Top 10 best racing games to play on Steam Deck

Vroom vroom, on the go.

Gunning down monsters or immersing yourself into a humongous role-playing adventure on the go have been the go-to gaming options for many Steam Deck owners. However, there’s way more to gaming than just sticking with one or two mainstream genres. Racing games, for example, should feel right at home on the Steam Deck. But what titles should you check out?

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Valve has clarified time and again that there’s no new Steam Deck on the horizon at this time. This means that the Deck’s baseline hardware is the best we’ll have for a while, aside from exploring third-party handhelds like the ROG Ally. In other words, if you want to play racing games on the Deck, the upcoming RT-enabled Forza Motorsport might not be the best choice, depending on how hardware-intensive the game ends up being.

Which racing games should you choose for your Deck, then? Well, we’ve got a few good ideas for you to explore!

What are the best racing games for the Steam Deck?

As with any other game genre, there’s an extremely wide variety of racing games to choose from. A Gran Turismo game is, for example, worlds apart from something like Horizon Chase, even though they technically reside under the same umbrella.

With that in mind, the list of games featured below has been assembled to offer a wide variety of experiences. From true arcade racing titles to sim racers, the odds are good that you’ll find your next perfect vehicular experience for the Steam Deck on this very list.

Top 10 must-play Steam Deck racing games

Image via Milestone SRL

#10: Hot Wheels Unleashed

The striking thing about Hot Wheels Unleashed is that its miniatures sometimes look straight-up photorealistic. It’s not a remarkably pretty game other than that, granted, but Unleashed is a must-have for fans of the legendary die-cast toy cars. The reason it’s perfect for the Deck is because its races are short, sweet, and loaded with unlocks. Additionally you’ll have no problems getting it to run well and look good. Did we mention ample customization features, by the way?

Image via Milestone SRL

#9: Ride 4

If car racing games are niche, motorcycle racing games are a niche within a niche. Thankfully, the Ride franchise – effectively the Gran Turismo for motorcycles – has persevered over the years, with Ride 4 being a notable highlight. On the Deck, it works perfectly. Whether you end up targeting 60 FPS with perfect frame times or go for high settings at 40 FPS, both options will work well enough when you’re on the go.

Image via 34BigThings

#8: Redout 2

For some, racing at a meagre two or three-hundred kilometres per hour might seem wonky and dissatisfying. That’s where Redout 2 comes into the picture, with its super-speedy hovercraft capable of zipping past you at ridiculous speeds. Redout 2 takes its cues from classics such as Wipeout, adding customization and modern racing features to an arcadey gaming experience. Redout 2 works well on the Deck, too, but note that you’ll need to stick to medium settings to get a stable 40 FPS. This is one of the more taxing games on this list.

Image via Refract

#7: Distance

Distance is rather unique. In concept, it is an “atmospheric racing platformer,” combining elements of 3D platforming with racing to set up a surprisingly intense driving experience. It’s has a survival horror feel too, and it will keep giving you more obstacles for as long as you manage to survive. Distance is a perfect fit for the Deck since it creates levels as long or short as you want, allowing you to tailor your custom racing experience however you see fit!

Image via AQUIRIS

#6: Horizon Chase Turbo

Horizon Chase Turbo is the truest arcade racer on this list. It harkens back to the days of old arcade racing cabinets, albeit with a modern twist. As well as a wealth of unlockables and content to enjoy over and over again, Horizon Chase Turbo also gives you no shortage of bonus game modes in both solo and multiplayer setups. In other words, it’s a must-have for party gaming sessions on the Deck if that’s something you enjoy setting up.

Image via Codemasters

#5: GRID (2019)

Choosing the right GRID/Autosport title for the Deck was no mean feat, given just how many of them there are. Most will run just fine, but the one we ended up settling on was 2019’s re-envisioning of the original GRID. It boasts updated car and activity rosters, stellar racing physics, and all the important racing disciplines in one fell swoop. GRID feels great to play and will give you hours upon hours of content on the go. As a bonus, you can usually get it on the cheap, meaning it’s a lovely option for your Deck!

Image via Playground Games

#4: Forza Horizon 5

Forza Horizon 5 asks you: “What if cars were Pokemon?” and then lets you mull on that for the dozens of hours it takes to fill out an entire collection of the game’s 800-or-so immaculately detailed vehicles. The good news? Steam Deck is more than powerful enough to let you enjoy all these cars in all their glory. Indeed, you may need to drop settings down to medium and set a 40 FPS cap for Horizon 5 to play smoothly, but its biggest problem really is the humongous installation size you’ll be straddled with. For car enthusiasts, though, it’s a surmountable issue. Especially if playing in offline mode is not a concern.

Image via Codemasters

#3: Dirt Rally 2.0

Dirt Rally 2.0 is, quite easily, the most comprehensive rally racing game on the market right now. It shares Forza Horizon 5‘s key fault for the Deck, in that it’s a truly massive installation, But it’s got another big downside: its campaign mode can only be played if you’re connected to the Internet. The reason why it’s still on the list is that there’s more than enough content to enjoy on the Deck even if you discount all the campaigns. In that situation, it basically becomes the original Dirt Rally (which did not have campaigns), except with even more content thrown into the mix.

Art of Ralley
Image via Funselektor Labs Inc.

#2: Art of Rally

It’s remarkable just how well Art of Rally encapsulates the core of what makes games like Dirt Rally so good, as this cutesy racer’s isometric perspective and simplistic visuals hide a surprisingly intricate driving model. It’s got more in common with Dirt Rally itself than Horizon Chase, even though it seems closer to the latter at a glance. This makes it a phenomenal choice for those who need a game that runs smoothly and plays well on the Deck, especially considering how much content the devs managed to pack into the game.

Crashing in Wreckfest, one of the best racing games on the Steam Deck
Image via Bugbear

#1: Wreckfest

For those who’ve got prior experience with the old Flat Out games, Wreckfest comes from those very same people. Indeed, the Flat Out DNA is present throughout Wreckfest‘s gameplay loop. Its glorious crash mechanics and soft body physics play perfectly even on the humble Steam Deck, making this one of the best racing games for the device. This game isn’t all crash and no drive, though, as Wreckfest is a genuinely compelling racing experience from top to bottom. It’s just that its crashes are too good not to cause one every so often!

About The Author
Filip Galekovic
A lifetime gamer and writer, Filip has successfully made a career out of combining the two just in time for the bot-driven AI revolution to come into its own.
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