Long ago, I would skip every other F1 game that Codemasters released. In my eyes, the differences year over year didn’t justify buying the game annually. However, after really enjoying F1 2020, I wanted to play F1 2021 because it included a story mode. Unfortunately, after over 15 hours with F1 2022 via EA Play, I’m fine with skipping this one until it becomes available through the EA Play Vault.
The first full year with EA
Codemasters was purchased by Electronic Arts early in 2021, so last year’s game didn’t have the “EA coat of paint” on full display. This year though, F1 2022 is clearly an EA game. You’ll notice the first “EA thing” is what they call F1 Life. This is a mode that is more or less just an opportunity to spend money on “goodies”.
F1 Life doesn’t really have you do anything outside of spending tokens you accrue through playing the game to outfit your virtual mansion with expensive cars. There are only six bays in your house and it doesn’t take long to fill them up. Then, you can spend real money on gear to unlock clothing and other items to fill your house. Yes, your friend’s list can visit your place to see where you put your supercar or see the trophies you’ve earned in-game. Outside that, there is nothing of substance to do.
I just don’t understand its inclusion. It honestly felt like the upper management at EA thought ‘hey, we have this license to show off expensive cars, we haven’t made a Need for Speed game in a while, why not just throw in those cars into an F1 game?” Other than the cars, the rest of the mode wants you to spend real money on clothing for your avatar or on furniture. Sure, previous F1 games have had the Podium Pass to unlock character customization, that stuff at least made an appearance in-game.
Where’s the rest of the content?
After F1 Life, the only other new inclusion are the Pirelli Hot Laps. These are challenges where you are put into one of those expensive supercars, the same ones you can unlock in F1 Life. This mode is playable on its own or within the game’s My Team mode. They’re fine, but the selection of cars is small, and the challenges are pretty short.
F1 2021 had Braking Point, a single-player story mode that was a lot of fun. It was about 4-5 hours worth of racing and while it was pretty formulaic, it was different and new. Apparently, a follow-up is in the works for F1 2023. This means, outside of racing online with others, the only substantial mode is My Team.
Changes to My Team
My Team is fine, but it doesn’t feel too different from last year. The big new thing this year is that you don’t have to start as a completely new team. If you want, you can start the mode as a Midfield Challenger or Championship Contender. You get more resources this way, but the expectations are higher.
The new stuff includes Sprint Races, which weren’t available in F1 2021. You also have the new Miami Grand Prix. They didn’t include Sochi, which was canceled after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Apparently, some courses from F1 2021 are in the game’s directory, so it’s possible that they could be added later even if it’s not part of the actual 2022 F1 Calendar. Lastly, the Pirelli Hot Laps are playable in My Team. They grant you extra cash and pedigree but are completely optional.
The menus are identical to last year. They also removed the race interviews. Other than one interview at the start of the game with Will Buxton, you don’t get any sort of interaction with anyone. Sure, those interviews got a bit repetitive at times, I was expecting them to be replaced with something.
Using Drive to Survive to your advantage
Netflix’s Drive to Survive has introduced more people to Formula 1. As the only F1 game on the market, I don’t understand how EA isn’t taking advantage of this. There are no “casual” or “introductory” modes to bring in new players. Yes, F1 2022, like previous years, has plenty of customization options, the tutorial system sucks. If you are new to the sport, the game does a poor job teaching the nuances of the sport.
F1 2022 should have included a proper “Driver School” where new players can earn their “racing license”. Teach us how to properly engage DRS. Explain the changes to the cars this season. Let players see the importance of when to pit and tire selection. The Gran Turismo series has been teaching players how to race properly for years. Heck, GT7’s entire single-player content is about getting players used to the different aspects of the sport and trying as many cars as possible.
You have to look at gamers as a bell curve. The small minorities are those that don’t care and those who care a little too much. But most of them are in the middle. How you aren’t trying to cater to them? I’m not looking for arcade modes, but the bare minimum would have been a proper tutorial before getting behind the wheel of my first race.
Such a disappointment
When I’m racing, I’m having a lot of fun. I love the customization available to me, so I can tune the game to where I am having fun and still getting a competitive race against the computer. I’m enjoying EA’s addition of licensed music to the menus. But, for a $90 dollar game, this is not worth it. I was frustrated with GT7 which costs the same. Fortunately for it, it doesn’t feel like I wasted my money.
With F1 2022, the nearly 20 hours I played across Xbox One and Xbox Series X are enough. I actually had a lot of problems on the Xbox One version of the game, crashing three times while trying to race in Imola. Thankfully though, saves transfer between One and the X|S version, so I just moved to the other console and finished the race there.
I’m worried about Codemasters. 2022 has not been an excellent year for the studio. They released Grid Legends at the start of the year, and it failed to make much of an impression (I downloaded the trial but never bothered to play it). Meanwhile, the community response around F1 2022 is pretty sour. If you search check out the r/F1Game subreddit, people are regularly posting glitch videos and pointing out things that are out of date or wrong with regards to the actual sport.
Just stay away until it’s much cheaper
If you’re on the fence about F1 2022, you’re better off waiting for it to be either heavily discounted or to just play it through EA Play. I got what I wanted and I’m happy to just wait until it’s in the vault. Hopefully, next year’s game offers more.