F1 22 is the first full game under the EA Sports banner and as the new game aims to deliver the definitive experience of the new era of F1, the main new additions to the title feel largely wasted with the feeling that maybe the increased resources could have been focused in another way.
This year Formula one has entered a new era for the sport. A series of regulation changes have given the cars a new look as well as a new way to be driven all with the goal of creating closer racing, however, this isn’t the only aspect of the series that is entering a bold new future.
Codemasters have been bought by Electronic Arts and now run under the EA Sports banner. While F1 2021 was the first game released since the acquisition, EA had very little to do with its development due to the game being very far along the development process at the time of the developers purchase. F1 22 represents the new era for Codemasters and hopes were high if tinged with a bit of pessimism.
F1 22 gets off to a mixed start on first loading up the game. You are presented with a voice-over from SKY F1’s Natalie Pinkham which is a welcome addition. She doesn’t just appear in the opening; Natalie is also one of the select commentators in the game that have been added. No longer is it just David Croft and Anthony Davidson, along with Pinkham they are also joined by Alex Jacques who is now a commentator for Channel 4 as well as some Formula 2 and 3 races.
Unfortunately, the opening content that is being voiced over is the new F1 Life section of the game. F1 Life supposedly allows you to experience the life of an F1 driver outside of the car as well as in it. The reality however is that it is just a fancy new menu background that you can customise. You can furnish your rooms with new sofas, rugs, supercars etc but in terms of any gameplay enhancements, there is nothing there. The furnishings have also been added to the Podium Pass that returns, meaning if you are buying tiers or the VIP option, some of your unlockables are not going to be that great. You will also be able to buy these via the item shop, but they offer no benefit whatsoever, so I’d personally save your in-game currency for the helmets, liveries and suits.
As you may have realised, I mentioned supercars above. These are in the game as part of the aforementioned F1 Life and in your career mode as Pirelli Hot Lap challenges. There are 10 cars in total if you count the two Safety Cars, which are also driveable but not in the race, that comes with the Champions edition of the game. In F1 life they just sit in one of 6 designated bays as background props, in career mode though, they are used in challenges before a race weekend to give you extra money or acclaim. The challenges range from Autocross and Checkpoints all the way to drifting. The challenges do not add much to the game at all, and you can’t even race the cars against each other. This means that they could be seen as more bloat that the game doesn’t need.
A few games ago we had classic F1 cars implemented in a similar way and despite being able to race with them, they also fell by the wayside in an average player’s game. In my opinion classic cars should be added but focussing on a particular year or, have at least three from the same year so there is a bit of variety. The addition of supercars from Aston Martin, Mercedes, Ferrari and Mclaren unfortunately gives you less reasons to use them than the classic cars did.
Happily, though when it comes to the actual F1 side of the game, F1 22 really does start to shine. Players of the previous game or even F1 2020 will find that the Driver and My Team career modes are pretty much the same. In a Driver career you choose your avatar, select whether you start in F2 or straight into F1 and away you go. In My Team, you choose your team-name, colours, livery etc as well as choosing a power unit and teammate. There is an extra choice in My Team however, you can choose as to where you start in terms of car performance. If you are someone who had less time on your hands you can start either as a Mid-pack team or as a front runner, in addition to starting from scratch.
The wealth of options that F1 22 offers the player is one of its strong points. Despite a sometimes-confusing tiled menu, anyone can go in an adjust the game to their hearts content. You can do 16 race championships, add sliders to give you a boost or handicap when building your team, choose your racing style and adjust the many assists, all with the goal to help you enjoy the game and focus on driving the new ’22 cars.
It is the driving where the game gets really enjoyable. If you managed to drive the F2 cars in last year’s game, then these years will be very familiar. The cars feel nearly exactly the same but that isn’t a bad thing as they were a lot more controllable, and you could really get stuck into the racing instead of worrying about lighting up the rear and spinning.
But we are here for the 2022 F1 cars. You get a varied feel with the new cars depending on what mode you are using them in as well as how far into your career mode you are. In My Team, the cars feel slow and twitchy at the rear, my first practice session was spent spinning at Turn 1 at Bahrain. You use a version of the FOM car that was used to promote the new regulations and it will take a while before you can really get the best out of it, once you do however, the car is really nice to drive.
In the Online and Time Trial modes, the cars are at their optimum and are a dream to drive. I could feel the improved force feedback allowing me to really to commit to the new Miami circuit despite not having driven it before. The cars allow you to brake later than you may realise at first too, so out-braking an opponent can make you feel like you’ve sent the stamp to end all stamps.
The driving experience goes hand in hand with the changes that have been made to the circuits. A long with Miami, the layout changes in Australia, Spain and Abu Dhabi are all present, surprisingly though all the circuits have been given a pass over. Kerbing has been adjusted in a lot of places such as Singapore and Monaco to the point that instead of jumping over kerbs you now ground out on them and get sent out wide. Singapore’s corners are notorious for this especially in the last sector, but it is not all about punishing the player. Monaco’s Swimming pool section and Monza’s Ascari are now more pleasant to run through if you hit one of the kerbs.
Incremental improvements/changes have been made elsewhere in the game also. You can now manually enter your starting spot from a formation lap, you can also affect your turn into your pitbox, a late button press amounting to a .5s loss from good to bad. Practice sessions give you more telemetry information once completed to let you know your tyre performance. For the first time codemasters have also added VR to the racing experience. Despite being PC only, players can now connect their device of choice and get even more immersed in driving an F1 car. It is a feature that has been along time coming but hopefully it is here to stay.
Unfortunately, there is still no quick pit stop feature for qualifying and personally I’d like to see pre-season testing implemented similar to Milestone’s MotoGP games, but generally the F1 portion of the game has definitely improved.
Multiplayer is also still very much the same, it seems stability was more of the main aim rather than wholesale changes or new additions which considering the experience of frequent connection losses in the previous games, this focus is very much welcomed.
There are few graphical bugs with some clipping in places and team badges, also fellow players have had issues with their Thrustmaster wheels, but as I type, there are fewer problems than there have been in past launches for my experience.
F1 22 is a game I would definitely recommend, the experience on track has only improved, especially with yet another improvement in AI, and taking part in a 50% race with Verstappen in the rain at Spa is thrilling. The problem is that the main additions of the supercars and F1 life are largely pointless, and in terms of the latter, may only exist to give another reason for people to partake in microtransactions. F1 Life is where you see EA’s influence coming to the front but thankfully it can easily be ignored as you get your teeth sunk in to a race day at Silverstone.
F1 22 is out now on PlayStation®5, Xbox Series X|S, PlayStation®4, Xbox One, and PC
This review was carried out on the Xbox Series X with a Fanatec CSL DD