Time to box, box, box? F1 24 review

Ross McGregor
We get behind the wheel of EA and Codemasters’ F1 24 and see if it’s a step forward for the series or whether it badly needs to make a pitstop.
Time to box, box, box? F1 24 review, EA SPORTS, Codemasters
F1 24 review

F1 24 is the latest entry in Codemasters and EA SPORTS’ long-running Formula 1 game series and features all the teams, circuits, drivers and cars from the 2024 season, alongside a full suite of 2023 Formula 2 content (the 2024 F2 grid will arrive in a post-launch update).

The developers have stuck with Codemasters’ proprietary Ego game engine for F1 24, so players shouldn’t expect radically improved visuals, despite long-overdue graphical overhauls for tracks like Spa-Francorchamps. Other circuits to receive upgrades include Silverstone, Lusail International Circuit and the Jeddah Corniche Circuit, covering changes to track topography, signage and paddock details.

There are still disappointing rough edges on older track models like Monza and Hungaroring, however, with occasional screen freezes cropping up during cross-play online modes. Overall, though, F1 24 generally runs smoothly – despite lacking the kind of polish you’d expect from a 2024 title. 

Perhaps this indicates F1 has outgrown Ego, after all, it’s been in consistent use since 2007 in one form or another. However, EA and Codemasters’ travails with stuttering graphics in EA SPORTS WRC shows that sticking with Ego was perhaps a sensible move. Those anticipating a radical graphics overhaul next year may be disappointed too, as the developers’ licence agreement with F1 runs until 2025.

F1 24’s overall presentation is suitably slick, featuring Sky Sports F1 stalwarts like Natalie Pinkham, Anthony Davidson and – of course – David Croft, making players feel like they’re about to watch an authentic F1 event (in terms of F1 commentary, players can even substitute Crofty for F1TV broadcaster Alex Jacques if preferred).

Dynamic weather returns but the rain effects are starting to look a little dated now, with wet track textures and spray looking particularly average. There’s even the addition of real-world engineer-to-driver radio chatter to bolster the authenticity further.

F1 24, Natalie Pinkham, Anthony Davidson
Natalie and Anthony add some Sky Sports F1 authenticity

Handles like a dream?

Car handling has also been tweaked, with a new ‘Dynamic Handling’ system designed to produce more ‘realistic and predictable performance’ on both gamepad and steering wheel controllers. Max Verstappen was brought onboard to advise, but you may want to take that with a very large pinch of salt (but not so much you blow the catering budget).

In practice, the new suspension, tyre and aero models are weighted more towards gamepad users, which is understandable given how most F1 24 players will use a pad. With all assists turned off, traction zones are now easier to master, while kerbs seem to be a benign presence in all but the most extreme cases: the Variante Tamburello and Gresini sausage kerbs at Imola can be monstered, for example, making gamepad progress much less frustrating.

F1 24, Spa-Francorchamps, Formula 1
Photo mode is back and is as powerful as ever

Many hardcore F1 enthusiasts will prefer to use a steering wheel, and while handling feels mostly intuitive (after extensive force feedback adjustments), cars feel very ‘on-the-nose’ to drive, with initial oversteer trending towards mid-corner understeer. It may not be to everyone’s tastes. Still, after some acclimatisation it provides a predictable platform to help tackle the game’s extensive career mode (there’s no ‘Braking Point’ story content this time round – it’s a bi-annual occurrence).

Some influencers and media outlets have described F1 24’s cars as ‘undriveable’, but this has not been the case for the Traxion team. Sure, it’s different to F1 23, and many may prefer the older title in the handling stakes, but F1 24 is easy to pick up and play with a gamepad and I was soon nailing apexes at familiar tracks like Bahrain and Melbourne in both F2 and F1 machinery – even with all driving assists turned off.

F1 24 Melbourne
Melbourne has never looked better

ERS modelling has also changed, allowing more fiddling on the go via the MFD, so players can switch between None, Medium, Hotlap and Overtake modes on the fly. Overtake mode is more powerful than previous titles, but this comes at the expense of increased battery usage. 

The new engine braking mechanic plays a part in this, affecting how much battery charge you gain during gameplay. Increasing it allows more energy harvesting at the expense of more oversteer on corner entry, while lower values give a safer feeling alongside less battery regeneration. Battery use also tapers off towards the end of straights more realistically, with ‘lift and coast’ techniques making a sizeable difference to energy levels.

