Thanks to EA Sports, I recently had the opportunity to go hands-on with a preview of EA Sports F1 23, the latest installment in a long-running and highly regarded franchise. I reviewed last year’s entry, F1 22, which you can read here. After going hands-on with F1 22, I felt it was the best representation of F1 that we’ve had yet in a video game in quite some time. So, what does F1 23 bring to the table?
During the preview, I had access to three modes; Grand Prix, Time Trial, and Breaking Point. I immediately jumped into a Grand Prix session in Bahrain, one of seven tracks available in this build. When on track playing as Lewis Hamilton, I noticed an immediate difference in the general feel of the driving experience. Not because of the controls; they remain the same as in previous years. It was down to the handling, which has been tweaked this year and when combined with the new vehicle physics, makes the game feel very different. I felt like I was able to do things in the car that just weren’t possible in F1 22. The cars react in a more realistic way to each input, and while that adds some level of predictability, in the case of simulation, is that not what we want?
I don’t know about you, but in the past, when playing F1 games, I’ve often felt races are too long or too short to really be enjoyable (unless you’re having a long play session). That’s why I was pleased to discover that F1 23 will see the option for 35% race distance, something the community, including myself, has long requested. In the developer’s own words, this should provide “the perfect sweet spot between short and long race options.” I didn’t get the option to test this myself, but I will definitely be making use of it in the full release.
In terms of options for driving assists and accessibility features, it looks to be the same as last year, at least in this preview build. So you should be able to find settings to suit the type of experience you want to have. Too many options to list here, as these games always have.
Something that returns in F1 23 is VR support for the following headsets: Valve Index, Oculus Quest 2 + Link Cable, Oculus Rift S, HTC Vive, and HTC Vive Cosmos. Unfortunately, as I don’t own any of the required headsets, I wasn’t able to test the VR support, which was a bit disappointing.
Tinnitus Relief Filter Returns
While the F1 23 Preview had several accessibility options that were found in the prior game, there’s one new addition of what’s called the Tinnitus Relief Filter. While I don’t suffer from Tinnitus, our EIC Keith Mitchell does, and he pointed this out to me, and he’s quite happy about it. You see, while many of us have heard that disorientating sound that sounds like a high-pitched sound that’s usually associated with a vehicle crash or a grenade exploding, we typically don’t pay much attention to it. However, for those who deal with Tinnitus, that sound can add to someone’s ongoing alignment or, in some cases, make it worse.
Technically this option appeared in F1 2016, but since then, had been removed. Upon its return, EA and Codemasters put some extra care into this open for those who deal with Tinnitus. This option filters out that frequency and even has a slider so you can find the correct frequency, so it won’t be presented in the game. I have to say that this is the first time I’ve heard or seen of this accessibility option, but for those who deal with Tinnitus, I’m happy to see that it returned
VR isn’t the only thing returning this year, of course, the biggest addition to F1 23 is the return of Breaking Point, which is the franchise’s story mode. The mode wasn’t available last year after making its’ debut in F1 21, so I’m glad to see it make its return. I always enjoy a bit of story in my games! If you didn’t play Breaking Point, this direct sequel starts off with a useful recap of the story so far. Breaking Point plays out in chapters with a mix of on-track gameplay and cinematics full of off-track drama.
If you’ve watched Formula 1: Drive to Survive on Netflix, you’ll get an idea of the kinds of drama you might see. I was able to play the first two chapters of the story, which were fast-paced. I like that the gameplay sections of Breaking Point are more bite-sized. At least they are in these early chapters. I could have played a bit more, but as it’s the thing I most enjoyed, I wanted to save it for the full release, and personally, I can’t wait to see the story play out!
F1 23: Hands-On Impressions
Overall, I came out of this preview very impressed at what I had seen, and most importantly, what I felt on the track was fun, fresh, and new. Gameplay is always king in the F1 franchise, and how good F1 23 is over many hours of gameplay remains to be seen, but everything that I’ve played thus far is very encouraging.
EA Sports F1 23 will be available on PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, and PC on 16th June, 2023, in both physical and digital editions