There’s a lot packed into F1 23 for fans of the motorsport, as well as more casual sim racing fans. This year’s release brings back the surprisingly compelling Braking Point campaign alongside immersive, highly customizable career modes full of decision-making and driver and team development. Throw in the all-encompassing F1 World mode and you’ve got a feature-rich package that’s sure to please most racing fans.
Braking Point campaign is brilliant
Accessible, customizable racing feel
F1 World progression is moreish
Highly accurate tracks
No real visual upgrades
Buggy damage model
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Time played: 20 hours
Platform reviewed: PS5
Available on: PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PC
F1 23 has a lot to prove after last year’s bungled annual release. Thankfully, EA Sports has stepped up its game in 2023, offering a feature-rich Formula 1 package that’s sure to please fans of the world’s most popular motorsport and sim racing in general.
Heading up the features and modes on offer from a casual perspective is the returning Braking Point story. It presents a surprisingly compelling, decently written narrative that also acts as a fantastic onboarding experience for new players. It’s what I recommend for players completely fresh to the F1 games to check out first, and is certainly the case once again in F1 23. Especially if you’ve also been a fan of Netflix’s Drive to Survive docuseries or even just the best racing games in general.
Once you’ve got comfortable with F1 23’s brand of racing, you’ve also got Career mode and the comprehensive F1 World mode to check out. Career is relatively unchanged from previous years, but does incorporate new circuits, driver, and team lineups for the 2023 season. It's an awesome single-player game and experience, but can also be enjoyed co-operatively with a friend, seeing you both act as teammates for the same racing team.
Meanwhile, F1 World is not unlike Street Fighter 6’s Fighting Ground, encompassing all single and multiplayer modes under a shared progression system. It’s here where you can take your custom avatar and car for a spin while earning rewards in various modes.
There’s much more going on in F1 23 than in last year’s release, then, but it still hasn’t quite managed to shake off some of the cobwebs. Commentary is still extremely basic which lends an anticlimactic feel to the post-race breakdown. There are also still some visual oddities when it comes to your car’s damage model, such as loose wheels and parts flailing erratically when dislodged from the vehicle.
Still, the on-track action is significantly more electric than in previous years. The return of red flags adds a much-needed degree of dynamism and unpredictability to events, potentially changing the outcome of races that would otherwise be set in stone. But if you’re after a more laid-back experience, F1 23 has an absolute wealth of difficulty and accessibility settings to suit a very wide variety of players.
EA Sports is clearly proud of Braking Point 2, the sequel to its story mode that debuted in F1 21. It sits at the top of F1 23’s main menu, and rightly so. Braking Point presents a surprisingly polished, well-put-together narrative with a spotlight on intense teammate rivalry. But there’s much more to it than that.
Braking Point centers on the fictional Konnersport racing team, a struggling midfield outfit that’s on the cusp of driver and management shake-ups both. The narrative largely centers around three characters: wunderkind Aiden Jackson, his egotistical yet nonetheless talented teammate Devon Butler, and F2 champion Callie Mayer.
At first, all three absolutely cannot stand each other’s presence both on and off the track. But there’s a healthy helping of character development here – more than I was expecting – and it’s constantly fascinating to see how each grows over the course of the 2023 season.
Braking Point diversifies itself from the more standard career mode by offering a variety of objectives per race. Most aren’t even full races, instead offering smaller slices with goals including finishing in the top 10, finishing ahead of your teammate, catching up to certain drivers, and so on.
In between these races or part-races, you’ll be watching highly detailed cutscenes with motion capture that’s only very occasionally uncanny. Besides that, you’ll also find yourself in the team principal’s shoes for a short time. This entails responding to scenarios that can positively or negatively impact your team’s performance and reputation, as well as browsing news and social feeds for the latest info and gossip surrounding Konnersport and the season as a whole.
Braking Point 2 is an excellent story mode that acts as the perfect onboarding tool for those new to F1 23. It’ll give you a taste of the hectic, drama-fueled world of Formula 1. And its bite-sized ‘missions’ help you get to grips with the game’s realistic handling model, its circuits, various weather conditions, and concepts like pitting for fresh tires.
