The annual stream of EA Sports games continues quietly. As a big fan of Formula 1, I have been bravely playing the game Electronic Arts presents me with every year since 2018. Some years the developer does so more successfully (2020, for example) than others (2022 was quite disappointing). This year, quite a lot has changed in the familiar game and in the first hours I have now spent, a few things stood out.
The driving itself
First, the most important thing in a Formula One game: the racing itself. In 2022, it was quite difficult to keep your car on the track, especially when you turned off traction control completely. Anyone who uses a steering wheel – as I do myself – can sense exactly what the car is doing because of shortshifting. This gives those players a huge advantage over players with a controller. In F1 23, EA and Codemasters have found a solution. In my preview I cited this as well, but Precision Drive is genuinely the best addition the developers have made in years. Even if I was playing with a controller, I could sense when the car would break out and it was even possible to catch enthusiastic acceleration. Something that has become virtually impossible in previous F1 games.
This also meant that for the first time I could completely turn off the traction control for my steering wheel without too much trouble. Of course, I was still occasionally backwards when I got on the gas too fast, but where in 2022 this still ensured a guaranteed DNF, this is no longer the case in F1 23. Actually, you always feel like you have full control of the car and that is a very welcome change and for that reason alone I don’t want to go back to F1 22.
Braking Point 2
Another reason I wouldn’t want to return to F1 22 is Braking Point. I immediately admit that this will not be the main reason to purchase this game, but the Netflix-like adventure is at least entertaining. The story actually continues after 2021’s Braking Point which puts you on the same team with arch-rival and shitty little man Devon Butler. A team additionally owned by Papa Butler. Just from that sentence alone, you realize that it won’t be easy for you to manage everything.
Braking Point 2 is playable in different difficulty levels and these can be tuned to the experience you have with the game. I myself started on hard and managed to pass the first few challenges without any problem. A little further into the story, I couldn’t do that anymore and switched to an easier setting after narrowly losing the challenge. Unfortunately, this mode turned out to be so easy that I managed to pass my goal with half a minute to spare. So for me it would have been nice to have another option in between these two. As I said, I personally wouldn’t pick F1 23 for Braking Point 2, but so it is a nice change from the rest of the game.
F1 World for microtransactions
The rest of the game includes F1 World. A new mode that handles its own car and by completing challenges you can make that car better. I could tell a very nice story here about the different challenges, the opponents that scale with your car and the variety this mode has to offer. Unfortunately, these fairly positive parts are overshadowed by the items themselves. While playing, for example, you earn a new engine or unlock a team principle that you can hire through contracts. These then give you a bonus on your score, and that score in turn determines the rewards for subsequent challenges.
I have to honestly admit that the first few races this was pretty fun to do. Indeed, at the beginning it is fairly easy to unlock new parts and take on new challenges. Unfortunately, in the process I also noticed that the Podium Pass was starting to fill up. During the review period, it was not yet clear what the rewards for this will be, but I’m afraid it won’t be limited to the innocuous new benches and lamps from the previous part. Of course, you don’t have to play this mode, but when you don’t have a regular group to race with online, you’re still very quickly relying on F1 World, unless of course you want to get going with a Career and thankfully that’s still an option as well.
Online, appearance and the rest
During the review period it was not yet possible to actually play online. So I cannot say much about that at this time. I sincerely hope this has received as much attention as Precision Drive, but my mind says I really need to experience this for myself first. After all, most of the time I spend in an F1 game is online and I sincerely hope that some improvements have been made here, as there were quite a few bugs in previous games.
By the way, I haven’t actually encountered any bugs myself while playing. The game is now in Early Access and the first complaints appear here and there. As mentioned above, I myself actually did not experience any red flags that did not make sense or other issues and had a very smooth review period where I mostly enjoyed the driving itself.
Finally, I have to say that EA and Codemasters have taken a big step forward with the look of the game. The official F1 drivers no longer look like failed wax figures and actually resemble their likenesses, tire wear is better to see, and purely by feel the game also looks many times better while driving itself. For example, I still use the auxiliary line in corners – yes, shame on me, I know – and even this looks a lot better in F1 23 than in the previous game.
So EA Sports F1 23 has actually just become a very strong game. My experience while racing is incredibly improved thanks to Precision Drive, and bringing back Braking Point is a nice addition. F1 World is a nice addition for a while, but it became painfully obvious even during the review period that this is what microtransactions are going to feed into the game. As far as I’m concerned, they can leave these types of modes behind nicely and put even more time into improving the racing experience, because in the end that’s what it’s all about.