Hey Guys! Welcome to the Sim Racing Paddock. I’m William Marsh, and this is my review of F1 2018 by Codemasters. A lot of promises have been made by Codemasters, including improved physics, graphics, and more features. The question is, has Codemasters held true to those promises, and is F1 2018 truly a great improvement over F1 2017?
First, let’s bring in an “abridged review” for the 10% of Sim Racers that will determine their purchase based off of a single feature. F1 2018 does not have VR support. It sucks, but it’s not there this year. So the #NoVRNoBuy guys will definitely be disappointed. Maybe next year. For the rest of you guys, let’s proceed on with the review, and I think most racers can find something to enjoy in F1 2018.
Before we dive in, I want to state that so far, I have only tested the Playstation 4 version of the game. I have tested it both on the Playstation 4 and PS4 Pro, so that is what this review will be based on. Also, since this is pre-release, I have not been able to test out the online functionality in the sim. In the near future, I will release a “Second part”, talking about the PC version, testing on high end hardware, and testing out the online mode. But for now, let’s get onto the review!
To start off, let’s take a brief primer on F1 2017. F1 2017 was a solid racing title, and was a major improvement over some of the previous years. F1 2016 was a fairly lackluster title, missing some features and functionality, but F1 2017 greatly fleshed out the F1 experience. Classic cars were re-introduced to the series, the Career mode was greatly expanded, and it was overall a decent racing title. However, a lot of glitches, and a fairly sluggish driving model really hampered the experience in my opinion.
The biggest thing that I am pleased to report is that F1 2018 provides the tightest driving experience I have ever felt in a Codemasters Formula One title. The cars feel snappier, livelier, and more precise. Don’t get me wrong, it is still a Codemasters title, and it doesn’t feel as precise as say, Assetto Corsa, rFactor 2, Automobilista, or iRacing, but it is a solid improvement over F1 2017.
One of the things that really sold the driving experience home for me was that I could get a better “feel” of what the cars are doing. The improvements to the Force Feedback, combined with the improvements in the physics, truly make for a great experience. Flying up Eau Rouge, feeling the car start to break free, and trying to get it settled, is a great experience.
The driving experience of the cars is a lot more concise compared to previous years.
Part of the reason I feel the cars feel a lot better now is because of the new tire and suspension physics. Codemasters has claimed that they have improved the physics for the cars. You get a far better feeling of the limits of the tires, and the mechanical grip of the cars. If you do cross the limit, you can actually catch a slide, but that’s not to say it’s EASY. You’ll still need to stay on edge to stay in control of the car.
The main complaints I would have with the driving model is that, while there are solid improvements, it’s still not to the level we have started seeing in most modern Sim Racing titles. We are not seeing tracks dynamically rubbering in, and we’re not seeing tire flat spotting or advanced degradation. I’ve heard that there are plans to introduced advanced degradation in the future, but it’s a case of I’ll believe it when I see it.
The graphics are a step above the previous year, but don’t expect a serious upgrade in visual fidelity.
Visually, F1 2018 is a solid title. Don’t expect an insane jump in visual fidelity and quality, but expect something that is noticeable. The colors feel a little more natural, there’s a bit more detail, especially at further distances, and very importantly, it runs at a stable frame rate. So far I’ve tested F1 2018 on a Playstation 4 as well as a PS4 Pro, and the game runs at a stable 60 frames per second, even during the rain. The only issue I have had was some stuttering during replays on the standard PS4, which makes things somewhat frustrating. The only other nitpick I would have is that some tracks have “Added details”, like extra trees that aren’t there in real life. Apart from that, visually, F1 2018 is a solid step forward.
The interview process is back, making its return after being absent for years.
Now, let’s take a little bit of time to talk about the Career mode in F1 2018. If you enjoyed last year’s career mode enhancements, you will likely enjoy it a lot of the new improvements. It seems like Codemasters is really trying to flesh out the experience of being an F1 driver. The interviews between sessions and after races are back, adding some depth to your career, and will determine how you are perceived as a racer.
The R&D Tree has been improved, and now will take into account mid-season and post-season rule changes.
The Research and Development tree has seen some MASSIVE improvements, giving you a myriad of options to be able to determine the path your team takes in improving your car. Mid-Season and Offseason rule changes also can add variety to the R&D tree as well.
Your teammate is always your first rival, but you can pick and choose your second rival to compete against.
F1 2018 has the “rivalries” system, like previous years as well. You have mini objectives every race weekend, and your goal is to beat your “rivals”. Your teammate is always your first rival, and as you progress through the career mode, you have the option to select your second rival. It’s a cool dynamic that can also shape your virtual driver’s career.
All in all, Career Mode is a great feature for anyone who wants to dive deep into the F1 experience. Although, if you’re looking for less of a commitment, you can also check out the Season mode. In that mode, you can run one-off seasons, and there are a variety of different options available. You can race the standard 2018 season, or you could run a historic championship, or even modified variants that will just race in Asia, North America, Europe, or even just a “Street Circuit” season! It seems like the variety of championships in this mode should provide solid variety, and decent replay value.
