, Wrefest puts a smile on your face at every turn. It’s a professional racing game that doesn’t take itself too seriously. However, the controls and physics will take some time to master, especially when driving the sofa car — that’s right, we said sofa car. Multiplayer adds a fun layer to the game that’s more than just placing first. With a wide variety of events to choose from, players won’t feel an overly-competitive cloud looming over the multiplayer lobby.

Wreckfest‘s single-player campaign features five tiers with a dozen or more events in each. You’ll work your way up from Regional Juniors to World Masters as you complete events and earn enough points to progress. Thankfully, Wreckfest doesn’t force you to complete every event in a given tier. So, if demolition derby is more your thing, you can focus on all of those events while only having to complete a few races. Each event will earn you points based on your placement. Once you hit the minimum number of points for a given tier, you can move on to the next, even if you have events left over.

Before each race, you’ll have the chance to tune your car based on the given event. Each race features a different driving surface like gravel, dirt, or tarmac. How you tune your car depends on said surface. For example, tuning your suspension to the soft side will keep your tires on the ground when driving on rough surfaces like dirt and gravel, while a stiff suspension is better for tarmac. The difficult choice comes when the tracks are more evenly split, perhaps 50/50 gravel to tarmac. You’ll have to decide where to focus on taking the lead. Maybe the tarmac portion of the race has more straightaways; therefore, you’ll want to accelerate and reach your top speed.

Wreckfest integrates complex driving mechanics with the excitement of derby car racing. Your cars will suffer structural damage as you crash into opponents. Be careful; too much damage may throw off your handling. However, most races come with damage-based bonus objectives like “cause 1,000 points of damage to other racers.”

Aside from standard multiplayer, Wreckfest features a season-based semi-online tournament mode where players earn Fame to purchase seasonal cars and accessories. We call it semi-online because you’ll still be competing against the A.I. in races and demo-derbies. However, the weekly and seasonal events have you trying your best to place on the leaderboard to earn the most Fame.

DiRT 5

Car jumping through fire in DiRT 5.

DiRT 5 ditched the heavy-sim approach of its predecessors and opted for a more arcade-like racing experience. The controls are more manageable, the visuals are stunning, and the campaign is straightforward. DiRT 5 is a game that you can hop in and enjoy at a moment’s notice. However, there isn’t much more under the surface. DiRT 5 offers several different event types and tracks to keep each race feeling fresh in the beginning. However, some of the events start to feel pretty similar as the campaign progresses.

In DiRT 5’s campaign, you’re an up-and-coming off-road racer looking to make a name for themselves in the world of rally car racing. You catch the eye of DiRT superstar Alex Janiček, better known as AJ, who’ll introduce you to the big leagues. The campaign stretches over five long chapters with 130 available events. Like WreckFest, you don’t have to complete every event to pass a chapter, effectively paving your path in the events you feel most comfortable playing.

You’ll earn Stamps based on your performance, which accumulate to unlock the main event of each chapter. The better you place, the quicker you unlock the main event or “boss battle race,” if you will. You’ll also have a handful of side objectives akin to this style of game. While they’re nothing unique, these objectives include “drift for x-seconds” or “trade paint with a rival racer,” things like that. However, you’re compelled to complete these objectives as they’ll unlock secret Throwdown races, which are 1v1s against another racer.

DiRT 5‘s multiplayer centers around party mode, offering alternative ways to play other than your standard races. For example, Vampire Mode, a fan-favorite from DiRT 3, makes its return in DiRT 5. One player starts as the vampire car and must tag other cars to turn them into vampires. Everyone else must avoid the vampire car and maintain their distance until the sun rises. Other party games include King, where players fight to hold the crown for as long as possible, and Transporter, where players fight to deliver a designated item to its destination while fending off other racers.

Finally, DiRT 5 becomes an entirely new game in Playgrounds. Playgrounds is a sandbox mode that allows for the ultimate custom-track building experience within the DiRT world. The controls and physics are easy to pick up, but you’ll still have to spend some time working through the trial and error of any creative sandbox. Thankfully, DiRT 5 has a massive database of user-created maps for inspiration. That, or you can enjoy setting new time-trial records on community maps.

WRC 10

WRC 10 Rally Car on snowy road.

WRC 10 celebrates the 50th anniversary of World Rally Championship racing with the latest game in the official series. If you’re looking for a racing game that emphasizes skill while hyper-focusing on realism, WRC 10 is the game for you. You’ll compete in a litany of races from all over the world across five decades of WRC racing. You’ll compete in historical events stretching back to the 1970s as you look to beat the authentic times set by those drivers. WRC 10 centers on time trials. The only person you’ll ever share the race track with is your co-driver.

WRC 10 features several single-player routes you can take. The main campaign is a highly immersive mode where you’ll control every aspect of your rally car team. Returning fans wish they didn’t have to start from the bottom again, but new players will appreciate the ease-in to the world of Rally Car Racing. Unlike DiRT 5, WRC 10 offers a hyper-realistic driving experience. It’s not an arcade racer you can pick up and play. You’ll tune your car for each track and mix and match tires to find the best handling and speed-friendly combos.

WRC 10 features 19 countries with a variety of tracks to choose from. In total, you’ll have 120 different races to master between campaign and anniversary mode. Anniversary mode features more than 20 challenges spanning 50 years of WRC racing. Races will come with short snippets about the historical event and why it’s considered one of WRC’s most meaningful moments.

