Driveclub is a road racing game combining both offline and online races, but with a global experience level for both. The game’s focus is on forming an online racing club with up to six racers in total. Each club member can race with a different car, but they can share emblems and decorations to distinguish themselves as a club. The score system ties the single-player performances to the online ones, where an entire club can benefit from a single player’s successes, also unlocking new vehicles and events with cars on loan for players not yet at the required level, even when not doing club races. As a club, players can sign up for an event and then race another group. It is not possible to design a custom event, these are provided by the developers. While racing players earn points for different actions such as drafting and gaining positions, but these can also be deducted for cutting corners, ramming into other vehicles or slamming into obstacles. For certain collisions the player is punished with a penalty of three seconds with limited speed. At the end of the race it does not matter which player reaches first place, it is the total team score that determines which club wins. The performance of other players in a club can be tracked through a social hub.
The gameplay mixes arcade elements with simulation, as players are rewarded for being patient, learning corners and takeover opportunities, and following the ideal racing line. However, bumping into other cars and cutting them off is also possible. Next to the offline single races against AI-controlled cars there is a single-player tour. It is a campaign with about fifty events divided over five levels unlocked gradually by completing challenges and earning stars by reaching a top place, doing a cornering challenge, maintaining a certain average speed or beating a certain time. There are 225 stars in total to earn and with set amounts new events are opened up. Next to star points, fame points can be earned for the global experience level, also affecting the club. Even when doing single-player there is a social link, as you can see challenges by other players and create your own after doing well in a race as a type of asynchronous multiplayer. It is possible to browse all existing challenges and by beating them both you and your club earn points.
The cars are licensed and divided into five classes: Hot Hatches, Sports, Performance, Super and Hyper. Cars are unlocked gradually by reaching a new driver level. They are based on four main statistics: acceleration, top speed, handling and drifting, but tuning is not possible except for determining the colour, coating and manual or automatic transmission. The tracks are inspired by locations around the world and generally there are three types of events: time trials, regular track races and drifting challenges.