Sim Racing Tips

What Racing Game Should You Buy?

If you’re new to sim racing, one of the questions you will undoubtedly ask is what game to use?

From iRacing to Assetto Corsa, and Gran Turismo to the F1 titles, there is a wide variety of choices that can appear very similar on face value. So, in this article, we shall go through the options and explain the differences so that you can make an informed decision on what is right for you.

Let’s kick off with another question; what is your goal? Not everybody partakes in sim racing for the same reasons. Some enjoy realistic racing, some prefer doing hot laps or driving with varying car/track combinations, and others just want a bit of fun. So if we split this down into three separate categories of fun, variety and realism (which is still extremely restrictive for the options); we shall begin with the more fun titles. 

Fun Games

Games like F1, Gran Turismo and alike are ideal for the more casual players and a great entry point for novices. Their physics are often forgivable to small mistakes, they offer a good variety of online and offline activities or challenges, but there is also a degree of realism for those drivers wanting to take it a little more seriously.

Gran Turismo

Gran Turismo has been an industry leader since the first edition in 1997. The game has always been able to tow the line between realism and fun. The latest release, Gran Turismo 7 is no different. From the fun activities like the music rally, car customisation, cafe and classic car collecting, right up to qualifying for the esport olympics. Gran Turismo is a title in which you can start as a complete novice, and go right up to the professional level without ever changing the game. 

On that more serious end, once you begin online racing, you’re ranked on your speed and safety rating. The quicker and safer a driver you are, the tougher the competitors will be. You can also enter championships and pit yourselves against your competitors.

The biggest downside to this game is that it is only available on the PlayStation platform. So if you use a PC or xbox, then you’re out of luck. That’s not so much an issue however for one of the other leaders in the fun category.

F1 23 / 22 / ...

As Formula One has grown in popularity, the game has gained more diverse activities. You can now go through your own career mode as driver, as team owner and driver or even the dramatised storyline of braking point; which sees a young driver coming through the ranks.

F1 simulation has gotten significantly better as the years have gone by, however it is not as realistic as many other titles in the genre. The game is great for beginners with an interest in the sport. You can set your assists to ease you into the game before finding your groove. 

When you’re ready to race against real people, you have a few options. F1 has ranked lobbies; great! Over time you get quicker and race against skill matched drivers. F1 has league racing; great! If you’re good, you may even find yourself qualifying for F1 esports. However, the third option is F1 open lobbies. Now really the less said about f1 open lobbies the better but to put it bluntly, it’s usually a demolition derby where you'd be lucky to make it past the first corner.

Variety Games

Moving onto the games with more variety. You have rfactor, Autmomobilista and Raceroom which are all great simulations with a multitude of cars and tracks; but the best game from this category is arguably Assetto Corsa.

Assetto Corsa

The game is almost 10 years old now, but there is a huge community of passionate Assetto Corsa users. With Assetto Corsa, yes you have the online racing, the challenges, your career mode and such, but it is far more serious than the games we have looked at so far. Well, it began that way anyway. The game started out as a true-to-life experience with realistic physics and graphics. However, the game has been adopted by modders. You see, Assetto Corsa offers an easy integration of installable mods. Whether you want additional cars, additional tracks or new skins to existing content, it is extremely easy for even the technophobes among us.

Assetto Corsa is an ideal game for hot lapping. You can pick your preferred car/track combination and with the realistic driving experience, it’s almost as close to the real thing as you can get. You can also use Track Titan to provide the telemetry of your laps, allowing you to analyse where you can gain time.

On the less serious side, with those mods we mentioned, you can also drive some interesting vehicles such as a banana, V8 shopping trolley and a plethora of animated movie characters' cars.

Realism Games

Now if so far, you’re thinking ‘hey looks great, but not really got the serious competition element’. Then don’t you worry, there are two games that will cater to your needs. Let’s start with Assetto Corsa:

Assetto Corsa Competizione

The follow up game which could also be argued is more of a side step than a follow up is called Assetto Corsa Competizione or ACC for short. While the first edition was a very modifiable title with plenty of downloads available to supersize your track and car libraries, ACC is almost exactly the opposite. It is the official game of the GT World Challenge Series and focuses solely on GT cars. Think of it what F1 23 is to Formula One, ACC is to GT World Challenge Series. 

However, building upon their first release, the Assetto Corsa Competizione physics and graphics are top tier. You feel every bump, curb and blade of grass you run over. You can feel the car through your feet when you accelerate and brake. It’s almost surreal. Then you have the online community. While the modders are limited to just making skins for ACC, you have organised championships, esports and just normal open lobbies. 


Finally, we have iRacing. If you have access to the internet, and even a whiff of a search history in virtual racing, then this probably is not the first time you’ve heard of iRacing. It bridges the gap between the virtual and real worlds with the way the developers have moulded the game.

Just like real life, you have to take part in series, gain experience and speed to qualify for higher licences. However, this tiered licence system is based off your speed and safety rating. Speed is pretty self explanatory, but the safety rating is built upon incident points. The more you get, the lower your safety rating will be. More on that, if you have a serious collision, you can submit an appeal based on that incident and real people will review it to determine if there are grounds to take action.

This is real racing. It’s perhaps better to think of iRacing more as league than a game. While other games have the league feature, none of them are just a league in themselves whereas iRacing kind of is. You’d only drive on there if you are serious about racing and want to be a genuine competitor amongst other serious contenders.

What Game is Right For You?

So, now we know the categories and the games within, let’s review how each is suited to different drivers.

First up, if you are a total beginner and want to dip your toe in the water, you can just go ahead and ignore the realism and variety categories. F1 is a nice entry into racing, its user friendly interface helps rookies get to grips with everything associated with driving including assists, setup and general track behaviour. 

Gran Turismo is also a great beginners game, allowing you to develop and hone your skills in a multitude of different cars and tracks whilst offering customisable cars to allow personalization.

Both are good options. A more casual driver would probably enjoy F1 as there is more of a story to follow and you can race against ai names you recognise. There are also options within the same game if you want to get slightly more serious too. If you’re a beginner, or have some slight experience and want to test yourself, then Gran Turismo offers an excellent online racing community.

Now, let’s say you’re not a beginner. You want to get a little more serious, what is the right path for you?

Well firstly, as we mentioned at the start of this article, it’s all about what you want out of it. If you enjoy hot lapping, trying out weird and wonderful car/track combinations and want to just focus on lap times, then Assetto Corse is going to be the ideal title for you.

However, if you want to seriously race, then we have these two options. So, Assetto Corsa Competizione is perfect for those longing for a realistic GT experience. It is a steep learning curve for less experienced drivers, but the feel is as close to the real thing as you can get. iRacing as mentioned before is like a league. With so many different categories, it seems like the obvious choice. However, only a fraction of these come with the game. You pay a subscription and if you want additional cars or tracks, you have to purchase these separately. So with iRacing, it’s entirely based on how serious you are. If you want to put the time, effort and money into it, you have the opportunity to take part in some of the biggest virtual racing events in the world. 

Now, there is one big advantage to a few of these titles when you want to get more serious about your competition. On both Assetto Corsas, iRacing, F1 23 and more, you can analyse your telemetry for free in the track titan platform. If you are struggling to see how others are going quicker, then the app will not only show you telemetry, but also give you insights into why you’re losing speed, and what to do differently. 

So, there are pros and cons to every game, but at the end of the day, it’s based on personal preference. Now you know your options, and more importantly the differences between them, you should be able to go away and make an informed decision on which is right for you.