Formula 1 has seen incredible growth since the release of Netflix’s Drive to Survive docuseries, but can Codemasters’ F1 22 live up to the high-octane, adrenaline-pumping action of the real thing?
F1 22 marks the first entry into the series that has been completely developed following EA’s acquisition of Codemasters. While the game feels familiar to fans of the franchise, it’s clear to see where EA have influenced the title.
While F1 Life and supercars are the headline additions to F1 22, it’s what the game is missing that leaves me a little disappointed. With no Braking Point story mode and classic cars still missing, I’m left feeling a little short-changed.
Don’t let that distract you from what is a really fun racing game though. With new tire modeling, updated handling thanks to the real-life regulations changes, and improved AI, F1 22 feels like the most well-balanced, competitive Formula 1 game yet.
F1 22 key details
- Developer: Codemasters
- Price: $79.99 / £79.99
- Release date: July 1 (Standard Edition), June 28 (Champions Edition)
- Platforms: Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PS5, PC
F1 22 trailer
For any sports simulation game, gameplay is key. It needs to make you feel like you’re there, living these incredible moments that we see in stadiums, arenas, or on-screen. Thankfully, Codemasters haven’t lost their special touch that has made the series so popular over the years, with F1 22 producing refined, improved gameplay that is truly better than ever.
Fans of the sport will know that the 2022 season has introduced huge regulation changes to Formula 1, with brand-new cars designed to create closer, more competitive changes. For Codemasters, the challenge was to create that feeling of upheaval in-game without making the feeling of driving them completely unfamiliar, and to their credit, they’ve managed it perfectly.
Just like their real-life counterparts, the cars in F1 22 feel heavier, and with the improved tire modeling along with the new 18” wheels, taking corners and hitting your apexes feels different. Early in my time with the game, I felt that the cars suffered from understeer, but with practice, it becomes more and more natural. It feels more rewarding than F1 2021 too, as you can’t just throw yourself into corners anymore, you really need to hit your braking point and search for the apex.
The AI is improved too, most noticeably at the start of races. Divebombing down the inside into the first corner at Bahrain is a thing of the past, as your fellow drivers will now use all of the track and defend the inside line. I found they were still a little timid around the outside of corners, and would back out quite early to avoid a collision, but generally, their defensive driving has taken another step forward.
Codemasters have made some other subtle improvements to gameplay. The new “turn-in” minigame for pitstops adds another level of control to the game, as timing your entry to your pit box can lead to faster times. The ability to line yourself up after your formation lap is another welcome addition, allowing you to point towards opponents if you fancy an aggressive start.
In the end, racing should be fun, and overtaking other drivers should feel rewarding, and in F1 22, both those things are true. There may be more realistic racing sims on the market, but I’m not sure any are as downright fun as this one.
Hard knock (F1) life
Supercars and F1 Life are the headline additions in F1 22, giving players the opportunity to live the lifestyle of their favorite drivers.
Supercars are definitely an interesting and fun addition to the game. Most pleasing about their inclusion is the fact that each one feels different. Doing a lap of Silverstone in the Mercedes-AMG GT R Pro doesn’t feel the same as doing it in a McLaren Artura, which gives some longevity to them. They also appear in career modes too, with Pirelli Hot Laps giving players the opportunity to earn resource points by completing challenges involving drifting or checkpoints.
F1 Life has EA’s fingerprints all over it though. Extremely reminiscent of VOLTA Football from FIFA, players can create their own avatar, and dress them in clothes from streetwear brands like Anti Social Social Club or Parra. In VOLTA, you get to see your new threads on the pitches, but here, you don’t see them outside of menus as you’re always in your racing suit when driving.
Designing your house and picking which supercars you display is a nice way to spruce up the menu system, but I struggle to see any long-term value in this either. It was fun to pick cars and sofas for a few minutes, but I can’t see myself ever returning to it.
It’s great to see developers try new things, and even if they don’t work out, I can always respect a team willing to take risks. In F1 22 though, the things that are missing have just as big an effect on the game as what has been added.
The major addition to F1 2021 last year was Braking Point, a narrative-based story mode inspired by Drive to Survive. Braking Point let players live through Aiden Jackson’s introduction to Formula 1, and the trials and tribulations he faced during his rookie season.
Those looking for the next chapter in Jackson’s story will be disappointed though, as Braking Point doesn’t return this time around. Codemasters say it takes two years to develop the mode, but the lack of story, in any form, makes it feel like something is missing.
The addition of Sprint weekends to career mode is welcome, allowing players to mimic the race weekends we see a few times a year in real life. The ability to pick your starting level in MyTeam is great too, allowing you to jump in as a championship contender or a midfield battler. In general, though, career mode follows the same pattern as the last couple of years — schedule activities, do Research & Development, take part in your race weekend, and the structure could do with a refresh.
The absence of classic cars continues and is a sore spot for fans of the series. The supercars are nice to have, but I’d much rather get behind the wheel of Michael Schumacher’s title-winning F2004 Ferrari than an Aston Martin DB11.
In the end, though, F1 22 is about racing, and that’s where this game is at its best. From beginner to expert, casual fan to Formula 1 obsessive, there’s room for everyone to get behind the wheel of these incredible machines and go racing.
Sure, there are things missing. Yeah, F1 life is a little gimmicky. But in the end, if you can get on track and have a good time, the rest are details. As long as Codemasters remember that truth moving forward, Formula 1 games are in safe hands, and for me, I can’t wait to get back on track and do another lap.
Whether you’re new to the series, or someone who has spent hours and hours perfecting your craft, F1 22 is still the best way to bring Formula 1 action to your own home.
While we’d have liked some fresh ideas outside of F1 Life’s window dressing, we’re excited to see where the franchise goes from here.
Reviewed on PC