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F1 23

Platform(s): PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X
Genre: Racing
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Developer: Codemasters
Release Date: June 16, 2023

About Tony "OUberLord" Mitera

I've been entrenched in the world of game reviews for almost a decade, and I've been playing them for even longer. I'm primarily a PC gamer, though I own and play pretty much all modern platforms. When I'm not shooting up the place in the online arena, I can be found working in the IT field, which has just as many computers but far less shooting. Usually.


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PS5/PS4/XSX/XOne/PC Preview - 'F1 23'

by Tony "OUberLord" Mitera on May 31, 2023 @ 12:00 a.m. PDT

Headlined with the return of the epic story mode Braking Point, F1 23 is home to every team, driver and circuit for the 2023 season, including the highly anticipated Las Vegas Grand Prix and Lusail International Circuit, Qatar.

With any annual franchise, I always wonder how the new game is going to justify its existence. With Formula 1, it's not as if the sport drastically changes; even with the significant rule changes that took place in 2022, most outside observers wouldn't have a clue about any difference. Based on my experience thus far with a limited preview build of the game, F1 23 is making a compelling case that the developers aren't keen to just sit around and slap some new paint on an old build.

Granted, a lot of the menus and the interface of the game is a direct copy from the past game(s). The first thing I did was get my controls set up and fire up a time trials race. As is my tradition with a new F1 game, I take Bahrain for a few laps first, and I figured I'd take to the track as Alonso in his oddly fantastic-this-season Aston Martin. With the default preset of the car, the first thing I noticed is that for this simple test, the game handled fantastic using a mere Xbox One controller. With the previous game, it was almost always worth the effort of dragging out the wheel and cockpit for a quick play, as it felt better. At the time, I chalked it up to the normal reality of a racing game being better played with a wheel.

That's not the case for F1 23. Granted, I still prefer using a wheel, but I was rather shocked at how much more improved the handling felt. Some of this is likely owed to the developers touting refined handling and physics as one of the main features of the game. In their words, they incorporated "actual F1 team feedback" to improve the handling for both wheel and pad players. They noted that the new physics give the cars more predictable behavior under braking, cornering, and acceleration, and with improved balance between aero and grip, the cars have a more realistic feel.

I've never been able to modulate braking forces and really get a feel for the grip using a controller as I have with F1 23 so far. They really weren't kidding with the more predictable behavior, either; I was able to quickly get a feel for the car and put down some consistent lap times without having to worry about car setup changes, whereas with the controller in the past games, I always had to either run one of the higher grip setups or roll my own custom setup. I wonder now if I was doing so to mask previous inconsistencies or downsides with the handling/physics model.

There is also the "Precision Drive" feature, which is a purported controller tech rewrite to enable more "control, precision, and finesse" for controller users. Look, I really love the experience of using a wheel to play racing games, but I'm also often a lazy person. In the past, using a controller felt like using a compromise, and while I still think it's a more enjoyable way to play the game, these improvements in F1 23 make using a controller an incredibly viable option that doesn't feel awfully limiting.

F1 23 also continues with the "Braking Point" feature, which is a narrative-driven story mode that continues where the plot of F1 2022 left off. Aiden Jackson is still the protagonist of the story, which takes place during a fictional version of the 2022 Formula 1 season in which both he and his rival Devon Butler race for Konnersport Racing. Konnersport is a fictional 11th team on the grid, with Devon's father Davidoff Butler being one of the significant financial backers for the up-and-coming team. Obviously, the situation is ripe for some dramatics between the two drivers, who clearly still have an active rivalry that is bound to spill over. Through the first three chapters of the story, it's difficult to tell if Davidoff is truly trying to play no favorites on the team or if he's trying to sabotage Aiden to make his boy look good.

Braking Point continues to have interviews with the various characters, and it is even more apparent of the influence from Netflix's Drive to Survive. That last outing felt a little contrived at times, but so far in F1 23, they seem to have struck a solid balance between "this is a linear plot that we are telling" and "this still needs to be a racing game where the player has some agency." You can gain or lose "Performance" and "Reputation" metrics depending on how you race and how many objectives you complete, which can influence which choices you can make in press conferences and dealing with team conflicts.

The preview build of F1 23 that I played didn't have the career mode or anything else present, so it's tough to say what that will look like and how it may differ from last year's game. While I'm certainly curious, the most important thing I took away from the preview of F1 23 was the improved vehicle handling. It's not as though F1 2022 was necessarily bad in that regard, but there has clearly been a fair amount of effort put into giving the new game some of the best handling and physics that the series has had in a long time. It can't be easy making an annual title feel like something fresh, but so far, F1 23 is a true upgrade package for the series, and I'm real curious to check out the rest of the game when it launches on June 16, 2023.

Previewed on: AMD Ryzen 7 3700X, 32 GB RAM, NVidia RTX 4070 Ti, Xbox One Controller, Thrustmaster TMX Pro, Spectre Carbon 2.0 Racing Cockpit

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