So you want to become an F1 driver? I’ve got great news for you, the latest F1 2018 game will take you about as close to that as possible without you having to leave your couch.
With a super in depth career mode which takes you through the journey of a real F1 racer, engaging online play and fun time trial mode for quicker sessions. If you are an F1 fan and want to feel like you have been picked for next season – this game is it.
Read on as we dive deep into the world of Formula One!
If you want to experience F1 as a real driver and you are willing to put in the time and effort to learn the game – just buy it, no doubt.
F1 2018 is not a great match if you are a casual racer who just wants to jump in for 15 minutes for some speedy fun. It is a very advanced game that attempts to mimic the real experience of driving a Formula 1 car.
However – once you get the hang of things and you start to learn a few tracks, jumping in to online sessions can be quite casual and does not require you to spend hours with it.
A steering wheel is not required to play, but I would highly recommend it as a controller simply does not do the game any justice at all.
Amazing career mode with so much depth to it.
Online play is fun and engaging, but lag issues can cause quite a bit of frustration.
So to sum up, if you are willing to buy a steering wheel and put a lot of time and effort into this game, get it! It’s fantastic!! If you expect to be able to drive like Lewis Hamilton after 15 mins of practice, look elsewhere, this game is hard! (Unless you drive with all the assists on, but then it’s not really you driving).
For this review, I played on PS4 with a Logitech G29 steering wheel.
Check out our Logitech G29 review if you need a wheel.
Let’s start with the heart of F1 2018 – the career mode
If you are the kind of person, like me, who puts on a racing helmet, overall and gloves before playing to get the ultimate experience, you are going to love the career mode.
You start off by choosing which team you would like to sign with – depending on the team, they will have different expectation of you.
Sign with Mercedes and they will expect you to at least grab a podium finish. Sign with Toro Rosso, and they are happy if you finish the race.
So it’s really cool that you can start your career at the bottom without the expectation to win every race, it helps to add realism to the game.
On each practice session your team will set up a set of goals for you to reach, tire management program, track acclimatization, qualifying pace program etc.
By completing these you will earn points with your team which can be spent towards car upgrades.
The car upgrade system is very advanced and will seem quite daunting at first. It will also significantly impact your performance over the season, so this is not something you want to skip.
The career mode can be played in many different ways, you can select difficulty, either making the game extremely easy or all the way up to the hardest, pitting you against realistic times set by the real racers.
All in all, the career mode is great! It is also a great way to get comfortable with all the various F1 tracks and the gadgets that come with the cars, such as DRS and ERS. You will also get a hang of doing pit stops, tire and fuel management etc.
So with such an in depth Career option, is the online section just as deep? Well, no not really. But that’s OK.
Something that bugs me with racing games when playing online, is that you generally have to find or create a lobby. In these lobbies people tend to set their own rules, switch tracks whenever and do a bunch of annoying things. You also generally join mid race and it takes ages before you actually get to play.
In F1 2018 this has been somewhat fixed. There is of course the classic lobby mode where people can set their own tracks and rules. But you also have online championships and ranked matches.
I’ve spent most my online time doing the ranked match option, it immediately puts you in a lobby with other people, each race is 5 laps, and a 1 lap qualifying before each race which determines grid positions.
After each race, everyone gets to vote between 3 randomly selected tracks, whichever wins will be the next track – and on it goes.
It’s really addictive and it keeps you thinking “just one more”, and since it is so easy to join, low wait times and the rules are always the same (no one can change the rules or the tracks like in classic lobby mode) it makes it really fun to play.
The servers are generally quite full as well, almost always 15 – 20 people on the grid which is really cool.
Generally in car games I find that you have around 3-6 opponents and half of those are gone by the end of the race, not in F1 2018! Since if you get a bad race, you take a couple of minutes break and try to do better in the next race!
