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F1 22 Review [PC] | One wheel forward, two wheels back?

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As someone who was never really into sports until quite recently, annual sports games have always baffled me. How on earth can you possibly reinvent the wheel every year with brand new features to warrant another $60 price tag?

While much of F1 22 is familiar to the package, there seems to be plenty enough here to lure fans in from last year’s entry. It’s just a shame that one of the game’s most staple features leaves me wanting much more.

F1 22
Credit: EA/Codemasters

Keeping up with the times

First off, let’s start with the yearly update admin. As F1 fans know well by now, the 2022 season has ushered in the most regulation changes in a long while. That means the cars look a lot different from last year, are distinctly unique from each other, but more importantly are better at racing each other. In theory, this means closer racing and far more overtakes.

We’ve seen these new regulations have an effect in the real world season already, and it seems that the team at Codemasters has done an excellent job at making those changes apparent in-game, too. On track, it certainly feels like you’re able to follow along behind cars much more closely this time, avoiding all that dirty air that used to plague drivers in the past. It makes racing in both online and offline modes far more enjoyable to participate in.

Also keeping up with the times, Codemasters has worked to bring the brand new Miami track into the game. This was no easy feat for the team given that the track wasn’t finished until just a few months ago. Regardless, it’s here in F1 22 and is a delight to rocket around. In addition, tracks like Spain, Australia, and Abu Dhabi have all been updated to reflect their real world changes. Codemasters is keeping up its reputation of providing the most authentic F1 racing experience on the market. 

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That ain’t an F1 car…

Now that the iterative updates are out of the way, let’s talk about what’s actually new in F1 22. Fans of the sport will know of the new Sprint format qualifying method. Trialled in 2021 and now a more permanent fixture on the calendar, a Sprint race is an exciting new way to secure your spot on the grid for race day. When setting up a race in F1 22, it’s now possible to utilise the Sprint qualifying format on any race track. If you’d rather fight for your position on the grid than leave it up to the time sheets, this is a far more interesting way to play.

Another significant new feature in F1 22 is the introduction of Supercars. Popularised by the Pirelli Hot Laps on race weekends, Codeemasters has added a small collection of cars that you can race around of any of the tracks included in the game. At launch, you can choose between Aston Martin’s, McLaren’s, Mercedes, or Ferrari supercars – it’s a decent selection, so you should find something that tickles your fancy. There’s even the popular safety cars if you purchase the Champions Edition of the game.

So what can you do with these supercars? Well, this is where you may be a little disappointed. It’s possible to race these cars around any of the tracks, but only in time trial mode. Pirelli Hot Lap challenges task you with completing drift sequences or sector time trials, but these are incredibly short and monotonous. I felt an urge to race these supercars against other players, or even AI. Sadly, that’s not the case in F1 22. While supercars could have been a great addition to the game, they feel hampered in their functionality.

F1 22
Credit: EA/Codemasters

What in the metaverse?

Tying the whole F1 22 experience together is F1 Life, a new social hub that gives players something new to work towards in terms of progression. It’s a metaverse-like virtual space that lets you customise your own personal avatar and garage space. There’s a surprising amount of depth here, letting you create a social space that’s unique to yourself. This space can be viewed by other players while playing online.

Cosmetic items are unlocked by completing ingame challenges or levelling up the Podium Pass. However, they can also be purchased in the F1 22 store using micro transactional currency. Sponsor brand items are available in the store, but they’re fairly extortionate in their pricing. Thankfully, you seem to unlock free cosmetic items fairly quickly at the natural pace of play.

While F1 Life provides another conduit for players to visualise their progression, it’s difficult to see it as totally revolutionary for F1 22. Sure, it makes the menu screen a little more personal (especially when combined with the debut of licensed music tracks for the first time in an F1 game, which I loved). But outside of the lite progression mechanic it provides, it feels very much like a microtransaction runway first, player-focused feature second.

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