Year over year, Codemasters releases their annual Formula One game slightly earlier than the last, and this one doesn’t lock-up on entry. This year’s game feels like a course correction, and while I wouldn’t label anything from last year a miss, there were some decisions that definitely didn’t land how you’d want. So this year, gone is F1 Life and now F1 World is in its place, and it’s like a theme park celebration of all things Formula One that makes things more exciting than ever. The earlier release date means that F1 23 races to deliver on every front.
Continuing the story from F1 2021 is ‘Braking Point 2’, a fictional campaign told in a documentary style presentation, similar to Netflix’s “Drive to Survive” series. It recounts the 2022 season and into the 2023 season. Told over 17 chapters and around seven hours of gameplay, you’ll be watching cutscenes, racing to meet objectives, and reading text between chapters. You’ll play between a variety of different characters, but you’ll be reintroduced to Aidan Jackson among a few others, with some new faces joining the cast. Everyone has their role to play, and you even have a small part in making decisions given to the Team Principal at the end of each chapter. All the characters you control will always get a call, and while you can decline them, will negatively impact your experience and overall standing. This is a racing game after all, so you’ll be taking part in partial to full races, faced with many issues and tribulations. These scenarios will contain failing brakes, recovering places after colliding with a teammate, and other problems I won’t spoil. It does a great job of getting you to care and work hard to achieve the objectives and bonus objectives that get laid out before you.
It’s astounding when watching the cinematics, the characters and cars look so lifelike, sometimes in an uncanny valley sort of way. This game’s story is better than the previous one, and characters are more complex and multi-faceted this time around. There’s unfortunately no way to replay chapters, so choices or failed objectives will have to stay that way unless you replay them. The game has a ranking on “Performance” and “Reputation” earned throughout your time in the campaign, but . Still a great name for a racing game campaign, Braking Point 2 for as cliched as it might get, has heart.
In F1 22, the “F1 Life” mode was superfluous and just devoid of substance; the new F1 World however, fixes that in a lot of ways. Namely because it is the new hub for everything you do that isn’t the story or career. So for setting up a quick grand prix, challenges, or even the multiplayer will be accessed here. It might be a bit clunkier to access a particular race type or function, it feels more at home here. You can use this to race on tracks that didn’t take place like the Qatar Airways Gran Premio dell’Emilia-Romagna 2023 Grand Prix, or the upcoming Las Vegas race to get a feel for what’s in store later this year. Interestingly, races in this mode will populate the grid with people from your friends list of your platform. So for me, I was seeing my Steam friends in races over real-world racers – I’m of two minds about that. On one hand, it feels like I’m playing multiplayer, but on the other, I’m seeing names of people who would absolutely not play an F1 game, which takes me out of the experience.
F1 World is focused on a gear score, called tech level. This makes F1 23 feel like an RPG, a caRPG if you will. As you race and participate in the challenges, you’ll be awarded gear that you can apply to your car and team that raises its effective score. You’re always incentivized to improve, and are equally rewarded. At times, it felt like my gear outscored everyone around me, so it does feel like it could use some balance tuning as a first pass. F1 World is also closer tied to the Podium Pass (a battle pass, for the uninitiated), and it feels more organic. The Podium Pass has been extended to 50 levels, and you can no longer purchase any more tiers, which seems fair. The things you do pretty much everywhere in the game, feed into this, but F1 World has more of a contribution.
F1 World is also where you’ll access the multiplayer component to race others online. It’s also where it houses daily challenges and events that try to get people together to participate. Because of the way it all feeds into the Podium Pass and your Tech Level, there’s more reasons to participate in the modes you might not otherwise play. Codemasters got really smart in making everything matter this year.
Career mode is where you can spend a lot of your time. And you have a lot of choices before you. You can start at the bottom with Formula 2 or straight into Formula 1, you can just be a driver or also run the team, and you can join the season in-progress or start from the beginning. Having this much choice lets you tailor the career mode the way you want to play without over-complicating or making you do more than you signed up for. Not to make another mistake, Codemasters has smartly kept the two-player career mode in-tact for you and a friend to play cooperatively or competitively for when you’re both online to play. All of the same options are available here, allowing you to play on your own terms. The career mode is one of the F1 series’ greatest strengths, and it flexes its muscles yet again with its depth and breadth.
I have to say, I’m really enjoying the simpler menu in F1 23 . It’s reminiscent of years past, while opting to get players into the action as quick as possible. Interestingly, all of the advanced options for high-level tuning are tucked away, but easy to uncover and stay that way. Though if you wish to re-hide them, you can. I didn’t experience many bugs during my time playing. The only thing I recall is that during the story mode, the subtitles didn’t match what people were saying. So either there was a bit of ad-lib and improvisation during recording, or the dialogue wasn’t in its final form. Either way, it was just something I observed, but didn’t detract from the experience.
Much like F1 Life, F1 World lets you create space to call your own with furnishings of your choosing, display certain cars in your showroom, and display the trophies you’ve earned during play (to include the campaign). It’s not a very social space, despite people from your friends list who are playing the game will be roaming around, sitting on your couches, and more. This is also a place where you’ll be able to select casual clothes to display. The fact that you really don’t do anything while in your casual clothes makes there little reason to spend real money on anything you can wear in the in-game store. You’d be better off spending the real money on experience boosts, or just saving it.
Codemasters adjusted color and lighting to match broadcast and real-world, and the game looks even better than before. I have a powerful PC, so it should come as no surprise that in most scenarios I was getting around 150fps while playing. Though some tracks like Las Vegas, I only managed to get around 60fps. I suspect this’ll be improved in future patches. It’s worth noting that the game uses DLSS 2 (version 126.96.36.199 to be exact), and I do hope the game gets updated to use DLSS 3 at or shortly after release. F1 23 also utilizes Ray Tracing, almost to an unhealthy amount. There’s tons of options: shadows, reflections, ambient occlusion, transparent reflections, and DDGI (Dynamic Diffuse Global Illumination). Enabling all of this did have a performance impact, but because of my 40-series NVIDIA GPU, I enabled DLSS Frame Generation which did most of the heavy lifting to give me the frame rates I was getting. Overall, F1 23 feels very smooth and optimized out of the gate, but knowing Codemasters, we’ll see improvements soon.
And of course, those who prefer a wheel will find out of the box support for manufacturers like Thrustmaster and Fanatec.
My PC Specs:
– Microsoft Windows 11 Pro
– Intel Core i9 13900K @ 5.8GHz
– ASUS ROG RYUJIN II 360 ARGB AIO Liquid CPU Cooler
– G.SKILL TRIDENT Z5 6000MHZ 64GB (32×2) DDR5 RAM
– ASUS ROG Strix GeForce RTX 4080 16GB GDDR6X
– WD_BLACK SN850X M.2 (4 TB)
– LG UltraGear 34GP950B-G (21:9 Ultrawide @ 3440×1440)
– Fanatec CSL Elite F1 Set
Whether you’re fulfilling a fantasy of being a driver on a famous team, racing your friends list with a custom team, or taking part of a Netflix-style docu-series; there’s lots of racing to be had. I can’t find anything about this package to be disappointed with, not even its price point, which feels warranted for once. F1 23 simplifies what didn’t work in prior years, continues a story mode that improves on the original, and expands on modes to make them more worthwhile than ever. Codemasters put on a clinic this year, and manages to top themselves year-over-year with F1 23 being the best entry they’ve made yet.
A Steam code was provided in advance by the publisher for review purposes