F1 2018 screenshot

F1 2018 by Codemasters: The RaceFans review

F1 review

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It’s difficult to believe that, as F1 2018 arrives, almost a decade has passed since Codemasters landed the rights to the official Formula 1 game series.

And as Formula One’s factories remain shut down for the summer break, what better way is there to fill the racing void than by sinking your teeth into this year’s edition of the official F1 game?

By building on the qualities of last year’s impressive iteration, F1 2018 succeeds in offering the most comprehensive and refined official title yet.

Hitting the track

Let’s address the most important question on everyone’s mind straight away – Halo does not ruin the cockpit view.

If you’re a seasoned cockpit view racer, it will certainly be a shock to the system the first time you rumble down the Albert Park pit lane with a large carbon fibre protrusion in your vision.

Thankfully, other than when you’re driving down a long straight, it’s very easy to ignore the frontal column of the Halo and you’ll still be able to hit your apexes with equal precision to before.

But even if that’s still too much of an obstruction, Codemasters have included an option to gracefully remove the frontal column completely, making the cockpit view experience practically identical to before.

It’s only a very minor factor in the grand scheme of things as F1 2018 provides an enhanced experience over last year.

Liberty Media’s influence over TV broadcasts in 2018 has been striking, but Formula One’s rebranding surprisingly hasn’t revolutionised the virtual world.

Bryan Tyler’s stirring new theme music is present, as is the sport’s new logo. But besides from those elements, the game’s presentation, menu system and UI remains fundamentally unchanged from last year’s edition.

One neat touch is that FOM’s new team radio sting plays every time you receive or send a radio message while in the track.

It’s not a full simulation, but F1 2018’s handling model is both challenging and rewarding. The current high-downforce generation machines offer fantastic corner grip and the game provides the player with a great feeling for the cars, even through a gamepad.

Balancing the modern cars through high speed sweepers is a lot of fun. Turn off the driving assistance and you can quickly get a good feel for where the adhesion limits are under acceleration and braking.

Tyre and brake temperatures now theoretically play a greater role in car performance over a single lap. So just as the real drivers often have to run cool down laps in qualifying, you might find that running two consecutive hot-laps will not be an option at times.

F1 2018 screenshot
Hate the Halo?
F1 2018 screenshot
Switch it off, then!

The big new on-track feature this season is that the player now has full control over ERS deployment. Using a one-to-five scale, you can now strategise how much you want to ask of your ERS at any given moment on circuit.

Quicker than a rival in the final sector? Save your hybrid energy up over the first half of the lap and then whack it up to ‘overtake’ mode for a better run into that crucial final overtaking opportunity. Need to fend off a faster car? Deploying your energy wisely can help you frustrate your opponent.

If it sounds like too much to manage, you can set your deployment to ‘auto’ and not worry about it. But just as in real life, your engineer will regularly prompt you to adjust into a more suitable setting should your battery become overcharged or if you could do with a little more harvesting.

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Making headlines?

F1 2018 screenshot
As usual the full field is present
Since its return in 2016, the career mode has proven to be the most immersive and rewarding aspect of Codemasters’ series and this year’s mode is deeper and more enjoyable than ever.

Series veterans will be familiar with how the career mode works as it operates in much the same way as in 2017. Choose a team, choose a team mate, set all the race options to your heart’s content and settle in for a long season of practice programmes, position targets and car development.

This season, you’ll now have to face the media whenever you do something worthy of acclaim or blame. Journalist Claire will occasionally put questions to you after sessions in the form of an RPG-style timed dialogue choice system and your answers actually do matter. Choose your words carelessly and you may find they have an impact on your team.

If you blame missing out on Q2 because of poor downforce, your team’s morale will suffer and future aero upgrades will become more expensive and take longer to produce. But credit a breakthrough result down to your new power unit upgrades, your engine guys will get a boost, making it easier and cheaper to improve your car’s power plant further on in the game.

Your responses also help to shape whether your driver is a ‘sportsman’ or a ‘showman’ and that can affect how attractive you are to each of the 10 teams when it’s time to negotiate contracts.

F1 2018 screenshot
What you say to the media could hurt or help your career
If you always offer professional but uninspired answers to questions, your chances of being offered a seat at Red Bull are likely to suffer. Show some fire and maybe a hint of arrogance in your media responses, however, and if your results are good enough you might just find that Christian Horner will be more open to contract discussions.

And contract negotiations are themselves another new feature this year and possibly the most interesting of the additions to career mode.

You’ll start off in whichever team you choose as a number two driver with low expectations and respect to match, but after every four races you’ll get a chance to review your position in the team.

