What Video Game Has the Best Fictional Cars?

Cyberpunk: 2077 may be a hot mess, but it still sets a new standard for fictional vehicle design in video games.

Let me get this out of the way first: on consoles, Cyberpunk: 2077 is as much of a mess as you’ve probably heard. And then some.

Over the course of five minutes on my PlayStation 4 last night, my game froze for a good 30 seconds, a whole highway appeared out of nowhere when I was driving around and civilians and cars alike vanished from the streets—all while an invisible plane full of people zoomed overhead. At least the driving itself is leisurely, because the streets are almost completely empty, just like you’d find driving around any major city. 

Me, waiting for those patches to get released., CD Projekt Red

The long-awaited (yet somehow unfinished) action RPG set in a dystopian future is so riddled with bugs and glitches on the PS4 and Xbox One that the game’s developer is now offering refunds, and Sony has pulled it from the PlayStation Store. Patches coming in early 2021 are said to fix these major issues, but the damage may have been done.

It’s a real shame. In terms of artistic design, Cyberpunk: 2077 is a triumph. Especially where its cars are concerned. In the game’s Night City, the 1980s never really ended. Cars are low, boxy, angular, covered in vents and louvers, and aggressive, inspired by classics like Blade Runner and Akira—it’s like a fever dream version of Radwood. Kristen Lee at Business Insider did a great story on the design process behind the game’s cars (including a very accurate 1977 Porsche 930 Turbo) and how these machines figure into the game’s larger world and politics just like real cars do. 

This long-winded story is a way of bringing you around to the question we want to ask you today: What video game has the best not-real cars? 

Some driving-centric games go out of their way to replicate the things we drive (or want to drive) in the real world. Others come up with entirely new, fictional cars instead, often because licensing is a tricky and expensive affair or because designers would simply rather do their own thing. We’re talking about the latter category today.

The “Carson GT Concept” from Burnout., Burnout

Besides the obvious design brilliance on display in Cyberpunk: 2077, I’ve always been pretty partial to the Burnout series. Many of those cars have very close real-life analogues, and in addition to the racing, I’ve always had fun figuring out what they’re supposed to “be.” It’s likely much easier for the Burnout games to have fictional cars since crashing and ramming is such a huge part of the gameplay—I doubt most automakers would want their cars to be smashed to hell in a video game on the regular. 

Now it’s your turn. What video game, or series of games, does fictional cars the best?