F1 22 screenshot

“F1 22”: The RaceFans review of the official Formula 1 game

Review

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The 2022 season has marked a bold new era for Formula 1, with overhauled regulations aiming to revolutionise racing and make the sport more exciting than ever before.

RaceFans readers will not need reminding of how the new technical rules for 2022 have transformed Formula 1 cars for this year, with their ground effect downforce-generating floors and sleeker, sculpted bodies designed to allow cars to run more closely than before.

So with EA Sports promising that players can ‘enter the new era’ with Codemasters’ latest officially licensed game – F1 22 – has the virtual world of Formula 1 received as much of a shake-up as real life this season?

Firing up the game for the first time and taking one of the 10 all-new cars to the track for the first time, it’s clear to see that, yes, the new 2022-spec F1 machine really do feel different compared to their predecessors.

F1’s latest cars are heavier and you can feel it
When it comes to physics and handling, you’ll notice the heavier weight of the 2022 cars immediately – especially if you’re a veteran player of the series. More mass means more momentum. You feel how the car’s mass makes it want to continue on its trajectory into and out of corners, requiring a more deliberate approach rather than just being able to throw the car wildly about.

The stiffer suspension settings mean handling feels more precise and responsive in a lot of ways – especially at turn-in – which could be a blessing or a curse depending on your driving style. You have to take care over kerbs due to how low you’re running to the ground as it’s a lot easier to bottom out and dragged along off track as a result.

That’s not to say that experienced players will have a hard time adjusting to the new handling model – you’ll get to grips with it soon enough. But you also cannot just expect to apply your same approaches to corners in F1 22 as you did in F1 2021 – especially on the throttle on corner exit, as it’s now easier to break traction and skid off under power.

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Car set-ups have also been expanded slightly with the new cars. Now, rather than having front and rear wing angles limited to only ten increments within a pre-set for each track, players are now able to set downforce levels across the full 50-point range, allowing you to run Monza-level wing settings in Barcelona, should you want to.

F1 22 screenshot
You now have a finer degree of control over your wing settings
As we’ve only been able to review the game on PlayStation so far, we can’t assess one of the most exciting new additions to the game – virtual reality. Anyone who has been lucky enough to experience a racing game in VR knows just how transformative an experience it can be, adding a whole level of immersion to driving that racing ‘flat’ can never hope to emulate. For this year, PC VR players can play every driving mode in the game in VR. With PS VR2 on the horizon, hopefully that will not just be luxury only PC players will get to enjoy in years to come.

Aside from VR functionality, the biggest new feature for this year is ‘F1 Life’, which supposedly offers players the chance to live out their F1 driver fantasies with a customisable hub where they can show off their trophies and deck out their driver avatars in designer clothing and accessories.

If ‘F1 Life’ sounds like a superficial addition to the game designed as much as an excuse to sell more PitCoins then, sadly, that’s exactly how it feels. It’s all so easily ignorable. After deciding how to decorate the various rooms of your driver’s apartment, you will only see them if you go out of your way to look for them. There are hundreds of shirts and trousers and trainers you can spend your PitCoins on, but then your avatar will only ever be sitting around in them, making you question why you ever worried about how you wanted them to look in the first place.

F1 22 screenshot
‘F1 Life’ is a superficial addition to the series
You can’t walk around the hub in game or do any kind of interaction with anything – it’s purely window dressing. Even if you’re a true streetwear enthusiast or a particularly big fan of the Anti Social Social Club, it’s still hard to see many reasons to want to spend real world money on virtual currency just to dress up what will remain effectively a static model.

The only thing of real substance to come out of F1 Life are the supercars – real world models of Ferraris, Mercedes, Aston Martins and McLarens that you can unlock and drive. From the Ferrari Roma to the McLaren Artura and the Mercedes AMG GT R Pro, you can drive a total of eight supercars – and the two official Safety Cars if you buy the Champions Edition – around all of the circuits available in the game on Time Trial mode. As you progress through the game, you earn tokens which you can spend to unlock any one of the available cars of your choice.

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You can take part in a variety of sub-games with the supercars, including checkpoint challenges, duels against AI opponents, and drift contests. The supercars handle as forgivingly as you would expect – this is not Assetto Corsa. It’s certainly novel and a quite literal change of pace from the Formula 1 cars, but much like last year’s Braking Point story mode, it’s hard to see many players engaging with the supercars side of F1 22 beyond dabbling with it beyond their first week with the game.

F1 22 screenshot
Supercar challenges add a new dimension to the gameplay
Thankfully, F1 Life is not the only thing that’s different about this year’s entry to the franchise. Presentation has received a great deal of attention, with a range of new animations and cutscenes to refresh many of the same old pre- and post-race sequences that players have seen for years. New ‘broadcast’ settings for formation laps, pit stops and Safety Car periods allow players to sit back and enjoy those periods play out through AI controlled TV style sequences, rather than doing it themselves.

