Ten of the best arcade racing games on Xbox

Kes Eylers-Stephenson - May 31st 2018

The arcade racer is the silly younger sibling of the simulation racer. Sure, you are in an automobile in both games, but one is a pixel-perfect recreation of the Chevy SSR from 2004, and the other is a go-kart with a missile protruding from the bonnet and literal fire coming from the rear tires. That is not to say that sim racing isn't fun, but it isn't about smirking at all times while ramming other cars off the road unless you are some kind of Silverstone first-corner driver. Arcade racers of all varieties have made this list of ten of the best available on Xbox. There are open-world smash-'em-ups, top-down drifters, kart racers, and more stuffed in here, but really these are just a taste of the genre!

Burnout Paradise Remastered

Burnout Paradise is one of our all-time favourite games, so it should be no surprise to see it front and centre of the best arcade-racer list. For the first time in the long-running Burnout series, developer Criterion placed their violent automotive chaos in the open-world of Paradise City and let carnage ensue. You will be racing and exploring twisting mountains, tight city streets, and luscious lakes. The cars handle with a perfect and understandable scheme, mastering drifting and weaving through oncoming traffic being a must-learn. Likewise, learning secret shortcuts in this open world is a requirement, but one that is also something that you learn with time. Before long, you will be able to recite each road and turn by memory and reflex. Collectables, like gates and billboards, hide amazing stunt locations for barrel rolls and flat-spins. The game is also spectacularly violent towards automobiles; you take them out during races, much to the jubilation of the game and yourself. The crunching of cars into walls and other vehicles results in an explosion of metal, all while one of the amazing songs on the soundtrack rings in your ears. What a game!
Burnout™ Paradise Remastered

Welcome back to Paradise City! Make action your middle name as you rule the streets in Burnout™ Paradise Remastered! Tear it up in the ultimate driving playground, from hectic downtown avenues to the wild mountain roads. Relive the high-octane stunts and wanton destruction of one of the greatest arcade-driving games ever!

Forza Horizon 5/Forza Horizon 4

With Forza Horizon 5 now out in the wild, it would make sense to cast aside the previous entry into the series Forza Horizon 4, right? Well, not quite. Forza Horizon 5 is an absolutely stunning and well-rounded game, offering a bigger world and a fair bit more in terms of variety and progression systems, but in its current state, FH5 is hard to recommend. At the time of writing, players in FH5 are suffering from disconnects from online multiplayer, crashes, and a myriad of other issues that really detract from the overall experience, which is a shame as it is really bloody good. Give it another month or two, and I'm sure Playground Games will have ironed out all the kinks, and we'll all be tearing up Mexico once more. Until then, Forza Horizon 4 offers the full, uncompromised Forza experience. It still looks gorgeous on both consoles and PC, plus it includes nearly everything you'd get from playing Forza Horizon 5 without the issues. Sure, the North of England/Scotland location might not be as sexy as the sprawling, cactus-filled deserts of Mexico, but it is interesting enough with its ever-changing seasons that transform the world. Both games fall into a sort of a middle ground between arcade racer and sim racer, which is perfect for those looking for the best of both worlds — you get all of the fun of an arcade racer, with cars that can scream over vast jumps and drift around corners at break-neck speeds, and some of the more serious sim stuff, with vehicles that look, feel, and sound like their real-life counterparts, and just enough manual tuning options to keep those interested in that sort of thing happy. The Forza Horizon series is all about making racing fun, and with both FH4 and FH5 included with Xbox Game Pass, they are definitely worth exploring. Just maybe start with FH4 first and come back to FH5 in a month or two.
Forza Horizon 5 Standard Edition

Your Ultimate Horizon Adventure awaits! Explore the vibrant and ever-evolving open world landscapes of Mexico with limitless, fun driving action in hundreds of the world’s greatest cars.

Split/Second: Velocity

Split/Second: Velocity is a masterclass in using a relatively simple mechanic, pressing a button to destroy parts of the track, to create a truly awesome gaming experience. You are driving in an explosive TV show that pits racers in destructive tracks and sees who can cross the line first. As you drift, slipstream, or do pretty much anything else, you will build up a special meter. This will allow you to cause destruction around the track you are racing to take out other racers. It could be something small, taking up one bar of your special meter, or a track-changing super that will totally devastate the opposition and change the route. Planes rain down from the sky, skyscrapers tumble, and boats are blown apart. Some have multiple stages with multiple route changes; some are one-off events. It becomes very tactical very quickly, too. Do I save for a big three-bar dam-busting event, or do I take out the race leader with a precision bolder from that cliff and save my meter? The campaign is delightfully cheesy with a good mix of events, and the game still handles very well indeed for an 'old' game. Give it a go, and you won't be disappointed!
Split/Second

Split/Second is an intense arcade racing game set within the universe of a mega-budget, prime-time reality TV show. Contestants race to be the 1st across the finish line in a made-for-TV city built for destruction, with the ultimate goal of becoming the season champion. The city is rigged to blow and you’re in control of the action – bridges will fall, buildings will be reduced to clouds of dust and cars blown to pieces - devastating explosions will decimate your rivals and rip apart the track,…

