With rubber-peeling franchises under its belt like the Dirt, Grid, and the F1 gaming series, Codemasters should be the masters (no pun intended) of the racing domain at this stage in the British development studio’s life. Going on its third year as a subsidiary of Electronic Arts, Codemasters presents us with another hot F1 title that aims to continue F1 22’s goal of delivering more than big tires, aerodynamic cars, and an assortment of circuits to test them on. F1 23 delivers both a driver’s seat and an eagle-eyed view of the motorsport.
So, let’s get into the nitty-gritty. Early F1 23 marketing promised tighter and higher-precision controls. On that promise, this experience capably delivers. Braking and cornering never felt so good. With the updates to the vehicles for 2023, physics has greatly been improved including heftier traction. This also benefits acceleration giving you a true sense of the power behind these single-seat cars. Like previous titles, there are plenty of opportunities to modify and customize your vehicle’s calibrations and settings. So, it’s important to keep the 2023 vehicle updates in mind as you make your modifications. There really aren’t many more words to summarize the thrill and feel of the basic racing gameplay. As far as Formula One is considered, this is the definitive virtual experience of the sport. While it is the only modern existing and licensed F1 series, the simulated racing action at hand really couldn’t get much better than is.
"As far as Formula One is considered, this is the definitive virtual experience of the sport. While it is the only modern existing and licensed F1 series, the simulated racing action at hand really couldn’t get much better than is."
The tactile nature of the DualSense is also put to work with F1 23 much like its predecessor. Both from a visual and haptics perspective, even the smallest indents in the track such as the roadside curbs and the rumble strips are felt. Like Dirt 5 before it, the feedback from the terrain is precise and exquisite. With F1 circuits, concrete and maybe grass or dirt are about as varied as the terrain gets compared to the off-road sprints in Dirt 5. Yet, the sensations from the controls and visuals all communicate the slightest upsets masterfully.
Precision Drive is a term you will hear in association with F1 23. This nugget of techno-wizardry grants players who use a standard controller (versus those who use a steering wheel) a greater level of precision in the overall handling of the F1 vehicles. This will be infinitely more evident to the veterans of the series who have extensive experience with previous entries. Taxing racing simulations like Gran Turismo have often proven that there’s a steep learning curve when using a controller as your input. F1 23 ultimately aims to bridge the gap between veterans and those new to the series.
From a visual angle, F1 23 is a true spectacle. The graphical presentation has improved over last year’s offering with more detailed character models and vibrant colors and lighting throughout each of the circuits. Facial animation is more fluid. Of course, we’re not crossing the threshold into photorealism or anything as there is still a very animated feel to the characters and their movements. But I absolutely have no complaints about what F1 23 offers on that front. The real treat is, of course, the race track and the remarkable detail throughout. Furthermore, there’s a deep sense of care and virtual craftsmanship in each of the vehicles that bring F1 23 into Forza Horizon 5 or Gran Turismo 7 territory visually speaking.
"From a visual angle, F1 23 is a true spectacle."
Now, if you were elated with F1 21’s value-added and drama-infused campaign, Braking Point, then hold on to your britches as a sequel within a sequel returns with Braking Point 2. This is ultimately the highlight of the experience that will inevitably reach the broader, more casual racing audience. The journey sees the return of Aiden Jackson and Devon Butler of the Konnersport Butler Racing Team. The formation of this team now positions these racers as teammates who prove to be at odds with one another from the get-go. Callie Mayer, Butler’s sister and a Formula 2 champion, will quickly enter the spotlight as an adept challenger in the Formula One arena.
Aside from the races and internal squabbles with the Konnersport team, the campaign measures your performance in several aspects. Not only must you conduct yourself professionally out on the track, but you must seek to build the reputation of your team by navigating the media. You’ll take on the role of the team principal, Andreo Konner, and ultimately be given choices in how to respond to pressing situations throughout the 2023 season that will affect your reputation ratings. Reputation and performance become important as you progress through the season providing new opportunities. Braking Point 2 lets you slip into the management role to a degree and understand the types of issues that often plague a Formula One team. It’s really a complete package.
Career Mode returns as expected. What’s not entirely expected, however, is that F1 Life has graduated to F1 World. In our review for F1 22, it was noted that F1 Life was largely cosmetic and unnecessary. F1 World changes all that as it integrates with every other facet of F1 23. It acts as the ultimate endgame for a racing title that ties single-player and multiplayer offerings together with a sense of shared progression. Codemasters promises a continual flow of seasonal events in F1 World that players can tackle. As you progress through F1 World, either in multiplayer or single-player challenges, you’ll be able to upgrade your vehicle and obtain new cosmetics. Ultimately, the bonuses of F1 World will be realized in time as players dive into the challenges and events at play once the game launches. F1 World may rival Braking Point 2 as a highlight of F1 23, giving the game much-needed longevity.
"With this latest release, there’s plenty of content to sink your teeth into between the campaign and both single and multiplayer challenges within F1 World. F1 23 is poised to be the biggest entry in the series yet."
The livery and character customizations and cosmetics aren’t as granular as I would like. But many of us, myself included, could spend all day perfecting a character model. Still, a deeper sense of customization could do wonders for the social aspect of F1 World drawing more attention from casual audiences and potential newcomers. The Podium Pass does return, once again, which is akin to any other seasonal pass in online games these days. As you progress, you’ll earn new cosmetic items. If you’re in it for the long haul, there could be a wealth of goodies here for you. Otherwise, it’s easy to dismiss the microtransactions aspect of this title and not be any worse for wear.
All in all, F1 23 is the perfect jumping-on point for any would-be racing enthusiast considering investigating the Codemasters-developed series. With a remarkable sense of detail and unmatched controls across the franchise, the learning curve isn’t quite as steep with upgrades that ultimately help to stabilize the handling of the vehicles on the track as well as measured difficulty options. Additionally, there’s a wondrous sense of community as the popularity of the sport reaches new heights in the 2023 season. And with this latest release, there’s plenty of content to sink your teeth into between the campaign and both single and multiplayer challenges within F1 World. F1 23 is poised to be the biggest entry in the series yet.
This game was reviewed on the PlayStation 5.
Tight and precise controls – a true upgrade over past entries; Vibrant graphical presentation; Engaging campaign in Brake Point 2; Solid progression integration with F1 World.
Customization still isn’t as granular as it could be.