Driving can become monotonous and boring, especially when you must follow traffic rules and ensure you don’t crash into other cars. And that’s where racing games come into play.
Of course, you could go crazy with arcade racers or opt for hyper-realistic racing sims in 2023. Alas, there’s a hole in your pocket, you’ve got bills to pay, or if you’re still in your tweens, you’ve likely spent your allowance elsewhere.
So, are there any free car games worth their salt? Sure, there are. We’ve got a list of the best free car games you can play today in 2023!
1. Project Torque
Project Torque has been at the forefront of Racing MMOs to this day. It’s been well received by the racing and MMO (massively multiplayer online) community. It’s a fine balance between arcade racing games and sim elements added into the mix. Project Torque got many things right and has stayed relevant since its debut.
The game switched three developers and was finally resurrected on Steam. And people are still playing it. That’s when you know a free car game is actually good.
But what’s so good about Project Torque exactly? The driving mechanics for this game from 2008 are top-notch, and if you’re not a fan of the arcadey racing physics, switch to simulation mode and enjoy. There’s a low entry bar, as Project Torque can run on a potato PC. You’re given loads of game modes: drift mode, drag races, vanilla racing, or no bump ghost racing.
And with any free-to-play game, Project Torque comes with a lot of grinding. But the more you grind, the better your drive and the more XP you get without spending money. The game loop can get boring. You need to drive cars around, buy upgrades, earn more cash, buy a better car, upgrade, and the whole shebang. But that’s every racing game out there, right?
2. Real Racing 3
A mobile racing sim on the go; that’s what Real Racing 3 is at its core. The free-to-play model works well here, but the occasional micro-transactions prevent you from upgrading or maintaining your car.
As for the graphics, it looks fantastic on mobile phones and goes to show how far mobile gaming has come.
The car models, textures, and physics all feel life-like. You can access many control options using gyro or on-screen controls, including an on-screen steering wheel. You could go all-crazy in a simulation mode with Real Racing 3, but it’s a bit tricky to master. Casual gamers can drive assist to aid in traction control, braking, and steering.
So, what’s the goal of Real Racing 3? It’s the obvious game loop of winning races, upgrading your car, and buying new vehicles for different racing series. But the freemium model can make things tedious, considering you’ll have to wait to change your oil or add new upgrades. If you’re impatient, then Real Racing 3, albeit a free car game, isn’t for you.
3. Asphalt 9
Asphalt came from humble beginnings in the portable gaming niche. And after two decades, Asphalt 9 is all about action-packed fun. If you tire of racing games quickly and must keep yourself engaged at all times, then Asphalt 9 gets the job done. While it’s not the best racing game, it scratches that dopamine-seeking itch whenever you’re extremely bored.
Asphalt 9 doesn’t do anything clever, game-changing, or significant, but it’s enjoyable. It’s reminiscent of the Burnout series owing to its fast-paced, action-packed arcade physics and the nitro boost feature we’ve seen in previous franchise iterations. You blaze through cityscapes, race tracks, and alternative pathways, take down other players in classic Burnout fashion, and get bonus boost refills around each corner.
Honestly, I didn’t expect to have this much fun on a mobile racing game, and after going ham for a few races, I found myself in an odd pickle. I ran out of fuel. That’s where this free car game, or any free mobile game, starts to suffer.
To keep that dopamine rush going, you’re supposed to either pay up for more fuel or wait it out until you get a full tank to partake in the next race. And that’s where microtransactions come into play. It’s free to play, but pay to keep playing.
Asphalt 9 Legends is peak arcade racing at its finest. You’re off to a great start, but eventually, you run out of fuel. Pay for gas or wait it out.
4. Forza Motorsport 6
Forza Motorsport 6 has been deemed the best Forza racing sim out there, and it’s up for grabs, as always. If you’ve got a new shiny PC, ready to take on a challenge, but don’t have any spare change lying around, you can play Turn 10’s iconic racing sim, and it’s worth the try.
The title features a massive roster of nearly 500 cars. It’s got your cult classic 80s and 90s performance cars contrasting with today’s hyper-cars. If you’re a fan of F1, expect to take control of F1 cars from the previous century, a roster of WTCC automotives, IndyCar, pre-war death traps, and V8s.
There are no bars on upgrades and customizations either, and you can marvel at your unique whip in the Forzavista mode.
So, what about driving? Well, it’s your standard racing sim. The handling varies with the vehicle you’re commanding. But for the most part, handling feels tight on nearly all cars. There is a learning curve for those transitioning from the arcade racing scene, but there are some caveats with the career mode.
In the career mode, you can’t go ham on whatever race you want, willy-nilly. It restricts how you’re supposed to partake in races the way the game intends. The game forces you to use a pre-selection of pre-customized cars.
