Which Open World Racing Game has the Best Driving Mechanics?

VANAPHASE™ the Vanadium powerhouse!

Open world racing games provide gamers with a multitude of ways to have fun. Big names like Forza Horizon and Need for Speed drop you into a sprawling world, where you can explore the limits of the map, drift your way around racetracks, or even go off-road.

Often designed as a jack-of-all-trades, titles in this genre prioritize playability over all-out driving pedigree. But after all, these are racing games, and that means that they need to have decent driving mechanics if they want to be taken seriously. Here we look at some of the most popular open-world racing games along with a couple of interesting wildcards to see how their driving styles compare.

Forza Horizon 3

Forza Horizon 3 comes from superb stock; there’s no doubt Forza is one of the most recognizable racing franchises. And unsurprisingly, the attention to detail is superb, making this a great driving simulator in an opening world setting. More so than any other open-world racer, Horizon 3 boasts an enormous garage of cars – part of what makes it such an authentic driving experience is how different each car feels.

Set in Australia, the game offers some exceptional and unusual racing locations – and the best thing about that is that they actually exist in real life. Driving on the slick sand alongside the iconic Twelve Apostles, for example, provides an element of realism that many generic open world games simply can’t touch. Speeding on buggies through outback rally tracks feels markedly different to the road races of Surfer’s Paradise, as well they should.

But does that mean it is an extremely life-like simulation? Admittedly Horizon 3 is providing fun a little bit more than ultra-realism, but overall the driving mechanics are very solid. Yes, there are some rather unlikely wheelspin possibilities and absurd crashes at 200mph that will barely scratch the beautifully rendered bodywork. The arcade-style driving with sim racing elements is also relatively forgiving when it comes to things like racing lines and spinouts. But the racing feels satisfying and each mode of driving has its own personality.

So the key points are:

The game is locked to 30 frames per second on Xbox One, although the PC version can run at a much higher frame rate – unsurprisingly, then, the driving mechanics and true feel of being behind the wheel is seriously better on Windows than on console.

Horizon 3 is also one of the most recent of the big-name open-world racers, so it just from a graphics perspective, it’s a real step up from a number of the other available titles. But just because it’s the most recent, doesn’t necessarily make it the best. Let’s take a look at some of the other contenders.

Need for Speed Payback

Need for Speed is another huge racing franchise. It’s actually been around since 1994, and with the latest incarnation released in 2017, you would expect the team to understand a thing or two about good driving mechanics. This is actually the newest game on this list, and the story takes obvious influence from the Fast and the Furious movies.

Interestingly, in Need for Speed Payback it is often the gameplay that undermines the driving mechanics. Escaping from police, for example, is not a task in improvisation or driving skill, but rather a challenge to reach a series of arbitrary checkpoints. Additionally, the rare aspects of the game that threaten to demand control and dynamic driving too often give way to cinematic cutscenes.  

Like Forza Horizon 3, the style of driving is more arcade than simulation – but Payback takes it a step further. Drifting is so easy, the only real challenge is how long you can hold your drift for. And for a game that takes speed so seriously, there’s no great sense of how fast your car is going. Even reaching the upper limits of the speedometer never offers thrills.

The physics – hardly a priority in Horizon 3 – feel like even more of an afterthought in Payback, and you are very aware at all times that you are playing a game rather than driving a car, no matter how stunning the graphics and backdrop are.

The Crew

Released in late 2014, The Crew is an online-only open-world racer with a truly jaw-droppingly huge map and environment to drive and race in. There’s no doubt that one of the most fun aspects of The Crew is the size of the map. It’s a scaled-down version of the United States with six huge cities beautifully recaptured. Each feels different to drive in, and there’s something rather authentic about how each large city has its own character and layout.

As with much of The Crew, it feels as if there is too much in the way of compromise for the game mechanics to be what you want. Rather than feeling like a true driving simulation or a furiously fun arcade racer, The Crew hedges its bets and ends up with something that feels not as good as either.

One frustrating aspect is the AI-controlled opponents appear to be able to bend the rules of the game’s physics, leading to a somewhat demoralizing racing experience where you never feel as if your opponents are playing fair.

Interestingly, The Crew 2 is due out in 2018 and it promises to have far more honed driving mechanics to the point where racing will feel like a true simulation, while freestyling and open-world driving will retain its fun gameplay. This could be one open world racing game to watch out for.

