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F1 23 is the best Formula One game I have ever played

With improvements across the board and excellent new features, F1 23 is not only the best in the series, but probably Codemasters’ best racing game ever.

F1 23 review: a woman on a podium in the racing game

Our Verdict

With more content than ever before and news ways to engage, F1 23 is Codemasters’ best Formula One game to date - and maybe even the developer’s best racing game ever. New mechanics and car physics make this game a joy to play and F1 World is shaping up to be a fantastic addition to the series moving forward.

As yet another annually-released sports game, you might think Codemasters’ F1 23 is largely the same as last year’s release. Max Verstappen is still winning races, after all, and the chance of rain at Silverstone is always a little higher than you want it to be. However, this assessment is far from the truth and, if you’re a Formula One fan, you’re going to want to invest in F1 23. This isn’t just one of the best Formula One games I have ever played, it might just be one of the best racing games the veteran developer has ever released. With two new modes for players to get stuck into, and improved driving mechanics and graphics, this once again raises the bar for the series and delivers a fantastic experience on and off the track.

One rather important way Codemasters has improved upon last year’s offering in F1 23 is the introduction of F1 World. Replacing the rather hollow F1 Life, this is the game mode Formula One fans were waiting for – and it’s one I can certainly see myself spending quite a bit of time in over the next 12-odd months.

In what seems like an attempt to adopt the ever-popular FIFA Ultimate Team mode from EA Sports’ soccer game series, F1 World is an experience that collates everything on offer in F1 23 – except for Career Mode and the Braking Point 2 story mode – with a new progression system that promises seasonal content for players to enjoy. Here, like in F1 Life, you can customize your own driver and car livery – outside of any Career Mode saves you might have, although the customization options are universal – alongside your ‘apartment’ while once-again unlocking Supercars for your amusement.

However, you’ll be pleased to know that this is just the tip of this particular iceberg. F1 World’s real pull is the challenge of increasing your Tech Level – a stat that dictates how fast your car is going to be while playing a single-player series or online.

F1 23 review F1 World garage: an image of a menu in the racing game

Through a variety of daily, weekly, and seasonal challenges, you can unlock and equip a variety of new car parts and staff members (things like front wing components, or team principals) to improve your Tech Level and your ability to race at higher levels in F1 World. These ‘gear’ items don’t just improve your cars’ speed, though. The rarer they are, the more likely you are to get one with unique bonuses; for example, you might find yourself with a front wing component that offers you 20% improved downforce for 20s after a clean lap.

I was skeptical about how well this would work at first, given how important set-up is in F1 games. However, it actually adds quite an interesting level of depth to the experience that not only rewards clean racing, but also helps you further tailor your experience to suit your strengths. If you’re someone who struggles to close gaps on long straights, you can equip components that boost your DRS effectiveness or raw engine power. If you struggle to maintain speed in slow corners, then something relating to downforce and braking is going to be what you want to look out for. These are all things that you can improve upon with practice, of course, but F1 World lets you tweak that experience to suit you just a little bit more.

One thing I am not sure is going to work, though, is F1 World’s license system. This is a system that dictates what level of seriousness you can play F1 23 at. In lower license tiers, player collisions are off, assists are all on, and generally-speaking the Tech Levels are going to be lower. However, the higher up you go, the more assists are removed and the more serious you’re going to have to take your racing. This isn’t tied to Tech Levels explicitly, though. If you want to improve your license tier, you need to drive cleanly and compete well. If you start cutting corners and taking out your opponents on-track, you’ll find yourself demoted.

On paper, this could be a system that transforms how multiplayer modes work in F1 23 for the better. However, playing the game ahead of launch, I was only able to experience this game mode with AI-filled lobbies – and they’re usually quite good at staying inside track limits. So, with both Tech Level and this license system dancing dangerously close to becoming a full-blown ranked system in F1 23, it will be interesting to see whether this works as intended when the F1 23 release date rolls around and online lobbies start filling up.

F1 23 review on track silverstone: an image of a car racing in the game

However, that doesn’t mean there wasn’t a lot more to enjoy in F1 23; so, if you’re not too fussed about online multiplayer races, don’t worry. Codemasters has you covered.

