It’s set to be a bumper year for fans of racing games, with a new Gran Turismo just one highlight.
The video game industry is huge, having overtaken the movie industry during the coronavirus pandemic as people were forced to stay home and keep themselves occupied.
It was already on track to take the top spot before the pandemic, and while genres such as first person shooters tend to get the biggest headlines, car racing games are quietly one of the most important sectors.
Many games, in particular the online-focused iRacing, saw their popularity boom during lockdown as frustrated racing drivers took to the virtual circuit to get their competitive fix.
For racing game fans, 2022 could be one of the most exciting in recent memory. Here are the new releases to look forward to.
Gran Turismo 7 – March 4
The Gran Turismo franchise is responsible for nurturing a huge number of car enthusiasts since the first game was released on the original PlayStation. Since then it has grown to be one of the biggest franchises in gaming, and has even helped gamers become real life racers.
The next instalment attempts to take the game back to its roots, with players starting at the bottom of the racing rung and working to the top.
There’s also an online mode so you can go head-to-head with drivers from around the world, while a hugely detailed climate system should bring realistic weather.
Need for Speed 2022 – TBC
Speaking of massive racing game franchises, we’re getting a new Need for Speed game this year. While GT made its name as a circuit racer, NFS sees heavily modified road cars used on city streets.
Pretty much nothing is known about the game, aside from a vague ‘late 2022’ release date. However, it’s being made by Criterion, who made some NFS games before, including 2010’s much-loved Hot Pursuit.
Unless there’s a massive departure from previous games in the series, we can expect lots of highly tuned cars, beautiful real world locations and regular face offs with the police.
Forza Motorsport – TBC
The only downside to Gran Turismo is that it’s a PlayStation exclusive, meaning PC and Xbox players can’t give it a spin. That’s where Forza Motorsport comes in. Essentially acting as the Xbox alternative to the GT series, over the years it has also developed the open world arcade-style Forza Horizon.
This year, though, we’re getting a new Forza Motorsport, which focuses on circuit racing and building up from the game’s slower cars up the fastest in the world.
Aside from a gorgeous trailer released in 2020, we know next to nothing about this instalment, but expect it to be feature-packed to make the most of the next-generation console hardware.
Grid Legends – February 25
Grid Legends has just gone on sale and provides a curious alternative to the typical racing game genres. While most arcade-style games have some kind of story mode, Grid uses a combination of computer graphics and real-world actors to tell the story of your drivers journey up the racing ranks.
Tracks are typically in city centres locations such as London and Moscow, with a festival vibe to the surroundings. You can also create your own races to challenge others, with disciplines such as drifting and elimination-based setups.
F1 2022 – TBC
Much like football has FIFA, racing games have the F1 series. Each year, Codemasters releases the latest iteration in the series, which is based around that season’s Formula 1 championship.
This year’s iteration will be more hotly anticipated than usual, though, as a new set of car regulations has brought a heightened level of intrigue to the championship. Fans will be eager to get behind the wheel.
Expect the usual career mode as well as the popular My Team, which sees players create a team at the bottom of the championship and develop the car to become a world beater.
Test Drive Unlimited Solar Crown – September 22
The Test Drive franchise goes back an incredibly long way, but it has not seen regular releases like some of those above. However, the Test Drive name returns after publisher Nacon bought the rights to the name.
The new game’s name hints at a follow up to the groundbreaking open-world Test Drive Unlimited, released on the Xbox 360 in 2006. That game was set in a faithful recreation of Oahu, Hawaii, while the new game is set to feature a complete recreation of Hong Kong. It should be pretty spectacular.