F1 2018 puts you front and centre in the pinnacle of motorsport, challenging you to make headlines in the fast, unpredictable world of Formula 1. Codemaster’s F1 titles have become a staple within the yearly sports releases, but just how much performance have they managed to gain over the summer break?
Yearly releases can sometimes feel like little more than a spot of polish thrown over the previous year’s title. At a glance, F1 2018 seems to be a prime example, featuring much of the same from the year before, with this year’s cars, teams and tracks simply thrown over the top. Codemasters set a solid foundation with F1 2017, so F1 2018 really has to continue that trajectory. Thankfully, Codemasters have kept the streak alive.
The career mode is the staple of the F1 series, allowing players to lace up their boots and enter the pinnacle of motorsport. F1 2018 has made a few additions to the career mode this year, with the intention of increasing the immersion on offer. one issue I had with last years title was the commentary, which has seen some mild improvement. The commentary team no longer refer to you as ‘A Mercedes’ instead opting for the ability to select a name from a list, as Codemasters has done with the DiRT series for the past 5-6 years. Sadly, my name isn’t in there, but I’ll happily settle for Mr Monaco. Otherwise, the commentary is very much the same. Bland, uninterested, and after 2-3 seasons I imagine it’ll be little more than background noise.
Codemasters has also revamped the paddock for F1 2018, with the command centre getting a much-needed redesign, allowing you to stare at your teammate from across the desk, for maximum intimidation. You’ll still be interacting with your agent, Emma, however this time she’ll introduce you to her friend in the press, who will be doing what any good presenter would do; pestering you when you really, really want to be left alone after dumping the car into the wall. The addition of interactions with the press is a nice touch, but it would be nice to see some variation, so it’s not just Claire asking the same old questions every time, with the same old answers. You’ll often find yourself thinking ‘I wouldn’t say any of these’ and left with no choice but to channel your inner Kimi and offer absolute sweet F-all. That, or you’ll find yourself in a hyperactive panic as you’ve got 10 seconds to read, contemplate and choose one of up to 4 responses to a loaded question. These questions do have an effect on your career, as you’ll gain a personality, varying between showman and sportsman, as well as any comments about the car having a corresponding effect on the team morale. It’s not just seat of your pants action behind the wheel, it happens in the pits as well.
The final addition specific to F1 2018’s career mode is the addition of renegotiated contracts. This allows you to, at pre-determined points in a season, renegotiate your contract with the team to match your worth. Your worth is, of course, determined by your results, and somewhat the personality you portray off-track, and if it matches your team’s preference. The more you’re worth, the more you can push for. This can be driver status, resource improvements, etc. All of these can have a small yet significant impact on your career mode, offering you greater choices down the line, including changing teams mid-season.
Aside from these changes, there’s little else to report in F1 2018’s career mode. The only real to an existing feature is the resources, allowing players to upgrade their car at a much faster rate, which is sure to make players feel as though their hard work in practice is going somewhere. All of these changes add a little something to the career mode, even if they’re not perfect. It would be nice to see the commentary delivered with a little more effort, and for some better press interaction, but it is certainly a step in the right direction.
F1 2018 maintains the same modes as it’s predecessor, with multiplayer, time-trial, championships and events all gracing the title alongside the game’s career mode. Multiplayer and time trial prove to be ever popular modes, as players look to shave that extra tenth, or lick the stamp and send it up the inside of some poor soul into the first corner. It’s got all of the modes you come to expect from a racing title. No more, no less.
The biggest changes to F1 2018 come from the game’s physics. This is easily the best feeling title in the franchise so far. Codemasters has clearly worked on the handling of the title, and it has paid off. in the previous title, cars would often feel as though they were slipping on all 4 wheels, which felt very unnatural. thankfully, this is a thing of the past this time around. Tires have a much more pronounced drop off if you don’t look after them, and drivers are now required to manage their energy deployment as well as their engine mode. These features not only help the handling but also help to make F1 2018 incredibly immersive. While the new additions are not the easiest to get to grips with, managing your energy and engine throughout a lap becomes incredibly rewarding throughout a race. While the control for these is not the most intuitive, thanks to the limitations of a controller and most wheels, once you get the hang of where you can and cannot play with your deployment throughout a lap, it becomes second nature.
Of course, the physics are not perfect, and there’s always going to be that arcade element to the title, purely because of how technical these cars actually are. You can see more of this slipping into the franchise with F1 2018, with the ability to adjust deployments, engine modes, brake bias all on the fly, but there is still potential to add more. The way in which the title calculates fuel is also rather skewed, with the car appearing to be heavily under-fuelled in longer races. Even without fuel-saving, you’ll end up completely fine, which is confusing if nothing else.
A big draw for F1 2018 will, of course, be the return of the classic cars to the franchise, with even more gracing the title, including Jenson Button’s championship-winning Braun GP racer. These classic cars can be either a joy, or a terror to drive, and it’s really hit or miss as to what you get. it seems that F1 2018 has a handling model focused around downforce, giving the older cars a feeling that doesn’t quite sit right. even still, they’re a great addition that allows players to see just how far the sport has come, right from the best seats in the house.
Graphically F1 2018 isn’t a crystal clear improvement, instead focusing on the little things, while still refusing to work on those blasted character models. The little details are mostly found around the track, with more sponsor boards and more natural gravel traps gracing circuits, and players will notice a visible improvement to the sparks flying from the cars as well as the audible ‘bottoming out’ of the cars as they hit top speed. The game looks fantastic, it’s just a shame that the characters have still got that unnatural unease to them. Audibly, there’s a nice improvement, with the engines sounding somewhat richer and the ambient track sounds becoming nicely balanced, and thus providing nice little cues.
Overall, F1 2018 is another fantastic release in the franchise. Seasoned fans of the series will be thrilled with the additions and the new physics, even if they hate the Halo being a part of F1.
F1 2018 is available now on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC