Review | F1 23

Formula One more time

The results of this year’s Formula 1 championship seem rather obvious looking at the standings after only 7 races, but that doesn’t mean we can’t write our own stories in the official video game. F1 23 is the latest installment of Codemasters’ long-running series of F1 games that recently came under the EA Sports banner, and it proposes various physics, and handling improvements, with even new modes, new tracks, and the return of the acclaimed Braking Point story mode. We tested it for a good week before the launch on Xbox Series X, here’s what we thought about it.

2 Point 2 Brake

If you’re interested in buying F1 23, chances are you already have some level of familiarity with previous Formula 1 game by Codemasters. The previous one, F1 22, can be played via Game Pass Ultimate and EA Play as well, and it serves as an excellent introduction for these yearly iterative sports titles. Not unlike other sports games like FIFA for example, these F1 games take pride in offering a highly customizable experience, with driving assists and an arcade-ish approach for those who just wanna screw around in fast cars, all the way to simcade levels of dedication to small details in the driving model, damage system, tyre wear, strategies and more. The game offers all the tracks and drivers from the current Formula 1 championship, with a few extras like Formula 2, sportscars, and a few fan favourite tracks that, for one reason or another, didn’t make the calendar this year. Case in point, the race in Imola was skipped this year due to the devastating floods that hit the Emilia Romagna region in Italy last month. Naturally, the new tracks as the much-hyped Las Vegas and the Qatar circuit most people know from MotoGP also are included.

One of the biggest recent additions to the Formula 1 package in question has been Braking Point back in F1 2021, a scripted story mode where the players followed the path towards F1 excellence of fictional driver Aiden Jackson throughout Formula 2 and the tough beginnings in the cutthroat world of Formula 1. This was a very welcome addition, clearly inspired by the cinematic approach of Netflix’s hit F1 documentary Drive To Survive. After taking a break last year, the story is back; F1 23 presents… Braking Point 2. Without threading into spoiler territory, I can say that this year’s story is certainly more varied. Instead of only focusing on the POV of young Aiden, the story this time puts the player into the shoes of multiple characters. In a twist of fate, Jackson ends up in the brand new (still fictional) Formula 1 team Konnersport, owned by no other than Devon Butler’s rich dad. You may remember Butler being the insufferable and cocky rival from F1 21’s story – well, I’ll let you imagine how smooth the relationship will be when they’re teammates in this game. Just like in the previous installment of the story, the game puts players in predetermined scenarios, such as having to catch up after a crash, having to cruise home a damaged car, or trying to maximize points after a pit stop gamble.

As anticipated, however, the linear story this year does have a handful of twists and turns. While races still have scripted cutscenes, dialogues are all fixed, and so on, players are also put in different shoes this time. The team principal, Andreo Konner, an upcoming female prodigy from Formula 2, Callie Mayer, and we even get to play Devon Butler himself at various points of the plot, with various known characters making a comeback, such as Aiden’s rival and mentor Casper Akkerman. By offering more points of view, the story feels a lot more segmented and less cohesive, but it also allows players to understand each character’s traits and motivations more, adding a more human side to people who may seem like quite negative characters. The story even has a few surprisingly serious moments that made me realize how well Codemasters swayed me into feeling certain things about these drivers, only to toy with my expectations and emotions later. The story itself is nothing unheard of, but the execution made the time investment of the 8 hours long or so quite worthwhile. With optional objectives and a handful of moments where the player has some agency on the outcome of minor events, it was generally an enjoyable time, with a decent level of challenge too at the higher difficulties.

It’s a world of F1

Naturally, F1 games aren’t simply made out of these fairly new story modes, but a huge variety of custom races too, playable both online and offline or even in split-screen. Interestingly, most of these activities are now under a shared banner named F1 World. Here, players can either set up any kind of custom event, specifying whether they want practice sessions, qualifying, and of course what kind of assists, AI presence, etc. shall there be. But also, the game itself proposes events of all kinds, with increasingly high tech ratings as the various races take players through specified scenarios as well, such as an uncharacteristic rain in Qatar or some “endurance” races taking far longer than the usual 3-5 lap sprints the game tends to propose for these quick-burst adrenaline rushes.

