Formula 1 has seen a bit of a resurgence over the last couple of years. Each season has seen an exciting change to the Championship thanks to some new rules, great technological advancements and of course an exciting field of drivers contending for the title. So it comes as no surprise that F1 2018 has a lot of expectations to live up to. The games over the last couple of years have mimicked the sport that it is based on in terms of quality, and to be quite frank, F1 2018 is no different.
In terms of gameplay, F1 2018 really doesn’t change the formula too much. It plays and looks a lot like last year’s outing. The visuals and the sound are outstanding and it is very easy to get fully immersed in the moment, making you feel like you are actually driving a real Formula 1 vehicle. It’s also very easy to pick up and play, even if you’re not that experienced with racing games, with a lot of assists and setting to tailor the experience to something that will be enjoyable to you individually. Playing the Career Mode is a great place to start, and although a lot of it can feel a bit overwhelming when you need to start looking at car setups, tyre selections and so on, you are kind of eased into it, and you can going and racing in no time.
The career mode is a lot of fun, and for the first time, I actually wanted to participate in practice sessions and qualifiers.
The career mode is a lot of fun, and for the first time, I actually wanted to participate in practice sessions and qualifiers. The game gives you a lot of incentive to do so by rewarding you Research & Development points depending on what you do and how well you do it. It’s also not just mindlessly driving around the track getting used to it. You’re given a set of programmes that you can participate in, such as track acclimatisation, fuel and tire management, qualifying pace practice and race strategy. It’s fun to do and it teaches you how the track works and helps you get used to it. The R&D points you receive throughout can be spent on well, research and development, which can improve different aspects of the car, making you faster and more competitive as the season progresses.
F1 2018 also added a few more features to spice things up again in the career mode. The game now incorporates a system where you as a driver needs to deal with the Press, and how you answer questions and handle to pressure of it can have an impact on your standing with your team as well as others. In theory, it sounds pretty exciting and has a lot of potential, but it feels like it needs a little more work. You always only speak to one reporter, who corners you in the paddock, asking you a few questions. You are then forced to answer it quickly in order to gain reputation with your own team as well as the competitors. This typically happens between sessions and can get a bit annoying, as you only have a set number of options, which does not necessarily reflect how I really feel after a specific session. It’s a nice addition to the game though, but there’s a lot of space for improvements, like adding a social media aspect to it, or the odd press conference.
The career mode is very enjoyable and very well built, but it is not perfect. As much as I enjoy playing it, I did find a few things that annoyed me a bit. The first being the difficulty when you start the game. It was set to an easy AI setting when I started, and I soon found myself out racing my opponents by a mile. The game does have a very customisable scale in terms of difficulty, but getting the sweet spot will take a while as you cannot change any of those settings during a race weekend. A mode where you drive around a track and the game determines what skill level you’re at would go a long way in bringing some balance to the experience.
A mode where you drive around a track and the game determines what skill level you’re at would go a long way in bringing some balance to the experience.
The other big issue I have with F1 2018 is the weather system. Don’t get me wrong, the wet weather physics and racing is incredible, but it’s not easy to do and it feels like it comes up just a bit too much. I’ve watched enough F1 racing over the years to know there’s no rain at 90% of the races in a season, which is the case with the game. I do enjoy the challenge, but I don’t always want to struggle around the track in a torrential downpour every weekend. It was also strange that it was often part of the race where you cannot skip it, like qualifying or the main race itself. This is a bit of an annoyance, but something I feel can be patched, just to give a bit more consistency.
Playing online and other modes
The career mode is of course not the only aspect of the F1 2018. Playing online is pretty easy and seamless and offers a few options for you to choose from. You can start or join an online championship or compete in ranked or unranked races. Matchmaking works well with very short waiting times, and once you join, you can watch the others complete their race before you join in on the next. The only downside of online play is that your race can be over before it even started. It happened a few times where other, overly aggressive drivers either spins me out, making it impossible for me to catch up or downright just causing a crash and ending my race right there. I like the realism of it, but it can be a little frustrating at times.
One of the real treats of F1 2018 is the ability to race in some other events and vintage cars. The older cars look, drive and sound completely different, so it’s good to see that some effort went into these and that it’s not just skin over the current set of vehicles. I particularly enjoyed racing the cars from the mid to late 90s, as it brought in some great nostalgia for a great era of the sport. Also, those cars just sound amazing. Having a few of the older classic tracks would’ve been a nice addition though.
A great racing experience
F1 2018, is a fantastic game and is definitely a serious contender for best racing game of the year. It’s got a very good career mode, and online play works very well. It’s hard to imagine that you can improve on last year’s instalment, but Codemasters simply proves that you don’t have to reinvent the wheel, but simply have to build and improve on it. They definitely have a winning formula here, and it’s a blueprint that others in the genre should certainly try and have a look at.