Features like Career Mode and ‘instant action’ Grand Prix races all return with the full gamut of content you expect to see from Codemasters. However, that’s far from a bad thing. Just like before, you can choose to create your own F1 team and insert yourself into the 2023 season, or you can create your own driver and work your way up from F2. There are a few more customization options here, which I was surprised to see, but we’re still missing a fully-free character creation tool like other EA Sports games.

Still, that’s all quite inconsequential when it comes to actually enjoying these modes; you’re wearing a helmet most of the time, anyway. I’m yet to dive into a team-based Career Mode save just yet, but on the whole I have found this experience to be just as feature-rich and enjoyable as last year’s iteration. This lack of real change might be bad news to some, but I can’t think of too much more Codemasters need to do with a mode like this outside of better character customization. If you want to get bogged down in team management, the F1 Manager 2023 release date is on the way. If you just want to get to the on-track action, F1 23 is where you need to be.

F1 23 review Braking Point 2 Aiden Jackson: an image of the character in the racing game

Creating your own narratives in Career Mode can be a lot of fun, but Braking Point 2 is back and delivers a truly excellent narrative you won’t want to miss out on. I won’t go into too many story spoilers now, but this is something you’re going to want to check out. Following on from Braking Point, this story mode focuses on the next chapter in Aiden Jackson’s Formula One career as he joins long-time rival Devon Butler at the precariously-poised Konnersport Racing Team – a team funded by Butler’s father.

Here, results matter and the decisions you make impact what’s expected from you and how certain situations play out. Throughout, you’re presented with a decent variety of scenarios to overcome on a number of the F1 23 tracks. Just like last time, there’s 18 chapters to this, but it covers both the 2022 and 2023 season. So, it feels like you’re getting more bang for your buck here.

The introduction of Callie Mayer, while not a secret, is a fantastic addition to the story mode. I was also quite surprised to find out that you actually play as all three protagonists in this evolved story: Aiden Jackson, Devon Butler, and Callie Mayer. With the ability to take phone calls, check social media feeds, and read emails between each chapter, the three characters are all wonderfully fleshed out by the time the credits roll.

F1 23 review Braking Point 2 emails: an image of a menu in the racing game

Beyond that, though, as explained in my F1 23 preview from a few weeks before launch, Codemasters has improved upon the mechanics to deliver a truly fantastic racing experience. The balance between realism – in the way the car reacts to quick corners and under braking – and recreation – the fact that I was able to actually stay on the track without full traction control assists on – is marvelous.

It’s also worth noting that, while still not perfect, the AI drivers are actually quite the improvement on what we’ve seen in recent years. I still found myself being caught out a few times and – rather frustratingly – spun out unnecessarily. However, I did also notice quite a few situations where the AI drivers would make a conscious effort to avoid me – and, thus, a race-ending crash. I’m not the best at F1 games, and I know I’m not always on the racing line, so it was nice to see that I wasn’t getting punished for it quite as much on the difficulty level I selected. I can only imagine that the higher up you go, however, the more conscious of where your car is you need to be. I think, though, when it comes to unnecessary crashes, Codemasters has finally made some real progress in eliminating them from the game.

F1 23 review: an image of the racing game in cockpit-view

You’ll also be pleased to know that, besides a handful of sporadic graphical glitches, I didn’t encounter any performance issues during my time playing – and, I was reviewing the PS5 version of the game, a patch behind the full release. So, while I may have encountered some light screen tearing at high speeds and mismatched shadows in the sun, I am fully expecting these issues to be ironed out sooner rather than later. In terms of raw gameplay, though, the experience was perfect – everything worked exactly as intended.

F1 23 is without a doubt the best Formula One racing game I have played so far and it might just be Codemasters’ best, too. Braking Point 2 delivers a fantastic narrative full of twists and turns, F1 World has finally introduced meaningful progression to a Formula One game beyond Career Mode saves, and it’s on-track action is excellent. F1 23 is a lot of fun to play, and I can’t wait to spend those race-less weekends getting stuck in.