Monday, May 09, 2022
Authenticity is a watchword for any kind of simulation, be it racing or otherwise, and it's one that comes up on multiple occasions during our first look at EA Sports F1 22 – the first of developer Codemasters' Formula One series to be given the 'EA Sports' prefix. And this year, it seems that Codies is doubling down on authenticity, albeit without pushing away more casual players. It's a line that the studio's F1 games have always walked with aplomb – between full-blooded racing sim and something more accessible – and F1 22 looks poised to do the same again, but with even more in the way of choice.
Should you want to lean more into the sim-based aspects of real-world Formula One, then you can enjoy an entirely realistic season, competing in full races complete with proper pit stops, where mechanical failures and other issues can occur, as well as pit stop errors that can hamper your race. As we've seen with the first few races this 2022 season, pretty much anything can happen, whether you're Max Verstappen, dominating a race only to be let down by your car; Charles Leclerc, misjudging a chicane despite being way out in the lead; or Lewis Hamilton, having to grapple with a new setup that isn't working.
Pit stops have undergone a complete revamp, too, with freshly motion-captured animations, while the rules of the new season have been implemented, with Sprint races and such. Safety car deployment also makes more sense, according to Codemasters, and, if you fancy actually taking either the Aston Martin or Mercedes safety cars for a spin, you can do so. Yes, you can drive the safety cars in this one, and they're unsurprisingly very fast. One concession you will find in the game's career mode is the budget cap that's been introduced for the 2022 season. “There's no budget cap, so to speak,” Senior Creative Director Lee Mather notes, explaining that the MyTeam career economy has been rebalanced, and you can choose from three career starting points.
You can come into Career Mode as part of an established and successful team like Ferrari, Red Bull, or Mercedes; or you can choose to fight your way to supremacy as a lower-ranking team like Haas, Williams, Alfa Romeo, or Aston Martin. Alternatively, you can start somewhere in the middle, with a team like AlphaTauri, Alpine, or McLaren. F2 cars also return, so you can cut your teeth there, if you prefer, or delve into some of the game's classic F1 content, including legendary drivers and Formula One icons, which, for now, remain under wraps. Photo Mode is also back, and you can show off your accomplishments and collections in the new F1 Life mode – a customisable hub for your supercars, clothing, accessories, and other stuff.
Authenticity, meanwhile, ends with the 'porpoising' that we've seen from the new hybrid cars (with their chunky wheels and low chassis) this season, which won't be something you'll see in the game, so no bouncing your car around. New Adaptive AI, meanwhile, will ensure that the driving experience is perfectly tailored to your skill level, which is a neat touch. Equally exciting is the promise of cross-play, set to arrive at some point, though not at launch. “It's coming,” Mather assures, “and we will make sure it's in post-launch.” On the basis of what we've seen of F1 22 thus far, it looks to be the most feature-laden instalment to date, boasting everything you'd expect and want, including the new Miami Autodrome International circuit (as seen in our gameplay above), home to the weekend's somewhat eventful Grand Prix.
EA Sports F1 22 is bearing up very nicely, then, set to deliver its usual suite of modes and features, while dialling up the level of authenticity for die-hard Formula One fans and hardened F1 players. Once again, it's doing all of this without compromising on any of the options and choices available to embrace players of all types, whether you just want to dip your toe in for the occasional quick race, fancy playing a truncated season, or want to go all in and experience every race weekend in its entirety, with all of the various accoutrements and other features you could hope for. Every year, it seems that Codemasters couldn't possibly cram more into what seems like such a comprehensive package, but F1 22 might just be even more definitive than what's come before. Let's race.
F1 22 launches for Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, and PC on 1st July.