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Posted: Jun 29, 2022 @ 10:42 pm GMT-0600
Updated: Feb 17, 2023 @ 01:25 pm GMT-0600
Sorting Tags: Article Review, Article Software, Articles, F1 22,

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I generally see the positives in all kinds of racing titles and I’ve always felt they should co-exist; We should be supporting users who discover sim racing through software we consider to be less realistic. Most titles Codemasters develop, often fun to drive and an enjoyable distraction, fit into the category of simulation because of their depth, but usually lack overall feel, finesse, that final secret sauce covering the best simulations of all-time.

I wasn’t given enough time to get a review written before the release of the title to those who pre-ordered, with the review key giving me effectively just one free evening to test the software. There is a part of me that wonders whether late key supply is sometimes designed as a way to limit damage because seeing the constant stream of bugs and issues posted on Twitter, I don’t really think reviewers had enough time to delve deeper unless they took more time.

Just trying to run the software

My one free pre-release evening was spent trying to get the software running. I’m old, tech savvy, but stuck in my ways somewhat and I remember when every byte mattered. I have had Steam overlays disabled to save resources and stop interruptions, but with F1 22 the disabling of Steam’s overlay kills your ability to login to your EA account, losing you access to all online features. No problem, I’ll just enable Steam overlay, right?

Wrong. Enabling the Steam overlay didn’t give me the EA login. At this stage, I didn’t even know there was an EA login. It was only after hours of attempted bugfixing that I decided to reformat my gaming PC and afterwards saw an EA login form where I’d previously seen an non-descriptive error.

After logging in, everything is fine. But, why am I logging in? What is this even for? So that EA can tell I own the product? Well, no, because it doesn’t show in my Origin library unless I buy it there as well. To facilitate crossplay through our EA accounts? No, because crossplay isn’t currently working even on different PC platforms (they say it will be, eventually). I just don’t understand it, and if everything worked fine I might not have been quite so annoyed by it.

Steam’s offline mode, something else I also use most of the time to stop achievement popups (but not responsible for the issues above) does allow offline play, but does block all online functionality and the EA login as well.

CTRL – C Content, CTRL – V Content

It’s been a difficult couple of years for everyone, granted, but Codemasters inability to get updated tracks out to people has irked me ever-so-slightly due to the fact I am aware of the resources they have available, the budget available, and the access the studio has to produce content.

Delighted as I am to see 2022 updates to Abu Dhabi, Melbourne and Barcelona-Catalunya, I am starting to feel dismayed with each release seeing tracks like Spa-Francorchamps released using the same outdated and inaccurate 10-year old 3D model base.

Although this season brings a greater array of changes to the cars, with them being all-new, the software still has the overall feel it is more of the same, and minimum design effort.

Some might argue that adding the super cars, F1 Life, was a significant part of the development but, honestly, who is that for? Because it feels like it was designed as a way to sell in-game items for in-game currency, and in-game currency for real money. Someone tell me, was the super car inclusion not designed to justify F1 Life?

F1 22 doesn’t have the braking point storyline, it doesn’t have historic cars (last seen in F1 2020), and a selection of supercars, clothing, couches and other select decorative items doesn’t replace that. In effect if the F1 cars didn’t change shape each season I feel like they’d be perfectly happy shipping a new set of car skins for full price.

Super cars

You can’t race your super cars, but I’m not sure you’d even want to. They feel wholly uninteresting to drive and display the biggest lack of secret sauce I think I have ever felt. But you can decoratively display them in your Life lobby along with NPC versions of your friends and your magnificent couch.


EA screenshots

Physics

I’ve always felt that if you drove the Codemasters F1 titles in a realistic way, you can have a realistic experience, and F1 22 is more of the same. The difference from previous titles is the complete overhaul in technical regulations for 2022 that has led to real-life teams struggling to understand their own cars in the same way you’ll experience inside the software. At the time of writing I don’t understand setups at all. Nothing I’ve historically tweaked seems to work in quite the same way I expect it to.

The 2022 cars have less grip than you expect at low speed and it took me quite a while to get used to that. The reduced grip in the rear end means that without driver aids of any kind you’ll really struggle with it no matter how much experience you have. I wheelspin into third gear often, and have lost the rear in high speed turns by clipping kerbing just enough to seemingly unsettle it. I may actually go as far as saying that enabling traction control may give you a more realistic experience because the lack of grip doesn’t feel quite right to me.

It’s difficult to know whether Codemasters have given us an accurate representation of 2022 Formula One cars, but the slow speed understeer and snap oversteer is very difficult to cope with. They are not fun to drive – at all – and I can’t really pin that one on the developer.

