GRR

The best racing games coming in 2023 | FOS Future Lab

19th January 2023
Ethan Jupp

Last year was a mixed bag when it comes to racing games. We finally got Gran Turismo 7, albeit a little later than expected, and we got Need for Speed: Unbound, which was a bit of a laugh. Another fun title that launched in 2022 was Grid: Legends, which combined some of the sensibilities of the Grid games with some assets pilfered from the Project Cars series. All in it turned out to be a fun, albeit limited, arcade racer. A great send-off for the KT-developed WRC series was WRC Generations – we look forward to seeing what’s next for that title.

It was all quiet on the Forza front though, with the hotly anticipated Motorsport reboot being pushed another year, though a trailer and gameplay was shown. As was Test Drive Unlimited: Solar Crown, which after missing its September 2022 deadline, surely has to make an appearance in 2023. Let’s count down the games we sorely hope we’ll see in 2023.

Test Drive Unlimited: Solar Crown

It was heartbreak hotel when KT Racing announced the Hong Kong Island-based TDU: Solar Crown was to be delayed for an indefinite amount of time beyond its previously stated September 2022 release date. As of now, we don’t know when the first TDU in over ten years is to debut, though sources close to the project insist it's due this year, our confidence is rocked. What we can say is that we’re glad they’re taking their time with it. Fans of the franchise love it for very specific reasons and this game needs to honour the legacy of those going forward.

Thankfully, so far, it sounds like it will, and then some, with devs saying recently that “the idea is to be more simulation than The Crew or Forza Horizon, which are quite arcadey. Part of the enjoyment of driving is to have something that’s realistic but not too simulation. But we want to give players the freedom to tweak driving aids to get something that’s closer to simulation if they want”.

Features expected to return include working indicators, windows and roofs on cars, authentic dealerships and a selection of player purchasable and customisable homes. Also semi-confirmed are changeable driving modes, with e-mode possible in the hybrid Porsche 918 Spyder, for instance. Devs have also spoken about a more rewarding system of progression and a more intimate connection with your cars, calling out Forza’s propensity to throw the best cars at you almost on the daily.

There will be character customisation and a car list featuring everything from Bugatti to Land Rover, Aston martin, Audi, Bentley, Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Lamborghini and more. The driving engine will be borrowed from KT Racing and be a development of that used in the WRC series.

The full 1:1 recreation of Hong Kong Island has been teased as offering a variety of environments for drivers to explore, from urban cityscapes to beaches, marshes, mountains and forests. Though more compact in terms of land mass, the map is said to be dense with drivable roads, doubling the mileage of Forza Horizon 5. There will be something of a more adult theme running through the game, compared to the likes of Forza Horizon, with the latest teaser suggesting a possible 17+ rating. The Casino will make a return and the trailer also suggests that nightclubs and general nightlife will be a feature, too. Let’s have it sooner rather than later, KT…

Forza Motorsport (2023)

It’s now been well over two years since Turn 10 first teased the reinvention and imminent re-emergence of Forza Motorsport. With the frosty reception of 2017’s Forza Motorsport 7, it was decided a bit of a shake-up was needed. With the first proper trailer focusing mostly on fidelity and graphics, while talking of improved gameplay, our confidence of an overhaul was middling at best. We’ll find out when the title arrives later this year, likely in the Autumn. 

So far we’ve been told to expect “the most technically advanced racing game ever made” by long-time series lead Dan Greenawalt, speaking about the promised 48x improvement in the physics simulation over what’s come before, among other things. Creative Director Chris Esaki has said “we believe that the accuracy of our overhauled physics, the beauty of our cars and tracks, our new dynamic time of day, advanced car damage and real-time raytracing on track, lead to a generational leap in immersion”.

A lot of big talk. Now we just need the game to walk the walk and indeed, know when it will be playable. As above, we’re probably a bit late in the day for a Spring release. Expect Forza Motorsport 2023 to launch in the franchise’s usual September-October window. 

