Whether you love them or loathe them, subscription services aren’t going away anytime soon. For the gamers among us, options are blooming - but Microsoft’s Xbox Game Pass is arguably the best available right now.
With around 500 titles currently on the service, there’s a pretty tasty selection of driving and racing games to pick from, including its own Forza series and some additions courtesy of a close relationship with EA.
We’ve picked out a selection of our favourites that you should try if you haven’t already…
10. Hot Wheels Unleashed
Naturally, you may expect a Hot Wheels game to be aimed squarely at kids and while that’s somewhat true for Unleashed, there’s joy to be had for all ages.
Rather than scaling Hot Wheels cars to life size, Unleashed takes you to the miniature world. The cars are fantastically modelled, looking like their toy counterparts even complete with finger smudges and scratches on the paintwork as you race.
The gameplay itself takes place on the famous orange plastic tracks set in a variety of locations and with the option to create your own layouts from an enormous virtual toybox. There’s even a pretty competitive online multiplayer mode.
9. Need For Speed Unbound
Following a three-year hiatus, Need For Speed Unbound signalled a return of a series that EA had seemingly brushed under the carpet prior. It doesn’t hit the levels of instant classic like Underground 2 or the original Most Wanted did, but Unbound does offer one of the better modern Need For Speed experiences.
If for no other reason, you should download Unbound just to give the customisation a go. Need For Speed still does modifications like no other games can, with pretty much ever aspect of every car customisable plus the inclusion of some exceptional widebodies too.
8. Dirt Rally 2.0
Though EA Sports WRC has established itself as the go-to new rally game, it’ll be some time before it comes to Xbox Game Pass. If you’re looking for a rally fix in the meantime, its predecessor Dirt Rally 2.0 has plenty to offer.
A car list of 50 may not seem a lot, but 2.0’s varied selection from different eras of rallying gives you a lot of different types of racing to tackle across gravel, snow and tarmac stages. There’s a career mode too, which admittedly does feel a little barebones compared to the new game, though has a one-up on WRC by also having the World Rallycross Championship licence.
Not every great driving game has to be a racing game, as proven by Snowrunner.
This is something completely different to everything else on this list. The sequel to Mudrunner, Snowrunner has you taking on some incredibly rough terrains to deliver cargo to help with construction and repairs of locations across areas.
All the while, you’ve got to manage fuel and run the risk of it all going in the mud if you place a tyre wrong. It’s like Dark Souls meets Euro Truck Simulator.
6. Forza Motorsport
If you’re looking for something more simulation-focused, there are slim pickings to be had at the moment of Game Pass, though the latest Forza Motorsport has been available since its launch in October 2023.
The latest iteration of Turn 10 Studio’s long-standing series takes a slightly different approach to its predecessors, focusing on building and upgrading the cars you have in career mode rather than going for a Pokémon-style catch-them-all. It’s a great step into sim racing and gives you a good grasp on how car modifications and tuning have an overall effect on its performance.
That said, we still think it’s a bit shy of Gran Turismo 7, especially so since the magnificent Spec II update.
5. Burnout Paradise Remastered
Any hopes of a new Burnout game are well and truly dead, but fortunately, you can still play the final - and greatest - iteration of the series.
Originally launched in 2008, Burnout Paradise took the series into an open world for the first time, with the usual boost-heavy, destruction-focused gameplay placed to the fabulous backdrop of Paradise City. It’s a true classic.
Remastered launched in 2018 and while it didn’t add any new features, it did give the game a graphical boost as well as bundling all of the DLC. Plus, its online multiplayer still works. Drop us a line if you need a hand with those Freeburn Challenges…
Sometimes, you just want to kick back and indulge in some absolute chaos. Wreckfest can satisfy that need.
Though somewhat simulation-focused in its handling, Wreckfest takes the art of banger racing to the extreme. With cars ranging from city-focused hatchbacks to sports cars, big limousines and even a toilet, there’s a bit of every flavour in the title.
Racing can be as varied as simple circuit races, chaotic figure-of-eight tracks or outright last-man-standing deathmatches. It’s a game best enjoyed with friends to aim at.
3. F1 23
Ahead of the 2024 Formula One season kicking off, F1 23 has found its way onto Xbox Game Pass.
After a somewhat lacklustre effort with F1 22, the 2023 iteration of Codemasters’ long-standing series fixed a lot of wrongs without dramatically changing the, err, formula of the game.
F1 23 saw the return of Braking Point, the dramatised story mode in which you take the wheel as hotshot Aiden Jackson alongside a couple of other faces we won’t spoil. Other modes didn’t change so dramatically but, crucially, the games’ physics had a much-needed rework to better simulate the current ground effect-focused cars.
2. Forza Horizon 4
Forza Motorsport may have been the original series, but Horizon has arguably taken the brand to a whole new level. In our biased eyes, Horizon 4’s take on the UK has the best setting of them all.
Key to Horizon 4 was the debut of the season feature, breathing new life into the environment on a weekly basis. Summer has blazing sunshine and red-hot roads, autumn brings the rain and falling leaves, winter adds a wonderful layer of snow that makes most cars a riot to drive while spring brings back the sunshine and drizzling rain.
If you haven’t already played a Horizon game, we’d strongly suggest giving 4 a go before stepping onto the game that tops this list…
1. Forza Horizon 5
As much as we love the UK setting, Mexico-set Forza Horizon 5 took the concept of the racing festival and just made everything technically a little better.
There are more cars, a (slightly) larger map, even better graphics and improved customisation. Being the current Horizon title, Playground Games is continuously adding more content as well as taking advantage of the dynamic world that sees some new things to explore from time to time.
Game Pass doesn’t include the expansions, but the Hot Wheels and Rally Adventure packs are worth throwing a few quid at too for a few hours of gameplay.