All these are also tied together by a custom car the player can build up, in what could be sort of defined as the F1 games’ version of Ultimate Team but also not quite. As rewards for completed events and via manufacturing them using resources, players will unlock all kinds of car parts, from engines to the sponsors themselves. Besides the visual changes the player can apply this is what defines a car’s tech level, which in turn makes the increasingly highly rated events faster and faster, and thus also more difficult as the AI opponents will have quick cars. This system even applies to online races, which even take the license into account. As it happens with other recent F1 games, this license system pushes the player towards higher or lower levels, depending on how fair they drive: clean laps without cuts, fair overtakes, and such increase the rating, while crashing, going off the track, and such decrease it.

This entire F1 World model is interesting, with even stickers and trophies to collect and cars that can be more and more customized as the player goes on. It’s also a cool diversion because one issue with F1 games is that it can be hard to find something new and different to do, whereas the custom events proposed by the game offer brand-new challenges against other custom cars, populated by players’ very own friends list’s AI counterparts: something like Forza games’ Drivatars, though with less personality to them. With weekly events, special extra races only completely for higher level driving licenses and more, and of course the ever-improveable custom F1 car, I can see myself coming back to this one for quite some time.

Everything, everywhere, all into turn 1

This year I am not going to make a major rundown on the title’s many game modes because the differences are minimal. Custom races both online and locally against a split-screen buddy or versus the AI. Custom championships and leagues, again both offline and online. The career mode can put players both into the driving seat and as a team principal, in the case of the former being able to start even from Formula 2. Practice sessions, qualifying, sprint races, safety cars, red flags, penalties, collisions, weather, damage intensity, and a billion more options to customize the Formula 1 (and 2) experience to every player’s liking. Replays can be viewed and saved, a powerful photo mode allows for great pictures to be snapped. Leaderboards are cross-platform, and all online modes feature full cross-play between Xbox, PlayStation, and PC. Naturally, all of this is updated to the 2023 season in terms of tracks, cars, drivers, and more.

Graphically, the game only seems to have done minor tweaks over last year’s game. All the features present in F1 22 are back: ray-tracing in graphics mode, up to 120 frames on TVs supporting 120hz modes in performance mode, and so on. Broadcast options have been expanded upon a little bit, and speaking of broadcasts, it’s nice to hear more and more familiar voices from the F1 and F2 paddocks, from Formula 1’s most recognizable commentary teams to Davide Valsecchi, the former Formula 2 driver who adds funny and exciting commentary to events. Their voices, as usual very well-produced, also accompany the events in Braking Point.

Of course, at its core, this remains a Codemasters F1 game. That means that the strengths the franchise has iterated upon for over a dozen editions now remain, but so do some of its weaknesses. The game becomes ever more customizable, with even more AI settings, a new medium of 35% race length, the inclusion of red flags, and much more. At the same time, the game’s computer-controlled opponents haven’t progressed much – overtaking them by faking an inside move and then taking the outside line or just divebombing them remain painfully effective. Cutting corners and gaining an advantage in some turns is not punished at all and frankly necessary to keep up with the online opponents, while elsewhere merely putting all four wheels on a kerb that does slow the player down results in an immediate consequence. Similarly, for testing purposes, I tried ramming my opponents with simulation damage in Monaco, to test out how the game now handles safety cars and red flags. And sometimes, merely my spinning and restarting after a few seconds was reason enough to call a red flag. Other times, ramming four cars into the wall in quick succession within two corners was not enough for the game to initiate anything aside from local yellow flags. These inconsistencies, unfortunately, stay with us for yet another year.

It’s lights out and away we go!

But ultimately, F1 23 remains a great racing game, more accessible than ever for newcomers, more authentic than ever, more customizeable, and most notably featuring the comeback of the excellent Braking Point story mode. It is by all means an iterative upgrade with not many standout features, but the unified F1 World experience and various smart changes make F1 23 a worthy addition to F1 fans’ libraries.

Review | F1 23

Played on
Xbox Series X
Review | F1 23


  • Braking Point is back, and the story is once again good
  • F1 World is a really addictive and cohesive addition
  • Revamped and even more accessible driving model
  • Red flags and further additions to make F1 weekends feel more realistic


  • Nothing truly revolutionary this year
  • Damage model, stewarding and penalties still feel inconsistent
  • AI remains easy to counter, even on higher difficulties
8.6 out of 10
XboxEra Scoring Policy

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