Commentary comes from David Croft as ever, but players of the English-language game now have an alternative in the shape of Channel 4’s Alex Jacques to commentate over the F1 action as well as the 2021 Formula 2 championship in game. Anthony Davidson continues to provide analytical input at the end of races and it’s also good to hear Sky F1 reporter Natalie Pinkham step into the role occasionally, adding some much-needed female representation to the game.

Former McLaren mechanic and television presenter Marc Priestley has been brought in to replace ‘Jeff’ as the player’s race engineer over team radio. While Priestley has certainly provided a genuine effort in taking over the role, the way he has been implemented feels a little underwhelming. Not only does Priestley repeat verbatim many of the exact same lines that Jeff had spoken to players for years, his inflection and tone of voice means he sounds very much like someone reading lines off a script. It’s more a criticism of voice direction than of the performer himself, but one which stands out now we’ve heard how race engineer audio is rendered in the upcoming F1 Manager 22.

F1 22 screenshot
A new engineer talks to you during races
The major single-player career modes of MyTeam and driver career are still here and function still almost identically to F1 2021 and F1 2020 before them. MyTeam does have the welcome option of allowing you to choose from three levels of entry for your team, meaning you can either start off as a backmarker with very limited money and resources, join as a midfield team scoring points from the beginning or even hop straight into contention for race wins from your debut race. Other than slightly expanded department dilemmas, everything else with MyTeam and career will feel very familiar to the last two games.

On-track, a few small details are intended to add more immersion to the racing. Players can now drive themselves freely to their grid slot at the end of the formation lap rather than the AI taking over prior to the pit lane entrance. And, while there’s still no full control over cars in the pit lane itself, players do now have to manually time their turn into their pit box, and mis-timed turnings can result in slower stops.

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After years of complaints about inconsistencies in the AI’s performance between circuits and players struggling to find the right balance for them in single player mode, the announcement of a new ‘adaptive AI’ system was one of the more interesting aspects of the new title. Disappointingly, adaptive AI does not actually allow you a way to tailor your single-player experience to suit your skills. Instead, it’s limited to the ‘casual’ game mode designed for new, inexperienced or younger players.

On one hand, implementing adaptive AI as an accessibility aid is something to be applauded. Not only will the game change AI level between races to try and keep players in the thick of the action as they get more comfortable, but there is also a setting that amounts to a ‘rubberbanding’ option where the AI will actively slow down and wait for the player to catch up after a spin or an off. However, it also means it will be completely irrelevant for the vast majority of players who will race in standard or expert modes and will have to continue having to manually fiddle with their AI levels to try and find the perfect sweet spot for them at each circuit.

When it comes to graphics, audio, AI and general overall impact of F1 22, it’s difficult to try and find things to say that haven’t already been said about the game’s predecessors before it, given how fundamentally similar this new title is. New audio mixing options are certainly welcome and the AI does seem to be more prone to making mistakes if a player can put them under sustained pressure, but anyone who has already put hundreds of hours into F1 2021 and F1 2020 will see F1 22 as something that quickly feels very similar to those games after the novelty of the new cutscenes and handling have worn off.

F1 22 screenshot
The new and updated tracks are present and correct
Thankfully there’s more than enough fun to be had from racing that makes F1 22 just as rewarding to play and enjoy as the series always has been – and even more so in VR. The new Miami International Autodrome track is present and correct, and the updates to Melbourne, Yas and others are there too. But anyone who was hoping that the revolution of rules for 2022 might lead to a revolutionary new entry into the F1 game will likely be left disappointed.

For the last two years, there’s always been a sense that the next F1 game could be the major step forward that long-time fans have been eagerly hoping for, but even as the second release into the current generation of consoles, that leap forward hasn’t quite come yet. Maybe if industry rumours of a new game engine for 2023 prove correct, the future of the F1 game franchise might become a lot more exciting.

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RaceFans rating

Rating three out of five

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Game title

Developer: Codemasters
Publisher: EA Sports
Released: Friday 1st July (Champions Edition – Tuesday 28th June)
Price: £69.99

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F1 22 screenshot
F1 22 arrives tomorrow for PlayStation, Xbox and PC

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Author information

Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...

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Posted on Categories 2022 F1 season articles, F1 22, Gaming, Motorsport video games, ReviewsTags , ,

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  • 26 comments on ““F1 22”: The RaceFans review of the official Formula 1 game”

    1. “For the last two years, there’s always been a sense that the next F1 game could be the major step forward that long-time fans have been eagerly hoping for” and then EA took over….

      As with all of their other sports games, there will only ever be very minor changes going forward. They won’t be happy about new tracks being added to the calendar as that involves more work than they would usually put in to a yearly update but that’ll be it – tracks and liveries. The rest of the game will stay pretty much as it is now.

      1. While it’s true that EA is not known for revolutionary iterations of their annual sports games, it’s also nothing new in this F1 series. Fans have been clamouring for years to see proper VR, and it was under EA rather than Codemasters that this was finally realised. Codemaster has also stuck to their old engine through to this release, with all the same odd reflections, heavy use of LODs, and lack of PC specific UI and settings options that were in the very first game 12 years ago.

