Thanks to the success of Netflix’s Drive to Survive, the excitement around Formula 1 – the world’s premier racing category – has rarely been higher. The sport has seen a massive influx of new fans, not only enjoying some of the best racing the sport has seen in over a decade, but also injecting far more meaning into the relationship between its teams and off-track drivers. In F1 2022, the latest entry in the franchise developed by Codemasters custodians, a delicate balance between catering to this new audience while providing improvements for returning sim racing fans is evident and, based on the limited time that I had with the game, it seems to hit it well.

In the preview version of F1 2022, I had access to all 10 teams and 20 cars on the grid as well as five tracks to race on: the Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari (or Imola as it is more commonly known) , Silverstone in Britain, the Red Bull Ring in Austria, the Circuit of the Americas in Texas and the latest addition to the F1 calendar, the Miami International Autodrome. All five were available for racing in Grand Prix and time trial events, with the Grand Prix weekend event including practice sessions, qualifying and even sprint races (or none, if you decide to change the format of the race weekend directly).

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Now Playing: 5 minutes of F1 22 Miami Hot Lap game

This is just a preview of what Codemasters will offer when the game launches in July. Additionally, Career mode and My Team campaigns will return (although a narrative mode similar to last year’s Braking Point will not) and again feature the Formula 2 championship. Race weekends will also be extended , with more fun events that take place in real life – like hot laps with drivers and celebrities – as well as drifting, autocross and medium speed zone challenges that can be completed with both a variety of supercars, including F1-specific safety cars, for the first time. There’s a lot planned for this entry that expands on the familiar format of a Formula 1 weekend but remains closely tied to the sport, not letting it stray too far into the territory occupied by Forza Motorsport or Gran Turismo. but letting the overlap players enjoy some variety regardless.

What the preview offered, despite its limited content, was the chance to see how F1 2022 has adapted to an F1 season that is itself grappling with massive change. This year F1 introduced long-awaited changes to almost all of its regulations, redefining how teams can spend money, how they can develop their cars and, most importantly, how those cars can be designed. This has led to wildly different chassis designs which, although not wider and only slightly longer, allow for considerably closer racing as the sport tries to spice up the track action with every race. Anyone who has watched this season so far will likely tell you that it worked (mostly), and it’s obvious that these changes are accurately reflected in F1 2022.

When tuned to reflect real-world performance (here the cars will behave based on their relative real-life performance, as opposed to all cars being the same) you can quickly see how much the field clusters together longer – especially when increasing the number of laps to force mandatory pit stops. It puts a lot more emphasis on pinning each lap than previous entries, as the opportunity for an opponent to overtake you on the next straight is always lingering. It also allows for more aggressive play on the track, with familiar corners now feeling a bit wider thanks to the cars’ new dimensions. Given how well these cars have mapped out real-life circuits, you could find yourself with all-new ways to challenge your opponents with the behavior of these new cars, which should satisfy both returning players and newcomers alike. .

If this is the first F1 title you’ve played (or at least the first you’ve tried in a long time), then many of its systems might initially seem overwhelming. The many assists allow you to transform F1 2022 from a dedicated racing simulator to something much more forgiving and video game-like, with familiar settings for traction control, brake assist, gearbox settings speeds, etc. New to F1 2022 is an Adaptive AI Difficulty that will override the realistic nature of the AI ​​and turn races into more closely contested affairs on the pitch, with three settings governing the difficulty of the drivers to compete against. This setting is great for newcomers or those looking for something more traditional for racing games, where mechanics like “the rubber band” keep all opponents close enough to feel like lingering threats or possible obstacles. overcome. It doesn’t really reflect how F1 works, but it does give even more room for a rather malleable racing game to adapt to new types of players.

Also new is the inclusion of multiple “broadcast” modes for certain parts of a race. These take control away from you and rotate the camera into positions you might recognize from a live stream, adding a cinematic feel to every instance. These are used during formation laps (drivers on a lap circle a track before the start of a race), during safety cars and when entering the pits. The race complexity of each is removed entirely so you can just enjoy the view, which works with the game’s new airy difficulty settings. They can also be individually disabled if you want to partake in some and not to others, so it’s a matter of how close you want to get to real F1 racing when tackling a Grand Prix weekend.

The counterbalance to these new approaches to the crucial points of each race is more nuanced game mechanics if you want to participate in them personally. Formation laps now end with the ability to position your car in your grid space at different angles, allowing you to define which line you want to take from the start to be more aggressive or defensive once the lights go out. Pit stops have also been slightly tweaked with a new mechanic that ties driving into your pit to a timed button press. Miss the timing on this, and your full stop might take a little longer than usual, wasting precious seconds in a hotly contested race. F1 2022’s AI is also set to make these mistakes from time to time as well, to preserve an element of racing unpredictability, but this can also be neutralized in multiplayer games to keep the playing field even.

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Codemasters’ approach to personalizing F1 to a degree that makes it both challenging, yet welcoming, has been a lingering aspect of many modern entries in this series. However, F1 2022’s changes go beyond previous versions, adapting the game to a potentially new audience without compromising the simulation roots on which the gameplay is built. With the show’s esports presence, it’s no surprise, but it’s always great to see the show stay in tune with the direction the sport and its audience are heading.

It gives F1 2022 a sense of magic, letting you experience the thrill of pulling off a tight technical lap that feels authentic to the F1 experience. No matter what aids you use to get to this point, there’s a balance struck that makes each new best time always feel well-deserved, and not one given to you because you made it all that much easier. to manage. At a time when Formula 1 fans may have been around for a few decades or less than a few years, it’s a smart approach to ensure everyone can have fun with what has been one of the best racing games every year. And there is no indication yet that F1 2022 will be any different when it launches in July.

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