F1 is thought of as the premiere racing series around the world. Since 2018 its popularity in America has exploded thanks to a deal with Netflix to create their documentary series Drive to Survive.
All the while, developer Codemasters has been in charge of making the simulation videogame since 2009. Codemasters was purchased by EA in 2020, and thus far, things have gone well. Codemasters has always done an excellent job at making the car the focus of the game, there’s no re-inventing the wheel here, and F1 23 continues this trend in some ways and falls short in others.
Related: When is the release date for F1 23?
F1 23 Key Details
- Developer: Codemasters
- Platforms: PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, & Xbox Series X/S
- Release Date: June 16, 2023
- Price: $69.99
The last to brake
When we talk about yearly iterations of sports games, we need to understand that they are basically big patches on a new disk. Yes, we get new drivers and new tracks, but we also get more refined controller experiences. So refined, in fact, that they feel tuned for the competitive player.
F1 23 is no different. Not only are you rewarded for breaking at the right time, but you’re equally punished if you try to accelerate too quickly. Ironically, I found that the steering assist was getting me into more trouble, trying to overcorrect me to get back onto the racing line. It’s a frustrating change to wrap your head around, but once you get laps in, you start to learn where the game wants you.
On this same note, corner cutting and track limit rules in F1 23 seem much more strict than in previous years, almost to the point of wondering if they were bugged to not working before. The amount of rewinds I’ve taken to avoid penalties is much higher this year.
Now that we understand mechanical changes, let’s dive into F1 23’s new mode: Braking Point.
Braking Point takes Drive to Survive, throws in a pinch of The Last Dance, and smothers it in a coat of sports anime. You play as all the various characters of Konner Racing. There’s the plucky young hero of the story, Aiden Jackson, who’s doing his best to ride out his contract and sign with a bigger team. There’s the son of the team boss, Devon Butler, who quietly hides an injury from his team. And there’s Callie Mayor, the first-ever women’s champion in F2.
All of these heightened characters fit together well, the problem comes with the pacing. With 17 different chapters, each a slightly different length, you end up going into each event, not knowing exactly how long you’re going to race. Even if all of these races are built around the new 35% race distance, that’s still about 30 minutes per race, and unfortunately, because of the way that the mode is built, there’s no way to do a mid-race save the way you can in a normal career mode race.
This also means that should you happen to fail an objective, you have to start the entire race over. It’s this kind of minute annoyance that stops me from fully recommending the Braking Point mode, as it’s just a watered-down career mode with some nice voice acting.
A Whole New World
The other big swing F1 23 is taking this year is F1 World. This is Codemasters attempt to create a live service model to entice players to return daily. You race with your car, then earn material to buy new upgrade parts to then take on more challenging races. It’s a straightforward system that, at launch, goes from power level 100 all the way to 1000.
While there’s a possibility for this to become a microtransaction-filled mode, there is no way to buy power directly or even spend money on the in-game items you need to get better car parts. I will admit I started to have a lot of fun taking a higher-powered car into lower-power races and beating the CPU by eight seconds. The trouble started when I played multiplayer.
Sadly, the multiplayer in F1 23 is one of the worst multiplayer experiences I’ve had over this last console generation. It uses local lobby hosting, so when a match is started, a player is assigned as the host. If the host quits or disconnects in any way, the entire race starts over from the beginning.
Ironically, this would be the best way to use the new red flag system – effectively freezing the race and starting back at the start line once the track is clear. Instead of doing that, if a host migration happens, we pretend nothing happened beforehand, even if you were on the final lap.
So everyone else who sat in this race now has to do the whole thing over. Depending on the track, that could mean an extra 20-30 minutes to finish one race. It’s really a shame that Codemasters put in a lot of work to make the competitive aspect of the game accessible, only to have it undercut by bad tech and a lack of consistency in rules.
F1 23 takes big swings, and most of them pay off. F1 World is a solid foundation that can be built on year after year, and Braking Point is an engaging story mode you can play through once. But the general shift into more multiplayer focus without the proper tools to make it function fluidly leave this more of a game for full cockpit racing sim heads than regular race fans.
|+ Two brand new tracks make this a definite upgrade over the year before.|
|+ F1 World is engaging in a simple “make the number go up” kind of way.|
|– Online will require EVERYONE to be hyper-engaged|
|– Base career mode is largely unchanged due to Braking Point.|
Gamepur team received a PS5 code for the purpose of this review.