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F1 23 review: a slight evolution on a fun and reliable formula

F1 23 is lucky enough to come along with a genuine revolution in the sport
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For a Formula 1 fan, F1 23 doesn’t need much of an introduction. If you played last year’s game, you already know what to expect. Just as with other annual series, like FIFA, fans know that the base game is good, often even excellent. We also know these new, full-priced releases usually only have marginal tweaks with each entry. You have the better years, you have the worse years, and that’s pretty much it. The same goes for F1 23.

Starting with the driving model, the official Formula 1 video game gets back to its simul-arcade formula that Codemasters fans have come to love over the years. It’s defined by gameplay that remains accessible to all, but customizable through a dense system of assists and preferences until it comes close to the heights of an authentic car simulator.

From this perspective, F1 23 is still a pleasure to drive, both with controllers and a steering wheel. The single-seaters go in and out of corners smooth as silk – the drive feels so natural that you get into a state of flow as you take on a Grand Prix, turn after turn.

With previous entries, I would usually point out how Codemasters’ experience in rally games made Time Trials the standout mode. You drive alone and challenge only yourself, without running into frustrations with collisions and pit stops.

f1 23 b

That may remain true with F1 23, but in the past releases, things have shifted, and now challenging the AI in a race or championship is up there with the Time Trials. That’s thanks to adjustments to the pitstops, after which you no longer find yourself in P20 every single time.

While new features are pretty sparse, they clearly show how Codemasters put all the feedback from the past racing season to good use. Just touching curbs with the floor of your car means you can lose control for a split second, and even risk spinning out. That’s something teams, and drivers learned the hard way last year, with a few notable examples being Schumacher’s crashes in Jeddah and Monaco.

Curbs have always been a controversial feature in F1 games, and they still are, in part. Some of these have even become infamous in the community – the second-to-last corner in Bahrain, to name one, as this could spin out racers with a single tap. While Codemasters has ironed out the issue over time, there’s a new, weird phenomenon. Go full throttle, and – again, apparently only in pre-calculated parts of certain circuits – you’ll see your car spin out in the middle of turns.

f1 23 c

Codemasters told me this comes as part of the new traction control system, where the default setting is last year’s Medium. Also, wear and compounds have a say in this, the developer adds. It might be true, but I’ve seen it happen even in time trials with just 5% degradation. The way you lose the rear end can, at times, feel a bit too scripted.

F1 23 comes with two new tracks this year, Las Vegas and Qatar. The new U.S. circuit, which won’t debut until late in the season, has a central section that is vaguely reminiscent of Singapore and Miami.

It is absolutely designed with the new generation of Formula 1 cars in mind: lots of quick turns and very fast straights as you flash across the Strip at 350km/h, and that should make overtaking much easier under DRS. Because of this, it’s pretty easy to learn and master, with the exception of turns 7 and 8.

Losail has been a MotoGP staple for decades now: it looks a lot like Bahrain, with the three very fast turns in quick succession as the highlight. F1 fans will dig it as you race fast, it’s approachable, and still requires agency.

F1 23 Braking Point 2 story mode

Story mode Braking Point 2 returns after a one-year hiatus. New features include a management component complete with choices and consequences. The game does a decent job at taking note of your decisions, at least until the narrative takes over.

The story evolves thanks to multiple perspectives, giving us a look at the Formula 1 world through the lens of three different characters. This is fun and adds more variety to both the storytelling and gameplay, even though some characters – especially F1 2021’s protagonist Aiden Jackson – end up losing some of their screen time. It’s nice to see how Braking Point has been able to create a proper in-game universe, one where you get to see familiar faces return and others show themselves in a different light.

The scenario-based structure remains the same, and it still pays off, although the difficulty is too low, and you always end up completing both the main and bonus objectives with ease. A hefty dose of suspension of disbelief is also required: our team faces bankruptcy with you winning two races in a row in F1, certainly not something for a bankrupt team, all while the dominant Verstappen starts from P9.


Elsewhere, the narrative does a great job of connecting that in-game universe with the real world. Emails and news throw in anecdotes from F1 history and reports from the contemporary scene, and this feels really competent. It’s quite rare to see an officially licensed game deal with themes like billionaire sponsors, or the controversial legacy of motorsport, with such frankness.

I play Time Trials every race weekend, just to get the feeling of the track, and F1 World has the potential to fit in that weird habit. It’s a rapid-fire mode designed for the long term, with ongoing updates throughout the season to engage players well beyond the Career mode.

I was surprised to discover that it’s much more than just a hub: it comes with a full package of challenges to play both in single and multiplayer, and it’s set up for rotating content focusing on the current Grand Prix. Racing in series such as European GPs or in scenarios where you need an exciting comeback in the rain, F1 World is based on a standalone progression, allowing you to upgrade your car and your team with unexpected depth.


It’s a brilliant blend of the Braking Point scenario-based experience and the management side of things in Career mode – so much that one could wonder if this could overshadow the two modes it draws inspiration from. On the other hand, the Hot Lap experience introduced last year is scaled down to just a playlist in F1 World.

One of the biggest issues with F1 World is it comes with way too many currencies, whether it’s money or stuff you specifically need to upgrade parts and team members. I quickly stopped caring about the post-event screen detailing all that I had earned.

The mode comes with a huge variety of objectives, similar to bounties and challenges in a game like Destiny, and are even meant to be claimed in a dedicated menu as if you’re playing a free-to-play game. This is where the long-term engagement comes in, although some tasks might be a touch too obscure.

f1 23 d

Licenses are borrowed from multiplayer, and almost remind me of Gran Turismo. It’s a nice progression system, even though you have to go through a FUT-like curve where you’ll be asked to spend the first few hours playing against a very weak AI. On top of that, I lost my progress twice for reasons I still don’t understand. Not fun.

In conclusion, F1 23 has few standout innovations compared to last year’s game, and is lucky enough to come along with a genuine revolution in the sport.

F1 World’s good and will only get better, while the game remains a fun and authentic simul-arcade experience and a solid starting point for those willing to learn how to play with a steering wheel.

Score: 7/10

  • Story and narrative: 7/10
  • Technical performance: 8/10
  • Visuals: 8/10
  • Audio and music: 8/10
  • Mechanics and systems: 7/10

Version tested: PC

F1 23 technical breakdown

Looking at the visuals, F1 23 features a warmer color palette that makes these spectacular cars even more vibrant and fits the setting: you play more races at night, and that’s one of the reasons why Las Vegas and Qatar look so good. I played the PC version on an ultrawide monitor, running the game up to 144fps at a 2560x1080p resolution. It’s as smooth as last year’s game on a RTX 3080. Ray-tracing is a heavy lift as you’d expect, bringing the framerate down to 70-80fps. It still feels consistent and smooth, though, so if you want the extra bells and whistles, it’s worth the compromise. Codemasters has indulged in a few more details, such as tires graining and blistering that you’ll notice with wear. You’ll also see drivers’ hands moving a lot in the car, whether it’s to celebrate a victory on the final lap or tweak settings on the steering wheel à la Alonso.