Even though WRC 10 is based purely on time trials, players looking for a challenging multiplayer experience are in luck. Players will join lobbies and compete simultaneously to set the best time. You’ll see how well your rivals are doing, but they won’t be present on the track. Dedicated racing gamers understand the dreaded early-race scrum pile. You know, the one where everyone is bumping and crashing into each other on “go!” Thankfully, you won’t experience any of that in WRC 10.

F1 2021

F1 2021 racers on track.

F1 games are the closest to real-life Forumla-1 action you’re going to get. They’re also some of the best racing games on PS5. Of all the games on this list, F1 2021 is the bonafide racing simulator. F1 edges out WRC 10 because you’ll be racing other cars controlled by the A.I. or other players online. The damage system is in-depth, and Breaking Point, the single-player career mode, offers a well-told story of redemption, rivalry, and the road to glory.

In Breaking Point, you’ll control a pair of teammates, Aiden and Dutch. Aiden is a young rookie who’s just been promoted from F2 to F1. Dutch is a seasoned veteran with the gray to show for it. He wants nothing to do with the reckless rookie, especially after a disastrous first race together. The CG and acting are top-notch, and while the story doesn’t move any narrative mountains, it’s a fantastic new edition to the otherwise flat F1 campaign mode.

Outside of Breaking Point, you can play My Team mode, which puts you in control of your own F1 team. You’ll play through seasons, recruit drivers, and upgrade your facilities to become the most dominant force on the F1 track since Red Bull. F1 2021 has simplified R&D (research and development), and you can even let the A.I. take charge while you focus on the facility and team members.

Online, you can choose to partner with or challenge a friend in multiplayer career mode. Other than online careers, Social Play lets you hop in and out of races without worrying about any long-term ranking. Think of Social Play like a casual unranked mode for players new to the world of F1 racing. Collisions are turned off, and you’re free to race at your own pace. You can always take your skills to the ranked leaderboards in multi-lap races and time trials.

MotoGP 21

MotoGP 2021 racers leaning into a turn.

Perhaps cars aren’t your thing. If that’s the case, MotoGP 2021 will satisfy your PlayStation 5 racing needs on the back of a 200 mph motorcycle. MotoGP isn’t a game any casual racing gamer can pick up and play. The fundamentals of racing a motorcycle are inherently different from driving a car. Thankfully, MotoGP offers an in-depth tutorial on how to do everything related to your high-speed bike.

The single-player career works as you’d expect. You’ll control an up-and-coming racer who’s graduated through the ranks of professional racing and has finally reached the big leagues. You’ll have RPG-like control over your team as you earn points by completing objectives in practice and on race day.

Although most reviews harp on the high degree of difficulty, MotoGP 21 does provide you with an unlimited number of rewinds to correct even the tiniest mistakes. The learning curve is pretty steep. Learning how to transfer weight and applying the proper brake pressure are two crucial factors that only scratch the surface of MotoGP‘s physics engine. Furthermore, if you come flying off your bike (a fall that would kill the average human), you’ll have to manually retrieve and pick up your bike to get back in the race. Of course, falling off your motorcycle even once is enough cause to restart the race. It’s at least enough to merit a rewind.

You can compete against other racers in multiplayer, but MotoGPs charm comes from the single-player races. The degree of difficulty is already hard enough. Adding other human players into the mix feels like overkill, especially as bikes fly in every direction.

Riders Republic

Riders Republic's key art.

Finally, if cars and motorcycles aren’t your things, then Riders Republic is the extreme sports racing game for you. Developers at Ubisoft Annecy, the team behind 2016’s Steep, return for its spiritual successor, describing Riders Republic as a “massive multiplayer sports game.” Riders Republic features 6v6 PvP matches along with 50-person downhill races. America’s national parks have been mushed together to form an adrenaline junky’s ultimate paradise. They can ski, snowboard, mountain bike, wingsuit, and jet-wingsuit (yes, we said jet wingsuit) from top to bottom for as long as your heart desires. With stunning visuals to back up entertaining gameplay, Rider’s Republic might be the blend of extreme sport and racing games you’ve been looking for.

You’ll have five different careers to choose from that vary between racing and freestyle. They are snow races, snow tricks, bike races, bike tricks, and air sports. As you level up each career path, you’ll unlock new cosmetic gear to show off as you scream down the mountain. You’ll also earn stars for everything you do in the game. Stars are the in-game currency used to unlock new careers and sponsors.

If you’re looking for a casual online experience, Riders Republic is not a challenging game to pick up. The control schemes are straightforward, and the physics engine is very forgiving. You can ride a mountain bike down any hill and will only crash if you plow headfirst into a tree.

While you can play Rider’s Republic offline, online interactions and leveling are the game’s core. If you’re looking to explore the world without interference, you can enter into Zen Mode. Zen Mode lets you fast-travel anywhere on the map to practice specific runs and tricks. However, to get the full scope of the game, you’ll have to play online.

Online does deliver plenty of events and races. 6v6 trick battles pit two teams against each other to see who can control the most zones on the map. You’ll gain control of zones by performing high-point combos, thus changing the color in your team’s favor. You can always opt for adrenaline-pumping races via mountain bike, winter sport, or wingsuit (with or without jets).

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