A lot of players out there have really poor connection. And this is extremely obvious as you are driving, the cars are jerking all over the place. This combined with a grid of 20 people is just pure chaos. It’s not every race, but it’s quite common.
F1 2018 also has a driver safety rating system which determines how clean you drive and will then match you against people with a similar rating.
Now here is a big issue in my opinion, it is a great idea.. but. It seems that in general, everyone involved in a crash gets dinged on their safety rating. This means that if you enter a turn perfectly, and the idiot behind brakes too late and runs into you – you will both suffer a penalty to your safety rating.
This combined with laggy connections causing cars to veer all over the road makes it very tough to build up your safety rating.
It seems like the best way to do it is just to hang back at the start of the race and finish last, or pass a few cars that got knocked off. But it feels a bit supid as you are not really racing, just avoiding cars.
That said, once you do build up your rating, you actually do get matched with better racers, who probably went through the same trouble as you did. And you can definitely tell that they drive a lot cleaner, so the game gets more fun as you increase your rating.
All in all, online is super fun but not without its frustrations. It’s not like other racing games are much better so, it is what it is.
So what does it feel like to drive?
Well, I have never driven an F1 car so it’s hard to say. It definitely feels almost exactly how I would imagine it to feel though.
You can tweak the car’s settings, springs, wheel angles, roll bars, fuel load, you name it.
With every tweak you can really feel a difference in the car. Tighten up everything and you feel like you are in a gokart with way too much power. Loosen everything up and you feel like you are in a 1990’s volvo with 1000BHP.
Well, not quite 😛 But you get the idea.
For example: Let’s say you boost your down force, lower your car and set your springs too loose. On a high speed straight, the underside will start scraping the ground due to air pressing the car down too much. I did not expect this to happen while playing around with the car settings. It really impressed me on a deeper level 😀 Oh, and sparks will be spraying everywhere 😀
Hardcore sim racers will tell you that anything which isn’t iRacing or Assetto Corsa is crap and not realistic. But I find that F1 2018 delivers a genuine, realistic feeling while keeping it really entertaining and fun. I have no complaints at all about the car physics.
Oh, and do things break? Oh yes they do, I don’t know how many times I’ve had to retire from a race due to my wheels flying off. And it’s so awesome when you are driving behind someone blasting over a kerb and you see sparks, small parts and bits of tire fly off the car.
For me, they nailed the feeling of driving an F1 car – if you have never tried driving one for real, you will not be disappointed. If you have, well then please give this game a go and tell me how it feels 😛
The AI is generally pretty good, sometimes they decide to ram you and screw up your entire race. Generally this is a non issue though, and it’s usually the consequence of you making a risky move in the first place.
If you go wheel to wheel with an AI for a period, they eventually lose fatigue and will slow down and surrender the lead which feels satisfying and realistic.
Overall, they are pretty good at avoiding collisions and feel nice to drive against. Sometimes they go a bit crazy, but not enough for it to be an issue.
Looking at real F1, they have moments of craziness as well.
While it does not look like BF V – it looks good enough.
It’s not great, certain tracks look a lot less real than others. At times it looks fantastic, and sometimes it looks quite dated and flat.
However, the sparks and heat distortion coming off the cars certainly add to the atmosphere. And the fact that car parts vibrate as you drive over kerbs etc is a nice touch.
For what it is, it’s good enough. You don’t think about it after a while so it doesn’t take away from the experience.
The replays look fantastic though, it looks like they amped up the graphics a bit for that. Good call in my opinion if that means maintaining a solid 60fps during gameplay.
UI & Controls
Ok, when it comes to the UI and controls, you will need to be patient.
The UI is constantly cluttered with a bunch of information, but the piece of info that you would like to see is nowhere to be found. That is generally how I feel while playing this game.
During racing, there are many things you can do and keep track of. You can adjust your brake ratios, adjust your fuel consumption levels, adjust your ERS.. Activate DRS.. Talk to your guy on the radio.. Adjust race strategies.. and it goes on..
