There are a lot of games at E3–too many to easily keep track of. If you’re a fan of sports and racing games in particular, the task is thankfully a bit easier, as the sheer number of games isn’t that high. That isn’t a reflection on the games that are at the event, though–there are some games that are shaping up to be quite good. Below, we’ve rounded up our favorite sports and racing games from the show.
Need for Speed Payback
Comparisons between Need for Speed Payback and Fast and Furious are not in short supply this week, and with good reason. Rather than functioning as a more traditional racing game, Payback places an emphasis on story and action. You’re not just racing to a finish line; you’re chasing after a truck, taking out its escort vehicles, and then attempting to escape from the police after hijacking a high-end car. The ability to switch between multiple characters could offer an experience similar to that of Grand Theft Auto V, where you’re able to play out a single scenario from multiple vantage points.
The Crew 2
The Crew 2 expands on the previous game in an exciting way, introducing the ability to drive around in more than just cars. Boats and planes join the mix, which is exciting on its own, but what makes their addition especially interesting is the way you seamlessly move from one vehicle type to the next. Without entering a garage or loading screen, you can instantaneously shift from driving along the road on a motorcycle to taking off in a plane. It gives the game a distinct feeling which, along with its return of open-world racing, helps to distinguish it from some of the other racing games at E3.
If I had to describe what sort of sport Echo Arena is, I’d say it’s zero-gravity ultimate frisbee crossed with rugby with a bit of Quidditch thrown in. Playing in VR in a four-on-four match, you must grab a disk from the middle of the arena and make it to the other side to score in the other team’s goal. Opposing players can punch the disk-carrier in the face to stun them and get them to drop it, and passing the disk between teammates is essential to achieving victory. You can even set up team strategies like running a wedge of blockers in front of a disk-carrier, incapacitating opponents. It’s awesome, a surprising amount of fun, and is the closest thing to a physical sport I’ve ever played in a video game.
Gran Turismo Sport
The long-awaited next entry in the Gran Turismo series, GT Sport, is nearly here, and it’s looking quite good. Its cars and tracks are stunning, and its PlayStation VR support and new esports modes are exciting additions. Porsches also make an appearance for the first time in series history, helping to round out what feels like a tightly curated roster of vehicles.
Forza Motorsport 7
Forza 7 doubles down on what makes the series so appealing to diehard racing fans. This is a fantastic-looking game, particularly on a 4K HDR TV when the rain rolls in. Forza 7 expands its weather system so that you might see rain clouds in the distance which will then move in and impact the race. Developer Turn 10 has gone to great lengths to ensure realism, even accurately modeling the spots on these real-world tracks where puddles tend to accumulate when it rains. Add in new wrinkles like a customization system for your character and a huge roster of cars, and Forza 7 looks to be delivering exactly what you’d want from a new Motorsport title.
Project Cars 2
Of all the simulation-style racing games, Project Cars 2 may go the furtherest in terms of trying to simulate the real-life race car experience. It looks fantastic and offers VR support for those with a headset, but even for those who don’t, the addition of rallycross racing and its 24-hour day/night cycle looks to be offering a more complete experience than the first game.
Iterating on the F1 formula, F1 2017 introduces several additions that make you feel as if you’re in the shoes of a true career racer. There will be many RPG-like elements, such research and development decisions for new car parts, and team management including sponsor relationships. Codemasters is also giving fans of the sport new classic cars to take for a spin and some new modes to keep things fresh. And if you’re not familiar with F1, take note that these cars move fast. While F1 2017 taps into racing simulation territory, it doesn’t feel inaccessible since these speedy race cars handle well and grip to the track.
Madden NFL 18
Following in the footsteps of FIFA, Madden 18 introduces a story mode. But rather than telling the more obvious story of an up-and-comer looking to make it in the NFL, Madden takes a different approach. It focuses on someone who has repeatedly tried and failed to make it into the league and who is now making a last-ditch effort to get signed. It remains to be seen how well it will turn out, but it’s a novel concept that should help to make the mode worth a look.
FIFA 18 builds on the previous game’s story mode, The Journey, which was a big hit. It continues the story of Alex Hunter, and while the specifics are a bit dubious–moving from the Premier League to Major League Soccer feels like a step down–it does have the makings of something interesting. Combine that with the gorgeous visuals and enhanced presentation, and FIFA 18 has the makings of a strong entry in the series.