Ultimate VR Racing Games Guide For 2021

Joe Terrell
02/26/202126th February, 2021
Filed under Gaming Guides

As VR continues to revolutionize modern-day gaming, let’s take a look at the best games on the market to provide the ultimate Virtual Reality racing experience.

vr racing games


Introduction

Despite many gamers once dismissing VR as being a gimmick that would never take off, it’s continued to thrive, even without support from tech giants such as Microsoft, along the way.

Recent years have provided an ever-increasing improvement in the VR experience, and game developers have begun focusing on Virtual Reality more than ever when creating new games for the market.

We feel that the future of VR is going to be fascinating after having witnessed the rapid progression in recent times.

Just a few years ago, the thought of putting a headset on in your home and diving into a fully immersive world where you’ll find yourself in the cockpit of your favorite race, or drift cars, almost seemed laughable by any stretch of the imagination.

Yet, the rapid technological advancements continue to blow our minds. With some phenomenal VR headsets becoming more affordable to the masses than ever, it’s an exciting time to witness gaming enthusiasts transitioning over to the VR world.

With the COVID pandemic forcing closure for most of the racetracks around the world, VR has remained pandemic-free, allowing you to step into the cockpit at any time, in the comfort of your own home.

Racing, or driving games, are perfectly suited to the VR experience. Combined with a wheel and pedal setup, it offers the perfect escape from the real world, alongside providing the speed, adrenaline, and excitement that comes with racing.

We don’t often throw the term ‘game-changer’ around very often, but we feel that’s the perfect way to begin to explain the feeling that comes with VR racing. We’re pretty sure you’ll never get tempted to return to ‘pancake screen’ racing ever again.

Where we would once require a triple-monitor setup to get the correct field-of-view to look out of our side windows when playing drifting games, a simple turn of the head is all that’s required.

drift drifting mad mike radbul project cars 2

Once you’ve got a VR headset, you’ll be thankful for the additional space that you gain without the need for a triple-screen setup, too!

It’s time to combine the present-day with the future and experience the very best of what VR has to offer as we take a look at the breathtaking VR sim racing world.

We’re excited to share our favorite VR racing (and drifting, of course) games to see what’ll be the perfect choice for you.

The Best VR Racing & Drifting Games

What one person classes as an incredible game, another person might disagree.

We often find this to be the case in sim racing, where some people might be keen on the idea, but when it comes to getting behind the wheel, they realize their talents aren’t quite up-to-scratch just yet.

For that reason, there are various games on the market, some of which offer a more arcade-style racing experience, and others designed for world-class professional drivers to refine their skills off the track.

On the other hand, some might be looking for an out-the-box experience, where they can plug in their VR headset and drive some of their favorite cars at their dream tracks.

Others might be wanting to explore what the third-party mod communities have to offer, building the most expansive collection of cars and tracks imaginable.

With so many considerations to bear in mind, we’ve opted to keep this list in alphabetical order rather than ranking it from best to worst since we’ve already eliminated games that we wouldn’t personally consider playing.

Let’s take a look at our favorite VR racing and drifting games!


Assetto Corsa

Compatibility: Valve Index, HTC Vive, Oculus Rift/Quest

We begin our list with Assetto Corsa, which coincidentally happens not only to be the first game alphabetically, but many will argue that it’s also the best VR sim racer out there.

In the early days, there were several issues regarding menus/HUD systems for those trying to enjoy the VR experience, which made for many complaints online. We’re happy to declare that these issues have since been fixed, so we advise looking past that.

Assetto Corsa is arguably (and many will happily voice their opinion) the ultimate game for those looking to make drifting a priority.

It’s so popular that we’ve even written an entire Assetto Corsa VR guide.

Not only does it provide an incredible driving experience with a bargain price tag to match, but the drifting mod community for this game is way beyond any other game on our list.

We can almost guarantee that just about any (half-decent) track, or car you can think of will have a mod available - completely free of charge.

