need to know
what is it? The latest in a series of excellent racing cars officially licensed by Codemasters.
expect to pay $60/£50
release date July 1, 2022
developer Code Master
Publisher Electronic Arts
audit date NVIDIA RTX 2070, 16GB RAM, Intel Core i7 @ 2.6GHz
multiplayer game? Yes
association Official website (opens in new tab)
F1 is back in vogue thanks to the Hamilton/Verstappen controversy over last year’s finale, Netflix’s Drive to Survive documentary series and tighter racing due to sweeping changes to the rules. Before the midpoint of the season, each team managed to clinch championship points. Picking any of these angles would be a great place to start a racing game. So why did F1 22 focus on soft furnishings in the first place?
Excellent. Remember the “live your life” spirit of F1 2010? The game comes to its logical conclusion, giving your multimillionaire avatar a whole new living space that you can instantly pair with furniture, wall hangings, and the damn soft furniture of your choice. Other players can visit your space online to admire your race trophies, supercar collection and lighting of choice. It’s not very interactive, though. You can only swipe between left and right rooms, not move around in the new residence, and the cosmetic options are very limited. It’s also worryingly geared towards microtransactions, as you can buy “Pitcoins” (groaning) with real money to buy everything.
But did someone say “supercar series”? 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 more money than you need. Still, you can see the appeal. There were some real beauties to choose from from the start, including the gorgeous Ferrari F8 Tributo and the rather sleek McLaren 720S.
The physics simulations of these road beasts are impressively smooth and precise, and the softer suspension makes them feel more like real driving than the raw, stiff thrills of F1 and F2 cars. Supercars can be driven in time trials or “Pirelli Hot Laps” challenges, 40 of which are scattered throughout Career Mode, or accessed through their own menus to tackle three difficulty levels. From drift events to average speed checks, the hardest targets are tricky. But they feel a little tedious and labelled, which is an “oh, another supercar to do” feeling. They’re relatively slow and bulky, and if you want to drive these things, you’ve definitely bought the Assetto Corsa. Tokens to buy them unlock as you play, and by the time you finish your first season, you’ll have enough money to fill your apartment’s six compartments.
But let’s stop there. This is the F1 you’re here for, and frankly the addition of supercars just highlights why F1 exists. Fortunately, F1 content is the best ever. Before you start to determine the type of experience you will have, you have a lot of options. My Team is back, allowing you to build a new F1 team from scratch as owner, team principal and driver at the same time, from driving to giving your second driver extra sim time master. Mind you, driving is mandatory, and while you can control a lot of things, it’s definitely encroaching on F1 Manager territory. The only thing missing is dolphins (the violent bouncing caused by the new ground effect rules), but maybe simulating poor Lewis’ back pain is a bit too much.
Now with three tiers of initial 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 that lets you challenge for the title right away.
Ultimate Team (Teammates)
There are also erstwhile stars like Prost, Senna and Schumacher who can be recruited as ill-timed teammates, and that’s the trump card, even though they’re demanding, and even if you can afford it, they’ll probably still sniff at your R&D facility. Increased motivation, of course. Like FIFA, EA’s servers will download the current driver’s real world rankings and car performance, which means not only the driver’s real position in the race (except Mick Schumacher, who is OP), but also means you can start the season Returns the current point of the true 2022 season. Obviously, this particular magic will only last a few more months, but it’s still a pretty good touch for anyone who’s invested heavily in a real sport. There are sprint races too, as is the full, playable 2021 F2 roster, which is a convincing and complete pro mix if you give it your all.
When you beat your opponent again in mid-range obscurity can have a huge impact on the fun of the game, and you’ll find yourself eagerly scrolling through the schedule to see if Carlos Sainz is indeed the “smooth operator”, or, if it is , in fact, you.
The usual practice sessions return and are mandatory in career mode, although they can be skipped or simulated. The skill tree system is still deep, but easy to understand and perfectly integrated into the authentic all-weekend experience. As the strength of the team rises and falls as the season progresses, the development points gained from practice matches really matter.
Beneath all of this, the rich player choices in the options menu are superlatives. You can toggle the accuracy of weather reports, the frequency of mechanical problems, parc ferme limits… every element you can mention can be adjusted to your liking. Accessibility options are also comprehensive, even offering the option to convert voice chat to text.
In domains previously controlled by computers, there has been a significant push to increase interactivity. You can now drive an entire parade lap and manually line your car on the grid, a first for any mainstream F1 race. You feel pretty smug when your finger slips off the clutch and you get an instant drive-through penalty. There’s also a new QTE that turns into your box during pit stops, adding a second or two to your stop time if you get it wrong. Again, this is completely optional, but the depth is there if you want.
The damage system is more realistic than ever, with new side crates and floor damage and booms that are broken and added to debris. It’s not a crash simulator like Wreckfest, but in a fully simulated situation, the car is actually fragile, which is great for fans who want an authentic experience. If only the external collision view was as convincing as in 2010 F1. The cars were almost stuck to the ground.
The core action of the car is excellent and enhanced with all the extra systems like DRS and overtaking buttons, which can be deployed manually, allowing you to save energy and fully charge the battery, ready for a few laps of hard pushing. This is tactical driving heaven, and your engineer will remind you if you forget to use the battery. When the AI is on defense, its kickoff is impressive, covering the paint. It’ll still attack you if you’re not quite close to it, which can be annoying if you’ve maxed your vulnerability, but at least the flashback will come back, allowing you to undo the prang and try a different approach. Takes less risk may be the more real solution.
On a rare negative note, the controller would strangely change direction due to a noticeable delay between switching extreme steering, presumably to simulate the act of turning the wheels. Sure, you get used to it, but it makes the car feel heavier, which is not a good thing when absolute precision is required, especially at a track like Monaco. There is no obvious way to turn it off.
It’s also not perfectly balanced when it comes to difficulty, and the speed of the AI varies from game to game, especially when it’s raining. The AI is powerful in the rain compared to the same setup in a dry environment.
Surprisingly, the final criticism is that the F1 22 doesn’t look as good as it should at this point, although the angle of the TV replay does look more realistic than last year, and the action on the track looks great. Your pit crew is still all the inhabitants of the Uncanny Valley, but more fundamentally, even on the Ultra, ray tracing isn’t particularly impressive.
The effect is applied gradually, so whenever the object moves, the quality of the reflection decreases, then retracts when it’s stationary. That’s what a lot of games do, but when you’re driving at 200 mph, there isn’t a lot of stillness (weird, that), so reflections are often a bit blurry compared to traditional lighting. Admittedly, the effect looks beautiful in stills, but it’s certainly not worthy of a great performance on the track. There are several DLSS and TAA options, and a benchmark. On an RTX 2070, disabling ray tracing yields about 100fps on Ultra at 1080p and looks great, so the decision was easy.
Minor complaints aside, the F1 22 is just another brilliant simulation of the sport. The most convincing and detailed ever. However, as great as the improvement is, it’s also the most modest evolution we’ve seen in a while. The supercars and avatar crap made the game look new, but didn’t really meaningfully change it, and certainly didn’t make up for the lack of last year’s “Brake Spot” story mode. It’s still easy to recommend because it’s a master game in racing game design, and it’s played so well, but since F1 2014, the annual release doesn’t feel like it’s unnecessary.