F1 23 box art

The F1 22 flaws EA Sports need to fix to make F1 23 a must-buy


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In one month’s time, EA Sports will release their third officially licensed Formula 1 game under their banner: F1 23.

The launch of a new F1 game is no longer just a moment marked on the calendar of Formula 1 fans, it is now one of the biggest annual sports game releases and a major point in the simracing year – even if elitists will protest mentioning ‘F1 23’ and ‘simracing’ in the same sentence.

But F1 23 heads to shelves and online storefronts with the unenviable task of restoring the series’ reputation following a down year in 2022.

Between F1 2015 – a disappointing entry into the last generation of consoles – and last year’s game, Codemasters’ long-running franchise enjoyed solid critical and player reception, providing millions of hours of exciting and rewarding racing action for players across the world.

That run ended with F1 22. The first entry in the series to have its entire development cycle under supervision of EA Sports may have sold no worse than those before it but players and critics alike did not feel the magic last time around. RaceFans awarded last year’s entry three out of five while review aggregators Metacritic recorded a combined average of 79 – by no means bad, but the first time the series dipped below 80 since the 2015 game.

So with the release of the latest game inching ever closer, what were players’ problems with last year’s entry and how are EA planning to make F1 23 the best in the series so far?

Handling and physics

A new F1 game means new handling tweaks. While usually a result of developers trying to strike an ever-better balance between realistic, rewarding and accessible handling for both controllers and wheels, Codemasters have also had to mirror the real life regulation changes of each new season and reflect how drivers have to adapt their driving style with each new generation of cars.

It was no surprise that F1 22 featured heavily revised driving physics to emulate the new ground effect aerodynamics introduced that year. But the feedback from players was that the new model was far less predictable than previous years. Traction was especially an issue, with cars prone to breaking away under acceleration even in fourth gear, suddenly snapping with little opportunity to detect or catch a slide.

F1 22 screenshot
F1 22’s handling was unpredictable
But complaints over F1 22’s physics did not just come from average or low-skilled players who simply didn’t want to invest the time into mastering the new handling changes – even the professionals were not happy with last year’s handling model. Two-times F1 esports world champion Jarno Opmeer recently went as far as to describe the outgoing game’s physics as “horrific”.

“The drive-ability has been terrible,” Opmeer said of F1 22’s handling in a recent video shared on his YouTube channel. “It’s very unpredictable when the car’s going to snap. It’s always entry understeer and then very aggressively snaps to oversteer. Casuals just can’t catch it – even for esports players, it’s very hard to catch.”

In response, Codemasters have made handling a major focus of this year’s upcoming game. They promise more “authentic” handling with more progressive torque delivery to make car behaviour under power more predictable. They also say that cars will react more noticeably over kerbs and rumble strips and that players will have a better time detecting between mechanical and aerodynamic grip.

It all sounds encouraging, but very much like the typical fluff players hear before the release of any officially licensed racing game. The proof will only come when the players – and especially the pros – get their hands on the game.

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Single player and AI

With the window to become an actual Formula 1 driver likely closed to the overwhelming majority of players, the F1 game series offers the closest thing many of us will get to living out our F1 career fantasies. But while F1 22’s career and MyTeam modes were as extensive as ever, some problems held the single-player experience from reaching its full potential.

F1 22 screenshot
AI seemed to lack awareness at times last year
For the first months after release, AI drivers had far superior traction out of slow corners than players enjoyed themselves. This made racing in career mode especially frustrating, as rivals would simply disappear down the straight, offering players no chance of tucking into their slipstream and attempting a pass at higher difficulty levels.

AI were once again very inconsistent between track to track. The community again set up their own reference sites to help players gauge what their AI difficulty level should be set to at each circuit. Then, when they found the right AI level, the computer-controlled drivers were far more aggressive than previous years to the extent they appeared to have lost awareness of where the player could be, leading to far more contact during races in a way that was unwelcome and unrealistic.

There has been no information so far on what Codemasters have done with AI for this year’s game, but it will likely be a hot topic for fans once the game is released.

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Online issues

The single-player is only one part of the experience that the F1 game offers and, for many players, it’s the least important part. For many out there, multiplayer is the main draw that keeps them coming back year after year.

Online leagues faced challenges in F1 22
Sadly, F1 22 was not a great entry for online players. The continued lack of dedicated servers means online multiplayer continues to rely on peer-to-peer play and many players had to deal with irritating desyncs that ruined races and blighted private league play throughout the cycle of the game.

On a more serious matter, F1 22 showed just how much the series needs some sort of anti-cheat mechanism to prevent players using hacks and exploits to either break casual online play or give themselves a subtle but crucial advantage during competitive races. Even one of the top private leagues – PSGL – had its latest PC season dogged by allegations of some players using grip hacks to give themselves unfair advantages, resulting in a highly controversial season finale.

