I’ve been watching and following the Formula One scene for more than forty years. I’ve had early morning alarm calls so as to not miss the season openers in Australia, I’ve had late night despair as half-grids have shown up at Indianapolis. I’ve taken in the intense rivalries of Prost and Senna, of Lewis and Max, and have screamed at the screen as Schumacher has looked to barge his way to victory.
In all those forty plus years though, never have I thought F1 has been in such a good place. Blame Netflix and Drive to Survive for helping promote, blame Masi for skewing the guidelines in F1 2021, blame the reworked car regulations or even the glitz of Miami for trying to take the F1 2022 season to levels of glamour never before seen. One thing is for sure, this is the year that could well trump all others.
Whatever the reason, F1 is flying and that’s not just in the real world. You see, with the power of EA in the background, and the expertise of some of the finest virtual race developers at Codemasters, the release of EA SPORTS F1 22 on Xbox, PlayStation and PC is nearly as exciting as what is happening on the real tarmac.
After proving themselves in recent years as being able to provide a stunning F1 experience to gamers (in fact, it’s been years since Codies have missed an F1 beat), F1 22 could well be the best yet.
And yep, we know we say this every year.
We’ve been hands on with F1 22 and can confirm that whilst there is no real big shake up in how Codemasters are asking players to go about things, it’s still a hugely exciting affair, one that will appeal massively to the F1 fan base.
Granted, there is no EA Sports storytelling going on here, as the F1 team look to instead run a two-year cycle on narrative, doing away with another episode of Braking Point. What we do have though is brilliant racing: lots and lots of brilliant racing.
All the standard modes you would expect can be found in F1 2022 – MyTeam and Career being the most exciting options – and even though we’ve been restricted to just a Grand Prix mode and that of multiple Time Trials, what we’ve taken in has us hugely excited.
With the amendment of F1 car restrictions and rules, the drip of changes moves into the virtual world. The cars look great and feel brilliant to drive, with real world replication of the opening throes of the season shown to be true here. It’s the Ferrari and Red Bull battle which plays out in F1 22, with eight times world champions Mercedes struggling. There’s a real shift in the team performance order this year.
Utilising real world replication and you may not think that the gap is noticeable, but taking in a Time Trial around Silverstone in the Silver Arrows, swiftly followed by the same behind the wheel of an Italian prancing horse has seen times drop dramatically.
We’ve found similarities around the Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix, the Circuit of the Americas, as well as that of the Austrian GP at the Red Bull Ring, with real world performance levels being key to lap time success.
The only place we’ve noticed the difference in cars to be less dramatic is when taking in laps of the brand new Miami circuit, built around the Dolphins’ Hard Rock Stadium.
Brand new to the world – virtual and real life – by utilising people on the ground and the power and draw that the EA name brings, Codemasters have brilliantly replicated the track. It’s a stunner too and even though it’s taken decades for the American audience to embrace the finest of all motorsports, it’s here where it finally becomes possible. NASCAR what?
A couple of really fast straights, a few DRS zones and a tricky little section with some of the slowest of corners found on the entire F1 calendar, credit has to not just go to those who have created the track, but the development team for going all out to bring it into the game.
We’re blaming our lack of knowledge of the track for the similarities between lap times no matter what car we’ve tried to race around Miami – after all, we can nail the apexes of Imola and Silverstone with our eyes shut – so it’s great that we’ve finally got a proper new circuit to test the skills on. Practice will make perfect here and much like how Max Verstappen, Lewis Hamilton et al will have to learn the quirks of Miami, the same goes for F1 virtual racers, both old hands and green newbies.
F1 22 promises more though. Accompanying the Grand Prix and Time Trials will be a full career when the game releases, alongside cooperative championships and, very excitingly, the chance to race the official Aston Martin Vantage and Mercedes-AMG GT Black Series safety cars. These come about thanks to Codemasters attempting a ‘Test Drive Unlimited‘ style hub and lifestyle area; F1 Life. It’s here where you’ll be able to unlock real world brands, kitting your avatar and cars out with the latest gear. You’ll be able to get behind the wheel of multiple supercars across a range of events – Pirelli Hot Laps, Time Attacks, Checkpoint Challenges and Pursuit. They’ll be available in Time Trial mode too, whilst Autocross, Drift, Average Speed Zone and Rival Duel on-track modes are also promised. You could say that Codies are redefining what F1 is all about with F1 22 and the move away from the usual race cars is a significant one.
They are also mixing things up in terms of how F1 is presented, with new commentators, new broadcast ideas, cinematics and a move into VR for those on PC. Basically put, they are giving the players the tools to ensure that their F1 experience plays out how they want it to. And all credit for allowing us those opportunities.
It goes without saying that there is huge excitement regarding the upcoming release of F1 22 on Xbox, PlayStation and PC with us fully behind the route Codemasters are taking.
We’ll be back with a full review of F1 22 as it releases on Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, PS4, PS5 and PC on June 28th 2022 via the Champions Edition (£79.99 at the Xbox Store). You’ll find the ‘official’ standard version then dropping on July 1st. F1 22 is a cross-gen title at launch too, so Xbox One players will be able to race with those rocking a Series X|S. Cross-platform opportunities are promised by the Codemasters team as well, letting the console war fight take to the track – expect to see this post-launch though.
Huge thanks go out to Codemasters and EA for taking us through the new elements of F1 22, allowing some hands-on in the process. We’re pretty sure that Formula One has never been in a better place than with the 2022 season – both in the real world and that of the virtual one.