Get behind the wheel in our F1 23 review!
While it’s true that yearly sports releases don’t innovate like traditional games, it remains a tall order to release a game on multiple pieces of hardware with only a year of development time. Codemasters’ F1 franchise has managed to deliver a consistent stream of high-quality products with only a few niggles along the way. Many fans of the franchise would agree that last year’s F1 22 was a step back for the series. While support for VR was a welcome inclusion, the new F1 Life mode was a pointless addition designed purely to peddle microtransactions. Not to mention the numerous bugs that plagued the game at launch.
Can the series reclaim the podium with F1 23? Or is this another rust bucket destined for the pits? Let’s find out as we put on our racing gloves and get behind the wheel of F1 23!
F1 23 Review – Braking Point 2
The biggest draw of F1 23 is the return of Braking Point, a narrative driven campaign that continues the story of the first Braking Point featured in F1 2021. The story follows Aiden Jackson once again as he drives for the fictional racing team, Konnersport, in the 2022 and 2023 season of F1.
The campaign is comprised of 17 chapters with a combined run time of around 7-8 hours. Some of the chapters you will see you participating in a full-length race. But most of the time, you’ll be dropped in the middle of the action with a primary objective that must be met to advance the plot.
A plot that is presented primarily via pre-rendered cutscenes with black bars to enhance the “cinematic” flair. Each race is bookended with a visit to the team headquarters, where you can unwind and take a gander at the latest news headlines, read some emails, or browse social media. Optional phone conversations also become available during this down time.
Dear Codemasters. Nobody in Australia talks like that.
Occasionally the player will be asked to make decisions as the team manager and answer questions presented to your drivers by the press. How you respond to these queries, alongside the finishing position will affect how people react via social media and email correspondence. While the cutscenes remain unaffected, it is novel to see your public image being influenced by your performance and attitude. Not to mention, these choices do have a baring on your in-game stats.
Compared to the previous Braking Point, the writing and acting has improved dramatically. The player interaction, while limited, feels more meaningful this time around. Unfortunately, the actual plot remains thread bear at the best.
It’s passable as a piece of melodrama with hints of a writer who wanted to tell a compelling story. But had suits from the FIA breathing down his neck, going through every line with a fine-tooth comb.
F1 23 Review – F1 World
The poorly received F1 Life mode in F1 22 has been replaced with F1 World: an expanded take on the idea that gives you the chance to build your own open wheel racer and complete a series of challenges. Like F1 Life, you can customise your avatar and apartment for some reason.
The big draw of F1 World is building your own car and completing various challenges using your creation. You can customise the car’s appearance with various liveries and sponsors. But that’s about it. Under the hood, things are a bit more interesting. As you tap into your inner grease monkey by enhancing the car’s performance by installing mods and engineering new ones.
While F1 World is more fleshed out compared to last year’s F1 Life, the mode’s existence is a cynical move to lure people into the in-game store, where real world money can be exchanged for pitcoins. These pitcoins can be spent on new digs for your avatar and liveries for your car. XP boosters can also be purchased using these pitcoins, which shows a complete lack of confidence in your product since you’re asking players to spend money to play less of your game.
Thankfully, the tried and true Career mode makes a return. Alongside the usual suspects like Time Trial and Grand Prix. Online multiplayer and local splitscreen are also included as well.
F1 23 Review – New Handling Model and Difficulty Options
The actual driving in F1 23 is top notch with the debut of a new handling model dubbed Precise Control. This new model offers tighter controls than any previous F1 games, especially for gamepad users. Armed with my trusty Xbox controller, I found myself being able to point the car exactly where I wanted to it go. Nailing sharp bends with minimal effort compared to last year’s F1 22.
Red flags make their debut in F1 23, which will halt the race due to intense weather or excessive debris. Codemasters has also added a new 35% race length option based on community feedback.
Like its predecessors, F1 23 includes numerous ways to tweak the difficulty to match your skill level. New to the world of F1? You can play the game with brake and steering assists until you’re ready to remove the training wheels. Are you a seasoned F1 player? Full damage model, no anti-lock brakes, and zero driving lines. Make the racing as difficult as finding a good coffee at Starbucks.
However you choose to play F1, the sensation of getting behind the wheel of these open wheel racers is fantastic. Figuring out the optimal route to tackle each corner while tuning my car to perfection is what keeps me coming back to the F1 series.
F1 23 Review – Tracks and Car Roster
F1 23 features all 20 tracks from the official 2023 season, including the brand-new Las Vegas Strip Street Circuit and Losali International Circuit. The following tracks are not featured in this year’s season: Circuit Paul Richard, Shanghai International Circuit, and Algarve International Circuit. But are still inclued in F1 23 as bonus tracks and brings the total count to 23. The returning tracks have been tweaked to reflect their new layout for 2023. For example, the chicane in the Spanish Grand Prix has been elimited in F1 23.
The car roster includes all the Formula 1 cars from the 2023 season, while the line-up of Formula 2 cars are based on last year’s season. You can also get behind the wheel of some supercars like the Ferrari F8 and McLaren 720S. But you will never get to stretch their legs since they can only been driven in time trials. Which makes their inclusion feel redundant and a waste of development time. I think F1 fans would rather see classic cars make a return over these pointless Supercars.