Want to launch Daigo Saito’s JZX100 over the infamous jump at Ebisu Minami? Assetto Corsa has got you covered.

There’s a reason why so many pro-level drifters have begun competing online with Assetto Corsa recently, and we feel that backs up our claims of it being the best drifting simulator game out there.

It might not be the most extraordinary when it comes to pixel-peeping at the graphics, but the benefit is that it will consume fewer resources on your PC. Assuming your PC can run VR, it’s likely to be more than enough for AC.

If you’ve got a high-spec gaming PC, crank the graphics up to Maximum, and we’re sure you won’t be disappointed.

We highly recommend checking out the Content Manager for the ultimate experience for those of you that are planning to go down the Assetto Corsa route.

Although Assetto Corsa provides an exceptional experience for PC gamers, the console game won’t allow you to install mods, which is one of the games’ main advantages.

For that reason, it may be worth thinking about making the switch to PC.

If you like the sound of AC, but you’re looking for a GT-dedicated racing game rather than a drifting game, then make sure you check out Assetto Corsa’s younger brother, Assetto Corsa Competizione next.


Assetto Corsa Competizione

Compatibility: Valve Index, HTC Vive, Oculus Rift/Quest

Assetto Corsa Competizione is the latest game from Assetto Corsa, and although many enthusiasts were hoping that it would be AC 2, that’s not the case.

There was a specific target market with Competizione, and that was GT3 Endurance racing enthusiasts. Think of it as the GT3 equivalent of the F1 gaming series.

ACC is undoubtedly stunning and thoroughly enjoyable, but given its slim target market, it’s not going to be as favorable as Assetto Corsa when it comes to mass-appeal.

When it comes to sound, visuals, physics, and weather, ACC is arguably a step in the right direction over its older sibling.

However, that does come at the expense of system resources, so you may need to consider a GPU upgrade to ensure you’re able to reach its full potential.

If you’re looking for a GT3 sim racer, then look no further.

Alternatively, if you’re anything beyond GT3, we recommend opting for the original game.


Automobilista 2

Compatibility: Valve Index, HTC Vive, Oculus Rift/Quest

Automobilista 2 is one of the most recent entrants to the VR gaming world, and it’s received a substantial amount of praise from sim racers.

Built upon an evolution of the ‘Madness Engine’ that Slightly Mad Studios used for Project CARS 2, this is arguably the best-looking racing game in VR right now.

The AI was somewhat questionable during our experiences with the game, but these kinds of bugs will undoubtedly get ironed out with updates.

AMS 2 makes for a tremendous out-of-the-box VR experience, where we wouldn’t expect to have to spend too much time tweaking the settings, which is one of the main complaints of ACC players.

Overall, a great option to consider for those that are looking for an impressive VR racing game. With it still being new to the market, there’s bound to be plenty of updates and DLC content coming soon.

Drifting in the game is possible with a decent RWD setup, but it’s certainly not going to be competing with Assetto Corsa for the drifting crown.

At the current time, it’s only available for PC, but they are considering introducing the game to consoles further down the line.


DiRT Rally 2.0

Compatibility: Valve Index, HTC Vive, Oculus Rift/Quest

If you’re a keen VR sim racer, then we highly recommend checking out what DiRT Rally has to offer.

We found this to be one of the most enjoyable yet unforgiving and intense VR games that provides a truly unique experience.

It probably won’t come as much of a surprise that it’s entirely rally cars, so Scandinavian flicks are about the closest you’ll get to drifting.

We found that the bumpy off-road tracks with endless sharp twists and turns made for a stomach-churning rollercoaster experience at first - it’s probably not the perfect game right after a big meal!

Jokes aside, it may take a little longer to build up your motion sickness abilities, so we would recommend getting started with track racing sim before heading straight to DiRT Rally.

