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Should you buy the divisive new F1 24 game?

by Nathan Quinn
7 min read

After recent F1 games took left-field diversions into fields such as story modes and supercars, EA and Codemasters have made a concerted effort to make their core player base the key focus for this year’s title.

F1 24 has ditched or deprioritised some of the less popular features in a refreshing move to improve the more conventional aspects of an F1 game. That means supercars are no more and F1 World has received only minor alterations.

Essentially though, you can break down the myriad of changes and improvements made for F1 24 into three distinct groups. The most hyped of these is the driver career mode - which is strikingly different to how it has been in previous games.

A long-overdue career mode overhaul

F1 24 game

To the joy of many, the major focus for F1 24 has been on overhauling the driver career mode. This marks the first significant change to that side of the game since the My Team mode was introduced in F1 2020 some five years ago.

Driver career has been re-worked to such an extent that it is now the deeper career option and distinct from My Team, whereas in previous entries the driver career was really just a slightly scaled-back version of My Team.

Before you even get into the on-track action, you’re greeted with a cutscene of your driver and their agent in Monaco signing your first contract. It’s the first taste of the new contract negotiation system, which has been improved in more than just its presentation.

As a driver, you start off with an overall rating - which can go up or down depending on your results. Teams expect improvement, and a part of your contract is a target rating you have to reach by the end of it.

F1 24 game

In our experience so far, we’ve found that improving your rating is quite easy - and even a raise of four overall, which is the game’s recommended improvement target, is very achievable as long as you have reasonable results for the pace of your car.

Technically you can get into a position where the team won’t want to retain you after your contract, but that requires a significant drop in rating, which is unlikely unless it's being deliberately orchestrated.

F1 24 game

While that lack of challenge may be welcome to some who don’t want to deal with the constant struggle of keeping their place in F1, it does open up some moments of questionable logic that dent the illusion of you being a Formula 1 driver.

Much has been made by EA and Codemasters of the 'secret meetings' added into driver career. However, only three races into our F1 career we were approached by Aston Martin to see if we were interested in a switch from Williams for the following year. It certainly suggests that the career mode progression will be very easy, particularly as we hadn’t yet even scored a championship point.

F1 24 game

Negotiations are also much more protracted as the first meeting post-Australia was just to say whether or not we were interested and the second was after Monaco, where Aston revealed how many and which car upgrades it had fitted and then asked if we were still interested in continuing talks.

In fairness this drawn-out negotiation period is, in a way, quite realistic and is certainly a step up from how it was in previous F1 games. Also we have to mention that we’ve only done just over half of a season of career mode so far, so can’t comment on how those talks come to a close.

But there are some odd omissions to what we’ve seen. Firstly, there seems to be no way to initiate 'secret meetings' with other teams.

Also, the negotiations go at the pace of the team you’re talking to. While talks spanning multiple weeks or months are totally plausible in real-life F1, the fact that these talks always go on for so long in the game and seemingly only get wrapped up late in the year isn’t necessarily accurate.

F1 24 game

Some sort of risk-reward for trying to do a deal early, maybe closing off potentially better options that could’ve come around later, would greatly improve the system.

Maybe we just had an extraordinary experience in our career mode, but we had realistic results at Williams and were almost immediately in talks with Aston Martin - yet none of the backmarker teams wanted to talk to us. Maybe this all comes together at the end of the season, but that would slightly undermine the secret meetings themselves if you have greater freedom of choice at the end of the year anyway.

The divisive car handling changes

F1 24 game

It’s worth noting that a lot of these changes are exclusive to driver career. While My Team has had its own presentation changes with some of the opening cutscenes being redesigned and set in different locations, it reality it plays out almost identically to how it did to F1 23.

The other major change that EA and Codemasters have pushed heavily in their marketing is the physics and car simulation. This comprises a new suspension kinematics system as well as updated tyre and aerodynamic models.

It's all come together to produce a driving model that is easier to get up to speed with. Compared to F1 23 there’s more rear-end grip and catching slides is easier, so running without the traction control assist will be viable for more players than before.

It’s worth noting that the car handling was widely panned by big-name F1 gaming influencers last week when the preview build of the game was made available.

F1 24 game

The consensus was that the cars felt too unnatural and that the physics had been designed for controllers first and foremost - hurting the experience for players using a wheel-and-pedals set-up in the process.

However, having played both the preview and the launch-spec versions of F1 24, there are changes between the two. The mid-corner understeer, which was a big contributor towards the unnatural handling feeling, is not in the final game and the initial turn-in isn’t as sharp as it was in the preview build.

That won’t completely change the belief held by the more passionate players that the physics have been watered down in favour of making the game more accessible to controller users.

But if you are one, or simply would appreciate the game being easier to pick up and play and keep the car pointing in the right direction, then you’ll be more at home with F1 24 than with the other recent EA F1 games.

Other changes

F1 24 game

Other smaller tweaks include some much-needed updates to track models.

Silverstone, Spa, Jeddah and Lusail have all been gone over and updated - track markings on the outside of Eau Rouge being the most obvious tweak.

If you race as one of the real-life F1 drivers, whether that be in the regular grand prix mode or in career mode, you’ll hear them comment on their performance using clips from real radio chatter. There’s a good variety in there too, depending on if you performed above, at or below expectations or even if you crash out.

There are some context-specific ones, too, tied to either a specific circuit or an exact result. A 1-2 finish with Ferrari was for us met with a radio message from Leclerc specifically mentioning that we achieved a 1-2 - so the radio calls have been quite smartly and thoroughly integrated.

On top of that is the addition of engine braking as a tunable car set-up option, and the challenge career, which offers a condensed career mode experience and the inclusion of in-race objectives such as either keeping your tyres within a certain temperature window or overtaking a car within a certain number of laps. All of these are welcome inclusions.


F1 24 game

The key question though is whether F1 24 justifies the £69.99 price it’s selling for on consoles - or even the £89.99 for the Champions Edition.

F1 24 has a number of key differences compared to last year’s game and for career mode enthusiasts there’s a number of things to pique your interest.

For many, though, the enjoyment of the game lives and dies with the handling model and that’s been the source of a lot of frustration amongst many in the community before release. It has been improved since that initial wave of backlash and Codemasters is promising further tweaks down to line to make it better still.

As it stands today, for those who use a controller, want a game that can be easily gotten to grips and who predominantly play career mode, F1 24 should appeal much more than any F1 game since the start of EA’s involvement in the series.

But it really comes down to how excited you are by the driver career mode changes and if being more forgiving is the direction you want the car handling model to move in.

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