Wreckfest

Do you like your arcade racers to have a hint of serious track-day with a toolbox full of destruction? Well, Bugbear's Wreckfest has your back… and by that, I mean the back of your automobile is gone. A big combine harvester minced your boot to bits, leaving debris on the road and allowing some idiot driving a sofa car to overtake you. Don't let the carnage of a race like that fool you though, in the next one — around a proper racetrack in some fields or in a stadium — you will be driving with your eyes glued to the apex of corners and your finger crunching to the manual shifter. That is just the kind of game this is: a wicked destruction model, loop-the-loops, serious tracks, and all-rounded driving fun. Wreckfest is something special, so don't pass up on the best modern arcade racer on this list.
Wreckfest

Break the rules and take full-contact racing to the limit with Wreckfest!

Expect epic crashes, neck-to-neck fights over the finish line and brand-new ways for metal to bend – These are the once-in-a-lifetime moments that can only be achieved in Wreckfest, with its true-to-life physics simulation crafted by legendary developer Bugbear, who also brought you FlatOut 1 & 2!

Burn rubber and shred metal in the ultimate driving playground!

Blur (Xbox 360 only)

In a bit of bad luck for respective sales numbers, Blur and Split/Second released incredibly close together and were both really good. Where the latter was an explosive joyride, Blur was a kart racer with serious cars and serious looks. Believe us, though; it is also a seriously good time. With weapons added into the gritty urban environments for the 20 on-track vehicles to shoot at one another, chaos ensues in just about every event. Blur has become a bit of a cult classic amongst racing fans, and now you can't really mention arcade racing without talking about it. That is for a good reason. The game was challenging and innovative but still played supremely well. With fun emergent gameplay stemming from the sheer amount of weaponry coming at all angles, it never fails to make races unique. Lightning storms, black holes, and bubble shields are all coming into play, all the time. The online community and achievements are as hardcore as Jos Verstappen's parenting methods though, plus several achievements are no longer available, so be careful of stepping in if you are after the completion. Don't let that put you off what is a superb bit of video game, though. Blur is fab.

Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled

What happens when one of the best ever kart racers (and its sequel) get a remaster by developers that truly care? You get one of the best modern kart racers, too. With a pretty staggering graphical overhaul, beautiful dynamic track updates, some balancing and fine-tuning, some tweaks to the controls, and made with all the love in the known Gasmoxian universe, Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled is no longer in Mario Kart's shadow. More than that though, the 20-year-old game is still hard as nails. The boost mechanic requires precision timing, a turbo bar slowly fills and you time button taps to get faster slides and boosts. The items you use are full of variety, but there ain't no blue shells and rockets to catch up around here. If you start straggling, nothing will save you beyond your skill level at the game. The level of contest is high, as well. The CPU is pretty smart, and that can be infuriating if you are inclined to live in the easy lane. But, there is no doubt that this is the perfect kart racer for aficionados and those that want a challenge. Do yourself a favour and give it a play.
Crash™ Team Racing Nitro-Fueled

Go fur-throttle with Crash™ Team Racing Nitro-Fueled. It’s the authentic CTR experience plus a whole lot more, now fully-remastered and revved up to the max:

- All the original game modes, characters, tracks, power-ups, weapons and controls
- Additional karts, tracks and arenas from Crash™ Nitro Kart
- Race online with friends and Crash the competition with online leaderboards

Trackmania Turbo

Do you like time trials? Trackmania Turbo has you covered, and then some. Ubisoft's nifty little gem has tracks made from square tiles that are filled with roads and corners and ramps, as well as boosts, loop the loops, and barrel rolls. That creates crazy thirty-second courses with tight turns and physics bending jumps that you must always be ready to fail at. Quick resets and constant small adjustments are always needed to eke out that extra second of time to get a gold medal, giving Trackmania the stench of irresistible moreishness. The game handles like a dream too, with a simple driving scheme that never frustrates. You accelerate, you drift, you steer; nothing more, nothing less. That makes it an absolute pick-up-and-play gem, so we think you should do just that: go and pick it up and play it!
Trackmania® Turbo

Available for the very first time on Xbox One, Trackmania offers you the ultimate arcade racing universe where everything is about reaching the perfect racing time. Test your skills in over 200 tracks, experience immediate fun by challenging your friends at home (offline splitscreen) or online. The competition lasts forever: design and share your own tracks with other players in the Trackbuilder!

Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit Remastered

Criterion makes it to the list a second time with Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit Remastered. It's the age-old cops versus crooks battle causing chaos around the hills, forests, beaches, and city of Seacrest County. There are races and time trials, sure, but the best of the events are Hot Pursuits. This pits the two rival factions against each other, complete with special moves for each group. The cops can call in choppers, roadblocks, and spike strips as they try to crash out the racers. On the other side of the fence, you get boosts and jammers to keep those boys in blue the hell away from you. This competitiveness lends itself very well to Criterion's famous classic automotive crashing and bashing, with destructive takedowns on licenced cars looking way cooler than they have any right to. We have a fondness for other arcade racing Need for Speed titles — like the very good Most Wanted, endearing self-titled effort by Ghost Games in 2015, and the most recent nearly-there effort of NFS: Heat — but Hot Pursuit is still the king of the hill with its simple concept executed to perfection.
Need for Speed™ Hot Pursuit Remastered

Feel the thrill of the chase and the rush of escape behind the wheels of the world’s hottest high-performance cars in Need for Speed™ Hot Pursuit Remastered. Unleash a savage sense of speed in heart-pumping, socially competitive racing experience.

Art of Rally

Easily the most chill game on this list, Art of Rally brings the art of zen to the twisting roads of the drift kings. As a Buddha statue explains that motorsport regulation is non-existent in this universe and asks after your blood type, you might start wondering if you got your headache pills a bit mixed up. But that opener sets the tone of this top-down arcade racer perfectly. You drift cars of every variety through gorgeous, clean-but-stylised landscapes. There are time trials on set courses and collectable missions set in sublime open-worlds and some "just get to the end" events, but every single one is an exercise in lowering your heartbeat and becoming one with the drift. It controls well, it looks great, it feels totally different. This is something unique done well, putting it ahead of some of the other arcade racing competitors out there. While Absolute Drift has a similar vibe, don't let the mixed-pill box deceive you – Art of Rally is a gem that should not be missed.
art of rally

Race in the golden era of rally. Drive iconic cars from the 60s to Group B on challenging stages through stylized environments inspired by real worldwide locations. Will you master the art of rally?

Horizon Chase Turbo and Hotshot Racing

This pair were unsplittable in our eyes, especially after we saw so many recommendations in the comments — so the modern arcade buddies are being wedged into one pick! Horizon Chase Turbo is straight out of the nineties era of arcade racers like the fabulous Daytona, from the graphics and controls to the music and vibe. And yet, it feels surprisingly refreshing in the modern era, with those classic static plains of environment updated without losing the sense of creeping speed. Horizon Chase Turbo doesn't just get by on nostalgia, either. As 20 racers line up on the grid, your aim is for that first spot without running out of fuel. The narrow tracks mean overtaking is an exercise in jetting through spaces between other vehicles without bumping into them, which is challenging and exceedingly satisfying. When you get up to speed, the rush is something few other games on this list can replicate, too. Simple aesthetics are matched by simple fun, with multiplayer Grand Prix and time challenges all being staples alongside the World Tour mode. Make no mistake, this should be a consideration for your next play, even if you want something to get you hooked for a few weekends.
Horizon Chase Turbo

Thrilling arcade racing game, inspired by the super-fun-straight-to-the-point classic racing games from the 90s.

How do you create a traditional arcade racer in this day and age? Well, SUMO Nottingham and Lucky Mountain Games have a few lessons to teach. Hotshot Racing drops the number of polygons until it reaches the pretty PS1 standard of graphical fidelity, bumps up the colour palette, and lets the back wheels rip around the aesthetically pleasing courses. You don't really drive, per se, but rather drift and glide around tracks while weaving through your racing rivals. There are a good few missions to do, but Hotshot Racing won't take up the rest of your life. It handles really quite well when you get the right set of wheels under you and is very well regarded amongst racing fans. You can normally find it on sale at least once or twice a year, so none of this glory will cost you too much! Give it a go – you won't regret it.

Hotshot Racing

Hotshot Racing is a blisteringly fast arcade-style racing game fusing drift handling, razor-sharp retro visuals and an incredible sense of speed to create an exhilarating driving experience.

Honourable Mentions

That is it for our list! However, we do have a few honourable mentions if you want to further explore the genre. Daytona USA is the closest to getting in over Horizon Chase Turbo. The same concept and arcadey goodness, but slightly less complex. It also has a banging title song! OnRush is a great time, and we are gutted we couldn't fit it into the ten, but we felt its chaotic energy is still there with the irresistible pairing of Split/Second and Blur. Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing Transformed was so close to making it — and ahead of sequel Sonic Team Racing by our books — but Crash Team Racing is dominating the kart racing spot in our top ten. The massive open-worlds of Fuel and The Crew 2 were pushing up the pecking order for a place, but we just couldn't find a spot that wasn't taken by an arcade-racer experience without the extraneous aspects we didn't like so much. Finally, we feel bad, but we just couldn't find a suitable place for Table Top Racing: World Tour and Midnight Club: Los Angeles. The latter, in particular, has been a little short shifted!

For the future, Codemasters' GRID Legends is coming out next year, and it could be a contender. The series was unlucky to miss out this time around. It is a little more serious but is always fun and certainly a different kettle of oil compared to everything else on the list. Likewise, Test Drive Unlimited Solar Crown is another with outrageous potential and could make a push into the ten in 2022. We are very excited for these two, indeed.

Let us know what you liked and what we have missed down below, and I'm sure we will see you in there!