The events mode makes its return after being implemented in F1 2017. Events will be downloaded from Codemasters servers, and you will be thrown into the middle of a scenario, and you can see how you stack up compared to other racers around the world. It’s a surprising amount of fun, but I think this mode will succeed or fail based on how well Codemasters supports it.
All in all, Codemasters has made a shockingly major improvement in F1 2018, and has made a very well rounded title. There are quite a few quirks and flaws still in the title, but from my around 15 hours of driving so far, I’m quite pleased with what I’m seeing. One question many people will have is “Is it still a ‘simcade’ title?” and I will say that it is, but it’s getting even closer and closer to the “Serious Simulation” side of the spectrum. I’m not sure if it will ever get all the way to Serious Simulation, but it is at the very least a solid, fairly authentic and believable driving model. Also, it’s FUN to drive. Isn’t that what really matters when it’s all said and done?
Before we get into my Pros and Cons, let’s touch on a few footnotes.
If the Halo is a massive deal breaker, you can elect to remove the center post
-The Halo is used in full effect in the 2018 Formula One cars, but there is an option to remove the center post of the Halo in the game. The top of the Halo will remain though. This could be a good compromise for people who are struggling to see past the center post.
-The AI in the game has seen some major improvements over 2017. The AI will be a lot more aggressive, and will actively battle you, and each other. At times though, the AI may be TOO aggressive though. Sometimes they seem to lack situational awareness, which is a bit of a pain.
-This is the first Codemasters F1 title to provide Manual ERS controls! You can set the ERS mode between 1 of 5 settings, or you can set it to automatically adjust. By default you adjust the setting via the Multi Functional Display, but you can also map buttons on your wheel to change ERS, or other car functions such as engine map or brake bias.
-F1 2018 finally fully supports the Fanatec CSL Elite PS4, and it feels GREAT! Even though F1 2017 supported Fanatec’s PS4 wheel, the Force Feedback and steering just felt “off”. This version of the game feels miles better with Fanatec’s wheel, and is far more responsive.
-Speaking of responsive, the input lag in F1 2018 is just about gone. In F1 2016, the input lag was quite bad. F1 2017 saw improvements to the input lag, but it was still somewhat noticeable. F1 2018 sees it even further reduced to the point where it’s negligible. That is, in my opinion, part of why the cars may feel even more responsive now.
When the damage engine is good, it’s REALLY good. However, sometimes it is not as sensitive as it should be.
-The damage model in the game is rather hit or miss. A good shunt will totally destroy your car in Full mode, but sometimes smaller impacts will fail to register. There have been a few moments where I should have damaged my front wing from a shunt, and got away scott free.
-Safety Cars, as well as the Virtual Safety Car make their return to F1 2018. However, Red Flags are still a notable omission.
-All 12 classic cars from F1 2017 have returned to F1 2018, and 8 more have been added to the game, bringing the car count to 20. Most notably, we have classic cars from the 70’s, such as the Lotus 72D, McLaren M23D, and Ferrari 312T2. This really fleshes out the roster, and it’s great seeing some fan favorite cars come to the game.
-Last, but definitely not least, the Sounds in F1 2018 have seen some decent improvements. The sounds seem like they have more depth, particularly in the engine notes. The cars have different engine notes to correspond with the different teams and engines as well. The sounds may not be perfect 1:1 representations of the real world cars, but they’re at least believable.
-Now that we got those footnotes out of the way, let’s get onto my pros and cons. As usual, let’s start with the Pros.
-Solid improvement in physics, gives better feeling in cars
-Force Feedback is more intuitive, more informative
-AI has seen significant improvements over last year
-Graphics have seen decent improvements, with stable frame rate while driving
-Input lag is almost all gone
-Career mode expanded in positive ways
-Ability to remove Halo
-No Virtual Reality Support
-Replays seem to suffer from a Stuttering issue (at least on PS4 standard version)
-Replays also are lacking in features (i.e saving replays, advanced FF/RWD, etc.)
-Simulation not to as high of a “Dynamic” standard as other titles
-Damage Model is hit or miss at times.
-Would like to see an “Aggression” slider for the AI
-No Red Flags
So the question is, “Do I recommend F1 2018?” If you are a Formula One fan, and are fine not having a bleeding edge racing simulation with the most advanced physics, then I think you will really enjoy F1 2018. If you go in expecting a racing simulation at the caliber of rFactor 2, Automobilista, Assetto Corsa, or iRacing, I think you will come away disappointed.
This is still a Codemasters title, both for better and for worse. A few of the same quirks have been carried over for years, and this year is no different. It’s far from perfect, but I think this is Codemasters’ best F1 title to date, and I could easily recommend it to F1 fans.
I hope you enjoyed my review on F1 2018! Are you planning on picking it up when it releases on August 24th? Let us know in the comments!