      2. That’s why people should stop buying these games annually (after all, whatever for?), but rather once in two or three years and this policy would have to be changed. That’s especially easy when there are no major rule changes (unlike this year of course). Personally I’ve stopped playing this arcade since 2017. or so, I’ve tried it again but it doesn’t feel any better to me. It just feels very strange after any more realistic game (like Assetto), it takes too much time to adapt.

        1. F1 is Simcade, while Asetto is a Simulator. Their not the same genre.

    2. I remember being shocked when new big games started being released at £50, being appalled when they were £60, now I’m disgusted that people are actually spending £70 on a videogame… Especially when you know in 6 months time it’ll be in a sale for 40-50% off.

      And that’s before you even get into the argument of the state that games are released in nowadays – most come out barely playable (Battlefield), missing features that later get bundled into DLC (most RTS games) or buggy messes that need the modding community to fix (any/all Bethesda and Bioware games)…

      1. I used to feel a bit shocked at prices as well, but I have a different way of thinking about it now: How many hours of playtime am I getting for my money and how does that compare to other forms of entertainment? And in my opinion, at least for the top games even at full price, it is great entertainment value for the money.

      2. @joeypropane Is that really a high price to pay for something you can get probably 30-200 hours of enjoyment from? People turn their nose up at paying 70 quid for a video game, then go on and spend that amount on a single meal at a restaurant.

        1. Yeah sure, you can work it out over the hours you put into it and probably see it as good value, but it doesn’t change the fundamental issue.

          We’ve been told that games cost more because they cost more to develope – but that is for games built from the ground up, using new technology or in-house game engines… There is no way these annual releases, which I guarantee will use a large percentage of assets from the previous game, cost anywhere near enough to warrant AAA game cost.

      3. Some console games in the 90s were released at that kind of price. Virtua Racer was particularly expensive. The 32X version released with an RRP of $100.

        1. the pound is more worth then a dollar so 70 pounds is around $105,- this site uses pounds by their users so always keep this in mind.

      4. Steveetienne
        28th June 2022, 7:47

        I paid more than £70 for Streetfighter 2 Turbo on the SNES.

    3. Even the game does not seem to have any expectation about the Mercedes concept with no sidepods..

      1. Craig Preekel
        27th June 2022, 20:16

        They have shown new renders with the zeropods!

    4. playstation361
      27th June 2022, 16:30

      Video games dominated only because of piracy.

    5. So many tracks in F1 2021 showed clear signs of aging, and F1 22 seems to maintain them unchanged. This is an incredibly disappointing fact for what should be the pinnacle of digital racing. A clear “get it when it’s on discount” game for me, if only so that I can drive the new cars.

    6. I used to buy them every year, but stopped doing so.
      It became too disappointing. Good game, but too much of the same (so little you can do in a year).
      They shouldn’t make it yearly games.
      DLC pack every year and a big new game every few years would be better.

    7. RandomMallard
      27th June 2022, 17:54

      This is the first time since I got into F1 in late-2017 that I haven’t bought (well, don’t intend to buy) the game either on pre-order or in the first week. I’m much more excited for the F1 Manager game coming in August.

    8. I bought the F1 Manager 2022 instead of this.

    9. I feel like F1 2020 was the peak (at least until VR is available for PS). I was excited to get this game when I first heard it was going to have VR compatibility but that evaporated when it was announced it would be for PC only. The absence of historic cars means there’s little incentive to spend more money on what is basically the same game I’ve been playing for years.

    10. I wonder what they’re getting paid to push this garbage here. At least they could blend it with articles about legit offerings out there.

      1. Yes, an F1 focused website doing a review of an official F1 game (while also reviewing other games from time to time).

        It’s all a big conspiracy.

    11. I’ll still be buying day 1 because the reason I buy these annual F1 games is to get the current season.

      I’ve played through the championship of F1 2021 and have no reason to go back since I don’t enjoy online. When the new games comes regardless of how similar it is in many ways it featuring the current season is the reason i jump in to play through the current season championship.

      Been the same for me since we started getting the annual F1 games in the 90’s. Back when we used to get 2-3 official licensed games a year I’d buy and play through them all (As well as the unofficial ones & alternative versions on different platforms which tended to be different to each other) and would do the same if the license wasn’t exclusive to 1 developer now.

    12. 20 years ago big gaming companies should have hired Geoff Crammond. The codemasters games just don’t do physics correctly at all.

    13. Derek Dreissen
      28th June 2022, 7:59

      No Porpoising?

      Hmm.. That’s only been the top issue for the first half of the season.

      Some sim..
      Pass.

    14. I will buy it!
      My last F1 Game was F1 2013 :D (what a legendary game with classic cars and circuits btw.)

    15. Still no support for angled triple screen setup on PC means I’m still not buying it.

    Comments are closed.