WipEout was a defining PlayStation launch title in 1995 thanks to its thrilling sense of speed, stylish visuals, and iconic soundtrack. It was also a cultural phenomenon outside the world of video games. If you walked into a nightclub in the 1990s, you could probably find a PlayStation running a copy of WipEout blasting out the game’s techno soundtrack.
Despite its enduring popularity, we haven’t had a new WipEout game since WipEout 2048 on the PlayStation Vita in 2012. Yes, Sony also released WipEout Omega Collection on the PlayStation 4 in 2017, but it was a compilation of WipEout HD and WipEout 2048 rather than a new game.
Nintendo has seemingly forgotten about F-Zero, too. Renowned for its blistering speed and brutal difficulty, F-Zero pushed the SNES to its limits when it launched in 1991, with its ground-breaking Mode 7 graphics allowing backgrounds to be scaled and rotated. This created a convincing sense of speed and depth before the rise of 3D graphics.
Sadly, Captain Falcon hasn’t starred in a new F-Zero game since F-Zero Climax on the GameBoy Advance back in 2004. The N64’s F-Zero X made a surprise return on Nintendo Switch earlier this year, but the series has shown no signs of life other than that.
With no new WipEout or F-Zero games on the horizon, the futuristic racing genre has seen a rapid decline. Or has it? Thanks to indie developers, the spirit of WipEout and F-Zero lives on in a new generation of futuristic racers. These are our picks for the best WipEout and F-Zero alternatives.
Redout 2 is billed as “the fastest game in the universe.” This is no exaggeration. A sequel to the underrated original Redout, Redout 2’s sense of speed is staggering. There’s no time to blink as you blast around tracks at 2,000 km/h.
This relentless speed creates a steep learning curve, however. If navigating Redout 2’s twisty tracks at supersonic speeds wasn’t tough enough, the controls demand you to steer, strafe, and adjust your ship’s pitch with both analogue sticks to retain speed.
There’s no room for error - but that’s what makes Redout 2 so rewarding when you successfully navigate a track without hitting a wall.
To developer 34BigThings’ credit, Redout 2 adds a wealth of assists and a new rewind mechanic to lower the difficulty for new players. With 36 tracks, over 200 career events, and extensive vehicle customisation, Redout 2 is packed with content and its eye-watering speed makes it one of the most exhilarating racing games we’ve played in a while. This is the closest we’re probably going to get to a new WipEout game on current platforms.
Pacer flew under most people’s radars when it arrived in 2020. That's a huge shame because this underrated anti-gravity racer is a true spiritual successor to WipEout.
Formerly known as Formula Fusion (we’d argue this was a better name) when it was in Steam Early Access, Pacer is the work of R8 Games, an independent studio based in Middlesbrough made up of ex-Psygnosis Leeds developers who worked on WipEout 3. This isn’t the only reference to the original WipEout series either.
Ian Wright, aka CoLD SToRAGE, and renowned graphics studio Designers Republic also contributed to Pacer. If those names aren’t familiar to you, CoLD SToRAGE created the memorable electronic soundtracks for WipEout and WipEout 2097, while The Designers Republic is responsible for WipEout’s distinct art style.
While there are obvious similarities to the original WipEout games, Pacer has its own identity. The ships feel heavier, the graphics are grittier thanks to the dystopian environments, and your ship’s loadout can be customised before each race. This works differently to WipEout, where weapons are collected randomly during races.
Pacer isn’t perfect, but the team’s passion for anti-gravity racers is plain to see. It’s just a shame R8 Games has seemingly abandoned the game as there haven’t been any updates since December 2020 - despite plans for post-release content.
While Redout 2 and Pacer are inspired by WipEout, FAST RMX has more in common with F-Zero. Like F-Zero, FAST RMX is a Nintendo-exclusive futuristic racer. Fun fact: Jack Merluzzi, the announcer in F-Zero GX, lent his vocal talents for FAST RMX.
A sequel to FAST Racing Neo on the Wii U, FAST RMX was a standout Nintendo Switch launch title in 2017. If you wanted to play a Nintendo Switch racing game on day one, this was your only option before Mario Kart 8 Deluxe would arrive just over a month later and dominate the sales charts.
FAST RMX features a blistering sense of speed, responsive controls, and futuristic tracks filled with hazards to avoid. But what sets it apart from other futuristic racers is its unique boost mechanic.
Tapping X switches the colour of your energy shield between blue and orange. You then need to match the colour of your energy shield with boost pads on the track, adding an extra layer of depth.
Timing it right activates a speed boost. Speeding through multiple boost pads in a row is fun and satisfying, but selecting the wrong colour slows you down. Excessive AI rubber-banding and difficulty spikes in later events are frustrating, but FAST RMX fills the void left by F-Zero.
On the surface, Antigraviator looks like a low-budget WipEout clone. However, it offers a unique take on anti-gravity racing.
Taking inspiration from Split/Second, players can activate environmental traps to take out unsuspecting rivals. These range from causing rocks to fall onto the track to launching lasers. Avoiding these traps with a well-timed barrel roll is thrilling. It’s an interesting idea, but it's a shame that only one racer can trigger a trap in each race.
Every anti-gravity racer needs to have a thrilling sense of speed, but Antigraviator’s ships have no speed limit so you can reach some mind-blowing speeds once you’ve mastered the tracks. Combine this with tight controls, well-designed tracks, and a low asking price, and Antigraviator is worth a look if you’re a fan of futuristic racers.
BallisticNG is basically WipEout in all but name. Available on Steam, it started as a fan remake of the original WipEout before becoming a standalone game.
Described by its creator as a “love letter to the original WipEout trilogy,” everything from the low-poly visuals and ship designs to the vehicle physics and sound perfectly recapture everything that made WipEout great. Since it launched in 2016, modders have expanded the game with new ships and tracks.
Considering it was created by just two people, BallisticNG is an impressive achievement. If you love the original WipEout trilogy, you need to play BallisticNG.
Honourable mention: GRIP: Combat Racing
Remember Rollcage? Even if you never owned it, you probably played it on an Official PlayStation Magazine demo disc in the late '90s.
Rollcage boasted a unique mechanic where you could drive cars up walls, flip upside down, and continue driving. This was the main inspiration for GRIP: Combat Racing, a spiritual successor to Rollcage developed by Caged Element released in 2018 after an initial release on Steam Early Access.
In 2019, a free update added anti-gravity vehicles known as AirBlades to the hardcore combat racer, combining the best of WipEout and Rollcage. As Wired Productions Managing Director Leo Zullo put it: “If WipeOut and Rollcage hooked up, this is the baby they’d pop out.”
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