Chaos and destruction mixed with car racing, these games are the top of the lines when it comes to the genre of demolition derby games.
There is a peculiar satisfaction that often follows a chaotic display. No other sport captures that feeling better than demolition derby. The simple act of smashing two big hunks of metal against one another has delighted audiences around the world for years.
Lucky for them, the sport has been lovingly made and remade in the world of video games time and time again, usually with as much content as Rocket League. Some of these games try to recreate the sport in as much detail and realism as possible. Other games have taken the prospect of vehicles trying to destroy one another to their logical extreme. In either case, it can be a sight to behold.
Updated December 10th, 2021 by Russ Boswell: Racing games are some of the most high-octane and adrenaline-pumping games available but adding demolition derby elements into the mix creates a true spectacle. For players that love demolition derby games, there are a handful of solid options out there to scratch the itch when it comes to car carnage. To shine a better light on this underappreciated genre and showcase some of the older demolition derby games out there that still hold up exceedingly well in the modern age, the following list has been updated with even more entries.
A modern derby for a modern audience, Wreckfest is the ultimate destruction derby for those interested in a more realistic approach to the concept. The level at which a player can change their game is staggering.
No sane person in real life would think that a derby performed with super-charged lawnmowers would be a good idea, but Wreckfest has got that possibility covered. The game does still include races, but few are prepared for the figure-8 track and the inevitable carnage it unleashes. It truly is the best of its kind.
This game has, sadly, faded into obscurity in the modern age but back in 2010 is was one of the most impressive and entertaining racing games ever created. Sadly, the “latest” PC ports leave a lot to be desired so it may be better to snag this one in its original form on a console of choice.
The premise of Split/Second isn’t exactly like a demolition derby but players can consider it akin to demolition racing but with a lot more action. Set within a world where players take place in a reality-TV-style race, gamers will have the option to trigger explosives, traps, and other dastardly things to trip up their opposition as they race through a wide array of levels.
Unfortunately, players won’t be able to “easily” get their hands on this game as it’s not been re-mastered or re-released since its unveiling back in 2004 but it’s an absolute blast to play. Most of the Burnout series is pretty entertaining (and many of the games are solid) but there is something special about the third release.
Featuring a great soundtrack, awesome levels, and epic crashes (by 2004 standards), Burnout 3: Takedown stands as one of the best titles to ever grace the franchise, or racing games in general. Players who love the demolition side of things will dig the racing-meets-metal-carnage-style of gameplay.
On the more outrageous side of the demolition derby spectrum, there is Twisted Metal. Among the many games in the franchise, Twisted Metal: Black can be considered the best.
With a supped-up vehicle full of weapons and a driver full of madness, the player will work their way to the top by causing as much mayhem as they can, all the while contending with fellow competitors who will stop at nothing to do the same. The game hosts a variety of weapons that the player can utilize to blow up the competition in this dark, mad world.
Those familiar with Wreckfest may remember the developer’s previous efforts in the Flatout series. All the familiar trappings are involved, races, destructible environments, and of course, the derbies. This game arguably has the better implementation of destructible environments.
Cars can go through some buildings and are generally more capable of knocking down much bigger structures. Overall, it has more arcade in its DNA than realism. However, that doesn’t detract from the explosive crashes and wild speed that the game offers, so be sure to boost the nitrous and hit hard.
BeamNG.Drive acts more like a sandbox to facilitate vehicular destruction than an actual driving or destruction derby game. That being said, the mods that are available for the game are more than enough to sate the appetite of any derby fan.
What gives BeamNG.Drive the edge over its contemporaries is its unmatched soft body destruction physics. The vehicles can sustain a level of damage that no other game dares to replicate. Because of this, it is often more entertaining to just throw a car into a grinder than to actually drive it.
Dirt: Showdown is considered by many to be the black sheep of the series. Its more recent entries at least have crossplay. It takes a noticeably goofier approach from the rest of its more serious rally racing entries. As the name suggests, this entry has more of a focus on crashing into opponents.
Luckily for the player, this includes a demolition derby mode. This is complete with health, boosters, and points galore for vicious attacks. The only thing that keeps this game from greatness is a lack of content, but what is there is good enough to satisfy many derby fans. Those interested can also get games from the developer over GamePass.
An oldy but a goody. Test Drive is a series that every racing game fan knows but few people think about today. This iteration has many of the hallmarks of a great Test Drive game but now it has more emphasis on the destruction. Massive crashes are common and often devastating, perfect to scratch that chaotic itch.
It may be rough in places due to its age, but for those who can look past its edges there lies an honest gem that promises to give a wonderful metal-crushing experience to those who take the leap.
No series is more synonymous with vehicular carnage more than the game that takes the name directly. Many of the modern conventions for the genre started with Demolition Derby. Dynamic damage physics that affect car handling, how that damage was calculated, and just plain focusing on the demolition over the racing, though there still was racing.
The genre as a whole owes its existence to the series. After all is said and done, the game, like those who came after, promises the player crunchy crashes and sweet, delicious PS1 graphics that are sure to drown the player in nostalgia.
One of the most modern takes on the genre, Destruction Allstars has a distinctive feel to it that is far zanier than other games like it. It adds a whole host of new ideas to make the old, tired demolition derby experience feel brand new.
For one, the player can now leave their vehicle and run around, avoiding enemies, mostly comprised of bots, as they scour the map for another vehicle to sequester before resuming their metal-infused rampage. Now engagements are less about preserving the player’s car and more about dealing as much damage as possible because the absolute destruction of one’s car is no longer the end it used to be.
While Crossout is not exactly a demolition derby game, it does more than enough to fill player’s hearts with untold vehicular destruction. The game boasts the ability for players to construct their own mayhem-creating vehicles to conquer foes and face challenges. The level of creativity that the game allows is off the charts.
There exists the possibility for conventional tanks or Twisted Metal death machines, as well as unconventional abominations that either work to perfection or are only capable of catastrophic failure. There exists no in-between.