Is F1 24’s VR mode a step forward?

We investigate F1 24’s VR mode and see if it represents a step forward for EA and Codemasters’ series.
F1 24, Spa-Francorchamps, Formula 1

Since its inception in F1 22, VR compatibility in Codemasters/EA’s F1 series of games has largely flattered to deceive, with choppy frame rates and jaggy lines greeting most headset-bearing players.

So, with the development team now having had three attempts to refine the formula is VR in F1 24 a step forward for the series?

No VR = no buy

In a word, no.

Well, that was a short article.

But seriously, F1 24’s VR mode feels and looks similar to its predecessors. After struggling to find VR settings that could make the game functional with my Meta Quest 2 (details on my issue and the embarrassingly simple fix are below), I eventually settled into some laps in Max Verstappen’s Red Bull around Silverstone.

Needless to say, I wasn’t happy with the look or performance of the game, with the sharpest of jaggy textures (anti-aliasing doesn’t seem to be a thing with the in-headset view) lowering the immersion factor.

However, I soon noticed that the VR graphics settings (accessed via the pause menu) defaulted to medium. Cranking everything up to ultra improved matters somewhat, but the edges of most surfaces were still rough as a broken carbon fibre front wing, with brake marker boards especially difficult to read from a distance.

F1 24, McLaren, Spa-Francorchamps

My gaming PC is well capable of delivering a high-end VR experience with most of today’s sims which makes F1 24’s foibles particularly frustrating, but it was instances of slow-down, choppy frame rates and game crashes that disappointed most.

Every time I tried to start F1 24 in VR mode the game would crash. Trying again immediately seemed to solve the issue and the experience thereafter was largely trouble-free (except for the choppiness mentioned earlier).

You can see some of my experiences in the video below, indicating decent performance while fighting it out with multiple opponents. However, every video I recorded while driving F1 24 in VR resulted in weird, staccato-like slow-down moments. Although these weren’t always displayed in the headset display, their presence in the recording does indicate more optimisation is required.

Is F1 24’s VR issues an Ego problem?

It’s a well-known fact that F1 24 runs on Codemasters’ long-serving Ego game engine (it’s been used in modified form for 17 years), so could this elderly technology account for the game’s mediocre VR performance?

In short, I don’t think so.

The reason? DiRT Rally 2.0.

Yes, Codies’ highly-rated rally sim looks, sounds and feels great to drive (it’s not Richard Burns Rally but it’s still realistically good fun), but it also has an excellent VR mode which – you guessed it – uses the Ego engine.

To prove the success of DR 2.0’s VR mode one just has to look at the difficulties experienced by those trying to play its successor, EA SPORTS WRC, with a headset. Yes, the Unreal Engine-powered sim’s VR mode is still in beta but early signs indicate it may not reach DR 2.0’s heights, with many virtual rally fans feeling the older title has superior visuals overall.

It’s naturally frustrating that the older DR 2.0 looks better in VR than F1 24, but in fairness rally stages are much less detailed than Formula 1 courses, with 19 more cars on-screen too, so it’s not quite a fair comparison.

F1 24, Red Bull Ring, Formula 1, Haas

F1 24 Meta Quest 2 VR issues

As explained earlier, I had a strange experience with the Meta Quest 2 in F1 24’s VR mode. While reviewing the game I found that my steering wheel would periodically lose contact with the game, causing my car to fly off-track.

After some fruitless internet research, I eventually found the issue: my Xbox 360 gamepad was plugged into my PC! Disconnecting it immediately resolved any steering wheel issues with F1 24 in VR, and is well worth bearing in mind if you experience any wheel problems in future.

F1 sidestep

The overall F1 24 VR experience is not necessarily terrible, but given this is the third iteration it’s a little disappointing. The truth is you can get a more detailed and smoother VR single-seater experiences in the likes of Automobilista 2 and Assetto Corsa, with a lot less compromise.

If you’re dead set on enjoying all the VR Formula 1 bells and whistles you get from an officially licensed product, then F1 24 does an decent job. If you already own F1 22 or F1 23, however, it’s difficult to recommend F1 24 for your VR thrills.

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