Best Xbox One Racing Games: 20 Picks That You Can Also Play On Xbox Series X
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The best racing games on Xbox One are almost as varied as the fast cars you drive in them. Want to cruise around a gorgeously rendered take on the English countryside in a rambunctious open-world adventure? Forza Horizon 4 has you covered. Eager to simulate the racing thrills of regulated sport? F1 2021 and MotoGP 21 have dials to fiddle with and switches to flick. Want a bright and shiny take on an arcade classic? Burnout Paradise Remastered and Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit Remastered are for you. Or maybe you just want to be an anthropomorphic mascot hurling blunt objects at friends and enemies alike? Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled brings the wumpa while Sonic Team Racing scarfs down a chili dog.
Last generation, Microsoft often struggled to produce major AAA exclusives for the Xbox One. The biggest exception, though? Racing games. With two spins on Forza–one of the studio’s biggest franchises–both devoted to burning rubber, Xbox has become a racing game powerhouse (as reflected in the impressive selection of driving games on Xbox Game Pass). And, as we’ll see in this list, even outside the Forza stable of racers, Microsoft’s consoles may well be the best place to put tires to virtual pavement. These are the best racing games on Xbox One and Xbox Series X. Many of the games listed below have free Xbox Series X enhancements.
For more Xbox game suggestions, check out our lists of the best Xbox Series X games and best Xbox One games. And if you happen to own a PS4 or PS5, make sure to take a look at our best PS4 racing games list, too.
Art of Rally
Art of Rally is perhaps the most unique game on this list as a racing game that eschews nitty-gritty graphical realism in favor of a top-down, low-poly take on the sport. Taking place during the “Golden Age” of rally racing, Art of Rally’s campaign tasks players with racing in one location for each year of the sport’s 1967-1996 run. These locations–ranging from Finland to Kenya, and more–are chopped up into smaller, visually distinct and colorful tracks. Despite the playful look, Art of Rally is a serious racer with controls that straddle the line between arcade and sim-style. If you get sick of racing, there’s an open-ended Free Roam mode to explore where you can search for various collectibles, like the individual letters spelling “RALLY” and Time Attacks to complete. It’s a wonderfully different take on the racer, and Game Pass subscribers can pick it up for no extra cost on both PC and consoles.
Burnout Paradise Remastered
Burnout Paradise Remastered brought Criterion’s 2008 sandbox classic to PC and modern consoles with improved visuals and gameplay, which expertly balances open-world exploration, thrilling races, slow-motion crashes, and collectible hunting that fans know and love. To start a challenge in Paradise City, you simply pull up to a traffic light and spin your wheels. As a result, every stretch of this open world, which ranges from cities to mountains is a potential race track. If you enjoy the formula of Forza Horizon 4, Burnout Paradise Remastered is a great way to experience a beloved, earlier entry in the open-world racer genre. This remaster is available, at no added cost, for Xbox Game Pass subscribers, on both PC and consoles.
See our Burnout Paradise review.
Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled
Mario Kart isn’t available on Xbox, but Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled is a lot like it. The big difference, though, is that, while anyone can pick up Mario Kart and easily win some races, Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled is tough as nails, right from the start. Beenox’s remake of Naughty Dog’s 1999 kart racer collects the courses from the original PS1 game (Crash Team Racing), plus additional content from its sequels, Crash Nitro Kart and Crash Tag Team Racing. This punishing party game requires players to finish first in a race before the next course will unlock, and doles the courses out slowly.
See our Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled review.
A colorful off-road racer with globe-spanning tracks and the world-class voice talent of Naughty Dog mainstays Nolan North and Troy Baker, Dirt 5 is a brilliantly arcade-y title with beautiful locales and stunning particle effects. With roughly 80 tracks and a wealth of online and offline modes, Codemaster’s 2020 outing is well worth the price of admission, especially if you already have Xbox Game Pass where the game is available on both consoles and PC.
See our Dirt 5 review.
Dirt Rally 2.0
A significantly more difficult off-road racer than Dirt 5, Dirt Rally 2.0 is the sim-heavy counterpart to the main series’ arcade-style racing. If you’re looking for challenging races in gorgeously rendered locales, Dirt Rally 2.0 has you covered. The game includes six real-world locations, a bevy of tracks, and more than 50 cars. Tune your ride, manage your team, or just race to your heart’s content in Codemaster’s strong 2019 sim. This rally racer is available for Xbox Game Pass subscribers on both PC and consoles.
