It’s that time of year again when CodeMasters drops the new entry to their annual Formula 1 racing game, aptly named F1 23. With a multitude of new features and a continuation of the Braking Point storyline, this entry has the makings of a quality racing game.
I jumped right into Braking Point this time around, as the storyline is compelling to me. We pick up with the focus of the last two games, fictional drivers Devon Butler and Aiden Jackson as teammates at the end of the 2022 season. They have a few run-ins with Devon not being a very good teammate and Aiden not feeling appreciated. The season jumps around between Devon, Aiden, the team owner, and more as they navigate the ins and outs of the Formula 1 season. It’s really well done, and I thoroughly enjoyed this story.
Sticking with Braking Point, CodeMasters has integrated a Performance and Reputation aspect to the season. Actions that you take and decide will either increase or decrease your performance and reputation in the media, in the team garage, etc. It’s fun being interviewed after a race and seeing the conversation options come up that will improve one of these things and having to choose the options you feel is best, even if it won’t get you more Performance or Reputation points.
New in F1 23 this year is a menu called F1 World. It is considered the main hub for a lot of the popular game modes that return from previous iterations—things like Time Trial, Grand Prix, etc. F1 World is the menu I spent the most amount of time in during my time in F1 23. There is a lot of content there to be played with daily, weekly, and seasonal content, all contributing to Podium Pass progression.
“F1 World is the menu I spent the most amount of time in during my time in F1 23.”
Your License Level is also included in the F1 World menu and allows you to take part in different difficulties of events based on your skill. Drive clean and limit the number of driving penalties (corner cutting, collisions, etc.) you take, and you’ll see your License Level go up. License Levels go from A-D, with A being the higher and D being the lower. For example, in a D-License Level event, collisions are disabled, whereas, in an A-rated event, full damage is applied, making the event all the more realistic.
Ranked mode received a thorough overhaul in F1 23 with the introduction of divisions. 4 divisions make up the Ranked landscape this year: Bronze, Silver, Gold, and Elite, with Bronze having 1 division, Silver having two sub-divisions, and Gold having three sub-divisions. Each division is made up of leaderboards of 100 drivers, and the top drivers at the end of the week move up to the next division (or sub-division if you are Silver or higher) or move down if you rank in the bottom of the leaderboard.
Drivers making their way up to the higher divisions will find that they receive XP Boosts for Podium Pass XP that increase as your rank goes up. Silver is the first tier where an XP Boost is applied, and drivers there receive a 5% boost, Gold receives a 10% boost, and Elite receives a 20% boost.
“Ranked mode received a thorough overhaul in F1 23, with the introduction of divisions.”
Rounding out the F1 World Menu are two brand-new features called Compendium and Goals. Goals provide rewards for completion and feature a vast number of ways to earn those rewards as well as providing Podium Pass progression. The Compendium is, at its core, a sticker book. Stickers are rewarded for completing objectives and can be crafted using resources you earn completing goals. Completing sticker books gives resources and upgrades for your car in F1 World.
All this talk about Podium Pass, and I haven’t mentioned what it does. Well, Podium Pass is F1 23’s version of a subscription (read Battle Pass if you play CoD or Fortnite), and it rewards players with items based on the XP earned. Players have the option of paying for the premium version or sticking with the free progression. The free progression still provides a reward at each level, but the premium version affords an additional reward at each level. There are 50 levels per season and, at the time of writing, there are 55 days remaining in this current season, so there is plenty of time to get through the Podium Pass.
After all of this, the best thing about F1 23 is the handling of the cars you drive. This was the biggest issue I had with F1 22, and to see it fixed brings me a lot of relief. Steering is fluid and effortless, and it feels like I actually have control of the vehicle that is travelling at speeds nearing 300 km/h. This was my experience using both a controller and my racing wheel. I could feel the texture of the road in the vibration of the controller, and the DualSense controller’s adaptive trigger allowed me to control how much throttle I was using when going through Eau Rouge and the onto the Raidillon straight at the Belgian Grand Prix.
“All in all, F1 23 is a spectacular entry to the series and, for me, a welcome update from the previous year’s release.”
I did, however, have an issue when it came to using my racing wheel. I had absolutely no force feedback coming from the wheelbase. One of the best things about having a racing wheel is feeling the road through the wheel. Being able to tell when the tyres are losing grip because the car starts to oversteer. I had none of this during my time with F1 23, and it’s a shame because it would make an entire world of difference in my experience.
Graphically, F1 23 is absolutely gorgeous, which makes sense because F1 22 was gorgeous. CodeMasters have updated the colour and lighting coding to give a more true-to-life visual experience. Seeing the lighting at the new Las Vegas Grand Prix on the Vegas Strip makes the game come alive for me. Realism is important and if the environment doesn’t look good, then the experience is diminished. Thankfully this isn’t the case here.
Speaking of Las Vegas, F1 23 has included the brand-new American track as well as the updates to the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya in Spain and the Red Bull Ring in Austria to reflect the new layouts (the Spanish Grand Prix has removed the much-hated chicane at the end of the track). Also included is the other brand-new track for the F1 season: Qatar. Both Las Vegas and Qatar’s Losail International Circuit have been created using thousands of reference photos and other digital imaging to make them as realistic as possible.
All in all, F1 23 is a spectacular entry to the series and, for me, a welcome update from the previous year’s release. The Ranked leaderboards are particularly enticing for me, as I am competitive by nature, taking part in a league in Gran Turismo 7 for the last year as well. I can recommend this game to any F1 enthusiast and, indeed, and racing enthusiast, and you don’t even need a racing wheel to have a fantastic time.