I need to know
What is? The latest in the excellent racing series officially licensed by Codemasters.
wait to pay $60/£50
Release date July 1, 2022
developer code masters
Editor electronic arts
Reviewed on NVIDIA RTX 2070, 16GB RAM, 2.6GHz Intel Core i7
Link Official site (opens in a new tab)
F1 is back in fashion thanks to the Hamilton/Verstappen controversy at the end of last year, Netflix’s Drive to Survive docuseries and closer races thanks to sweeping rule changes. All teams have managed to score championship points before the halfway mark of this season. Choosing any of these angles would be a good starting point for a racing game. So why does F1 22 start by focusing on soft furnishings?
Okay. Remember the ‘live the life’ spirit of F1 2010? This game takes that to its logical conclusion, giving you a whole new living space for your billionaire avatar, which you can immediately equip with furniture, wall hangings, and, yes, damn, furniture of your choosing. Other players can visit your space online and admire your racing trophies, your collection of supercars, and your choice of high beams. However, it is not very interactive; you can only go from one room to the left and to the right, instead of walking through your new abode, and the cosmetic options are quite limited. It’s also worryingly geared towards microtransactions, as you can buy ‘Pitcoins’ (groan) with real money to buy all the merchandise.
But did someone say ‘supercar collection’? Yes, for the first time in the series, the game allows you to collect supercars and display them in your living room to cement your status as having way more money than you need. Still, you can see the attraction. There are some royal beauties available right out of the box, including a gorgeous Ferrari F8 Tributo and a rather snazzy McLaren 720S.
The physics simulation for these road beasts is impressively smooth and precise, and the softer suspension makes them feel much more like a real drive than the raw, stiff thrills of F1 and F2 cars. The supercars can be driven in time trials or ‘Pirelli Hot Laps’ challenges, of which there are 40, spread across career mode or accessible via their own menu to tackle at three levels of difficulty. From drift events to average speed checks, the toughest targets are very tricky. But they do feel a bit lackluster and tagged, and it’s an ‘oh, another little Supercar to be done’ feeling. They are comparatively slow and unwieldy and you would surely have bought Assetto Corsa by now if you wanted to drive these things. The tokens to buy them are unlocked as you play, and when you’ve finished your first season, you’ll have enough to fill all six bays in your apartment.
But let’s stop right there. It’s F1 you’re here for and frankly the inclusion of supercars only highlights why F1 exists. Fortunately, the F1 content is the best of all. You have many options before you begin to determine the type of experience you will get. ‘My Team’ is back, letting you build a new F1 team from scratch, acting as owner, team manager and driver all at once and doing everything from driving to allowing your second driver extra sim time . Driving is mandatory, but there’s so much under your control that it’s surely encroaching on F1 Manager territory. The only thing missing is porpoise (severe ricochet caused by the new ground effect rules), but perhaps simulating poor Lewis’ back pain is a step too far.
Now, with three levels of seed funding, you can start with limited resources and try to build your team into a leading team. Or you can start with pockets full of cash and a capable engineering department, allowing you to contend for the title straight away.
Ultimate Team (Partner)
There are also some past stars like Prost, Senna, and Schumacher available to recruit as an anachronistic teammate, who is an ace, though his demands are so high that even if he can afford them, they might still turn down his R&D comforts. Motivation to improve, without a doubt. As with FIFA, EA’s servers will download the real-world rankings and car performance of current drivers, which not only means realistic positions for drivers during races (aside from Mick Schumacher, who is OP), but also the ability to return to start your season at the current point in the actual 2022 season. Obviously that particular magic will only be available for a few more months, but it’s still a very nice touch for anyone who’s very interested in the actual sport. Drag racing is also included, as is the full, playable F2 2021 lineup, making for a compelling all-round racing package if you do it all.
Having a rival to beat when you’re otherwise mired in mid-pack darkness again makes a huge difference to your enjoyment of the game and you’ll find yourself eagerly scanning the timesheets to see if Carlos Sainz is really the ‘ smooth operator’, or if it is, in fact, you.
Regular practice sessions are back and are required in career mode, though they can be skipped or simulated. The skill tree system remains deep, yet easy to understand, and is beautifully woven into the authentic full weekend experience. The development points gained from practice sessions really feel important as teams wax and wane in strength as the season progresses.
Behind all this, the wealth of player options in the options menus is superlative. You can toggle the accuracy of the weather report, the frequency of mechanical issues, the parc fermé restrictions…every item you can mention can be adjusted to your liking. Accessibility options are also extensive, even offering the option to convert voice chat to text.
There has been a notable push to increase interactivity in areas that were previously computer controlled. You can now drive the entire parade lap, before manually lining up your car on the grid, which is a first for any mainstream F1 game. You’ll be very pleased to be told it was great to park until your finger slips off the clutch and you get an instant penalty. There’s also a new QTE of sorts for spinning in your box during pit stops, and getting it wrong adds a second or two to your stop time. Again, this is all completely optional, but the depth is there if you want it.
The damage system is more realistic than ever, with new pontoons and floor damage, as well as suspension rods that break and add to the debris. It’s not an accident simulator like Wreckfest, but in the full simulation the cars are really breakable, which is great for fans who demand a real experience. If only the external views of the crashes were as convincing as they were in F1 2010. These cars are almost glued to the ground.
The central act of racing is excellent, and it’s enhanced by all the extra systems like DRS and the overtake button, which can be implemented manually, allowing you to conserve power and fill up the battery ready for a big push for a couple of laps It’s tactical driving heaven, and your engineer will remind you if you forget to use the battery. The AI drives impressively when on the defensive, covering the inside line. It’ll still turn on you if you’re not all the way to the side, which is annoying if you’re maxed out on frailty, but at least the flashbacks come back, allowing you to undo the prang and try a different approach. . Taking fewer risks is probably the truest solution.
On a rare negative note, direction changes are done awkwardly with a controller, as there is a distinct delay between direction changes, presumably to simulate the act of turning the steering wheel. You get used to it, no doubt, but it makes the car feel heavier, and that’s not good when absolute precision is required, especially on tracks like Monaco. There is no obvious way to turn it off.
Difficulty-wise, it’s also not perfectly balanced, with the AI pace varying from race to race, especially when it rains. The AI is formidable in the rain compared to the same setup in the dry.
Surprisingly, the latest criticism is that F1 22 doesn’t look as good as it should at the moment, although the TV replay angles look more realistic than last year and the action on track looks wonderful. His crew is still all uncanny valley residents, but more fundamentally, the ray tracing isn’t particularly impressive, even on Ultra.
The effect is applied progressively, so each time an object moves, the quality of the reflection decreases, before reappearing when it is stationary. It’s something a lot of games do, but when you’re going 200mph, there’s not much stillness (that’s rare), so reflections are often a bit blurry compared to traditional lighting. The effect looks undeniably beautiful in stills, but it’s certainly not worth the performance on the track. There are several DLSS and TAA options, as well as a benchmark test. On an RTX 2070, turning off ray tracing results in around 100fps at 1080p on Ultra and it looks fantastic, so the decision is pretty easy.
Small gripes aside, F1 22 is just another brilliant simulation of the sport; the most convincing and comprehensive that has ever existed. However, while the improvements are great, it’s also the most modest evolution we’ve seen in a long time. The supercars and avatar goofiness make the game feel new without changing it in any significant way, and certainly don’t make up for the absence of last year’s ‘Braking Point’ story mode. It’s still an easy buy to recommend, as it’s a masterclass in racing game design and plays extremely well, but the annual release hasn’t felt unnecessary since F1 2014.