Although there are only rally cars, there’s plenty of classes and eras in the game to keep it interesting, we thoroughly enjoy it, and it stays in our constant VR gaming rotation.

Unfortunately, there’s once again disappointing news for those hoping to play DiRT Rally 2.0 on the PSVR, as Codemasters has decided that they won’t be integrating the PSVR platform.

However, the original DiRT Rally does have PSVR support and is still well worth considering.


Gran Turismo Sport

Compatibility: PlayStation VR (PSVR)

PlayStation’s popular racing simulator has made great use of their very own PSVR system.

Although racing games are few and far between for the PlayStation console, both this and the original DiRT Rally game will provide more than enough to keep most entry-level gamers happy.

GT Sport provides incredible graphics with insane attention to detail. Although it’s not a ‘hardcore’ simulator like most of the games on our list, it makes for an excellent introduction to VR racing.

Although Sony has welcomed the future of VR gaming, Microsoft hasn’t been so keen to do so with the Xbox console, which gives GT Sport the edge over Forza Motorsport 7 in this regard.

Overall, GT Sport is a worthwhile purchase for those of you that already have a PSVR headset.

However, if you’re a PC gamer, we certainly wouldn’t be rushing out to buy a PlayStation console.


iRacing

Compatibility: Valve Index, HTC Vive, Oculus Rift/Quest

Many VR sim racers regard iRacing as the indisputable champion, and admittedly, they do have a point.

There are now more professional racing drivers than ever refining their skills on iRacing off the track, which is a testament to just how realistic this game is.

If you’re looking for the ultimate racing experience, which is just as unforgiving as the real thing, then iRacing could well be the answer.

I mean, it all sounds perfect. Right?

Well, almost.

There’s a slight issue with iRacing, and that’s the cost.

To put things in perspective, you could get your hands on Assetto Corsa for $19.99, assuming there are no discounts at the time.

On the other hand, iRacing will set you back $13—a month.

That’s right - if you opt to pay monthly over a year, you’ll have to spend $156 to enjoy what iRacing has to offer.

Admittedly that cost comes down to $110 with an annual membership or $199 for two years, but it’s still insanely expensive compared to most games.

Oh, and that’s for the basic package.

If you want additional cars and tracks, expect to part with either $11.95 or $14.95 – EACH.

Now, we understand that for incredibly dedicated sim racers, this may well be worth the price. You’re likely to meet some serious competition on the online servers, including some of the world’s best drivers.

However, for an inexperienced amateur coming into VR sim racing, we certainly wouldn’t start with iRacing.

We also wouldn’t consider iRacing if you’re an occasional gamer or one that likes to alternate between a range of games, as you probably won’t be getting your money’s worth.

Assuming you’re talented behind the wheel, looking for the ultimate racing simulator, and you don’t mind paying the price, this is the game for you.


Live For Speed

Compatibility: Valve Index, HTC Vive, Oculus Rift/Quest

Live For Speed has been a popular drifting simulator for many years, and many will argue that LFS provides a better drifting sim experience over Assetto Corsa.

In our opinion, we would say that LFS makes for an excellent starter for experiencing sim drifting, but for us, Assetto Corsa takes it to the next level.

It’s certainly up there with the best drifting games, but for us, the sheer amount of mod content that Assetto Corsa provides makes it the more appealing choice.


Project CARS

Compatibility: Valve Index, HTC Vive, Oculus Rift/Quest

We’d forgive you for wondering why we’re talking about the first Project CARS game when we’re now up to PC3.

The reason is that the Pagani Edition of the game is available for completely free on the Steam Store, and we feel that this provides the perfect introduction for VR gamers on a budget.

Sure, it might not be not quite as refined as its successor, Project CARS 2, but many would argue that it’s superior to Project CARS 3.

Either way, if you’re after a free VR racing simulator game to decide whether it will be worth investing in, this provides the perfect opportunity.

