The racing genre is heated these days with multiple developers rightfully feeling like they are in a position to take top spot on the podium. We have EA, EA/Codemasters, Motorsport Games, Milestone, Kylotonn, Playground Games, Polyphony, and more. Some of these developers focus on more than racing games, but the point is there are a lot of people out there right now who are very good at what they do.
So for all the talk of “normal” sports games being down this year, the racing part of the sports side of things is thriving, which makes the winner here all the more impressive.
Best Racing Game In 2021: Forza Horizon 5
The cool part about racing games right now is not only are they maybe in the best spot they have ever been in as a whole, but it’s happening at the same time the genre (or sub-genre depending on your classification) is growing. This was not the case early last decade. Instead, it felt like very few quality racing games were being delivered to the community.
One of the amazing residual effects of having so much competition in the market is developers tend to strive to make their game(s) stand out, and inevitably that means the racing community comes out the winner. This was definitely the case in 2021 as fans of racing were privy to some amazing titles.
Games such as Forza Horizon 5, Hot Wheels Unleashed, F1 2021, Circuit Superstars, iRacing, MXGP 21, and more all had their moment this year. The field was loaded, but from the perspective of the editorial staff, there was a clear winner in an extremely tight race.
That winner is Playground Games’ Forza Horizon 5.
What Playground Games delivered with Forza Horizon 5 is nothing short of spectacular, and it needed to be to beat out F1 2021 with the staff, which is a powerfully fun and addicting title as well (that has also won an award).
Forza Horizon 5 delivers on about every front that is possible. From an engrossing single-player offering to an extremely fun multiplayer experience, and both are seamless in conjunction with each other. On the graphics side of things, Forza Horizon 5 often made it difficult to decipher what was a cutscene and what was actual gameplay, which is one of the highest compliments you can give to a game’s visuals.
Even if you peel back all the peripheral layers and focus solely on the driving mechanics and AI, the game still delivers an outstanding experience. On top of that, it’s an experience that offers enough variety to keep it feeling new and exciting months later.
Another awesome aspect of what Playground Games has created here is, if you’re like me, sometimes you just want to explore and have fun. That’s exactly the kind of thing this eclectic racer offers and thrives on delivering.
Whether it is seeing what records you set, how many boards you can collect, the furthest jump you can land, or just generally causing mayhem, Forza Horizon 5 has it all. You can approach it with any style you have in mind, and it will be up to the challenge of impressing you.
As a final note, the staggering number of cars and variations of vehicles here is insane, and more are continuing to be added to this day. Not only can you collect, buy, and earn vehicles, you can design a new livery for your car or download one from the community.
Forza Horizon 5 has it all, and it’s why it gets our 2021 Best Racing Game Award.
Community Vote – Best Racing Game In 2021
1. Forza Horizon 5
2. F1 2021
3. Hot Wheels Unleashed
Much like with our editorial vote, this came down to Forza Horizon 5 vs. F1 2021, but the vote wasn’t that close. Forza snagged over 50 percent of the pie, and F1 2021 snagged a large chunk of the remainder before the likes of Hot Wheels Unleashed swooped in to fight for the bronze.
We talked a lot about F1 2021 with the Best Career Mode Award, so we want to spend a little more time here talking about Hot Wheels Unleashed.
We really like that Hot Wheels got third because it’s still wild to us on some level that this game is good. We can be pessimistic at times about branding and tie-in deals, but this was in no way a game that wanted to just get by on its name alone.
Hot Wheels Unleashed was made with clear love for a product that many of us grew up loving and buying by the handfuls, and it used that name to create a world that made it feel like our toys were finally alive. It’s an achievement, and it’s a game that highlights what made racing games this year so special.