4a64894c-eb82-4c61-ab61-4ee8ed42fc63.jpg

The Crew 3

Come the summer it’ll be five years since The Crew 2 released, and fans have been calling for a sequel for some time now. Very little is known beyond what the rumour mill has been churning out, though whispers of the title are getting stronger, with talk even of a Summer 2023 release.

Codenamed Project Orlando, the game is reported to be set in the old TDU favourite location of Oahu, Hawaii, shirking the (still enormous) shrunken recreation of the US used in the last couple of games. The location is not at all surprising given much of Ivory Tower’s original staff were veteran devs of the original Test Drive Unlimited games.

As for what to expect? We’re entirely unsure, though we hope they continue along the extreme sports lines, with flying, boating and more still available. We also expect a fairly meaty car list is on the cards given the amount of machinery what’s been added to The Crew 2 of late, including the Ferrari Enzo, Porsche Carrera GT, Koenigsegg CCR, Lamborghini Countach, McLaren 765LT and many more. This one is about as certain as TDU was two years ago, so don’t hold your breath. That doesn’t mean we’re not excited for it though.

apps.42165.13541872648069684.bc017d28-8db6-4158-93a7-4c3a1685853c.39b7c57c-d602-47de-9d6f-cc5b4c1440cd-2.jpg

Annual releases – Codemasters take on WRC

As well as the big-hitters and headline-getters, there’s also the usual round of yearly releases you can depend on. F1 2023 will come as expected but it’s WRC that’s getting the big changes this year. KT Racing has delivered its last WRC title, with the licence now going to F1 developers Codemasters, for what is expected to be an alternative take on the franchise.

An enormous feature expected to debut on the game is the ability to develop your own rally car. It’s also expected to release a lot sooner than the KT titles, with a Spring launch mooted as recently as December 2022. We look forward to seeing where it goes, though we hope it retains a realistic rather than arcadey feel.

What racing games can I play now?

Forza Horizon 5 continues to be fun with new DLC cars and expansions mooted. The Mexico-based sandbox is by all accounts the best Forza Horizon entry since the first dropped in 2012. 

For hardcore racers, Assetto Corsa Competizione is a fabulous sim that delivers an authentic GT3 and GT4 racing experience, that takes full advantage of the latest Logitech racing wheel’s features. The wait for a new F1 game is never longer than a year and you can still enjoy contemporary F1 drama in last year’s release. Similarly, the last KT Racing WRC entry, WRC Generations, is a fantastic bookend to the series’ run with the developer, celebrating rally cars old and new in what is an anniversary year for the championship. 

Also launched last year was Gran Turismo 7 and while it was a bit more compact than we expected, a slow trickle of cars and content continues, as the game delivers on the promise that it will be continually improved. The car customisation, collecting, and photography features are more sophisticated than ever, in a game that creator Kazunari Yamauchi says is a celebration of car culture, not just racing. He wasn’t lying. 

Need for Speed: Unbound is also out in the world, featuring an innovative semi-animated aesthetic, including its characters. Beats dodgy motion capture, we suppose. The physics are improved on previous entries and as ever, it offers the best car culture and customisation of any driving game out there.

Grid Legends also came out last year and proved to be an intriguing, if limited, semi-arcade racing entry with a compelling car list and a cringe-worthy narrative. We picked it up for the incredible-sounding Aston Martin Valkyrie alone.

  • esports

  • Racing games

  • FOS Future Lab

  • Gran Turismo

  • Forza Motorsport

  • Test Drive Unlimited

  • Need For Speed

  • WRC

  • Grid: Legends

  • most-overrated-racing-games-list-main-19012022.jpg

    Modern

    The seven most overrated racing games | FOS Future Lab

  • forza-motorsport-2021-release-date-main-goodwood-04012021.jpg

    Modern

    The best new racing games coming in 2021 | FOS Future Lab

  • best-racing-games-of-the-2000s-list-goodwood-040220212.jpg

    Historic

    The eight best racing games of the 2000s