And all of this is managed within a window to your lower right, where you can also check tire pressure, tire wear, tire heat, engine wear… It goes on here as well…
While all of this certainly adds to the immersion, it gets rather complicated.
And before you say it, I know this is probably only half of what a real F1 driver needs to worry about, if not even less..
You’d be a fool thinking that an F1 car is a simple machine.. Here is a picture of Lewis Hamilton’s steering wheel from last season for reference.
They certainly do have a lot of buttons and stuff to manage, and I’m sure the game has already been dumbed down to make it easier.
But even so, for a mere mortal like you and I to be racing down a tricky track at 340 KM/H while adjusting brake biases, fuel consumption, ERS and looking at new available race strategies… Well call me slow but that is just too much to ask for.
You need to make sure to set up your hotkeys so it makes sense to you. The problem is, the G29 does not have enough buttons to fit it all 🙁
And to fumble through the little window, which is clunky to navigate through while going wheel to wheel at 100+… I don’t think so.
I wish they had found a way to simplify this a little bit, it’s just too much and takes way too long to get comfortable with. My suspicion is that most people just completely ignore this feature, which, really, is actually super cool!
And it’s a necessary feature if you ever want to drive on the higher difficulties.
Anyways, I’m sure you will get used to it but expect some frustration there.
UI could have been a lot better overall. At the same time, I do understand the struggle of trying to display so much information in a simple way.
I would also have liked more options to change the UI and how things display. Perhaps the way it is by default makes perfect sense to someone, but to me, it’s confusing.
The sound in this game is amazing. Each car even sounds different, so it’s not just a generic F1 sound applied to all cars.
The Ferrari sounds quite different from the Mercedes etc, which was not necessary, but it’s a nice touch.
Unfortunately, the latest F1 cars with their V6 engines and relatively low rev cap don’t sound that exciting. But the game is accurate which is what matters here.
I jumped into Schumacher’s Ferrari from 2002 the other day and compared it to a clip of him driving around the Nurburgring GP. It sounds EXACTLY the same, nothing beats that high pitched screaming sound. Even as you let the throttle off you get this whining rumble in the engine replicating exactly what it sounds like in the video. It’s so cool, and really adds to the experience. 10/10 🙂
The Small Things
To mention a few other things that don’t really fit into any category.
Historic cars are awesome, you can drive cars dating all the way back to 1970! Full list of historic cars featured here.
I’ll just mention sparks and small parts flying off the cars again, it looks so cool 🙂
Time trial lets you jump on to any track with any car for some quick hot laps. You can also see the world record and where you fit in. However, wall collisions do not invalidate your time, so on tracks like Monaco, people take advantage of the walls and drive at full speed using them as support. This makes it quite dull to try and aim for a competitive time as your opponents are practically cheating. Car damage is also turned off in this mode so scraping the wall will not hurt you. Just invalidating your time if any wall contact is registered would have solved this issue and made it a lot more fun.
- Are you and F1 enthusiast? Get this game.
- Are you interested in high speed racing and want a genuine and fun experience? Get this game.
- Do you want to hold down the accelerator throughout the entire race, never touch the brake and drift through every corner? Don’t get this game.
While it’s not super friendly to casual players, I actually think that is a plus. It’s a game about being an F1 driver, and that’s hard work! I personally love the balance they’ve struck between real and fun. F1 2018 brings something new to the table in a similar fashion to Gran Turismo but solely focusing on F1.
The game is approachable by most people and when given enough time, will make you think you could take on a real F1 car and get a good lap time. (This is of course an illusion, but ignorance is bliss xD ).
I try to be fair when writing reviews and not ask for things that are unrealistic. You can always ask for more, like historic tracks, or more online options. However, certain things could have been fixed and would not be too much to ask for.
The cluttered and awkward UI could have been fixed. The online match making and safety rating system could be improved upon.
But I still love this game and it is one of my favorite racing games of all time.