2023 was an excellent year for new racing games, with many improving on their predecessors or introducing something new altogether. The racing genre is sometimes saddled with obligatory annual titles that aren’t especially ambitious. Fortunately, racing games continue to evolve, across familiar AAA series and hidden gems alike.
This list will concentrate on a range of titles that offer interesting new ideas, terrific visuals, or other standout features. Selections will include different tones and mechanics for all types of racing fans, from careful management to casual arcade experiences.
10. Disney Speedstorm
This is a more divisive racing game from 2023, with some technical problems and questionable features. But the gameplay itself is pretty strong, particularly compared to similar kart games that are based on popular IP. Many such kart racers are simplified cash grabs, with underwhelming controls and poor visuals.
However, Disney Speedstorm delivers some very polished graphics and relatively smooth movement. And the pacing is right for younger players to easily jump in. There isn’t very much content at this time, but it’s growing.
The tracks are gorgeous representations of their corresponding films, and the racers are equally thematic with fun abilities. Disney Speedstorm is also free to play now, which might forgive some frustrations.
9. Tray Racers!
This indie was an endearing and charming surprise between the many AAA racing games of 2023. Tray Racers! achieves the same colorful vibrancy as the developers’ previous title PHOGS!, which shares the same friendly tone.
Although Tray Racers! only has some basic customization and cartoonish controls, it’s both cozy and effortlessly stylish. The randomly generated tracks are undoubtedly a highlight, which are filled with cute details and ensure long-term replay value. The game is also free to play and supports up to 16 players online.
New Star GP is a thrilling combination of classic arcade features with some influence from modern racing games. The retro arcade visuals are very nostalgic, but the gameplay doesn’t rely on that alone. It offers streamlined mechanics based on typical AAA realism, such as component wear and team management.
The swift, simple gameplay is built for multiplayer chaos. But it also offers a decent career mode, where players drive through multiple decades of racing. It’s a clever twist, and there are also worldwide locations to discover.
7. Ride 5
The latest installment in the long-running Ride series offers an interesting new campaign and neat weather conditions. It’s a worthwhile story, and the rain effects look terrific alongside the improved graphics. The visuals are up to par with competing racing games in 2023, which hasn’t always been the case with Ride.
While there might be some poor AI and odd physics, Ride remains the optimal motorcycle experience. There are plenty to choose from, so it’s almost certain to feature your favorite model. It’s also nice that Ride 5 finally reintroduces split screen, a rare feature that racing games help maintain.
This 2023 follow-up to the indie racing hit Circuit Superstars provides a new point of view with the same quality standards. It has intuitive controls and impressive physics, especially for an indie. It exchanges traditional kart racing combat for a healthy dose of realism. The karts are a welcome novelty, and the tracks are delightfully creative.
However, Karting Superstars doesn’t have the same extraordinary variety of content as Circuit Superstars. Your vehicle, track, and customization options are unfortunately limited. It plays more like an add-on to its predecessor. But it certainly plays well, with clean movement and lots of potential. Karting Superstars is still in Early Access, which is expected to last a few months.
5. F1 23
This has been a somewhat divisive racing game for longtime fans, who noticed that the 2023 installment changes very little. F1 23 is hardly sending its series into the future, but it does offer some unexpected improvements for quality of life. The controls provide significantly better handling than last year, and the visuals are terrific.
These are central features for any racing game, and they allow more immersive gameplay. That’s important, because F1 23 offers a superb campaign narrative that players may genuinely connect to. Storytelling is rarely a focal point of the genre altogether, so this is pretty refreshing.
This LEGO-themed racing game is aimed towards younger players, so the microtransactions have been justifiably criticized. However, the gameplay thoughtfully balances classic LEGO construction with modern racing mechanics. It has an open world, kart racing, and lots of minigames that all have a charming sense of humor.
These features are also considerably well-balanced, because the racing content promotes creative building. Your vehicles even transform across different terrain. This could have been the definitive family-friendly racing game of 2023 without its shop. LEGO’s energetic style and casual racing are simply natural complements.
3. Hot Wheels Unleashed 2 – Turbocharged
This anticipated sequel edges out many other kid-friendly racing games from 2023. Milestone outdid themselves with the sheer variety of content. There are plenty of new vehicles, adding fresh motorbikes and ATVs. There’s also a new class-based system and different types of terrain.
Overall, the controls and tracks capture the action-packed, breezy spirit of childhood imagination. The game accordingly offers a track editor, as well. While it may not compete with Trackmania’s extensive tools, the editor is flexible enough to add replay value. Hot Wheels Unleashed 2 has a colorful world, lots of nostalgia, and many improvements over the last game.
Forza Motorsport has certainly been encumbered by some technical problems, but it has remarkable visuals and really solid physics. It includes all of the essential sim features, such as day cycles and unique weather conditions. There are also hundreds of cars and upgrades, although the level grinding might disappoint some.
Forza Motorsport also includes the new Builders Cup single-player career mode, which is more accessible for newcomers. It may not be very compelling compared to other campaigns in the genre. But it does offer more variety, which the series sorely needed to compete with the multitude of sim-based racing games also available in 2023.
1. The Crew Motorfest
The Crew has successfully reimagined itself with Motorfest, tightening up its scope and resolving previous drawbacks. Although The Crew Motorfest openly indulges features from its competitors, the gameplay excels. It provides a legitimately worthwhile alternative to the popular Forza Horizon series, with a gorgeous representation of Hawaii and lots of content.
The Crew Motorfest is more contained, to its benefit, making the open-world action feel more expansive and fast-paced. The visuals and controls are also top-notch, with a nice balance of casual and competitive arcade gameplay. The game is a huge step forward for the series, though it does sacrifice some of its identity.
Racing games continue to expand and change every year, and 2023 offered many exceptional titles for all ages. There’s a natural thrill in the genre’s speed, ingenuity, memorable vehicles, and celebration of the racing culture. Tell us about your favorite racing game of this year, or your all-time favorite!