You can negotiate your qualifying and race targets, your standing against your team mate and extra bonuses like faster upgrade times or resource point multipliers. It’s all dependent on the respect you’ve earned on the track. The better you do, the more the team will be willing to offer to invest in you.

Set harder targets and you can stand to earn greater respect if you hit them. Fail to live up to them and the team will be more hesitant to offer you as many perks in the future.

F1 2018 screenshot
The detailed track models look tremendous
It’s a relatively simple system that offers players far greater freedom to set the career mode targets that are suitable for them and also reflects the fickle nature of the sport. If you’re coming off a hot streak of strong race finishes, you can use that to barter a better contract position, but if you then disappoint, all those early successes will count for little.

It also makes switching teams mid-season a more viable option than ever. You can more realistically make a Sainz-to-Renault move to a new team in the middle of a campaign than previously, but you risk ending up in a worse position long term if your new team hasn’t invested in its R&D as wisely as you had with your old team.

With racing against the AI still as exciting as ever, F1 2018’s career mode is easily the most immersive single-player experience ever conceived in an officially licensed F1 game. Managing the media, team expectations and your limited components throughout a long 21 race season makes every single session feel like it matters. Even that hefty practice shunt in Monaco could come back to haunt you in the closing stages of a tight season.

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Playing the classics

F1 2018 screenshot
You can drive the Brawn – if you buy the right version
Aside from the current championship, there’s plenty of additional content to keep you entertained. Last year’s version saw the welcome return of classic cars to the series and it’s great to see older legendary machines from the seventies and eighties like the McLaren M23, Ferrari 312T and Lotus 79 join the fray in their own category.

Like the existing classics, the new additions don’t quite handle as convincingly as some might hope, but they are accessible enough to give casual fans a decent idea of what it must have been like to be a Formula One driver in such a glorious era.

Disappointingly, the two new classic cars likely to excite players the most – the Williams FW25 and Brawn GP BGP 001 – are confined to the Headline Edition of the game or a future DLC release.

You can race classics online as well as against the AI with the option to run a multi-class race with all three eras of classics on track at the same time, making for a truly unique experience for a Formula One game.

The championships mode from last season returns to offer multiple short championships based on themes ranging from a street circuit series to wet weather races or a double-header series with a sprint and feature race with reverse grids. They add a novel variety to the game and whichever team you choose you will receive a target position relative to their performance, making it a fun way to try out all the cars on offer in meaningful competition.

Multiplayer is the main focus of many players and many will be pleased to hear that a new Super Licence system will hopefully help to improve matchmaking by putting safer and fairer drivers together in ranked races and avoiding having your races ruined by oblivious rivals or trolls.

As much as there is to do in F1 2018 and as immersive as it can be, there are moments when it will feel a little too familiar to long time players of the series.

It’s a little disappointing to see the exact same pre-session garage animations and victory animations from team principals recycled from the last two editions. David Croft will also describe how your chosen track “eats rear tyres for breakfast” on what feels like every circuit you visit – again, just as he did last year.

F1 2018 screenshot
The classic cars could use some classic tracks
It’s odd when discussing a racing game that boasts 25 tracks to say that circuit variety could be improved. But a racing game of this quality feels like it’s crying out for a ridiculous fantasy bonus track akin to those you’d find in Psygnosis’ games on the original PlayStation. Or at the least, some of the classic tracks that featured in F1 2013 to complement the plethora of classic cars on offer.

As ever, there’s a sense that the greatest limitation of Codemasters’ series remains the very licence itself. Unless Liberty Media prove more flexible than their predecessors the next time the sport’s official game licence is up for renewal, features like driver transfers, junior formula, livery editing or even creating an entirely new team will remain only dreams.

If you’ve never played a Codemasters F1 game or if you or someone you know has even a casual interest in the sport, it’s never been easier to recommend a Formula One game than it is with F1 2018.

Experienced players may feel a growing sense of deja vu once the new game sheen begins to wear off while hardcore sim racing fans will still find frustrations in the details. However, when you’re locked into a 100 percent distance career mode race and a sudden safety car deployment forces you into a last minute strategy call that ultimately nets you a surprise maiden podium, it’s a reminder that Formula One games have never been as immersive and exhilarating as they are right now.

F1 2018 is not only Codemasters’ best edition of the series to date, it reaffirms it as one of the best sports game franchises on the market.

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F1 Fanatic rating

Rating five out of five

Buy F1 2018 Headline Edition (PS4)

Buy F1 2018 Headline Edition (Xbox One)

Buy F1 2018 Headline Edition (PC CD)

F1 2018

Author: Codemasters
Publisher: Koch Media
Published: 2018
Price: £39.99 (PC), £44.99 (PlayStation 4 / Xbox One)

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Author information

Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...

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36 comments on “F1 2018 by Codemasters: The RaceFans review”

  1. I can’t wait to get my hands on it.

    1. Oh goodie, more fluff. If you want to improve the game, Codemasters, add telemetry like the old EA Sports version of the game had. Give the serious racers a tool to analyze and improve their performance. It surely can’t be that technically difficult given that it worked fairly well 15 years ago. The idea is to drive the car at the maximum level the players ability allows – not talking to some stoopid cartoon character.

  2. Hopefully it’s more easily moddable this year, could do it last year but not easily, otherwise the game gets a bit stale after 2 seasons. I just want to be able to edit the flags and the AI skill levels, as well as of course the helmets and names. Then I’ll be very happy :)
    Game looks incredible though from what I’ve seen, can’t wait!

    1. Yeah I agree. I’ve got 2017 so I won’t bother buying it this year as it sounds exactly the same but if it turns out that it’s more moddable, I’ll buy it instantly.

  3. Can you race as Kubica and other 3rd drivers?

  4. I love the fact that if you ‘turn off’ the Halo strut you gain next to no extra visibility due to the antenna

    Still, may actually look into the version of the game as haven’t played one since 2012.

  5. That cut scene looks just as bad as Codemasters Toca Race Driver 1 back in 2002. I can’t believe that this, and the on-track action is still graphically so poor.

  6. Off topic.
    Seeing the cockpit view I wonder why teams don’t use the inside of the halo to display info to the driver, or a rearview camera screen.

  7. Seeing the cockpit view I wonder why teams don’t use the inside of the halo to display info to the driver, or a rearview camera screen.

    1. Fudge Kobayashi (@)
      20th August 2018, 10:26

      a) Because they have a reconfigurable screen in the steering wheel which can show them everything they want or need.
      b) Weight
      c) The optics of the Halo design mean that it is meant to essentially become invisible (do the old finger in front of your nose experiment) – this would require focusing on it and making it harder to blend into your periphery.

  8. It’s hard to believe that the most technically sophisticated sport in the world is represented by a console arcade game.

    It’s clearly money over substance which for me is a clear sign of things to come from the new owners.

    1. It’s hard to believe that the most technically sophisticated sport in the world is represented by a console arcade game.

      Focusing on the hardcore gamer tends to kill the business, as games become inaccessible to the majority market. That’s the reason that the sports manager genre, which was everywhere around the turn of the millennium, has been relegated to irrelevancy, because companies listened to the vocal minority that wanted ridiculously “realistic” games.

      1. A reasonably configurable difficulties option would resolve that issue quite straightforwardly, although programming the extra variables would take considerably more disk space (a non-issue on the typical PC, probably more of a problem for consoles). Being able to customise the way one experiences a computer game is becoming a more common request these days, so it is feasible to have the cool arcade game that, with sliders and appropriate additional multiplayer options, could be made some/all of the way to a realistic simulator.

        That comment applies to both the driving and manager aspects of F1 games: the driving games, to me, always seemed to master only one of the two arcade/simulation poles, and the management games always assumed “micromanagement on everything” was the desire of all. In the 1990s, with limited resources, that was understandable (if limiting). In the 2010s, it needn’t be.

    2. What’s wrong with consoles? A controller is at least better for racing than keyboard and mouse.

      As for arcade, obviously a fully realistic F1 game would be unplayable by most people just as the cars are undrivable, even if they were using a racing wheel and pedals. Money talks.

      Having played F1 2014, 2015 and F1 2017, I for one love the latter two games. I thought it was too easy to spin off in F1 2014 and hope they don’t return to those physics for the new game.

    3. Why would a good fun game be labelled as having no substance ? That’s snobbish to me. I am a keen (real life) amateur racer and enjoy those F1 games just as much as more hardcore Sims. Plus with all aides taken away, it may not be full on realistic but it (at least in 2017) is consistent, fun and dependable.

      Plus I’m always annoyed with most Sims. Gaming offers little feedback loops (wheel and screen mainly) and I always find pure simulations way harder than the real thing anyway (for the cars I can make comparisons on).

      1. Yeah I find this too. Real life you can feel what the car is doing; feel grip levels and bumps on individual tyres, feel the intertia and weight transfer – particularly when a car is about to spin.

        I like a somewhat unforgiving racer (e.g. Dirt: Rally), but not full on simulations where feedback is limited. I race for the enjoyment – not to be stressing that I can’t find all the available grip (or more likely, use too much and find myself in the wall).

    4. I’m talking about F1 choosing this to be their eSports series, not gaming business in general.

      As it is now, it’s not about the top simracers in the world in the most advanced simulator.

