F1 23 review: Small tweaks, smoother ride
Another year, another F1 game. Codemasters is racing back onto the scene to deliver this year’s entry in the officially licenced F1 title in the form of 23, and there’s much to be excited for this time around.
While last year’s entry omitted the next chapter of the Braking Point single-player mode, F1 23 continues that saga with all-new characters and plenty of drama to unfurl. Elsewhere, the racing experience has been tweaked to offer one of the most comprehensive F1 packages we’ve seen yet.
But how does it all stack up? Keep reading to learn more about our thoughts on F1 23 in our full review.
While F1 23 mostly feels iterative in its execution, it’s still the best F1 racing experience you can get for your money.
There’s definitely more scope for innovation, but fans of the series will likely feel satiated with this year’s entry into the F1 racing series.
Drive to Survive 2
Braking Point sits at the top of the start menu in F1 23 and is clearly the first thing that players are meant to play when loading up the game for the first time. It picks up with our old pal Aiden Jackson, the protagonist of the first edition of Braking Point. He’s now driving for a new 11th team on the grid, Konnersport, alongside old rival Devon Butler.
If you played the first version of Braking Point, you will know exactly what to expect here. The story takes place over a couple of seasons and is heavily inspired by Netflix’s Drive to Survive series. Each chapter is framed almost like an episode, with drivers and team principals reflecting on the events in a darkened interview room in the most melodramatic fashion.
In the roughly five-hour campaign, you’ll take control of several different drivers in the Konnersport team, looking to complete a number of various objectives. This could be making up a select number of places to earn points, defending positions, or aiming to beat certain teams or drivers among the grid. It would have been great to see more variety in these challenges, though, such as managing tyre wear or fuel consumption.
In addition, strategy options worm their way outside of the races, too. Dialogue options in interviews with Sky Sports F1’s Natalie Pinkham will either increase or decrease your level of popularity with the media or affect your team’s performance. Those attributes are also affected by the choices you make as the team principal, who must manage both the team as well as PR opportunities.
However, most of the decisions mostly feel like flavour text, rarely affecting statistics in meaningful ways. Moreover, while the narrative beats attempt to tackle topics of teamwork, driver health, and a sprinkling of nepotism, character development is almost non-existent. Both the drivers and the people around them feel like exactly the same people at both the beginning and end of their journeys.
While Braking Point 2 is a mildly entertaining aside that serves as an introduction to F1 23, it shouldn’t be a major selling point for players. Those who are already familiar with both the sport and series can likely avoid the mode altogether and not miss out on anything drastic.
- Did you know that you can play F1 22 on Xbox Game Pass?
If it ain’t broke…
Elsewhere, F1 23 very much feels like an iterative step up from what came before. That’s hardly a criticism when what came before is easily the best F1 racing action you can experience on consoles these days.
In terms of new additions, we’re mostly looking at tweaks to existing circuit layouts, the additions of two new tracks, and a bit of an overhaul to the game’s handling physics. Both Circuit de Barcelona Catalunya and the Red Bull Ring have been updated to accommodate the track changes seen in the 2023 season. Of course, the upcoming Las Vegas circuit and Qatar’s Losail International Circuit make their debut too.
While F1 23 will mostly feel similar to what racing fans are familiar with, there are a few tweaks that will be felt by those playing with a controller. Using a system dubbed ‘Precision Drive’, and with feedback from actual F1 teams, actions like braking, accelerating, and cornering all feel a little more realistic.
Even with assists turned on, it’s no longer a case of being able to dive into corners while going hard on the breaks, and then mashing the throttle to fire away out the other side. Now, cornering benefits much more by managing the breaks conservatively, and then easing the throttle on turn exits. Failing to do this sees much more resistance in the rear end of the car, resulting in a bit of wheelspin and an ultimately slower lap time.
Hardcore racing fans will also feel these benefits while using a wheel and pedals, but the racing experience has never felt better on a controller. This is especially apparent on the DualSense pad, which lets you feel the rumble of kerbs incredibly accurately through the haptic feedback, and the same goes for the brake and throttle on the adaptive triggers.
- F1 Manger 2023 is also releasing later this year - here's what you need to know.
It’s a small world after all
F1 World returns this year, which is now the main way that players will access their favourite gameplay modes. Whether it’s joining a multiplayer ranked lobby or setting up your own custom GP, this is where it’s all done.
Driving avatars are back again, with players able to customise both their character and their garage for good measure. Of course, this also means that the aggressive microtransactions are back from last year, so similar concerns levied at F1 22 can also be applied here.
However, an overhaul to the progression system makes those microtransactions feel a little less egregious. With daily, weekly, and seasonal content, plus an updated version of the levelling system, you always feel like you’re being rewarded just for playing F1 23.
The inclusion of a split-screen co-op mode must also be commended, as it’s an omission that plenty of other racing games often forget about these days.
- Enjoyed this review? Why not see what we thought of F1 Manager 2022.
While F1 23 mostly feels iterative in its execution, it’s still the best F1 racing experience you can get for your money. The racing experience feels more lifelike than ever, with the subtle tweaks to the car handling resulting in a far more engaging drive.
Braking Point 2 is a bit of a melodramatic dud, but then again, so is the source material that it’s based on. There’s definitely more scope for innovation, but fans of the series will likely feel satiated with this year’s entry into the F1 racing series.
Reviewed on PC. Code provided by the publisher.