F1 2022 ushers in a new era, for the game and the sport
It is the 13th successive official F1 game created by game studio Codemasters, but technically is a first full development since the $1.2 billion buyout by EA Sports
To be good at FIFA 2022, you don’t need to be good at football. To enjoy F1 2022, you really don’t need to worry whether you can be good behind the wheel of an actual Formula 1 race car. F1 games over the last couple of iterations lost that approachability for casual gaming sessions. There was a definite edge, a slight shift towards unbridled realism, which may have alienated those who didn’t want the baggage of understanding wing adjustments, setups, and camber. The F1 2022 game is course correcting.
There is a historical tinge as well to this game. It is the 13th successive official F1 game created by game studio Codemasters, but technically is a first full development since the $1.2 billion buyout by EA Sports (F1 2021 was well and truly in the works when the announcement was made early last year). Incidentally, F1 games from the year 2000 till 2003 were made by EA (then known as EA Sports), after which fans were left staring at a mind-numbing gap of more than five years before Codemasters swooped in and saved the day, with annual F1 games 2009 onwards delivered on schedule.
F1 2022 has the pressure of reproducing the rule changes from the real world into the virtual, these being the most diverse that Formula 1 has implemented in one go in a long time. The racing cars are completely new (even to look at), with very different drivability and characteristics. But the basics cannot change. Realism (tyre degradation and damage, for instance), driver aids (braking assist being one) and replicating a racing weekend (practice, qualifying and sprint races) have remained the building blocks, as they should.
And there’s the supercar element too. You get to drive a few of them, on some tracks, from time to time. Consider these as special events, with a light twist of challenge – time attacks can be fun, but you may get bored of this soon enough. Gone is the Braking Point story mode; perhaps, EA and Codemasters missed a trick here because there was scope for a new storyline, or building up the existing rivalry. Classic cars don’t figure in F1 2022, which is a miss too.
If you’re making the upgrade from F1 2021 (or the F1 2020 edition), it doesn’t take long to notice how the physics of cars feels completely different from before. It’s not just the visual change (complete with the larger 18-inch wheels), but following behind another car is possible now without completely losing downforce at the next corner, and also eventually wearing out the rubber rapidly. AI racing has improved too, which means you won’t necessarily have that advantage while braking into the corners.
Closer racing and less aerodynamic instability are the good bit, but you’ll have to be careful around the slow speed corners – these new cars have a habit of spinning quite easily, if you aren’t feather-tapping the throttle. Yet, unlike F1 2021 cars, you can attack the kerbs a bit harder and not end up pointing in the wrong direction – use this wisely and there’s the chance to make up some time in the corners.
This has to be, by far and away, the most involving F1 game in terms of race craft realism, in a long time.
You may be wondering when the expected EA touch shows up in F1 2022. It does soon enough, with in-game transactions making their presence known. In this case, you’ll have the option of buying PitCoin (this is the in-game currency you buy with real money; prices may vary depending on the console or PC platforms) to unlock in-game gear. You can do without this for the time being, but EA is stamping its mark on the game, and we can expect this to be amped up in the next iteration.
Formula 1 has changed tremendously this year, the first steps in what’s being thought of as a new era. The good thing is the game has changed along with it. There are still pieces of this puzzle that you’ll not really keep coming back to with regularity, such as the F1 Life (unlock sports cars, dress up like F1 stars, and more). Bordering on the unnecessary, perhaps.
Yet, the refreshing racing experience certainly will get you back. New circuits, a re-done racing experience, career mode (this hasn’t changed), and the journey from the F2 series figure prominently.
What’s surprisingly missing is the porpoising effect (the vertical movement, often betraying instability) at speeds down the straights. But did you really expect that unpleasantness to be in the game?