We’re now into the second half of 2023, and while titles such as Rennsport, Test Drive Unlimited Solar Crown and IndyCar have been pushed into next year, there’s still a full grid of exciting racing games on the way before the end of this December.
Fans of virtual driving have rarely had it this good, so here are eight of our top picks releasing between August and December.
Ride 5 – 24th August
PC, PS5 and Xbox Series X|S
Starting on two wheels, and following our praise of Milestone’s Hot Wheels smash hit (more, below), in our opinion the PS5 and Xbox Series X|S versions of Ride 4 represent the company’s second-best game.
As it happens, its two greatest achievements receive sequels within the same year, and Ride 5 launches later this month.
The Ride series of games has always been about road-going nakeds, sportsbikes and refined tourers, collected through a lengthy single-player campaign.
If you want the pinnacle of motorcycle motorsport and a ranked online system, that’s what MotoGP is for. Instead, this is about the exquisite details of the latest BMW M creation or a 1990s Suzuki. The culture of bikes, if you will.
It’s a lazy trope to characterise Ride 5 as the Gran Turismo of two-wheeled gaming. Yet… that’s exactly what it is. There are even licence tests and sweeping fictional circuits for crying out loud. The inspiration is unabashed, and we’re here for it.
We’ll be getting our knee down in just three weeks’ time.
The Crew Motorfest – 14th September 2023
PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S
The two previous Crew games were… a bit mixed. Not without their plus points though, namely online co-op, massive map sizes and boats.
But a certain Microsoft franchise has mostly had its own way in the open-world driving game sub-genre over the past decade. However, we think that The Crew Motorfest should be a genuine contender for the crown.
The Crew 2 was the entirety of the United States. Motorfest, on the other hand, is the Hawaiian island of Oʻahu. Instead of touting area size, developer Ubisoft Ivory Tower has aimed to create a more varied and detailed environment, and on first evidence, that was the right call.
The kaleidoscope of colour the location provides, mixed with dynamic weather and time conditions, is a breath of fresh air or the first time you try Airwaves chewing gum.
During our recent testing in the beta, we were also struck by the dramatically improved car handling and how breathtaking the vistas were when flying through a Honolulu sunset. How the progression plays out, whether the multiplayer is stable and if it can truly differentiate itself across its lifespan remain to be seen.
For now, though, we’re cautiously optimistic ahead of the September release as it seems as if feedback from the prior titles has been heeded.
Forza Motorsport – 10th October
PC and Xbox Series X|S
Stereotypes often exist for a reason. Microsoft is often pigeonholed into ‘only’ being able to make Forza, Gears and Halo games. The ninth Forza game in 10 years probably isn’t going to change that perception…
Still, the Forza Motorsport series is an institution and it’s been away for nearly six years at this point. In that time, it’s said to have been at a driver training school, working on its racecraft (there will now be manageable fuel usage and multiple tyre compounds) social skills (further details about its multiplayer options are expected soon) and weight.
The racing video game equivalent of liposuction, the new Forza Motorsport will launch with significantly fewer tracks and gameplay modes than 2017’s Motorsport 7. The aim has been to make what’s included to be more realistic and longer-lasting in its appeal.
Sounds promising. If this drives as well as the new tyre models and suspension systems are touted to be, if steering wheels don’t feel as inert as they did in FM7 and the ‘car-RPG’ career is compelling, then Turn 10 Studios could be on to a winner.
Either way, millions will play it as it hits most Game Pass subscription tiers from day one for no additional fee. In terms of getting more people to play racing games, Forza Motorsport is potentially the most important release this year.
Overpass 2 – 19th October 2023
PC, PS5 and Xbox Series X|S
Wait, you didn’t play the first Overpass? And you call yourself a sim racing fan? Pffft.
Before you start through your Cube Controls steering wheel at the screen in disgust, we’re joking, clearly. No one played the first Overpass.
Well, a few did, including us and we can say that a game based around tricky offroad trials is a great idea, but the 2021 title by Zordix Racing had some rough edges – namely befuddling career progression, a small vehicle list and buzz-box engines that sounded more annoying than an angry bee trapped in an office.
Imagine our surprise then when publisher Nacon announced a sequel. And it has over 35 licenced vehicles, a brand new development team Neopica and it’s in the gorgeous Unreal Engine 5.
It also means that the potential to create a distinctive dirt driving experience is back on the table.
So far, the trailers look glossy, but with a lack of pure clear gameplay footage so far, let’s wait and see how this pans out when it launches in two months’ time. Still, with the rise in popularity of side-by-side adventure driving, the time is right – we’re ready to get mud all over our jeans.
Not literally, you understand, that was a metaphor…
Hot Wheels Unleashed 2 – Turbocharged – 19th October
PC, PS4, PS5, Switch, Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S
Sometimes you just need to play something that’s outrageous. If sim racing in Assetto Corsa Competizione is a Michelin stared restaurant in Florence, then Hot Wheels Unleashed 2 – Turbocharged is a Big Mac on a rainy Tuesday in Newark-on-Trent.
Both are at completely different ends of the spectrum, yet somehow equally as satisfying.
2021’s Hot Wheels Unleashed was a breakthrough success for Milanese development team Milestone, breaking one million units sold and becoming its best-selling game ever.
It helped that it was more smile-inducing than the first time down a helter-skelter. You couldn’t help but admire its cute representations of diecast vehicles, the miniaturised orange tracks that wound their way through life-life locations and frenetic races. Playing it made you feel younger.
The volume of DLC was a bit over-the-top, and that sounds like it will continue for the sequel if the Fast & Furious teaser trailer was anything to go by.
No matter, this time around there will be different surfaces to drive on – not just plastic – a bigger roster of models including quadbikes and motorcycles, six clear performance types, new abilities such as jumping and side-swiping plus fresh locations. There’s also a detailed vehicle upgrade skill tree now to boot.
What we’re really hoping for is Hot Wheels 2 imbuing that same childish sense of humour we saw in the first game, especially in split screen.
Le Mans Ultimate – December
From the frivolity of 1:64 scale toys to the serious nature of endurance racing. Don’t call Le Mans Ultimate a game, peeps, this is a simulation platform.
Created by the same Studio 397 team behind rFactor 2, the now decade-old game, ahem sorry, ‘platform’, is known for a detailed tyre model, dynamic time of day and weather plus a propensity to creak under pressure.
Wouldn’t it be nice if Le Mans Ultimate, the official title of the 2023 24 Hours of Le Mans race and FIA World Endurance Championship, delivers that oh-so-sweet rFactor driving experience wrapped up in a new user interface, quicker loading times, no package system and slicker visuals?
While gameplay footage hasn’t been shown yet, an early version was playable to public visitors of June’s French race and the development team has made noises about a fresh online system.
Until it’s possible to go hands-on with more than just a time trial at one track, our optimism must remain in check.
Sportscar racing is currently in another golden era, with the likes of Peugeot, Ferrari, Toyota and Porsche among others duking it out. The series is deserving of a positive virtual representation, let’s hope Le Mans Ultimate delivers just that.
Make Way – 2023 TBC
PC, PS4, PS5, Switch, Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S
In 1991, Codemasters thought it would be a great idea to turn the miniature toy cars, Micro Machines, into a game.
It was local multiplayer perfection, as you drove, top-down, through kitchens and across snooker tables. As a 10-year-old, it lit up your imagination.
Fast forward to 2014, and the company was at it again, only this time without the licence. Toybox Turbos on PC, PS3 and Xbox 360 was that mint humbug you found down the back of the sofa. Unexpected sweetness.
Now classified as a hidden gem, the pocket-sized racer had Tom Goodchild as a game designer who has also worked on F1 Race Stars and some of the MotoGP titles.
Now, he’s a solo indie developer – with some freelance contributors – under the moniker Ice BEAM.
Make Way is his new game. It takes those same Toybox Turbos sensibilities, adds hints of 2004’s multi-tap legend Mashed, and brings them into the current era.
Each race is broken down into rounds, and before they begin, players must pick a track piece. You then add it to the layout and begin. Beating your rivals to the finish of each earns you points, and the track builds up as you go along.
Because this is 2023, it will be on PC, PlayStation, Switch and Xbox, and there’s cross-platform online multiplayer. Take it from us, as we’ve been hand-on – this is about as much fun as you can have with socks on and the Traxion team cannot wait to face off against each other.
WRC ?? – 2023 TBC
The eighth game on this list and… well, we don’t know anything about it. The curious case of Electronic Arts and Codemasters’ missing World Rally Championship game.
What we do know is that there’s a five-year licencing deal in place that’s meant to kick in this year. We also think the gaming and simulation industry needs a new rallying title more than a marathon runner needs water. With a bit of luck, something is still on track to release later this year. Please.
Well, there we go – eight games releasing this year that we’re especially looking forward to. Not forgetting, of course, the likes of iRacing’s ExcoCross, Early Access for Stampede: Racing Royale and potentially Wreckreation.
We can’t wait to see the final versions of these titles and share our experiences with you over the next six months. Thank you for your support, keep it pinned!
Full disclosure – Traxion.GG is part of Motorsport Games and the Motorsport Games family of brands. All Traxion.GG content is editorially removed from Motorsport Games video game development and created by a dedicated team.