Burnout Paradise

Burnout Paradise is currently the most recent installment in the iconic Burnout series, but given that it was released in 2008 it is somewhat surprising the title hasn’t seen a revamp. Nevertheless, Burnout Paradise is one of the most well-known and popular open-world racers and deserves a place on this list even if only for nostalgia purposes.

The joy of the Burnout series was always the anarchy of multi-car pile-ups and mega crashes. Unlike many open-world games, Paradise does simulate the kind of damage that would happen to your car in a crash situation; hit your rival at 100mph and you can expect to see crumpled bodies, bonnets flailing and debris flying everywhere.

However, when it comes to the actual driving mechanics, Paradise cannot be accused of attempting a real-life simulation of driving. Chaotic, fun and forgiving, the cars are easy to control and the racing is accessible rather than challenging. You shouldn’t expect to need to stick rigidly to racing lines or time your braking distances to perfection – the game will compensate for you.

One area of driving where Paradise does stand out over many open-world games, is that it truly gives you free reign. Races are typically a task to get from one side of the city to the other – how you get there is completely your choice, so a good understanding of the map and potential shortcuts can make a huge difference to your times. Just like in real street racing, the no rules element of the gameplay makes it a lot of fun.

Test Drive Unlimited 2

On paper, Test Drive Unlimited 2 looks like it should have everything you would want from an open-world racing game. There are aspects that take their realism very seriously – the game map is based on the island of Ibiza, and even uses satellite imagery. The rich variety of scenery looks solid and the cars are lovingly brought to the screen.

Sadly though, in all the ways that matter, Test Drive Unlimited 2 doesn’t live up to its billing as a fun racing title. The feel of driving the cars is just somewhat off – it is never quite right no matter which camera angle you are using. There’s no sense of speed and the controls never make you believe that you are behind the wheel of a powerful car.

A new Test Drive game is reportedly in the works, and Unlimited 2 does have a lot of potential that the makers could hopefully channel into something much more playable. It will have to avoid the myriad glitches and technical issues that plagued this title if it wants to challenge the big names in the genre, however.

The wildcards

Some open-world games aren’t necessarily racing titles, but provide their own unique driving mechanics that make them worth looking at. For a movie tie-in game, Mad Max has a surprising amount on offer. And along with a darkly beautiful setting, the best feature of the title is when you get behind the wheel – perhaps as it should be. The racing segments of the game as mashed with vehicular combat, but this only adds to the fun.

And it would be difficult to discuss open-world driving games without tipping your hat to GTA V. One of the most in-depth and interesting settings ever created for a video game, the GTA series’ most recent title offers a truly exhaustive array of fun driving game experiences.

Unsurprisingly though, while the mechanics of these games are solid, they are still a secondary consideration to the broader aspects of gameplay. So, if you are looking for an open-world game with great driving, one of the titles above is better suited.

How do they compare to motorsport games?

In terms of overall driving mechanics, while many open-world racing titles give a credible account of themselves, they are unsurprisingly blown out of the water by the games that specialize in driving simulation. The big names, Gran Turismo Sport and Forza 7, both offer a technically superb recreation of driving on tracks – instilling each vehicle with its own unique driving style and experience.

The 2015 title Project CARS and its 2017 sequel Project CARS 2 have taken driving simulation one step further, and you really need a home racing set-up to get the most out of the mechanics. The subtle differences that can be achieved with minor modification to the engine make this series the choice for gamers who are most interesting in getting the authentic feeling of racing on a track.

For those who are looking for great driving mechanics set within a fun open-world environment, there are few that can match Forza Horizon 3 for pure playability. But we eagerly await the release of The Crew 2 and a potential future Burnout title to see where they take their driving styles.


Leave a Reply

Animation/Anime Interviews Animation/Anime News Animation/Anime Reviews Film/TV Interviews Film/TV News Film/TV Review
Explained Netflix
Netflix and Vox Team Up for Documentary Series ‘Explained,’ Explained

Vox started in 2014 as a website with an expressed goal...

Finish That Lumpia! – Lumpia With a Vengeance Trailer Drops

We’ve backed that Lumpia, joined the Lumpia Wrecking Machine, now it’s time to...

AKA Three Lives and Counting – Netflix Jessica Jones FYSee

Netflix presents Marvel’s Jessica Jones Season 2 Episode 11 AKA Three...