With a comprehensive career mode alongside a great variety of vehicles and tracks, we’ve got no doubt that Project CARS will keep you entertained while you save for your perfect sim racer.


Project CARS 2

Compatibility: Valve Index, HTC Vive, Oculus Rift/Quest

Many consider Project CARS 2 to be the best all-rounder when it comes to VR racing games.

After making a decent impression with the first game in the franchise, they delivered some fantastic improvements for the second game.

Project CARS 2 brings a selection of more than 200 cars, including some of the most well-known drift cars, such as Vaughn Gittin JR’s wheelie-popping Mustang and Mad Mike’s Radbul.

Games such as iRacing are more hardcore simulators, whereas PC2 provides a polished package with excellent graphics and physics in a slightly more arcade-style package.

If you’re a Forza Motorsport fan looking to enjoy VR, PC2 is about as close as you’re going to get.

With recent breakthroughs in editing the game, a thriving new Project CARS 2 mod community has been growing over the recent months, providing some exciting new developments.

It’s not as good as Assetto Corsa when it comes to drifting, but it still provides an enjoyable experience, alongside a wide variety of unique motorsport disciplines.

A great out-the-box package providing plenty of content to keep you entertained, PC2 is regarded by many gamers as the best choice in the Project CARS franchise.


Project CARS 3

Compatibility: Valve Index, HTC Vive, Oculus Rift/Quest

If you’d like to see how not to treat your existing fanbase, then check out how the launch for Project CARS 3 has gone.

As Project CARS 2 took a step-up from its predecessor, many Project CARS fans were excited to see the third game hitting the market.

… Until they played it.

Where Project CARS had earned its reputation as a ‘friendly’ simulator that’s more forgiving than the likes of iRacing, they’ve opted to go in completely the opposite direction for the third game.

Many fans believe that the simulator game they know and love has disappeared, replaced with a full-on arcade game with very few similarities to the real-world racing experience.

We’ve opted to keep it in this list to inform you that it’s changed drastically, but also because it has great visuals, an excellent sense of speed, and fantastic VR.

Project Cars 3 will still be enjoyable for those looking for a more forgiving VR game to get them started in the sim racing world.

Hardcore racers, we highly recommend looking elsewhere.


RaceRoom Racing Experience

Compatibility: Valve Index, HTC Vive, Oculus Rift/Quest

One of the less-common choices in the VR sim racing sector is RaceRoom Racing Experience.

This realistic free-to-play racing sim is another excellent game to get you started with VR.

We’ve spent a fair bit of time playing RaceRoom initially, and we found the game to be enjoyable, with excellent collision physics.

In all honesty, we did feel that the other games in our list had more of a longer-lasting appeal and just ticked more boxes than R3E.

One of the main benefits is that it’ll work great on a basic-spec PC, assuming it’s capable of running your VR rig, making it perfect for beginners.

Since it’s completely free, there’s no harm in giving it a try - many gamers out there are huge fans.


rFactor

Compatibility: Valve Index, HTC Vive, Oculus Rift/Quest

rFactor 2 seems to be the love/hate champion when it comes to VR sim racers.

While some insist that it’s as good as, if not better, than Assetto Corsa when it comes to drifting, others think it’s incredibly overrated.

On the flipside, rFactor fans will often argue that the game provides the best physics of all the fun in our list, alongside the best VR experience.

We advise giving the game a try with the free demo before forming your own opinion. Who knows, it might tick the right boxes for your needs!


Best Sim Racing VR Headsets in 2021

As with everything, different people may prefer specific VR headset brands, so it may be worth deciding which headset is best for you. Think of it as the ‘Xbox vs PlayStation’ or ‘Apple vs Samsung’ argument!

However, there is one standout product on the market right now from Oculus, and we don’t feel that their rivals, such as HTC, have caught up with a competitive offering for what you get for the money.

For that reason, here’s our personal ‘Drifted Choice’ recommendation in 2021.