F1 23 Review – Visuals
Codemasters is relying on the venerable EGO 4.0 engine to power F1 23. While this engine might be eight years old, it’s still capable of producing breathing taking renditions of real-world locations, from the Marina Bay of Singpore to Albert Park in Melbourne. F1 23 succeeds as a virtual passport for those who can’t afford a vacation.
The visual improvements over F1 23 can be somewhat subtle, but become more noticeable when analysing the game in a side-by-side comparison with F1 22. The lighting and shadow models are the biggest upgrade to the engine. While the character models receive a makeover with some new hair rendering to spice up your life. Although you’ll only notice this improvement during the pre and post racing sequences. A chromatic aberration effect has been added to simulate lens distortion. Although personally I don’t care for this effect.
F1 23 Review – The PC Experience
Recently, we’ve become accustomed to mediocre PC ports with bad performance. Thankfully, that’s not the case with F1 23. For this review, I opted to play the game on my PC rig with an AMD Ryzen 3700X, Geforce RTX 3070 and 32GB of DDR4 memory. Even with Ultra High settings across the board and the resolution set to 4K, I was maintaining frame rates above 70fps without the need to rely on high fidelity upscaling.
If your rig needs a little help hitting those desired framerates, F1 23 supports every upscaling technology under the sun: DLSS 2.4, DLSS3, FSR2 and for the first time in the series, Intel XeSS is on the table. Dynamic resolution scaling and variable rate shading can also help mitigate the bottlenecks on your rig.
If you own a computer that costs more than a Fabergé egg, you can enhance the visuals further by exploiting the Ray tracing options for the shadows, reflections and ambient occlusion. But this comes at the cost of higher framerates. For owners of the new RTX 4000 serieres of graphic cards, F1 23 includes support for Shader Execution Reordering, which improves the framerate when Ray Tracing is engaged.
But the real draw of playing the game on PC is the support for VR. Like F1 22, you can play the entire game in VR and it’s incredible. The level of immersion increases tenfold when donning your VR headset of choice.
F1 23 Review – The Console Experience
I was able to briefly sample F123 on the PS5 and Series X using the trial included with my EA Origin subscription. Like previous F1 releases on these high-end consoles, you can choose between a Performance and Quality mode. Quality mode serves up a 4K presentation with a framerate of 60fps. While performance mode renders the game at 1440p with a framerate of 120fps.
When playing the PS5 version of F1 23 on my LG c2 at 120fps. The TV’s built-in framerate monitor didn’t report a single dropped frame. Unsurprisingly, both modes employ dynamic resolution scaling to achieve these consistent framerates. The performance mode is geared towards people with displays that support high refresh rates. While people with 60hz displays, should stick with the quality mode.
Unfortunately, there’s no PSVR2 support in the PS5 version. If I was the head of Sony, I would have gone to Codemasters with dump trucks filled with cash and begged for PSVR2 support.
F1 23 is also available on the PS4, Xbox One and Xbox Series S. But we didn’t have the chance to play the game on those systems in time for this review.
F1 23 Review – Audio Design and Soundtrack
The audio design has received a major overhaul with the engine and gearbox delivering far more bass than prior entries. It’s just a shame there’s no support for Dolby Atmos on the PC like F1 2020 and 2021. The improved audio design would absolutely shine with the aid of objected oriented audio.
“I don’t want to alarm you. But the fly on your pants is undone.”
While no music is played during the actual races, the main menu contains a selection of electronic music from artists like Swedish Mafia House, deadmau5, and The Chemical Brothers. No British developed racing game is complete without The Chemical Brothers.
While the original music is provided by composer Ian Livingstone, best known for work his work on Total War and numerous F1 games since Formula One 99 on the PS1. His compositions are serviceable and do their job of complimenting F1’s brand of high octane racing.
When you’re behind the wheel, F1 23 is a marked improvement over last year’s underwhelming installment. The new handling model coupled with the enhanced visuals and audio has elevated the driving experience to a new level. While Braking Point 2 is more engrossing than the first chapter seen in F1 2021. The storyline is still held back by the restrictions of working within someone else’s brand. F1 World is more fleshed out compared to F1 Life. But it’s nakedly obvious this mode exists purely to suck people dry with it’s exploitative microtransactions. The absense of this year’s lineup of F2 cars is also another downer.
On the bright side, the game is beautifully optimised on PC and caters towards every GPU vendor under the sun. While owners of the PS5 and Series X can enjoy a polished presentation with support for 120fps. Hardcore F1 fans have already picked up this game. But if you’ve never played an F1 game before, F1 23 is a great place to start.
If they can remove those microtransactions, that would be grand.
So, why should you play F1 23?
- Easily the best handling F1 game to date
- Return of Braking Point
- Superb PC port with support for VR and a massive suite of graphics options
- New audio mix with enhanced engine and gearbox sounds
But, why shouldn’t you play F1 23?
- Complete absense of any F2 cars from the 2023 season
- F1 World is plagued with microtransactions
- Supercars are pointless and can’t be driven outside of the Time Trials
- No PSVR2 support on the PS5