For the 2022 season, Formula 1 has entered a new era. The sport introduced a new car spec for this year, complete with a new set of regulations that govern how it can be used. There’s a new circuit in the United States as well as a continuation of the sprint race format that’s still in its infancy. Big changes for teams at the start of the season led EA-owned Codemasters to redesign the latest entry in the F1 game series to match the real-life updates on the track.
As studios typically do for games like this, Codemasters is touting F1 22 as the “biggest overhaul” to the title in years. And with the debut of a new generation car, it’s not hyperbole. Specifically, the company says the handling is “better than ever” with upgrades to the aerodynamic and suspension simulation, plus changes to tires per the real-life regulations. Codemasters says it was in contact with both F1 and teams on how the new generation of cars would drive so it could completely overhaul mechanics and the physics of the game to mirror IRL racing.
In an effort to increase the realism of the game, Codemasters has swapped out the voice of the race engineer on your team for Marc Preistley, a former member of McLaren Racing’s F1 crew. The studio even went so far as to record Preistley’s guidance through a Formula 1-spec headset so the audio is as authentic as possible. Further changes to race day include Formation Lap and AR-guided grid lineup. Pit stops have been updated for the speed of real life and there’s a timed pit box entry mechanic that impacts the efficiency of your stop.
Practice sessions now include an AR projection on the track to help both experienced drivers refine their lines and rookies to learn circuits. What’s more, both Formation Lap and safety car sequences give you the option of actively participating or watching a more broadcast-like cinematic version of the process. Codemasters says this gives users who crave authenticity the ability to go through every motion of a race, but it also offers more casual gamers the choice of something more relaxed. Pit stops are another area where things can be as active as you want them to be. You can either manually hit your pit box with the timing mechanic or watch from a TV-style perspective.
For beginners, there’s a new Adaptive AI feature. Codemasters says this is built for users who are fans of F1 but may not be skilled at racing games just yet. Essentially, the game’s AI plays more closely alongside the user so that even a novice driver can participate in the race rather than struggle to keep up with the pack. There are two levels to Adaptive AI: standard and a more aggressive mode that slows down the game even more.
F1 22 will also add the sprint race format that Formula 1 adopted for select weekends in 2021 and has continued this season. A short dash determines the starting grid for Sunday’s Grand Prix at these circuits rather than traditional qualifying (quali is used to set the grid for the sprint). Sprint races will be part of the season at Imola, Austria and Brazil and they’re part of the game at those locales as well. F1 added a second race in the US this year in Miami, and that circuit will also feature in the game. Codemasters made changes to Australia, Spain and Abu Dhabi in line with the updates to the actual tracks that better accommodate the new cars.
There are changes for the career or My Team mode as well. First, you can choose between three entry levels: newcomer, midfield challenger or title contender. You can begin with a team that already has established operations and a great driver, or you can make things more challenging. There are things like the option of skipping an interview or not dealing with a facilities problem, issues that real team bosses face, that can impact how your season goes if you don’t handle them properly.
In My Team, you’ve had the ability to customize your livery before, but Codemasters has expanded this area. There are more finishes for the car (gloss, metallic, matte, satin) and there are more places on the car that are available to change. Interface updates here allow you to copy and paste livery color schemes to places like your engineering facility so that you have a cohesive identity for your team.
With F1 Life, the game’s new central hub, you’re able to see the supercars you unlock from playing (that are driveable in secondary game modes), browse your trophy case and customize your driver’s style. There’s a closet here where you can update both casual and race wear – right down to the helmet and gloves. F1 Life also serves as the lobby for multiplayer racing, where your driver and their personal style will show up for everyone to see. You even have the ability to customize your “space” or living area where furniture, lighting, art and more can all be swapped out as you see fit.
Lastly, there’s a VR component for PC. With this game mode, you’ll be able to race from the perspective of the driver, taking in the entire race from the cockpit. If you’ve ever seen a driver cam during a race, that should give you a pretty good idea of what to expect here. You can still race against friends even if they don’t have a VR headset since online play is still available for players who opt for the more immersive virtual reality option.
F1 22 will be available June 28th as a digital Champions Edition on PlayStation 4, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S and PC (Epic, Origin and Steam). The “regular” version will follow on July 1st.