And at the end of it all, there’s no marvelous cutscene, trophy ceremony, or a “YOU WIN.” The game just moves forward. That beats the point of a sense of reward after tirelessly circling a race track.
If you like a bit of a challenge when clearing the finish line, then TrackMania will have you spend solid hours figuring out the ideal way to win a racetrack. And if you managed to get sucked into the magical world of TrackMania, expect to see off your social life, as you’ve got days to months of racetracks to conquer.
TrackMania has everything going for itself with its oddly unique gameplay loop and high-speed arcade thrills. It’s got enough content in store for you to last a lifetime. And now, it’s free-to-play.
It’s a race against time. TrackMania doesn’t joke around. You’re thrown into the smack-dab center of a race track and tasked to figure out the ideal way of cornering turns and managing speed.
Albeit, the controls are relatively simple, as it’s an arcade game, after all. You accelerate, reverse and steer. It sounds simple enough, right? Not quite. While the game mechanics are intuitive, the track hazards aren’t, and you’ll probably spend the better part of your day trying to clear your first race track.
If you make it to the dirt, it’s like a rally experience; cross a boost pad, your cars fly, and then there are reactor boost-up pads that transform your car into a hovercraft. It’s like a cross between Forza Horizon and Sonic All-Stars Racing Transformed.
What makes TrackMania shine is the intuitive and easy-to-understand arcade racing controls and handling paired with the fun track elements that crank up the excitement. And to top it all off, the game introduces a heavy sprinkling of difficulty owing to incredibly tricky racetracks with their obstacles and hazards.
6. Rocket League
The next free game is one we all knew would make it onto the list, and it’s Rocket League. By no means is this car game a racing game, as it takes a spin on the timeless sport of soccer or football (depending on where you live) and incorporates nitrous-fueled acrobatic RC cars into the mix.
If you like arcade racers, want a bit of a twist, and need some soccer at the forefront, you can’t go wrong with Rocket League. It’s pretty accessible and easy to figure out after a few rounds, and multiplayer is a breeze considering you drop into a game as soon as you make your way into match-making.
Rocket League sounds ridiculous in theory, but it works marvelously as the developer Psyonix nailed the concept of a racing sports game. It’s been nearly eight years since the game’s launch, and the developers aren’t going to give up on Rocket League any time soon.
That’s all fine and dandy, but what about the gameplay? It’s safe to say it’s intuitive and easy to wrap your head around.
As simple as it sounds, there’s more to Rocket League than meets the eye. The mechanics of Rocket League and high-level gameplay are far more complex than we’ve described. The game features a complex physics engine that predetermines how your car moves on the ground and in the air. The same goes for the soccer ball upon collision.
Rocket League feels less like a soccer game and more like a hyperbolic, glorified pool game where your RC cars act like cues.
7. KartRider: Drift
The KartRider franchise, developed by Nexon Games, had been dormant for over a decade. We didn’t expect to see a follow-up to the original KartRider, which came and went. But much to our surprise, we got a 2023 release for KartRider: Drift.
While first impressions are underwhelming, play it for a bit, and you’ll fall in love with this Mario Kart-esque arcade game. KartRider follows the live-service route, with season 1 wrapping up and the second season on the way.
We’ve also got a neat little campaign mode to try out. And when you’re done, you can choose from an assortment of game modes: Speed, Time Attack, Item, Grand Prix, Custom Races, and Item modes to try out with your friends.
The main centerpieces of this free car game are KartRider’s cute little chibi characters. You can choose from a roster of hackers, engineers, and average square racers.
So, what’s KartRider Drift all about? It’s pretty simple, like any arcade racing game. The first one to cross the finish line wins.
You can also tinker with your go-kart, customize it with a wide selection of liveries, and if you’ve got a knack for creativity, you can create your custom liveries too. After it’s all said and done, powerslide, drift, and make it first to the finish line.
There’s a learning curve here, and it’s the drifting system. If you don’t use the game’s drifting mechanics, you’ll mostly move straight and lose interest.
Refilling your nitrous gauge and keeping the fun going at top speed is quintessential. Otherwise, you’re not going to enjoy KartRider Drift. Putting the main drifting mechanic aside, the controls feel solid, the driving’s top-notch, and the physics make sense for this fun little arcade racer.
What Free Car Game is Your Favorite?
That’s it for the best free car game worth your time. So, fire up your gaming setup, download your free car game, and have a blast.
These racing titles are easily accessible and intuitive when it comes to driving, and you’re bound to have fun for days upon days. A delicate sprinkling of content, a massive selection of cars, engine upgrades, customization, and countless hours of fun await you.
This article originally appeared on Wealth of Geeks.