You need to check out these amazing offroad racing games with a twist
Not every rally game is about reaching the finish line first. We take a look at some of the best, wildest and weirdest offroad games around.
The filth and freneticism of rally has leant itself to incredible games that essentially ape the sport’s purest form – getting from the start to the finish line as quickly as possible, regardless of the frequently monstrous terrain. There is, however, a subset of games that embrace all that’s great about rally but with a decisive twist to offer experiences outside the racing norm.
Here, we gather four of our favourite rally games that do things a bit differently – some old, some brand spanking new.
1. Overpass (PlayStation 4, Switch, Xbox One, PC)
This fiendishly difficult off-road driving sim is more focussed on puzzle-solving than reaching top speed and hitting perfect corners. Overpass throws you into an All-Terrain Vehicle (ATV) and gives you a course that seems as perilous as Mount Doom, and lets you have at it.
Incredibly realistic handling and subtly challenging obstacles ensure that you won’t be screaming your way to the top of any hills, with the game instead requiring you to pause and figure out which is the best way to overcome the many challenges laid out at your wheels. Indeed, rocks have never seemed more ominous.
A demanding game that rewards patience and thought, Overpass is pretty far from an arcade-like experience, but for those up for a challenge, its brutal charms may prove irresistible.
2. Dakar 18 (PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC)
Dakar may be closer to typical rally games in the sense that it is indeed a race, but, as anyone who knows anything about the bonkers event will attest, there is nothing normal about the epic desert rally-raid. Big Moon Studios faithfully recreates the annual event, where drivers race in a range of vehicles across the world’s most hostile environs, by building a vast open world with enough treacherous obstacles to make you long for the school run.
It’s to the studio’s credit that Dakar 18 makes little effort to dilute the requirements of the event, delivering an accurate sim that places a huge emphasis on navigation, featuring authentic recreations of the driver guidebooks to help you navigate through the tough courses. You’ll need to use the diagrams of upcoming landmarks, kilometres, and caps, while a co-pilot will also give you orders from the passenger seat, helping you stay on course. Far from an A to B racer, Dakar 18 brings to life arguably the most intense race ever devised, and is absolutely gripping for it.
3. Sébastien Loeb Rally Evo (PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC)
Sébastien Loeb made his name as one of the greatest rally drivers in the history of motorsport, dominating in a career that included a record nine world championships. The game that takes Loeb’s name also stands out from the competition, not only offering the chance to head offroad in modern WRC cars, but also letting you jump behind the wheel of a host of alternative exotica.
The choice of wheels includes an amazing selection of vehicles from 17 manufacturers, harking back to different eras including rally cars from the 1970s, incredible but deadly Group B machines, and even hill climb monsters to tackle the Pikes Peak. If you love driving games because of the cars, not a lot gets close to Sébastien Loeb Rally Evo.
4. Art of Rally (PC, Mac)
Rally doesn’t necessarily require mud. This may come as a surprise – one of the great rally franchises is even named after the motorsport’s reliance on muck (Codemasters DiRT, if you’re wondering). Art of Rally, however, is a sepia-tinged nostalgia trip for rally fans from the makers of Absolute Drift, with its stylised aesthetic embracing warm autumnal hues rather than the filthy realism usually favoured in the genre.
Its top down view may bring to mind Micro Machines games of yore but Art of Rally is clearly in love with rally itself, delivering a simple but surprisingly authentic take on the sport, with over 50 vehicles from the 1960s to the 1990s from the infamous Group B era. Delivering style and substance in equal measure, and with a beautiful, bold twist, Art of Rally is an idiosyncratic winner.