If you’re like me, you toyed with the idea of purchasing a VR headset for quite a while before actually purchasing one. Among other dissuading factors, they’re expensive, often uncomfortable, and can cause severe motion sickness. Not to mention, they require a powerful VR-ready PC in order to run.
On the other hand, though… They offer an immersive experience that no other piece of tech does. From hardcore milsims like Pavlov to the story driven Half-Life: Alyx, the VR market has been expanding at a rapid pace.
In spite of this, however, the racing genre remains perhaps the most synonymous alongside VR. If you’re looking for more VR games to make use of your new headset, and are confident in your ability to resist motion sickness, a well-crafted racing game can be an intoxicating experience.
With that in mind, we’ve listed some of the best VR racing games you can currently play in the article below.
NOTE: Not every game on the list below is compatible with every VR headset out there. Be sure to check compatibility before purchasing any title.
A franchise rather than a standalone title, Project Cars 1-3 has something for everybody. While it doesn’t carry the same legacy as games like Forza or Gran Turismo, developer Slightly Mad Studios has garnered a cult following since the release of the initial Project Cars in March 2015.
Widely lauded as one of the most visually appealing VR racing sim on the market, Project Cars also boasts some of the widest compatibility as well, making it a strong competitor within the genre.
It is worth noting, however, that on top of requiring a beefy GPU (a 2080, to be precise), the third installation of the franchise has received quite a bit of criticism from long-time fans for “deviating from the formula of the previous games.”
Picking up where Project Cars left off, Assetto Corsa cements itself as a VR title with a commitment to realism. While the title—released in 2014—was never intended to be a VR-compatible title, the game’s expansion to VR has since breathed new life into the playerbase and modding community alike.
While this dedication to realism remains Assetto’s selling point, and compliments its vast arsenal of available cars and customizations, users looking for a more arcade-y experience should look elsewhere. Furthermore, some reviewers claim that the no-frills foundation of the game makes it difficult for those lacking prior knowledge to break into the scene.
Dash Dash World
The complete antithesis of previously mentioned titles, Dash Dash World is an arcade racing game through and through.
Taking inspiration from games like Mario Kart and Crash Team Racing, Dash Dash World completely forgoes the dedication to realism present in other titles, instead focusing on the ludicrous, off the walls antics made possible in the world of VR.
Complete with a story mode, enticing customization options, and frequent online tournaments, Dash Dash World is perfect for players looking for a more light-hearted, arcade style racing game.
Most VR racing games sacrifice gameplay for the sake of accuracy, or vice versa. Dirt Rally seeks to break that mold, offering a high degree of both visual fidelity and realism-based physics. On the other hand, the high-octane, phrenetic gameplay present is more akin to arcade-style games, making Dirt Rally a perfect blend of subgenres.
On top of a large vehicular arsenal, Dirt Rally offers in-depth customization, and hosts online events regularly, complete with worldwide leaderboards.
Distinguishing itself as the only jet-racing title on this list, Jetborne Racing is created by the developers of VTOL VR.
Featuring both tracks and an arcade-style power-up system only possible in VR, Jetborne Racing still binds itself to reality—going too fast and experiencing too many G’s of force will invariably result in your pilot passing out.
Alternatively, players can opt to control turrets, shooting down other pilots as they fly by.
Marketing itself as the “premier free-to-play racing experience,” RaceRoom Experience has—at the very least—shown their dedication to competition, having expanded their public events to weekly competitions.
While the base game itself is free-to-play (which includes online play), players are required to pay to access premium content—though they claim to provide this content to players for free over the duration of their frequent online events.
RRE has also received praise for its AI, a marked improvement over that of its competitors.
Developed on the same engine as Project Cars 2, the similarities in Automobilista 2 are immediately apparent. Automobilista 2 distinguishes itself by focusing on the single-player experience. AI improvements and weather detail lead to a pleasant solo experience, and the slightly improved physics parameters lend itself to a more grounded experience.
This has led some users to refer to Automobilista 2 as what Project Cars 3 should have been, given the other title’s departure from realism.
Need for Speed: No Limits VR
I was (and still am) slightly hesitant to put Need for Speed: No Limits VR on this list. While the game itself is indeed a complete VR experience, finding the discontinued APK requires some digging—and some risk.
This entry differentiates itself through its design. Meant to work off of DayDream (a since-discontinued mobile VR device) is an attempt at proving you don’t need to spend hundreds of dollars on a VR headset for a reasonable experience.
Note that on top of digging around for the APK, you’ll need to purchase a third-party mobile headset as well.
Live for Speed
Released in 2002, Live for Speed is the oldest title on this list. While it’s no doubt starting to show its age, this means that even mid-tier (and even lower-end) computers can run it in VR without issue.
The base game itself is free, but unlocking all content requires the purchase of a season pass, which vary in prices.
Another title I was hesitant to place on this list, iRacing is potentially the “best” racing sim out there—so much so that it’s been used by professional racers to clock in practice time. So why is it last on this list?
Simple: It’s expensive. Really expensive. While all other titles on this list are a one-time purchase or outright free to play, iRacing operates on a sub-based model. One month of access costs $13, while a year’s access costs $113. Considering the already significant expense of a VR headset, this title can be a bit of a hard sell—especially considering that the sub model itself is something of a dying breed.