      Instead it’s about a console game you can play with a gamepad and that’s a shame.

    5. Michael Brown (@)
      18th August 2018, 3:14

      There are sims with much more attention to detail than the Codemasters F1 games, but F1 went with the Codemasters games for their eSports series.

      Look how they handled eSports for F1 2017. When it was announced, Codemasters patched in broadcast cameras in spectate mode, because suddenly there was a demand for that. It’s not like thousands of people have been competing in leagues for years on these games.

      So F1 is doing eSports in these games? Laughable.

    6. One thing I’ve learned in my experience gaming is that there has to be a balance between accessibility and realism in racing games. It’s extremely difficult to make a game that is both friendly enough to beginners and deep enough to keep hardcore players going.

      Theoretically, it should be possible in theory for a complete noob to start out and develop their skills enough to be competitive player in a game that’s truly a good one for competitive play. If esports is supposed to be so inclusive, why make a game that has such a steep learning curve that it turns most players away? Or worse, why make the pros use software that’s inaccessible to everyone else?

  9. Michael Brown (@)
    17th August 2018, 15:02

    It still has the cartoonish aesthetic despite going for the high-quality textures and weather effects. It always surprised me that it took 4 years to put ERS in. It would be like if 2011 and 2012 has no KERS but 2013 did.

    1. @mbr-9 F1 2013 indeed has KERS as well.

  10. I’m not buying it because it doesn’t support VR.

    Can’t go back to racing without it, hopefully they add it to this one later or the next one. Dirt rally proves that codies know how to do it.

  11. I really hope one day they can do the extra’s as mentioned above.
    How cool would a real career mode be with GP3 and F2 (or even Porsche supercup).
    With Liberty, I feel this should be possible in the coming years.
    Extra tracks would be awesome, even as DLC.

  12. No VR? No sale.

  13. “It’s odd when discussing a racing game that boasts 25 tracks to say that circuit variety could be improved.”

    25? Which 4 tracks are included that aren’t on this year’s actual calendar?

    1. As was the case in last year’s edition, there are additional shortened versions of Sakhir, Silverstone, COTA and Suzuka.

      1. Ah I see, thanks

  14. Different titles have different strengths and weaknesses but Codemasters F1 2017 had two weaknesses in particular that really ruin the experience for me.

    Huge input lag and the FOV can’t go low enough to use triples properly as the front wheels never go past the middle screen into the side screens.

    Anyone knows if these two aspects have had some attention?

  15. And as Formula One’s factories remain shut down for the summer break, what better way is there to fill the racing void than by sinking your teeth into this year’s edition of the official F1 game?

    It actually releases to the public exactly the day that the summer break ends – free practice 1 & 2 day at Spa .

  16. With no VR support hiding the halo is a must… Otherwise you’d go past the middle post with your view as in real life, and you’d not notice it.

    I’m not into this series, as I prefer something. So excuse me if this is a dumb question. That Q&A with the media, isn’t there always a clear path to chose to get the best results? I’d assume no one would say your performance is down to a lack of down force for instance, so you’d never be in a position in which you demotivate your team. If you chose that answer there should also be an advantage for you, otherwise it’s nonsense to chose it? Not sure if o explain myself enough… I always wonder how all that stuff works.

    1. Yeah I’m not sure how it works either, but from a programming perspective I suspect it’s actually pretty basic. There would definitely be a “golden” path which the game has a bias towards, which I suspect is all about being a team player.

      If anyone knows if there are advantages to complaining about the car…

      Maybe it unlocks a “‘Nando Mode” and you get to skip a race to compete in the Indy 500.

  17. Fudge Kobayashi (@)
    20th August 2018, 11:09

    Like trying to get blood from a stone the answer to this one but does anyone know if you can import your car setups from F1 2017 into this years version? I spent alot of time on those…

    1. Too hard to just take photos of screen on phone and re apply to new game? Oh poor diddums what a life dilemma you may face!

  18. Played the heck out of 2010 when it came out, drove multiple seasons, etc. Got ’12 & ’13 for free from XBL, but didn’t play much of them. Tried out ’16 on PS4 for free w/ a demo, but I found DRS and ERS hard to get the most potential from it. I guess that is part of the challenge and thrill, linking everything together for the most performance, but I enjoyed the raw experience of driving as fast as possible without tweaking everything constantly. It helped that I had a wheel for Xbox 360.

    I’d be willing to try 2018 I think, due to the increased grip and speed. But not having a wheel on PS4 makes it harder for me to concentrate with fine inputs.

  19. Oh god not that hectic ‘theme’ music and ‘engineered insanity’ garbage…. cringe worthy enough on broadcasts, I hope there is a mute option 🙂.

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