Five Car Games to Snag in 2016

Looking ahead to the speediest sims of the coming year.

Like Raul Julia said in The Gumball Rally, “What’s behind me is not important.” We’re unlikely to rip the rearview mirror off of a Ferrari Daytona to prove that point, but we do keep our eyes forward. And that’s why we’re taking a look down the road at the five most exciting car-centric video games coming in 2016.

Rocket League

This devilishly addicting game—the 2015 indy game of the year—is finally making its way to Xbox One next month. In Rocket League, players control souped-up RC cars and use them to knock a ball around a field, into their opponent’s net. It’s part RC Pro-Am, part polo and it harkens back to the days of NBA Jam where friends can go at it for hours with some of the fiercest competition you’ll see in all of sports video games. Easy to pick up and play, difficult to master, rewarding as hell when you boost across the field to knock in a goal, Rocket League is sure to be an obsession for Xbox owners when it drops next month.

Dirt: Rally

The Dirt series has never put forth a sim that’s been as good as Dirt: Rally. We got a glimpse of the game when it launched early-access for PC last month, but we’re excited to finally get our hands on it for PS4 and Xbox One later in 2016. Rally boasts cars from the past 50 years of rallying history with stages that’ll keep racers entertained for months. It’s a rare occasion to find a game dedicated entirely to the dirt and weather-worn tracks typical of rallycross racing—most sims have one-off modes for that—so it’s exciting to know we’re so close to Dirt: Rally becoming a staple of our gaming lineup this year.

NASCAR 2016

Much remains to be confirmed about NASCAR ’16. For instance: Will it actually be called NASCAR ’16? We’ll find out soon. Meantime, you can expect the fine-tuning, gearhead-focused detail that exists when stock car racing comes home and puts you in charge of everything from suspension to tires to pit crew to getting behind the wheel. If you’re the kind of person who delights in the idea of 500-lap races, few racing games will deliver the adrenaline that comes from taking your skills to the track in this simulated Sprint Cup action.

Gran Turismo Sport

At this point, any announcement about a Gran Turismo game needs to be taken with a grain of salt. GT has always provided Playstation’s brand with a venerable racing sim that is as realistic as racing games come. The mad genius behind the game, Kazunori Yamauchi-san, is a racecar driver himself and takes pride in the GT series being so lifelike that the physics between real world and in-game are identical—in everything from lift and centrifugal force to the g-forces of acceleration and braking. Getting that level of perfect realism takes time and Yamauchi’s studio seems to be in a state of perpetual deadline pushbacks as a result. We remain hopeful to see Gran Turismo finally make its way to the PS4 for the first time this year—either as a proper GT7 or the rumored GT: Sport—but we wouldn’t be surprised at all if Yamauchi’s studio asks for yet another extension.

Forza Horizon 3

Microsoft’s answer to Playstation’s Gran Turismo has taken several shapes since Xbox got into the console gaming market back in 2001. What used to be the Ferrari-centric Project Gotham racing games eventually gave way to the Forza series, which in turn became a biennial one-two punch of numbered Forza simulations (Forza 1, 2, 3) that were followed by Forza Horizon arcade-styled games. Since Forza 6 was launched just last September, we’re left to assume that we’ll be seeing Forza Horizon 3 take the stage when Microsoft announces its full 2016 lineup at E3 this year. The Horizon series always built around a racing festival with tons of great cars speeding through a wide open world. The original Horizon had us speeding through the Colorado mountains and Horizon 2 let us tear up the French and Italian riviera. We expect Horizon 3 to have some Asian flair (Tokyo, anyone?) but wouldn’t mind a return to the States for some California coastal driving.