Whether you’re an adrenaline junkie or just love a good kart racer, these PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch racing games will keep you coming back for more
Who doesn’t love a good high-speed drive around a curvy race course, especially in modern gaming?
From the beautifully rendered lighting as the sun beams down on your car and the shine glistens off the hood, to the realistic driving mechanics, intricate car details and pulse-pounding speed, it’s enough to make your grandmother think she’s watching the real thing.
Racing games have come a long way since the days of the 8-bit, top-down arcade gems of the past, but not all racing games are great. Like any genre, there are some that can be left at the bottom of the bargain bin and others that should be on every gamer’s shelf.
However, there are a lot of racing titles out there, especially in the 8th and 9th generation era of consoles.
The PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch have their fair share of driving games, so it can be difficult to know which ones are worth your time. Since the 9th generation consoles haven’t been out long, we’re focusing on 8th generation for this list.
Now, technically, Switch is a ninth-generation console and the Wii U was the 8th generation run for the big N, but we’re only including one Nintendo-exclusive racer on this list anyway and it’s a Wii U game that was made much better with its Switch re-release. Plus, the Switch is a unique case in that it’s sort of an 8th and 9th generation console at this point.
We’d also like to point out that aside from that one, we’re only focusing on new games for the generation. So, we’re skipping over titles like Burnout Paradise Remastered and Need for Speed Hot Pursuit: Remastered because those are technically 7th-generation titles. They are, however, very much worth playing and the remasters are excellent, but we’re trying to find some games that many players may not know about or may not have already played.
Lastly, we’re also skipping over the big ones that everyone knows. Games like Gran Turismo Sport and the Forza Motorsport and Horizon games are already known to be great titles. And, not only are they exclusives and we’re trying to find games (for the most part) that wider audiences can play, they’re also pretty standard on these types of lists.
So, without further ado, here is our list of seven 8th-generation console arcade-style racing games you may not have played that are worth checking out.
Nickelodeon Kart Racers 2
Release date: Oct. 6, 2020
Platforms: Switch, PS4, Xbox One and PC
While the first Nickelodeon Kart Racers can probably be skipped, since the sequel improves on it in just above every way possible, Nickelodeon Kart Racers 2 probably wasn’t on the radar of a lot of gamers.
Licensed games are often overlooked, and usually for good reason. But this is one time that shouldn’t be the case. Nickelodeon Kart Racers 2 is a very fun time and it’s packed with quite a bit of nostalgic content. That is, if you can look past having to play as JoJo Siwa.
Aside from her, the roster includes the likes of characters from TMNT, Rugrats, Hey Arnold!, Rocko’s Modern Life, SpongeBob and more. It’s a solid roster even if the Nick versions of the Doug cast couldn’t be in it due to Doug being owned by Disney.
The game itself consists of excellent track design, fun powerups, great gameplay and a decent lineup of modes and customization options. The only real negative is the lack of voices, which has been a problem for many of the modern Nickelodeon games.
The Crew 2
Release date: May 31, 2018
Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, PC
The follow-up to 2014’s Ubisoft Reflections racing MMO The Crew, The Crew 2 stepped up the game in many ways. It not only improved on the formula for car and truck racing featured in the first game, but it added boats, planes and motorcycles.
The game that takes place in the entire United States (kinda), is a blast to play and there’s tons to do across its vast map. Its biggest drawback is the gameplay, unfortunately.
None of the racing disciplines control perfectly, each with its own frustrations and problems. The attempt at a hybrid simulation/arcade style racer just wasn’t well-executed, and vehicles can feel too slippery, planes can be tough to control and boats can feel clunky and underpowered.
However, the amount of content and the game’s unique approach to open-world multiplayer make it more than a welcome addition to any racing game fan’s collection. It’s still very enjoyable, despite its gameplay flaws.
Speaking of collection, there are tons of vehicles to obtain in the game and Ubisoft is still regularly adding content and in-game events. Give this title a shot next time you’re considering a new racing game.
Horizon Chase Turbo
Release date: May 15, 2018
Platforms: Switch, PS4, Xbox One and PC
If you’re a huge fan of OutRun, like I am, you’ll love games like Horizon Chase Turbo. Its old school look and feel offer a shot of nostalgia while its modern, snappy controls make it feel fresh and new.
The game features a soundtrack full of banging tracks, stylish 16-bit graphics and various modes and cars.
It’s a great little package for a budget price and it’s definitely worth picking up. There’s even a few DLC offerings to keep the fun going even longer.
Grip: Combat Racing
Release date: Feb. 2, 2016
Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, Switch and PC
Grip: Combat Racing gives me such cool vibes because it reminds me of a time when racing game culture wasn’t about realism, simulation and frame rates. It also takes me back to the 90s when toy cars had character and class. That’s because the vehicles remind me of a certain toy from that era.
But the game also hearkens back to a game from yesteryear, as it’s sort of a spiritual successor to an oft-forgotten game that I enjoyed very much growing up called Rollcage, where cars had wheels larger than the body of the car so they could drive up and down surfaces and it didn’t matter whether they were upright or upside-down.
Grip not only features combat elements like all the great arcade racers, but the fact that the cars can drive upwards or upside-down creates for some crazy situations and challenging gameplay. The track design is perfect for this as well as tracks are wide, open and feature all sorts of crazy areas to get turned around (in a good way).
The game features an interesting roster of vehicles, seven game modes, a single player campaign, online and 4-player split-screen multiplayer and great graphics that give the player an intense sense of speed and chaos. This game unfortunately fell under a lot of people’s radars, but it’s worth your time. Give it a shot.
Mario Kart 8 Deluxe
Release date: April 27, 2017
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Let’s face it, everyone has probably played at least one Mario Kart game in their life. Even many non-gamers have, at the very least, tried out the mobile iteration of this classic series. Mario Kart 8 originally released in May 2014 for the Wii U but was later re-released for Switch in 2017 as Mario Kart 8 Deluxe.
The Deluxe version included the DLC, added modes and characters and enhanced the graphics over the original release. Most notably, it added five new characters, eight new Battle Mode arenas (plus added gameplay changes that made Battle Mode feel more like what fans were used to) and additional customization options for karts.
The changes made an already beefy game into a truly deluxe offering and created what’s probably one of the best Mario Kart games of all time. The gameplay is super smooth, the graphics are brilliant and the list of tracks, characters and modes is unmatched for this series. It’s also a ton of fun at the holidays or during family get-togethers. It’s a must-have for all Switch owners.
Release date: Feb. 27, 2018
Platforms: PS4, Xbox One and PC
Gravel is hands down one of the best racing games to come out in recent years. It’s a game not a lot of people loved with its highest Metacritic score being just 67/100, but the hate makes absolutely no sense to me.
This game is phenomenal and it reminds me of racing games from the N64 era, particularly one called Off Road Challenge. It’s gritty, hardcore and the gameplay is absolutely a blast to experience. The game features a large roster of cars, complete with lots of liveries to choose from and the campaign mode will take players a while to complete with its more than 60 events.
The game also features a nice season pass that adds a good amount of content. It’s definitely not as top-tier as some other games in terms of content and status, but it can be had for fairly cheap these days and we’d highly recommend giving this one a go.
Plus, if more people play it, there’s a higher chance it’ll get a sequel.
Release date: Aug. 27, 2019 (console release)
Platforms: PS4, Xbox One and PC (Also on PS5, Xbox Series X/S and coming to Switch)
If you plan to only play one game on this list, make it Wreckfest.
The game recently came to PS5 and Xbox Series X and that port included enhanced graphics, DualSense controller support (on PS5) and more upgrades. But, honestly, even on the previous generation consoles, this game is a must-have. It’s also coming to Nintendo Switch soon, albeit in a less-upgraded fashion.
Regardless of where you play it — I know some will argue that PC is the best place to play any game — just play it. It’s a great game and as a spiritual successor to games like Destruction Derby and FlatOut, it probably isn’t something that would have mass appeal, but it really should.
It has gameplay that is fairly easy to pick up, a wide range of zany and amazing tracks to drive, a cast of vehicles and customizations that will make even the most serious of adults smile and you can even race a couch!
Yes, you read that right. You get to drive a couch.
The best part is definitely the destruction, though. This game features crashes and wrecks that rival the best of the best. It’s like Burnout on steroids. Don’t believe us? Try it out for yourself.