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A look at some great Linux & SteamOS racing games available in 2017

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We’ve come a long way since SuperTuxKart, here’s my little listicle of interesting racing games available for Linux & SteamOS. All titles have been tested either by me, or someone else on the GOL team.

DiRT Rally

We finally have a decent rally game on Linux, although decent is possibly understating it quite a bit. It’s a gorgeous game graphically and the cars handle really well. It’s difficult too, which makes it that much more satisfying to play.

You will race across dirt, snow and ice and more. It will be a test of both your skill as a driver and your resolve in the face of long hill climbs.

The versus multiplayer is a little disappointing, but everything else makes up for it. If you want to know more, our original review is here.

Vector 36

Fancy racing across the surface of Mars? Well Vector 36 will give you that chance!

If you could imagine piloting a pod racer from Star Wars, I feel that would be a reasonably accurate description of how it feels. Your "Skimmer" is also highly customizable.

It offers up something completely different to all other racing games picked for the list that's for sure. It's quite difficult too, so it's a great pick for those looking for that extra challenge. Even doing the tutorial I managed to lose a part, catch fire and it was hilarious.

GRID Autosport

We’ve had masses of fun with this one in the past, we’ve done multiple tournaments that we’ve livestreamed and it was truly hilarious. Everyone knocking each other off the track, ending up finishing a race with no tyres and more.

It’s not exactly the most realistic racer around, but it’s good. With various classes of vehicles to drive, there’s hopefully something for everyone.

Probably one of, if not the best, Linux racing game when it comes to online play. You can see our original review here.

BlazeRush

One I haven’t talked a lot about, but damn is it fun. This racing survival game isn’t just about racing, it’s also about survival.

You will crash, smash and destroy your way to the finishing line. It has a career mode, different types of vehicles, weapons and more. There's even a mode where a large vehicle with a massive saw is closing in behind you — madness!

It’s almost like a much better looking version of Micro Machines.

F1 2015

It's maybe not the best F1 game, but it's the only proper F1 game available on Linux. I'm still surprised by the amount of negative reviews it got from users. It's a reasonably good game, still better than a lot.

In my review of the game, I thought it was pretty good overall. If you don't mind the slightly idiotic driving by the AI at times.

There's also signs of F1 2017 arriving on Linux, so keep that in mind.

Distance

Not a traditional racer by any measure. This high-speed survival racer sees you power through all sorts of crazy tracks, hoping from platorms and soaring through the air. Boost for too long and it could all be over. It has fantastic neon graphics, custom map support and online racing too. Watch out for those lasers, they might cut you in half.

Distance is still to this day one of my favourite indie games.

Road Redemption

Remember Road Rash fondly? Well this might be exactly what you’re after. High speed motorbike racing, while you take down others and avoid cars.

It even offers up 4 player splitscreen, for those times your buddies come over.

Race Online

Despite the silly name, it's not an online-only racer. What we have here is a simple top-down 2D racer built like some of the classics found on the Amiga. It's likely a good option for a younger audience as well as us oldies, since it's not going to be as maddeningly difficult as some of the other choices. It has single-player, local co-op play and online multiplayer to give the best of all worlds.

It comes with 100+ tracks built in, but it also has a track editor for those who like to create their own weird and wonderful courses.

 

And an obvious honourable mention to SuperTuxKart, the free and open source 3D kart racing game. It has also progressed quite a bit in the last few years, with improved tracks, better graphics and more to come in future.

Another honourable mention to Little Racers STREET, it didn't make the cut due to launching issues which need to be manually solved.

One to keep an eye on is ForeveRacers, I’ve been following it for some time and I’ve been testing a few builds of it. The fun online multiplayer racing game could be quite a hit when it releases. With low-poly graphics and hilarious handling, it’s going to be fun to play when it’s fully released.

It’s also a damn shame Dirt: Showdown is no longer available, as it would have easily made the list. I had a massive amount of fun with that title, hopefully the rights holders will sort the situation out so it can be put back on Steam.

We still have a long way to go before we a truly great platform for racing enthusiasts, even so we do have a number of pretty good titles to look into, these are just a few. Hopefully in another year we will see some more quality racing titles on Linux.