This year’s F1 esports pro series is unlikely to face such controversy as it appears set to return to a LAN based competition rather than being a purely online event. But for the sake of all players who love to race seriously – whether it’s against the very best in the world or with a close group of friends – introducing cheat prevention measures to F1 23 has become more important than ever.

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Podium Pass and F1 Life

Since its introduction in F1 2020, the Podium Pass has received a mixed reception from players. Styled after the battle passes of Call of Duty and Fortnite among many other multiplayer games, the system was supposed to provide players with cosmetic rewards like liveries, helmet and race suit designs as a carrot on a stick to keep players racing and enjoy unlocking more items.

F1 2021 screenshot
The Podium Pass was introduced in 2020
However, in four years, the Podium Pass has been largely a disappointment. There have been recycled designs and animations year-to-year and heavy emphasis on YouTube personalities like Tiametmarduk and Pieface23. From bizarre, cringeworthy celebration dances to unlockable team radio celebrations referencing internet memes almost as old as Oscar Piastri left many players wondering ‘why would anyone pick this?’. And when F1 Life introduced unlockable sofa, lamp and carpet options into the Podium Pass, it took a lot of the appeal out of the system for many.

This year, F1 23 is expected to bring some major changes to how unlockables are integrated into multiplayer. Details remain thin at the moment, but more information is likely to be revealed later this week with the release of the second F1 23 developer deep dive. Whether the upcoming multiplayer changes will leave fans delighted or in despair remains to be seen.

The price isn’t right

One of the biggest impacts of EA’s purchase of Codemasters can be felt not in the game itself, but how the game is sold. Back in 2021, players around the world in Asia, South America, the Middle East and beyond were unpleasantly surprised to learn that F1 2021 would cost far more than F1 2020 – the last game prior to EA buying the developer – due to the scrapping of regional pricing on platforms like Steam.

Las Vegas Strip Circuit in F1 23 screenshot, 2023
F1 23 will have new tracks – and more besides
The cost of buying F1 2021 on Steam in Brazil went from R$109 to R$249 the year after – an increase of over 100%. In Mexico, the game went from Mex$527 to Mex$1,399. Fans in many countries felt priced out of a game series they could previously reliably afford every year.

With F1 23, fans across the world will feel the weight on their wallets again. On Steam, players in the United States can pre-order F1 23 for $69.99 – a full $10 more than they were asked for to buy F1 22. Naturally, anyone wanting all the additional content and early access offered by the ‘Champions Edition’ will have to shell out more.

With the return of the Braking Point story mode, revised physics and handling and other features coming to the new game, EA Sports will argue that players will get their money’s worth. But unless they successfully address the concerns many raised last year, they may find that such an increase is too much for some of the series’ long-time players to accept.

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Over to you

Which games in the official Formula 1 series have you purchased? What are you most keen to see in F1 23? Have your say in the comments.

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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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    7 comments on “The F1 22 flaws EA Sports need to fix to make F1 23 a must-buy”

    1. Thanks for the summary. As always, I will wait for the price to drop 50% and then i’ll buy it. No way I am paying 70 EUR for this even though I love F1.

    2. I didnt even get to all of these issues. I refunded the game as it just didn’t work at all with the thrust ts-pc wheelbase and lcm pedals. Those are among the most used and work fine in iracing and racegames on the steam platform just fine.

      1. *thrustmaster

    3. What I would really like, would be if every driver on the grid did at least a few laps in their in game car and let us know how close to realistic it felt to them.
      Also, comments from the guys who spend a lot of time in the simulators.

      Of course EA might want to avoid this just in case the general agreement was that the game felt nothing like F1 to the F1 drivers.

      1. There’s a funny video on Youtube where Kimi Raikkonen played F1 2019 against an esports player. Kimi thought that driving a real F1 car was easier than the game :D

    4. Electroball76
      17th May 2023, 17:56

      So it costs too much, handles like a dog, and the opponents keep cheating? That sounds like they have captured F1 pretty accurately

    5. The single-player is only one part of the experience that the F1 game offers and, for many players, it’s the least important part. For many out there, multiplayer is the main draw that keeps them coming back year after year.

      The Steam achievements tell a completely different story.

      Only 68% of players have finished on the podium in a race, which is unrelated to this issue, but it’s the most common achievement so it serves as a baseline of sorts here.

      The first multiplayer achievement further on down the list is The Start, which is given to people who finish ten races online. It has just over 12% attainment rate. The achievement The Grind, which is given for finishing fifty online races, has been unlocked by just over 3% of players. Note also that online races mostly have just a handful of laps (although longer races are certainly possible).

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