It may seem unexpected, but if you actually want to have fun with F1 22 you may need to forego realism for now, turn on a lot of driver aids – at least traction control – just to give you some handling back that the new 2022 F1 regulations took away. If you want to feel like you’re driving an oil tanker that already sunk to the bottom of the ocean though? Feel free to race it as-is.

There are a lot of physics quirks visible, especially when crashing. I’ve had my car clip an outside barrier and launch itself through the sky in the opposite direction and I’ve seen the AI run over a kerb on a normal racing line and have the wheel detach. It’s not pretty.

Performance and Graphics

When you disable DLSS to remove the graphical artifacts it creates, F1 22 can look as good as anything out there under the right conditions, but somewhat bizarrely and perhaps with a spoonful of personal taste, still not as good as I can get older Codemasters F1 titles to look with a little tweaking.


EA screenshots

The track models look old, under-populated with objects, and generally don’t give you the feeling you’re running a race with a crowd present. It’s most easy to see it in the pre-race dialogue introducing the race track, showing stationary cameras in and around the track. Can someone tell Codemasters COVID restrictions ended for F1 fans? This isn’t a new issue, but each year I get more disappointed to find nothing has changed.

Since the introduction of RTX and DLSS support in previous titles it seems like optimization has got worse and worse. If you enable DLSS you will see graphical anomalies, especially around the wheels and in areas of shadow that the NVIDIA AI didn’t get quite right. If you disable it, your framerate suffers even on the very latest hardware due to the poor optimization.


Default in-game DLSS on an RTX 3090 showing the graphical pixel artifacts you may often see.

VR support, new for F1 22, is quite terrible on certain headsets. I’ve seen video of it working perfectly and I have seen video of it literally running at 3fps (three frames-per-second) on a relatively recent PC that meets specifications.

General hardware support is also affecting performance. If I plug my pedals into my wheel my framerate is double what I get when I plug them in directly, by themselves, via an adapter made by the manufacturer. I’m not the only person who has this issue, and it’s a frustrating bug to have to fix for one product if you have your system set and configured for multiple simulations already.

Sound

Audio has been improved, with a new option to allow you to effectively hear what a driver would inside the helmet. This mode joins the existing audio mode and a soundtrack, something I immediately disabled, because it feels about as required as the Life features.

Jeff is gone and was replaced by what seem to be even longer pit-to-car messages you’re likely to get distracted by. I appreciate them making a change, but I’m just not sure it is actually an improvement.

Crowd noise seems non-existent, which doesn’t seem entirely accurate these days with quieter engines. All those engines are very similar and I’d have a hard time picking them apart in the sim or in real-life. I can’t fault the developer here, but I do miss the variation in engines we had in the past.

Offline

My Team is still a fantastic mode to simulate building a racing team alongside those from the current season and with driver changes, possibly beyond. It’s the best mode in the game. Single race, practice and championship modes are also available, though I do wish there was a way to just insert yourself into the 2022 season, copying an existing car with the My Team chassis, perhaps, just so you could run a season without replacing the seat of a real driver. Telling my age here, but I would select one of the one-car teams in Geoff Crammond’s Formula One Grand Prix to leave the other drivers alone and get realistic results – plus me.

Online

I didn’t get to do any testing in multiplayer specifically, but I know the general features haven’t changed in any major way for at least a couple of years. The options you have to find a race seem sufficient, but I’m willing to bet racing online is still best done with ghost-opponent cars to avoid issues with poor netcode.

Steam’s offline mode does not appear to allow the multiplayer to function (most titles allow multiplayer in Steam’s offline mode).

Opinion

F1 22 is currently the best way to simulate the 2022 Formula One World Championship. There’s no other software offering the full race-weekend experience of practice, qualifying, sprint race and race, car development, basic team management, and more. But I said the same about it last year, and the year before, and the year before. Having an exclusive license makes it difficult for any other developer to offer a comparable offline experience and I think eventually people just get bored of season updates.

The promised cross-play should improve online functionality, but in the end it’s still going to be using their netcode.

I find the new cars uninteresting to drive. Previous years it felt like you were driving the pinnacle of the sport, with cars that drove like rockets. I don’t think I can blame Codemasters if they’ve modeled these cars correctly-enough, but the combination of handling characteristics I mentioned before really don’t work together. Adding the super cars, unfortunately, just gave me more to dislike. They seem to highlight flaws in the physics engine more than the F1 cars.

If you must have a 2022 season experience then you really don’t have any other choice, but if any F1 sim works for you then F1 2019 and F1 2020 feel like better products to me, as do any number of historic season mods for other titles.

The 2022 F1 cars seem largely un-likeable, and so does F1 22.

Steam key supplied by Codemasters for review.

Test systems used: i7 8700, RTX 3080, 32GB RAM and AMD Ryzen 9 5950X, RTX 3090, 32GB RAM. Consistent behaviors seen.

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