F1 cars don’t stay the same throughout a season, tinkering and changing the setup, investing in new technology all helps a team push their cars to new limits. At times F1 2018, too, feels like a mid-season setup rather than a brand new game, but like the best cars, it has created something of a winning formula.
F1 2017 was a great game, one that put Codemasters back in the driving seat of F1, so it’s understandable that they wouldn’t want to rebuild what was already working. That said, plenty of new features have been added to make the 2018 season’s game even more deserving of a championship title.
For the fans, Hockenheim is the biggest new addition. It was a sorely missed track that is thankfully now included. The classic French track, Circuit Paul Ricard, is also new to the 2018 season and makes an appearance in the game. It’s a lovely track to race on. All 20 drivers are, as expected, included.
The Career mode has been overhauled, too, with much more emphasis on what you say and do off the track affecting your chosen team and, eventually, your race as money and parts are based on your relationship with the team. You also get rivals through the way you play and these will slot into the sort of questions you get during Press Conferences as well. It fits seamlessly with the career mode gameplay and makes for an almost RPG-like experience, adding a little more strategy to your game over a season.
That said, it’s still a little hit or miss whether your replies to journalists will really be anything like the replies you’d actually like to provide and rivals can seem a little arbitrary at times.
For the newcomer, or those who don’t want to play a full championship season, there are plenty of options both old and new. The online challenges are back, one of my favourite elements of the 2017 game, where you’re given a challenge, often based on that week’s race if you play it near enough to the actual event, a race in wet conditions where you need to come from the back to 5th or higher, or having to go in for new tyres and get back to the lead, and try to compete against times and scores of others online. Classic races have been expanded with 20 classic cars now available and lots of races on older tracks.
Improvements elsewhere come from the expansion of the already excellent graphics engine, improving lighting, shadows and, seemingly, adding even more depth to weather (at least, to me, there seemed to be more overcast days without rain but with the threat of it hanging overhead, just as in a real race), and AI, which is now less likely to follow the racing line and more likely to fight back, though this still could be improved further.
With more modes, an easier entry into the game for newcomers and more casual racers and general improvements all round, F1 2018 is the best Formula 1 experience to date outside of a real car.