Racing is one of the few genres that are well-suited for mobiles. Controls are simple and gameplay is fast-paced, which is perfect for quick gaming sessions. Not to mention tilt control is arguably the closest thing you can get to an expensive racing wheel controller for PC and consoles.
Racing games are often categorized under sports. So you were probably disappointed that not a single one made our list of the best sports games to check out this year. We thought about including at least one game, really. But we felt it would be inadequate, so we made a completely different list. Here are 11 racing games for mobiles that you seriously need to check out this year.
Need for Speed: Most Wanted
Electronic Arts’ Need for Speed is one of the most popular racing game franchises in gaming. It has even spawned a movie adaptation, but like all other video game movie adaptations, it sucked. Need for Speed: Most Wanted on mobile is a reboot of the original game released back in 2005. It features top-notch graphics, which shows full-car damage, and offers the option to drive using either tilt or touch control.
The game is set in Fairhaven City where you can enter races using over 30 different cars, though most of them need to be unlocked using Speed Points (SP) first. Car customization is also available to make your machines more beastly on the road. Most Wanted features police cars, which are hell-bent on putting a stop to your racing adventures. Though its single-player mode is a bit flawed, Most Wanted is one of the best racing games on iOS and Android.
Real Racing 3
If street racing isn’t really your thing, you can check out Real Racing 3, another mobile racing game by Electronic Arts. It features real racetracks, instead of having a huge city to freely drive around like in Need for Speed: Most Wanted. Over 100 cars from well-known automobile manufacturers are included in the game. Combined with the ability to customize each car you own, this virtually shuts down any notion you may have that there are “too few car options” in the game. But as always, you will need to unlock cars first using in-game currency.
Real Racing 3 features real-world racetracks where you can race against not one, not two, not three, but more than a dozen cars at the same time. Further adding to the “realness” is that you will be required to perform maintenance on your cars between races. If you’re all about realistic rubber-burning, there’s arguably no better mobile racing game than the award-winning Real Racing 3.
Miss the good old days of classic racing games? With Horizon Chase, you can rev up the nostalgia machine to take you back to when Top Gear and Lotus Turbo Challenge were big hits. Horizon Chase is a classic racing game at heart, outfitted with a modern look to appeal to the newer generation. Hollywood isn’t the only one who has the right to make “modern” remakes of classic material, you know. Horizon Chase features an updated look based on 16-bit graphics, with brightly colored, polygonal backgrounds. You can almost feel the retro oozing out of it.
There are 16 unlockable cars, which you can drive on more than 70 racetracks spread across 36 cities. You can race on a countryside racetrack while the sun sets or in an urban setting at night while the moon glows. Every racetrack will feel different from each other. And as you race to get your hands on all 9 cups, composer Barry Leitch will serenade you with fitting tunes to make your trip down memory all the more nostalgic.
Asphalt 8: Airborne
Hailing from the long-running Asphalt series, Asphalt 8: Airborne is another popular racing game for mobiles. You can choose from over 150 cars manufactured by the likes of Aston Martin, Ferrari, Lamborghini, Dodge, BMW, Cadillac, and much more. All cars are segregated into different classes and can be freely customized to give you a more personalized racing machine. More than a dozen locations are featured in the game, which includes Tokyo, London, Venice, and Dubai. Each location is home to multiple racetracks.
Airborne puts heavy emphasis on airborne stunts, hence the game’s subtitle. Each racetrack is littered with numerous ramps, which you can use to launch your car to perform mid-air tricks like barrel rolling. Unlike most other racing games, there’s more to simply finishing first in Airborne. There are also secondary objectives that you can complete during the race to gain more points. This includes performing a number of airborne stunts and knocking over opponents. You can think of Airborne as a more extreme version of Real Racing 3, where action-packed gameplay replaces realistic mechanics.
Grand Prix Story
Technically, Grand Prix Story isn’t a “real” racing game, in the sense that you don’t actually get to drive a vehicle like the other racing games in this list. Instead, Grand Prix Story is a racing simulation game where you take on the role of a racing team manager, as opposed to a race car driver. Its gameplay is a stark contrast to real racing games: slow, meticulous, and lacks grandeur. But that doesn’t mean it’s any less fun.
Your main goal in the game is to give your drivers the best opportunity to win races. This includes developing cars with optimal specs, getting sponsorships, and hiring crew members. And yes, contracting drivers, too. You will simply be a spectator during automated races. Being a simulation game, Grand Prix Story has numerous statistics and mechanics that you need to fully acquaint yourself to. It can be overwhelming initially as you learn the ins and outs of the game. But if you’re looking for a game that you can invest long hours in, we definitely recommend Grand Prix Story.
With racing games that feature gorgeous graphics and deep gameplays dominating the market, it’s easy to overlook gems like Thumb Drift. Basically, Thumb Drift is more of an endless runner instead of a real racing game. The gameplay is simple yet addictive, with more focus on drifting. Your goal is to simply avoid hitting the edge of the racetrack and other obstacles. Crashing your car will immediately mean game over. However, that’s easier said than done.