Break out the racing wheel and prepare to go fast or crash trying…now with added emotional stakes. F1 2021 introduces a full-fledged campaign, “Breaking Point,” to the long-running series. Not to be confused with your typical race-a-bunch-of-races career mode, the campaign here is story-focused, with players donning the helmets of one of two characters: a rookie at the beginning of his career or an experienced racer nearing the finish line. This kind of thing has become more common lately–see Madden NFL’s Longshot–and it’s a welcome way to introduce players to the mechanics of the game, while also giving them a reason to be invested. Additionally, F1 2021 includes a two-player career mode and split-screen play. If none of that is doing it for you, My Team mode lets you create a driver and manage their team through the season. And shorter modes like Time Trial and the ability to shorten the season length mean that, even if you don’t have much time, you can still get plenty of racing in.
Forza Horizon 4
This terrific open-world game offers players a huge English countryside to explore and a wide variety of cars to explore it with. Even more interesting, courses constantly change in response to the weather. So, a lake which might be impassable during the summer could become an icy bridge to slide across in the winter. With plenty of side activities to take part in, beautiful environments to behold, and Death Stranding-style asynchronous multiplayer populating your world with other players, Forza Horizon 4 is a great racing game (and for RPG fans, ample evidence that developer Playground Games has the potential to make a stellar Fable game). We’re eagerly anticipating this year’s sequel, Forza Horizon 5, which will move the action to Mexico. This Microsoft-published title is available for Game Pass subscribers on console and PC.
See our Forza Horizon 4 review.
Forza Motorsport 7
The latest installment in Forza Horizon’s more realistic sister series, Forza Motorsport 7 packed in a whopping 700+ cars to collect and rendered them in painstaking graphical detail. Turn 10 Studios’ most recent racing game boasts over 100 tracks, with weather effects that add interest to routes, even after you’ve played them repeatedly. Add in a suite of accessibility options, and this sim-focused title is far easier to jump into than other realistic racers like Project Cars 2. And, if you feel ready for a steeper challenge, Forza Motorsport 7’s inclusion of Mod Cards allows seasoned players to introduce more difficult objectives for greater rewards. Pick it up on PC or console for no extra cost with Xbox Game Pass.
See our Forza Motorsport 7 review.
This 2019 reboot offers a variety of racing disciplines to master, from street racing to NASCAR and beyond. Slightly closer to the sim side of things than Codemaster’s Dirt series and closer to the arcade end of the spectrum than Codemaster’s Dirt Rally games, GRID is a down-the-middle racer that manages to offer plenty of action, while still being fiddly enough for folks who want to take a look under the hood. While the selection of tracks is fairly limited, Grid keeps things interesting with its Nemesis system, which causes NPC AI to develop grudges if you drive too aggressively during a race. Push someone off the track? Don’t be surprised if they push back when you’re least expecting it. It’s a neat touch, and helps keep Grid’s Career mode interesting. If you’re looking to play with friends, Grid offers a variety of online modes.
Inertial Drift asks the important questions like, “What if drifting were 90% of what you did in a racing game?” To answer that question, this cel-shaded 2020 racer ties steering to the left stick and drifting to the right stick, a move that provides for a significantly more nuanced take on cornering than most racers are able to provide. Each of the game’s 16 cars is tied to a different racer and feels significantly different as you narrowly rush through the game’s 20 tracks. In single-player, local 1-vs-1, and online multiplayer, Inertial Drift offers a gorgeous, retro-futurist world that handles like nothing else on the market.
With MotoGP 21, developer Milestone recreates the 2021 season, with more than 20 tracks and 120 official riders. This bike-racing game offers players the opportunity to race at the ground level, with solid handling, and manage the season from a bird’s eye view. MotoGP 21 isn’t too different from previous entries, but it does feel slightly better to play. Bikes handle with more sensitivity and feel incredibly responsive. The A.I. is plenty intelligent, too, as MotoGP 21 implements the same machine-learning system as Milestone’s other racer on this list, Ride 4. Newcomers should know that this bike sim is pretty tough out of the box but can be tweaked with assists to make the difficulty curve a lot gentler. Plus, there’s a good tutorial if this is your first time out, or just need a reminder on some of the basics. Even with those changes though, winning takes more strategy than you might expect.
Nascar Heat 5
Like driving around in a circle? NASCAR Heat 5 is for you. This sim racer is true to the sport that inspired it, packed with roughly 40 ovals to speed up, slow down, speed up, slow down, speed up, and slow down around until you reach the finish line. NASCAR Heat 5 is the first entry in the series developed by 704Games, and doesn’t change much up from the previous game, NASCAR Heat 4, developed by Monster Games. While it isn’t revolutionary, the 2020 entry is solid, with driving controls that can be tweaked to skew more sim or more arcade depending on what you’re in the mood for, or to be tuned to your skill level.
Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit Remastered
In Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit Remastered (a 10th anniversary upgrade for Criterion’s 2010 original) players play both as street racers, and as the police tasked with bringing them down. Gameplay is split between the two groups. In some levels, racers attempt to escape the police, dropping spike traps and running their cars off the road. In others, cops chase down the speedsters, hoping to do enough damage to their cars to take them out of commission before a time limit. It’s a smart conceit that provides variety across the game’s 15-hour campaign. The 2020 remaster introduced crossplay multiplayer across PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PC, so everyone can get in on the action. Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit Remastered is available on console, at no added cost, via Xbox Game Pass.
See our Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit review.
Project Cars 3
Until this entry, Slightly Mad Studios’ Project Cars series was known for taking a simulation-heavy approach to the racing genre. But, with Project Cars 3, the series ditched the finicky handling for something more friendly to mainstream players. The result is a game that doesn’t really feel like Project Cars, but still succeeds at providing racing thrills for less-experienced players. That said, if you’ve played earlier entries and are expecting more of the same, don’t. Difficulty, handling, and opponent AI have all been drastically reworked.
See our Project Cars 3 review.
The latest entry in Milestone’s motorcycle series, 2020’s Ride 4 is a challenging sim-style take on bike racing featuring dozens of tracks across three continents, dynamic weather, and hundreds of bikes to unlock, ride, and customize, across its 30 hour campaign and competitive multiplayer. Ride 4 also boasts an Endurance mode, where players can test their mettle in lengthy races, complete with pit stops. Competitors in single-player are powered by A.N.N.A. (Artificial Neural Network Agent), a machine-learning system that makes for some intelligent A.I. This is a substantial racing experience, but its steep difficulty right out of the gate means that Ride 4 may not be the best place for newcomers to start. But, if you can get over the early hump, Ride 4 is a deep sim with impressive customization options and tons of bikes.
Team Sonic Racing
Team Sonic Racing is a colorful kart racer featuring Sonic, Tails, Knuckles, and a whole host of other anthropomorphic animals in big ol’ karts developed by Little Big Planet 3 and Sackboy: A Big Adventure creators Sumo Digital. With smart team-based mechanics, Team Sonic Racing is a multiplayer arcade game for players of all skill levels, where seasoned racers can help out struggling newbies by leaving a gust of wind in their wake. Each of the 21 courses are memorable, with plenty of the gravity-defying loops that Sonic is known for, gorgeous and varied backgrounds, and obstacles that tie in nicely with each stage’s theme. The Adventure mode is a weak spot, but this package is quite robust otherwise and generally way past cool.
See our Team Sonic Racing review.
The Crew 2
Ubisoft’s 2018 sequel brings open-world thrills and spills spanning the entirety of the continental United States, but its coolest feature is the ability to swap between planes, boats, and cars on the fly. Flying over a lake and see a cove you want to scout at sea level? Switch to a boat and your ride will instantly swap out, sending you in a freefall to the water. It’s a cool trick that reminds us of Grand Theft Auto 5’s approach to multiple protagonists, but it’s much faster here. The Crew 2 is a little rough in some ways, but i’s conceit is incredibly cool and exploring a whole country in this arcade racer is a joy.
See our The Crew 2 review.
The TrackMania games ask an intriguing question: What if you could be both a Hot Wheels car and also the person building Hot Wheels tracks? 2016’s TrackMania Turbo is a strong entry in the stunt race series, with tons of tracks (more than 200!), a robust track builder, and the ability to search and play tons of user-created content online. It was also the first entry to come to consoles, and brought kinetic, freewheeling racing to a whole new group of players. Turbo is ridiculous fun, with loop-de-loop tracks and gravity-defying cars that are just as comfortable flying through the air as they are with rubber grounded against the road. And Turbo is a time trial focused game–you’re attempting to beat the clock, not other players–so taking to the sky is often the fastest route from A to B.
The 2020 entry in the long-running World Rally Championship series replicates a real-world season that never happened. The calendar might be a fantasy, but the thrills here are the real deal as WRC 9 maintains the improvements made by 2019’s WRC 8, while making enough small tweaks for the new entry to be worthwhile. It’s a fairly modest upgrade over the previous year’s entry, but with 14 locations (including the additions of the gorgeous Japan, Kenya, and New Zealand tracks), 100 special stages, a career mode that puts you in charge of team management, and more than 15 classic cars, WRC 9 is a great place to start for anyone looking to get into the series.
Part combat racer and part demolition derby, Wreckfest is designed to facilitate the smashing of cars in a variety of different ways. With wacky vehicles like lawn mowers and motorized sofas, creative tracks, and fun, frantic multiplayer, Wreckfest is a wild time for players of all ages and skill levels. Xbox Game Pass subscribers can nab this one on both PC and consoles for no added cost.
See our Wreckfest review.
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