In Wipeout HD players can choose from a variety of futuristic racers and try to beat the other pilots or the clock to win the race. The game contains several different racing leagues. To unlock the next league, the player has to win a certain amount of points in the current one. The main difference between each league is that the game gets progressively faster and thus it's harder to keep control of the racer. The race modes are single race, tournament, time trial, fastest lap and zones, where acceleration is automatic, and the single goal is to survive as long as possible without the ship breaking apart.
Ships are controlled mainly by air brakes to achieve tight turns at high speeds. In certain race modes, players also have power-ups at their disposal, like weapons and speed boosts. It is possible to win a race by destroying the entire competition as well. The game also features a multiplayer online mode.