True to its title, Thumb Drift features only two controls, which is to move left or right using your thumb. But since your car moves extremely fast, steering can be really difficult. Expect to spend your first hour or two simply crashing every 10 seconds or so. Similar to endless runners, coins can be collected as you drift your way through six different racetracks. These coins can be used to unlock more cars. Due to its fast-paced and simple gameplay, Thumb Drift is best suited for quick gaming sessions.
Thanks to their thinner frame, motorbikes can easily weave through traffic. It’s one of their biggest advantages over cars, trucks, and everything in between. If you want to see just how ridiculously easy it can be, check out Traffic Rider. It’s a racing game developed by Soner Kara, creators of Traffic Racer, another hit racing game. But unlike in Traffic Racer, Traffic Rider will have you drive motorbikes instead of four-wheeled vehicles.
The game features stunning locations, from a snow-covered highway to a city filled with lights. No matter where you are, the goal remains the same: drive from point A to point B while avoiding every vehicle in front of you. Just like in real life, crashing your motorbike will have grim consequences – game over, in other words. You can choose from over 20 motorbikes. All of which actually produce sounds recorded from real motorbikes, making the experience feel more realistic. Traffic Rider boasts over 70 missions in career mode, to go with more than 30 achievements to complete.
Tired of driving real cars? If you fancy a racing game that features futuristic vehicles instead of the usual Camaros, Ferraris, and BMWs, we recommended checking out Repulze. It features cool hovercrafts, which you maneuver using touch controls or tilting. The gameplay is fast-paced, with gravity-defying mechanics that make sharp curves trickier to navigate than in ground-bound racing games.
There are 24 tracks in the game, each with their own set of challenges that you need to complete. Challenges can range from simply beating a set time to avoiding a set number of collisions. Repulze also incorporates a weapons system, unlike most other racing games. Nothing is more satisfying than blowing up opponents who dared to drive past you. The one downside is the hovercraft roster, which only features a handful of choices. If you’re a big fan of the Wipeout games, you will definitely love Repulze.
Riptide GP: Renegade
Is Repulze too futuristic for your taste? If you’re looking for a racing game that’s still a bit more grounded in reality, we recommend Riptide GP: Renegade by Vector Unit. Instead of cars, motorbikes, and made-for-science-fiction vehicles, Renegade will have you driving hydro jets, which are basically motocross bikes powered by hydro jets. And instead of dirt tracks or anything land-related, you will race across waterways, flooded ruins, and canals.
Renegade features a deep career mode where you can earn experience and in-game currency, which you can use to upgrade both rider and hydro jet for better performance. If you want to test your racing skills against the best of the best, you can enter 8-player online matches. Local multiplayer is also possible, in case you’re less confident about your skills and want to test them against real-life friends first. With a box full of unlockable content and numerous racetracks filled with shortcuts to discover, Renegade is built to keep you up every night.
Red Bull Air Race 2
Who needs roads when you can have the sky as your racetrack? If you missed out on Red Bull Air Race: The Game, for whatever reason, its sequel will give you the chance to catch up. Red Bull Air Race 2 is more than just a sequel. It takes all the good out of the first game and makes them even better. It features all-new content in the form of pilots, planes, challenges, and more. The controls – either touch or tilt – are smoother than ever, allowing you to gracefully maneuver your plane with zero delays.
Red Bull Air Race 2¸offers hundreds of different races, scattered across 11 locations including Las Vegas, Abu Dhabi, Budapest, and San Diego. The gameplay centers on controlling your plane to follow a set path in the air, hitting the markers and avoiding crashing into pylons. You can unlock more planes as you progress through the game – all of which can be customized to your liking. To maximize your plane’s chances of winning, you can also hire a crew, with each member possessing unique skills. If you’re getting bored with driving cars and motorbikes, Red Bull Air Race 2 is just the perfect alternative to keep your love for racing games burning.
CSR Racing 2
Capping off this list is CSR Racing 2 (CSR2), a godsend to people who love racing games but downright suck at steering even after years of exposure to the genre. It’s a drag racing game where controls for accelerating, braking, and steering are non-existent. Instead of driving a car like you would in almost all other racing games, you will simply need to repeatedly change gears. There’s an on-screen prompt that will tell you when to change gears. The goal is to press the change gear button at exactly the right time.
The gameplay is actually similar to a rhythm game. However, you do have the option to use nitro using a separate on-screen button. Featuring glorious graphics for a mobile game, CSR2 has more than 50 cars from big-name manufacturers such as McLaren, Bugatti, and Ferrari. You can customize both the inside and outside of your cars to produce a drag racing beast to go up against opponents around the world. CSR2 may be less action-packed compared to traditional racing games due to the lack of input, but that’s not preventing it from being of the best racing games in the mobile market.