F1 24 engine braking
Engine braking adds another facet to F1 24’s ERS management mechanic

Career change?

Not much has changed in F1 24’s career mode compared to its predecessors: players run specific practice session programmes set by their engineers, earning upgrade points to help improve their car. Additional buffs are also supplied by fulfilling objectives set by the new-for-2024 Specialists – personnel with specific skills – who come and go throughout the season. Doing well increases the new ‘Driver Recognition’ stat, helping attract prospective employers. 

For the first time players can choose to drive as one of the F1 grid, with each driver’s rating – including your own – increasing or decreasing throughout a season. The effects of these new additions are mostly skin-deep, however, as is the ability to play as ”Icons’ like Nigel Mansell, Ayrton Senna and errrrr Pastor Maldonado (it’s also rather immersion-breaking for F1 aficionados).

F1 24, Nigel Mansell
Mansell is a young up-and-comer intent on becoming a pro F1 driver. Or magician.

The new Challenge Career mode adds intriguing, bite-sized scenarios, with online leaderboards ranking the top-scoring players. More will be added throughout the season too, with the F1 World mode offering an interesting diversion to the main single-player career. Microtransactions are present (but entirely optional), with the much-derided supercars now a thing of the past (hooray!).

There’s even a ‘New Game+’-style mode in F1 24 which opens up after completing one career mode season. This allows players to implement universal restrictions like limiting all teams’ ability to develop certain areas of their car, or to simulate the microchip shortage of the COVID-19 pandemic, slowing down upgrade progression. It’s an interesting mechanic that’s ripe for harvesting by F1 content creators, but is unlikely to add much depth to the single-player experience.

If you get bored offline you can head online and participate in a two-player co-op career mode, with ranked online racing providing effective crossplay opportunities.

F1 24
Epic brakes is something we all should strive for in motoring

VR on = no buy?

Although driving with a VR headset is more suited to the tiny minority of hardcore players, it’s still a vital feature in modern titles. First seen in F1 22, Codemasters and EA have had a couple of chances to refine the VR formula; sadly I couldn’t experience it properly for this review.

Using a Meta Quest 2, I found that my steering wheel was occasionally unresponsive, making me completely lose control. This would happen intermittently and unpredictably, making progress near impossible. 

F1 24 practice programmes
Practice programmes, yay!

Visually too, despite owning a PC capable of displaying Ultra graphics settings on a 3440 x 1440 monitor, the in-headset image was riddled with jaggy lines and difficult-to-read brake marker boards. It was a massive disappointment, especially as I’ve recently been playing Automobilista 2 and Assetto Corsa using the same equipment, and both were near-flawless experiences.

I’ll make a point of returning to F1 24 in VR shortly, as I believe it can be improved massively with some fettling.

F1 24 driver rating
Driver ratings are nice, but they don’t affect gameplay much

Final straight

Is F1 24 worth buying if you already own F1 23? On balance, few genuine innovations make it stand out from its predecessor. The Challenge Career is an interesting but limited addition; the reworked handling model is divisive yet forgiving; and the effects of the Driver Recognition and Driver Rating systems have very little bearing on players’ career mode choices.

The remodelled circuits bring the series up to modern F1 standards, however, and although the career mode is similar to previous incarnations it still provides an interesting and immersive challenge. VR still needs a lot of work, however.

The Champions Edition of the game costs £79.99, which is steep for a few extra in-game bonuses, with the Standard Edition sitting at £59.99. If you’re completely new to the F1 series, or have skipped a couple of entries, F1 24 provides an authentic hit of F1-themed action, with a forgiving handling model appealing to the vast majority of players – you’ll likely get your money’s worth.

Those who already own F1 23 or are looking for a more visceral driving experience may want to steer clear, however.

The Traxion.GG Review Verdict: Wishlist
Developer EA/Codemasters
Release date 28th May (Champions Edition – £79.99), 31st May (Standard Edition – £59.99)
Available platforms PC , PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S
Version/s tested PC
Best played with Gamepad

Full disclosure: A game code was provided by the developers for review purposes. Here is our review policy.

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