Enabled Gaming Gaming News Gaming Reviews
Coffee Crisis Interview with C# Developer Nick Mann

Check out our Coffee Crisis Interview with C# Developer Nick Mann...

A World’s First by Worlds Adrift! – Launching on Early Access

Upcoming PC game, Worlds Adrift, is launching players into the sky...

First Major Hunt: Showdown Content Update Now Live On Steam

The first major Hunt: Showdown content update is now live on Steam and...

Comic Creator Interviews Comic/Graphic Novel News Comic/Graphic Novel Reviews Manga News Manga Reviews Novel/Novella Author Interviews Novel/Novella News Novel/Novella Reviews
Action Comics No. 1000 gets a Super-Sized Deluxe Edition Release

From DC Comics – Burbank, CA – (April 30, 2018) –...

‘The Prisoner #1’ is an Intricate and Entertaining Tale of Intrigue

The Prisoner #1 Story by: Peter Milligan Art by: Colin Lorimer Coloring by: Joana...

Comic Legend Stan Lee Sued Over Sexual Misconduct Allegations by Massage Therapist

From Canyon PR – CHICAGO – Apr. 23, 2018 – Maria...

Apparel/Personal Maintenance News Apparel/Personal Maintenance Reviews Entertainment Product News Entertainment Product Reviews Food/Beverage Reviews Hardware News Hardware Reviews Mystery Box News Mystery Box Reviews
Work-Play Lens
High-Tech Meets High Fashion in GUNNAR Optiks New Work-Play Lens

GUNNAR Optiks partners with Publish to release new Work-Play Lens that...

Keep Your Gear from Not Feeling So Good – Infinity War Skins Review

Skinit goes for the head with their Avengers: Infinity War skins –...

Spring/Summer 2018: adidas Sports Updates Line of Mobile Accessories

April 2018 — adidas Sport launches collection of lightweight products designed to...

Arena Football Automotives MMA, Kick Boxing & Boxing Professional Wrestling
Showtime to Air ‘Bipolar Rock ‘N’ Roller’ Mauro Ranallo Doc on May 25th

From Bellator MMA and Showtime – New York – April 30,...

Bas Rutten Talks Kicking Opioid Addiction with the Help of Receptra CBD Oil

  One of the most decorated MMA champions and UFC Hall...

Roxy Astor Meets With GLOW…the Netflix Version

As much as people love drama, there was nothing but love...

Adult Continuity Comics on the Can Cultural Junk Drawer Future Comic Rock Stars Is That Racist? Revisiting the Reviled THAT'S NOT ROTTEN! The B-Reel The Cantina Scene This Week in Crowdfunding What the HELL Did I just...?
Adult Continuity Issue #13 – Avengers XXX – A porn parody

I review AvengersXXX and make masturbation jokes. Be smart with your Fapdollar(tm);...

Comics on the can – Black Panther (Priest run) Issue #46

Comics on the can muses about Black Panther during Priest's legendary...

MissionFest Wine, Craft Beer and Food Festival Takes Place 4th of July Weekend

MissionFest™ Wine, Craft Beer, Food and Music Festivals, combines two great...

Event News Event Reviews
The Music Tastes Good Volume III Line Up Has Been Announced

Music Tastes Good Volume III, presented by 89.9 KCRW, Line Up has...

free comic book day
Free Manga from VIZ Media for Free Comic Book Day

TLDR: VIZ Media will provide free manga samplers on Free Comic...

Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure Escape Room Comes to America!

TLDR: CRAP Entertainment and Viz Media, LLC partnered with Real Escape...

Gaming Uncensored Toon-In-Talk
Gaming Uncensored: Year in Review 2016

A look back at the year in gaming. Related

Gaming Uncensored Roundtable: December 2016

December’s roundtable discusses story in games with Chad, Josh, and Spencer....

Gaming Uncensored: Podcast #349

Jamie reflects on some of his time with the HTC Vive....

Music Interviews Music News Music Reviews
Rising Country Music Artist Kaylin Roberson Talks About her work with St. Jude

Kaylin Roberson is a singer, songwriter and pianist from Raleigh, North...

MTV Unveils Performers for ‘TRL Live’ on October 3rd at 3 p.m. E.T.

NEW YORK, NY (September 26, 2017) – MTV today announced that...

Long Beach Punk Band ‘Spider’ Rocks ‘It’s Not Dead’ Festival

Spider is a heavy hitting punk band out of Long Beach,...

%d bloggers like this: