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The Traxion.GG team’s favourite games of 2021

The Traxion.GG team's favourite games of 2021

Alongside in-depth racing esports coverage, reviews of the latest releases, entertaining YouTube and Twitch channels and the most comprehensive news resource for racing games on the internet, the main goal of Traxion.GG is to bring together fans of out-and-out simulators with those who are into more accessible racing titles. 

It’s okay if you only have a mobile phone to race on, as we see that as a stepping stone to more advanced games in the future. Likewise, you may have a top-of-the-line sim rig, with direct drive and load cell equipment – but we understand sometimes you might be on a train and playing Mario Kart 8 Deluxe on a Switch is a terrific way to pass the time. 

The racing genre is one niche within a massive video game spectrum. It’s too small to be fractious.  

Mario and Yoshi in Mario Kart 8 Deluxe

With that in mind, we have a dedicated team that among us tries to play everything – and we really do mean everything. One of our most popular articles this year was about Gas Station Simulator… 

This is a slightly different take on the ‘best games of 2021’ or the community vote. Several Traxion.GG team members and contributors run through their personal favourite new racing game that was released in 2021, any downloadable content or update to an existing platform they enjoyed and what they have played the most this year – regardless of age. 

These are individual opinions, for your enjoyment, not definitive judgements. Sometimes, it does not have to be ‘technically’ the best that wins out – enjoyment is key. Ports to new systems or re-released versions do count as a new release in this instance. 

The three ‘categories’ for each contributor will then hopefully allow you to see what’s out there that you may have missed, to push you to try something new, something unexpected that you may enjoy. It’s why Traxion.GG exists in the first place. 

John Munro – Video Editor and Presenter

Kevin Siggy pit lane slide Monza, Round 6, Formula Pro Series

Personal favourite racing game of 2021  

As much as I would love to say art of rally, I am going to have to go with Forza Horizon 5 for sheer enjoyment. I am somebody who enjoys the more serious side of sim racing, so when I am faced with an arcade racer, it needs to work harder to pull me in. Horizon 5 is magical, it provides me with a space to relax and zone out, whilst simultaneously blowing my mind with a beautiful explorative experience.

Favourite downloadable content or update of 2021  

I really enjoyed the rallying update for Wreckfest, but the rFactor 2 Formula Pro car gave me the biggest thrill. The deafening V10 sets you off on the right foot, and the handling makes hotlapping this car an unforgettable and exhilarating task.  

Most played racing title in 2021  

Assetto Corsa Competizione has to be my most played title, thanks to my esports and sim racing exploits. Although this game has been out for a number of years now, it continues to impress with its capabilities.

Honourable mentions 

Hot Wheels Unleashed, Circuit Superstars and BeamNG.drive.  

Justin Melillo – Editor

SRX: The Game

Personal favourite racing game of 2021  

I very much enjoyed SRX: The Game. Following the new Superstar Racing eXperience that formed in part with NASCAR legends Tony Stewart and Ray Evernham, SRX: The Game took a game model that was decent with the Tony Stewart games and transformed it into a great single-player experience. Online was kind of lost, and it wasn’t a perfect game by any means, but it was cool to see a new series supported by a constantly updated, fully licensed game out of the gate. 

Favourite downloadable content or update of 2021  

The updated Phoenix Raceway on iRacing is just a remarkable sight. Beautiful graphics, tons of different lanes to race around the track, and for once on iRacing, you can drive into the infield. However, the Racin’ USA Part 2 DLC for Automobilista 2, thanks to those open-wheel Champ Cars and IndyCars from the ’90s, ran it very close.  

Most played racing title in 2021  

iRacing, and that’s a first for me in 2021. I’ve spent the last 13 years prior obsessed with NASCAR Racing Season 2003. I made the conscious choice to remove it from my system at the end of last year to solely focus on iRacing. I am a 100 per cent content owner, and thanks to leagues like Monday Night Racing and my time in the iRX All Stars, I’ve used various car and track combinations. Plus, I like taking cool pictures… 

Honourable mentions 

F1 2021SnowRunnerHot Wheels Unleashed and Wreckfest.

Oasley Beattie – Video Editor

Ford Fiesta ST Forza Horizon 5 jump

Personal favourite racing game of 2021  

Forza Horizon 5 is no doubt my favourite racing game released in 2021. I fell in love with the series during the previous iteration’s opening sequence, as you’re introduced to a new world of being whatever you want to be. The arcade style and its MMO features are a perfect blend of genres, and the latest is the best experience I’ve had in racing games all year.  

Favourite downloadable content or update of 2021  

iRacing’s scan of the Red Bull Ring is really great, introducing it to the platform was a great move. Taking the Radical SR8 round there is brilliant – the perfect car and track combination. 

Most played racing title in 2021  

Again, it’s Forza Horizon 5. I currently have 120+ hours according to Steam. I’ve completed every race, story and gathered everything there is to collect (excluding the cars of course), so it’s just accolade completion at this point. Currently at 820k, and I’m loving the challenge.

Honourable mentions 

Hot Wheels Unleashed.

Justin Sutton – Community and Social Media

Wreckfest PS5 crash detail

Personal favourite racing game of 2021  

It’s Forza Horizon 5. But you already knew that.  It’s far from perfect and has as many flaws as the last two titles, but the loving approximation of Mexico and the huge list of cars and the slight improvements as the festival moved across the Atlantic have all made FH5 a wonderfully fun racing game. 

Favourite downloadable content or update of 2021  

Pretty much every single Wreckfest DLC this year. From the Winter Fest in January to Wrecknado in February, Pinehills Raceway in March, the all-wheel-drive cars added in May, Carmageddon in August and finally the Rally Trophy track in November. It’s been a year packed with quality content for one of my absolute favourite racing games.

Most played racing title in 2021  

With 150 hours played in the last two months of the year, it’s Forza Horizon 5.  Sure it was only available for the final sixth of the year, but what it lacked in availability it more than made up for in binge-ability. I’m currently averaging about 2.5 hours per day, every day!

Honourable mentions 

Hot Wheels Unleashed. I can’t wait to see where that franchise is headed. 

ROBO46 – Motorcycle content creator, contributor

MotoGP 21 Valentino Rossi ROBO46

Personal favourite racing game of 2021

The selection of racing games in 2021 has been amazing, my personal favourite has to be Hot Wheels Unleashed. This game took me by surprise. I went in with low expectations but came out with a huge grin on my face. I love the pickup and play attitude of it and the fact that the cars actually look like toys rather than shrunken down versions of real sized vehicles.

Favourite downloadable content or update of 2021

RIDE 4’s next gen upgrade was fantastic, everything looked even better than before and ran like butter, adding the option of 19 AI opponents in custom races made racing more chaotic and more importantly, despite the upgrade dropping back in January, a lot of people have only just discovered just how good it is! Plus let’s not forget that HUGE post-release content support.

Most played racing title in 2021

MotoGP 21. This comes as no surprise as MotoGP is my passion, my love for the sport overflows into the games as well, plus there are over 100 career videos on my YouTube channel so far, showing how dedicated I am.

Honourable mentions

RiMS Racing, Forza Horizon 5, TrackDayR and F1 2021.

Ross McGregor – Editor

Assetto Corsa Competizione McLaren 720S Brands Hatch

Personal favourite racing game of 2021  

For me, Circuit Superstars stands out as a simple yet nuanced take on the retro-themed racing genre. 

Favourite downloadable content or update of 2021  

The addition of the British GT Pack to Assetto Corsa Competizione was huge. My dad and I are avid British GT fans – regularly travelling from sunny Scotland to cheer on Jonathan Adam. I’m also an amateur motorsport photographer, so taking in-game screenshots at Oulton Park, Snetterton and Donington Park puts me in all sorts of geeky car-based delirium. Nothing does GT racing like Assetto Corsa Competizione. 

Most played racing title in 2021  

With an SRO Esports series and the Sim Grid World Cup to compete in, I’ve had to put in a lot of hours with Assetto Corsa Competizione over the past 18 months or so. In fact, I’ve clocked up around 1,100. Ticks all the boxes for me; physics, sounds and graphics.

Honourable mentions  

Does the Cinema HUD Photo Mode in Assetto Corsa Competizione count?

Thomas Harrison-Lord – Editor

art of rally PS5 jump

Personal favourite racing game of 2021 

There were a few that could have been here – but I’m going for art of rally. It counts because it was released on consoles this year, and while at the time of writing the PS5 and Xbox Series X|S versions aren’t quite up there visually with a top-spec PC, I cannot stop falling for this game. The attention to detail is astounding. 

Favourite downloadable content or update of 2021 

Imola in F1 2021 just beats out the classic Monza in Automobilista 2 for me this year. I’ve driven it a billion times in many racing simulators, but there was just something about being able to drive these high-downforce cars in Time Trial that did it for me. 

Most played racing title in 2021 

Gran Turismo Sport. Aside from the fact I write about the Sport Mode Daily Races each week, I still love its balance of serious ranked and private lobby online play with the accessible nature of its photo mode, scapes and livery editor. 

Honourable mentions 

Rush Rally Origins, Forza Horizon 5, Class1 BMW on rFactor 2 and Ride 4.

Justin Towell – Contributor

Rad Mobile Round 5

Personal favourite racing game of 2021

I think it’s probably this year’s Sega Astro City Mini’s port of Rad Mobile, which I’d never played before until the UK release of the said mini console this summer. I adore ’80s and early ’90s sprite scaling and this has been like finding an unopened bottle of vintage wine… if wine had ghost Armco shortcuts and cliffs to fall off.

Favourite downloadable content or update of 2021

It’s got to be the Senna Forever DLC for Horizon Chase Turbo. I played it on Switch and, while I do wish the license had extended to the cars and other drivers, I really enjoyed piloting the various lookalike classic F1 cars. It’s no Ayrton Senna’s Super Monaco GP II, of course, but then what is?

Most played racing title in 2021

Forza Horizon 5. While it’s certainly just ‘more of the same’, I prefer the game’s Mexican location to FH4’s English roads. It’s also absolutely gorgeous on Xbox Series X, and the inclusion of a 60fps performance mode is very welcome indeed. I still prefer Burnout Paradise’s gameplay, but this is clearly the best modern open-world racing game. No question.

Honourable mentions

Rush Rally Origins, F1 2021, Cruis’n Blast and Formula Retro Racing on PS5.

That’s what some of the Traxion.GG team have played and enjoyed in 2021 – but what have you been playing the most this year? Let us know in the comments below.

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