Will a more forgiving driving model be enough to defeat the unbeatable Super Max? Let’s find out in Codemasters’ F1 23 review.
With the arrival of Liberty Media, Formula 1 is slowly shedding its skin. The process of “spectacularization” has transformed the maximum expression of engines into something more than a simple sporting event. More than the enthusiasts who know the legendary deeds of Senna, Schumacher, Prost, Clark, Fangio and Nuvolari by heart, the media bandwagon managed by Stefano Domenicali aims to attract new fans from every latitude of the planet.
Race weekends and the number of sprint races have thus increased, while suggestive locations such as Las Vegas or Losail have sprung up in the already busy calendar. Liberty Media’s vision has also been fully embraced by EA which has always done spectacle and accessibility the strengths of its sports titles. Codemasters has adapted to this philosophy: it was evident in the previous Formula 1 game (here the review of F1 22), it is even more so in F1 23.
A finally stable hindquarters
Some have brought new bellies to the track, some have new bottoms and rear wings, some have radically changed the concept of the car: the 2023 season has begun in search of lost aerodynamic efficiency. Getting the tires, wings and suspension to work requires a good mix of CFD simulations (computational fluid dynamics), wind tunnel and data collected on the track. The guys at Codemasters focused on mechanical/aerodynamic grip to make it even more realistic and above all accessible the driving experience of RB19, SF-23 and all the other single-seaters that race on the tracks of the game.
The racing cars of F1 23 demonstrate right from the first laps that they traction better during acceleration and have a little understeer when entering corners. Codemasters has also recalibrated the braking dynamics and now it is easier to get to the lock and it becomes a priority to balance the front axle. Having a more stable rear allows you to control oversteer more easily: regardless of the type of aids activated/deactivated and the level of difficulty selected, it is understood that the accelerator pedal and the brake pedal (we tested it on PS5 with Dual Sense and with a Logitech G29 steering wheel and pedal set) respond in different way from what was experienced in F1 22.
Regardless of their shape, the various RB19s and SF-23s immediately proved to be at ease when exiting the long and medium-speed corners of Barcelona, the ideal track for testing the aerodynamic efficiency of the virtual single-seaters. Overall handling that impresses pad in hand: the addition of the “Precision Drive Technology“In fact, it guarantees greater precision (it compensates for the uncertainties of the players) when the single-seater is cornering or in close duels.
A mini-revolution suggested by real pilots and professional sim racers who had noticed several little problems in the previous chapter, as confirmed by the Creative Director Lee Mather in our interview on F1 23. A fine job that also involved the delivery of the horsepower of the power units and the gear changes. Even though in the new iteration you can be a little more aggressive, you need to be careful at the height of the curbs, at the bollards or on sections of track that are not particularly rubberized (going off the trajectory you collect the “marbles”): having a stable rear does not mean being able to do what you want. The changes proposed by Codemasters go in the direction of accessibility and we are sure that they will not be much appreciated by veterans of the series or by those looking for more rigorous and simulation approaches (iRacing, Assetto Corsa and so on). As for rain management, it hasn’t “changed a drop” compared to F1 22: the ideal trajectories don’t dry out as they should…
Waving the red flag….
One of the most awaited news by the community after the safety car was the addition of red flags. To take advantage of it, it is necessary to complete at least one third of the laps foreseen by a GP (35% to be precise). It works, maybe even too much: in most of the races we have run there has always been a red flag (it is possible to adjust the frequency).
After a “Red Flag” – the new colored indicators inspired by the TV graphics work very well – we restart from the grid and we can change strategy: in F1 23 races there is never a shortage of excitement, as well as the safety cars (it is not yet possible to double ) and some “virtuals”. Especially when you set the AI above 80% opponents they prove tough: we raced several times trapped between Alonso and Hamilton (and their strategies) for a trivial fifth place. That said, the artificial intelligence appears unchanged from last season. Occasionally pilots forget to clear when they should or close without worrying about possible damage.
And the situation does not improve with adaptive AI, characterized by fluctuating behaviors, ranging from too effective, up to the junctures of “drowsiness”. Impacts and collisions with other cars continue to be questionable: it’s a problem that the series has been dealing with for a long time. The management of the tires by the AI is something surprising: the virtual drivers all look like Verstappen and are very good at getting any type of compound up to temperature! Even with some chronic flaws and some unsolved issues, F1 23 manages to perfectly recreate what we see in every race weekend on TV: battles for the magical DRSthe various “plan A, B, C, D” so dear to the Ferrari wall to overtake an opponent in the pits (strategies seem to work here!), dialogues with your engineer, qualifying laps to defend against a possible undercut and overtaking in industrial quantities.