It's your world now
The other standout feature in F1 23 is F1 World, and it’s both comprehensive and well-organized. Anything that isn’t Braking Point and Career mode falls in here, meaning it’s where you’ll find single and multiplayer Grand Prix and Time Trials event setups. And if you play while connected online, you’ll earn experience that goes towards a shared progression system across all game types. That’ll in turn earn you various cosmetics, car parts, and more.
I absolutely loved the Braking Point campaign. This took me into the fictional Konnersport racing team as it, and its drivers, struggle their way through the 2023 season.
Braking Point is well-acted and has entertaining cutscenes, a surprisingly strong narrative, and bite-sized objective-based races that act as a wonderful onboarding experience for new players.
F1 23’s Career mode, though, is the meatiest mode of the bunch. It does remain relatively unchanged from its form in previous years. However, a number of new features have tightened up the overall experience.
For one, you’re getting the updated 2023 roster of drivers, teams, and circuits. That includes the all-new Qatar and Las Vegas tracks alongside stalwart favorites like Baku, Monza, Spa-Francorchamps, and Silverstone.
In Career, like always, you can choose to play as your custom driver and rise up the ranks. I always love playing the underdog in career modes like this, so I chose to line up alongside Alex Albon as a Williams driver. As ever, you’ll decide on race strategy, attempt to meet objectives in practice sessions, place in qualifying, and ultimately race for the podium.
There’s a large amount of decision making even as a driver, as R&D projects and press events will be signed off by you. You can also adopt a more managerial role and choose to run a team for the season, which opens up decision-making opportunities even more, including hiring engineers and combing over things like tire and pitlane strategy. It’s an extremely robust Career mode.
Baku for more
While F1 23 is an overall more polished package, some hiccups do remain from previous entries. The difficulty slider ranges from 1-100, and it’s not immediately clear as to how challenging each number will be besides a more generalized ‘easy’ or ‘medium’ for example.
And in terms of commentary, it’s still pretty lacking. Both pre- and post-race commentary is extremely dry, lacking any kind of realistic flair and instead opting for more basic chatter. The game’s damage model also leaves much to be desired. Parts such as tires and wings tend to glitch and flail unnaturally when detached from your vehicle, which certainly spoils the immersion.
These minor gripes aside, though, I can highly recommend F1 23 to racing fans of all kinds. It’s got content and moreish progression in spades, allowing for a game that’ll more than satisfy its year-long shelf life.
F1 23 is a big step up over its immediate predecessor. Being a higher quality product overall really allows its accessibility and difficulty settings to shine, too. There’s a high degree of customizable options here.
Visual indicators like racing lines exist to help you through the flow of any given track. Find yourself crashing a lot? Turn on the rewind feature to have another crack at that meddlesome corner. There are also multi-language voice and subtitle options for players all around the world.
You've also got a variety of colorblind settings, but one of the features that stood out to me most was a tinnitus relief setting. It's a fantastic setting for those who suffer from more sensitive hearing.
As for controller options, F1 23 is well-tailored to the best PS5 controllers and best Xbox controllers, but it naturally supports wheel setups, too. If you like a more immersive racing experience, then consider checking out our best racing wheels guide to see which one is right for you.
How we reviewed F1 23
I reviewed F1 23 over the course of a week on PS5, prioritizing new features like the returning Braking Point story and revitalized F1 World suite. I also wanted to let longtime fans know that the game's driving model is up to the realistic, yet accessible par the series is known for.
I also tested F1 23 at varying difficulty levels with a mixture of assists, driving aids, and accessibility settings to get a feel for how the game should play for gamers of all kinds.
Rhys is TRG's Hardware Editor, and has been part of the TechRadar team for more than two years. Particularly passionate about high-quality third-party controllers and headsets, as well as the latest and greatest in fight sticks and VR, Rhys strives to provide easy-to-read, informative coverage on gaming hardware of all kinds. As for the games themselves, Rhys is especially keen on fighting and racing games, as well as soulslikes and RPGs.