The latest Formula 1 World Championship has been a little predictable, thanks to the ongoing dominance of Max Verstappen. So, if you want to rewrite the record books for this year, say hello to EA Sports F1 23.
The brand new official Formula 1 video game is available to buy now, and is offered for Microsoft Xbox, Sony PlayStation and Windows PC.
Does it do enough to be a worthwhile upgrade from EA Sports F1 22, released less than 12 months ago? Let’s find out…
Las Vegas, baby!
It has been hard to miss the hype around the addition of the Las Vegas Street Circuit to the 2023 Formula 1 calendar. Although the real race does not take place until November this year, players of F1 23 can explore the new neon-lit track straight away.
EA Sports has also finally added Qatar’s Losail International Circuit to the track selection, too, after it was first used in the 2021 Formula 1 season.
Spain’s recently reprofiled Circuit de Barcelona Catalunya is included as well, along with the changes to Austria’s Red Bull Ring. Jeddah, Zandvoort, Miami and Baku receive minor tweaks such as new kerbs or extended grandstands.
All the latest car designs and liveries from the 2023 Formula 1 World Championship are, as you would hope, available from the off.
Braking the limit, again
Those who played the F1 21 game will remember the Braking Point interactive story mode. Although not present in last year’s game, it makes a return for 2023.
Braking Point 2 sees Aiden Jackson and Devon Butler, the protagonists from the original story, back again. This time they are placed at a fictional Konnersport Formula 1 team, facing the challenges of being teammates and driving for a brand new outfit.
They are joined by the character of Callie Mayer, introduced as the first woman to win the Formula 2 championship. EA Sports worked with three-time W Series winner, Jamie Chadwick, to gain her unique insight.
A point to prove
The gameplay for Braking Point focuses around scenarios during the 2022 and 2023 seasons, typically seeing the player chucked into the middle of a race with objectives to meet.
Away from the track, press interviews, social media posts and even team management decisions are all included. It does give a useful introduction for those new to Formula 1 games, but the scripted drama can be tough going.
The inclusion of a female Braking Point character marks an important step for the F1 franchise, even more so after the W Series entered administration earlier this month.
Lapping with precision
EA Sports is particularly proud of the new ‘Precision Drive’ feature, which is said to improve the experience for those using a games controller. Typically, using a controller has been viewed as less immersive than a full force-feedback steering wheel, and more suited to casual players.
Previous F1 games have made using a controller tricky. In our experience, it took a lot of experimenting with menu settings in F1 22 to feel confident playing with one.
F1 23, however, is instantly more playable with a controller. Alongside the improved physics and handling for the cars themselves, there are likely to be fewer moments of frustration this time around.
Driven by fan feedback
As part of developing this year’s game, EA Sports says it has taken fan feedback onboard about how to improve the F1 franchise.
Red flags make a return to F1 23 franchise after a surprising nine-year absence. This makes sense, given their increasingly frequent use in real-world Formula 1 races. Both offline and online modes can see the race red-flagged, usually due to collisions or bad weather.
Other tweaks have included the return of the popular 35 percent race distance, noted as the ‘sweet spot’ for combining strategy and speed of play.
Graphics tune-up included
Previous games in the F1 franchise often had graphics that appeared rudimentary, with a focus on performance over detail. Pleasingly, F1 23 has been given a major boost, with improved colour encoding and lighting dynamics.
There is a definite difference when placed side-by-side with last year’s title, and it makes for the most realistic looking F1 game to date.
New on-screen graphics can be seen when racing, designed to more closely mimic those viewed on TV broadcasts. This extends to updated driver grid rundown visuals at the start of each race.
Create your own F1 World
Replacing last year’s ‘F1 Life’ social hub is the rebranded ‘F1 World’ for F1 23. This allows access to both solo and multi-player racing, and delivers fresh daily, weekly and seasonal challenges.
It still allows for plenty of customisation, along with a new F1 World car that can be developed and enhanced. EA Sports hopes that F1 World will appeal to those familiar with other racing games such as Gran Turismo or Forza Motorsport, allowing more pick-up-and-play arcade action.
However, the usual options to play a complete Formula 1 season still remain, as does the ability to build your own team and driver. Updated real-world driver ratings have been added for 2023, bringing the game up-to-date.
Verdict: EA Sports F1 23
Developing and publishing a new video game in just 12 months will always limit just how dramatic any changes can be. This is a characteristic not only common to the F1 game franchise, but seen across the wider EA Sports range.
The addition of new circuits, along with the genuinely impressive Precision Drive for controller users, does deliver important upgrades to F1 23. Bringing back red flags, the 35 percent race distance option, and the visual upgrades are notable improvements as well.
On the flipside, Braking Point 2 will hold little appeal for those who just want an accurate recreation of the current Formula 1 season. Those who buy into the Drive to Survive-style drama will enjoy it, but more experienced players are likely to give it a miss.
For 2023, the positive additions to EA Sports F1 23 outweigh the features simply carried over from previous F1 games. This makes it easier to recommend for both experienced players, and those new to the world of virtual Formula 1.