Drifted VR Headset Choice

The Drifted headset of choice is used by several of our staff members for online drift tandem sessions in Assetto Corsa, and we feel it represents the best value-for-money by far right now.

oculus quest 2

Oculus Quest 2

If you’ve already begun researching VR headsets, then our recommendation will likely come as no surprise.

Oculus has brought several revolutionary headsets to the market, such as the Oculus Rift, Oculus Touch, the original Quest, and now the Quest 2.

Featuring an LCD-display with a 3664 x 1920 resolution, a 90hz refresh rate, and a field-of-view of 100-degrees, it’s the perfect setup for experiencing what Project CARS 2 has to offer without having to splash out big money.

The only downside for many gamers has been integrating a compulsory Facebook login to use the Quest 2, which hasn’t gone down well with many enthusiasts.

Facebook login aside, we’re sure this won’t leave you disappointed.

Our Premium VR Headset Choice

If you’ve got big bucks to spend and looking to build the ultimate sim-racing rig, we also have a superior premium offering, but it does come at a price.

valve index

Valve Index VR Full Kit

Valve Index has brought this incredible piece of kit to the market with a full AMOLED display, a maximum resolution of 2880 x 1600, a field-of-view of ~130 degrees, and a crazy refresh rate 120Hz, or 144Hz in experimental mode.

I’ve had the pleasure of using this setup once, and although it was mind-blowing, the Oculus Quest 2 is likely to be more than good enough for most everyday gaming needs.


How Much Does Sim Racing Cost?

As you can probably guess, this is similar to the ‘how long is a piece of string?’ question. It depends on how extreme you want to go with your build and what you already have.

For instance, here’s an idea of just how extreme things can get:

However, we haven’t got a million dollars burning a hole in our pockets, so let’s look at a couple of rational alternatives.

Drifted Wheel/Pedal Choice

thrustmaster tx

We’ve had great success with the Thrustmaster TX wheel/pedal setup, and we’d highly recommend it for the price.

Although there are cheaper considerations out there on the market, such as the Logitech G920, we soon found ourselves opting for a superior setup, so we recommend jumping straight to the Thrustmaster TX.

Premium Wheel/Pedal Choice

If you’ve opted for the Valve Index, then you’re understandable going to be looking for the best wheel/pedal combo to match.

If that’s the case, then look no further than the Fanatec Clubsport.

It’s a serious piece of kit, with an eye-watering price tag, but it is the closest you’re going to get to the real thing.

Is it worth the money? Only you can decide. It’s on my dream wish list. One day!


Conclusion

Virtual reality has already progressed leaps and bounds in recent years, and we feel as though there’s still plenty of room to make the experience even more incredible than it already is.

The inclusion of mixed reality has made things even more exciting, with the ability to merge both the real-world and virtual reality to provide a trippy combination!

As VR headsets continue to improve and the prices continue to fall, we feel that mass-adoption is closer than ever. We also believe that more developers will continue to focus on enhancing the true capabilities of what VR offers.

We feel that this is still the early stages of what sim racing truly has to offer, and we can’t wait to see what the future holds.

In this guide, we’ve explored what we feel are the greatest VR racing games available in the present day.

We hope we’ve covered everything you need to know, whether you’re looking to shave seconds off your lap time, scrape walls while drifting, or throw down Scandinavian flicks in your rally car!

So, there we have it! We hope that we’ve covered everything you could want to know about VR Racing Games in this guide.

Thank you for reading our VR Racing Games guide.

If you enjoyed this article, please share it with the buttons at the bottom of your screen. If you’ve found this information useful, then please take a moment to share it with other sim racing enthusiasts. We appreciate your support.


Photography credits

We thank the following entities for the use of their photography in this article:

author avatar Written by Joe Terrell Drifted.com founder, motoring journalist and all-round car enthusiast. Read more about Joe and the Drifted team on our about us page.

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