What are your current favourites that I didn't mention? Feel free to tell me how wrong I am for not including them in the comments.

Thanks to Ashworth for requesting this article.

12 Likes, Who?
Comments
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charliebrownau 20 September 2017 at 1:55 pm UTC
The best two car racing games Ive played over the years has been :

NFS2 SE 3DFX edition and Flatout 2



Yet to find a single game as good or better then Flatout 2
no ranks , no story line mode , no dlc/season pass ,
just fast arcade fun racing in 8 player online/LAN multiplayer


Bugbears Wreakfest might of been a solution but after 4-5 years its rather lackluster without any real progress
liamdawe 20 September 2017 at 2:00 pm UTC
UltraViolet'The Next Penelope' which looks quite fun, but, on the Steam page doesn't say it's available for Linux, have they missed that out?
Gah! I was going by our tagged articles. It turns out, they discontinued supporting Linux with that one. Race Online has now replaced it.
AsciiWolf 20 September 2017 at 2:06 pm UTC
What I really miss on Linux is any good arcade racing game similar to Flatout 2.
Linas 20 September 2017 at 3:20 pm UTC
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Dirt Rally is a great game, no question about it. But that screenshot is totally fake. Shadows in the game are not anything as smooth as that. They are quite blocky and jagged. The only nitpick I have with Dirt Rally.
tuubi 20 September 2017 at 3:40 pm UTC
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Dirt Rally

Sorry, just had to get that off my chest.


EDIT:
LinasShadows in the game are not anything as smooth as that. They are quite blocky and jagged. The only nitpick I have with Dirt Rally.
Could it be your graphical settings or something? Because for me shadows look quite smooth, pretty much like in the screenshot.


Last edited by tuubi at 20 September 2017 at 3:46 pm UTC
stan 20 September 2017 at 3:51 pm UTC
The best racing game "for Linux" is in my opinion Flatout 2 from GOG. It is fun and playable, challenging but not too much. Gamepad support is not great but I was able to make an xboxdrv config to map my gamepad to keyboard events.

My opinion about a few of the listed games… I know many people do not agree with me, but it may be useful information for some people before they buy the games:

- Dirt Rally: has plenty of advertisements on the side of the roads. I don’t use an ad blocker to get them in my games. I just can’t bear that. I feel like I’m being brainwashed. It’s too bad because the game is otherwise quite good.

- Grid Autosport: you need to disable all the driving assists so that the cars behave as you ask them to… but then half the races are unplayable because the cars keep sliding too much, so I can’t progress much in the game. I even bought a new gamepad for this game, but it didn’t help much…

- Distance: super boring, you don’t feel like you’re going fast, you can just press the accelerator all the time and never slide, there are no opponents. Also the flying controls are a pain.
elmapul 20 September 2017 at 4:46 pm UTC
Vector 36
"...If you could imagine piloting a pod racer from Star Wars, I feel that would be a reasonably accurate description of how it feels. Your "Skimmer" is also highly customizable..."
is like star wars racer?

"F1 2015"
its a shame that the name itself denounces how old the game is (2015) and we dont have the 2016 version, but hey! at least we gonna have the 2017 version!

"Road Redemption"
didnt they promissed to open source this one?
they didnt ? they will in the future? or they did it?
i guess this kind of "detail" should be on the description of the game...
Cyril 20 September 2017 at 4:56 pm UTC
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Not so much of racing games are available DRM-Free as i see.
Any recommendations ?
tuubi 20 September 2017 at 5:20 pm UTC
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stanDirt Rally: has plenty of advertisements on the side of the roads.
I hate ads as well, but these I find very easy to ignore. In fact a Rally sim would be less realistic without them.
Linas 20 September 2017 at 7:08 pm UTC
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tuubi
LinasShadows in the game are not anything as smooth as that. They are quite blocky and jagged. The only nitpick I have with Dirt Rally.
Could it be your graphical settings or something? Because for me shadows look quite smooth, pretty much like in the screenshot.
Now I am intrigued. This is what I am seeing.

image
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