The thousand lights of Las Vegas
Even after a few years too long, the graphics engine of F1 23 still manages to defend itself: the single-seaters are reproduced with the usual skill and accuracy, the frame-rate remains solid while on the faces of the drivers, mechanics and personalities of the paddock (including those of the Braking Point 2 mode) we have not yet arrived at an optimal result. Night races are something suggestive: The brand new Las Vegas Street Circuit is spectacular, as is the Losail International Circuit in Doha. In addition to the two circuits created from scratch, the layout of Barcelona (with the elimination of the chicane in the third sector) and of Spielberg (the Red Bull Ring) have also been updated and all the other tracks have been rearranged with small and big changes (Miami primarily). Since this is a production that is spread across multiple formats, including old-gen consoles, and platforms (there is VR support), we didn’t expect big news for 2023.
Career alone or as a couple?
Career mode is one of the most popular: you can play it as a driver or team principal for about ten seasons, alone or in a cooperative (together or as opponents). Three difficulty levels are available, and the customization possibilities are substantial, from the red flag to the addition of three new tracks. Codemasters has sought to best balance the development of the single-seaters (both in terms of performance and in terms of components), managing sponsors and relations with the media (there are new cutscenes).
Finally, 8 new icons have been added (Nigel Mansell above all) and the driver ratings have been updated, with Verstappen in first place (94). Unfortunately, there were drawbacks. At times we received far too heavy penalties in relation to what happened on the track. The big news of the 2023 season is the return of the Braking Point, a story mode inspired by the Netflix docuseries “Drive To Survive”. The first chapter told the story of a young promise like Aiden Jackson and his heated rivalry with Devon Butler and Casper Ackermann; in the sequel the first two find themselves teammates in a new team (Konnersport Butler Racing Team). The script of Braking Point 2 takes place over two seasons in F1 and F2 and introduces new characters such as Callie Meyer, the first woman to triumph in F2 (inspired by Jamie Chadwick, triple W Series world champion and driver of the Williams) who dreams of a place in F1. Each of 17 chapters it is divided into several parts and offers the player various objectives to achieve. In this second interaction, Codemasters has chosen the path of alternation, allowing the player to take on the role of several characters. The results on the track and the events behind the scenes influence the development of the plot much more than in the first episode.
The cutscenes (the technical comment is entrusted to the couple Vanzini-Valsecchi) they are always well packaged and in general the story is decidedly more full-bodied, full of twists and dramas. In the long run this portion of the offer tends to become a bit repetitive but it deserves to be tried (it can be completed very calmly in less than ten hours).
The other modes and the multiplayer
The other big news of the season is called F1 World and is a hub (replaces the not very incisive F1 Life) that includes all the other single player modes and the multiplayer sector of the game. The idea of Codemasters is to offer a different way to experience Formula 1, with a plethora of daily, weekly and seasonal content and a cross progression system which allows you to unlock more of everything. In addition to racing, you can collect cars (there are still Supercars to unlock), trophies, stickers. Also noteworthy is the personalization of our virtual mansion and the pilot.
It is possible to unlock various upgrades and bonuses (even with microtransactions) to improve the performance of your single-seater in the “Grand Prix” mode, which allows you to play individual races and championships even online. There is also a very robust section dedicated to multiplayer: the ranked mode has been redesigned with a FIFA/FUT-style cross-play division system and the goal is to reach the prestigious Elite. Then there is the opportunity to challenge a friend in split screen or take on the pro racers in the Pro Series.
“Time Trial” (F1 2023, F2 2022 and Supercar) and “Series” – which will be enriched in the near future – complete a top-level content offer. During the season, the F2 single-seaters dedicated to the 2023 season will also arrive. F1 World is a good starting point: it would become something special if they could be unlocked historic cars, legendary drivers and some old circuits.
F1 23PlayStation 5 Analyzed VersionAccessibility is the watchword of F1 23. Codemasters has not limited itself to the homework and has rearranged the driving model to make it less unpredictable and, above all, more suitable for those who do not compete with the wheel and pedals. The return of the Braking Point mode and the renewed F1 World hub add even more substance to an excellent content offer. The graphics/physics engine is starting to show some signs of aging but it’s still good. The ups and downs of the AI are unfortunately still part of the experience, but on the other hand the multiplayer sector has been redesigned and should satisfy all players a little. This incarnation is ultimately good: in the future, however, we expect Codemasters to take more clear steps forward for the series.