Kicks the series up a gear.

Title: F1 2018
Platform: PS4 (reviewed), Xbox One, PC
Developer: Codemasters
Publishers: Codemasters
Release Date: August 24, 2018
Console: £55/$60
PC: £45/$50
TL;DR: A polished F1 2017 with a better career mode.
Family Focus: Click here for more information

Another year can only mean yet another iteration of the F1 series, but with F1 2017 redefining the series so successfully, does F1 2018 manage to keep up, or does it spin out when it matters most?

The big shake-up in cars for F1 2018 comes back – but only in the classic car department. The cars you’ll race with for the majority of the time are the unchanged modern cars roster from last year’s game. And whilst it might be the same roster, what is far more evident is the different feel of each car. From a technical standpoint, a lot of this individualised feel can be attributed to the reworked chassis system. For the casual pretend driver (like myself) what you’ll notice is that each of the cars handles fairly differently to one another. It’s an adjustment that offers a subtle variety of each car as you spend more and more time with each of the vehicles.

Along with the new classic cars, F1 2018 sees the return of the Paul Ricard circuit. Having been unused since the 80s, the track offers fans new and old a fresh challenge with its deceptive corners and sharp turns. The inclusion of a new track is something of a rarity for the series, and whilst the likes of Australia, Dubai, Canada, and Belgium have been regular inclusions for the series, it’s more than likely that veteran players know these tracks off by heart now, so the chance to take on a whole new route should have most of you excited.

That’s all well and good for what’s new, but what about the gameplay? In all honesty, not much has changed. Codemasters hit a great balance last year, and F1 2018 seems like a stopgap in gameplay, with all the same mechanics returning with a few tweaks.

The most notable of these tweaks is the brake assist, for those of us who aren’t really into the technical side of the game, F1 2018 offers a far more comprehensive assist system. Don’t get me wrong, even with the assist on, you shouldn’t expect to be flying through the course and taking a corner flawlessly when you’ve just been doing 120mph, but the game is a tad more forgiving now. Where you would’ve spun out on certain tracks if you strayed oh slightly from the line or came into a corner a tad too quickly, this year you’re able to salvage a poor entry into a corner thanks to the brake assist.

That doesn’t mean F1 has forgotten about its hardcore fanbase. Those of you who know more than “red cars go faster,” won’t feel like you’re getting an easy pass when it comes to racing. Going fully manual on the tracks will have you having to jump through gears with perfect precision if you want to get through those tight corners. And then there’s the weather you’ll have to consider. Whilst sunny days might see you having to slow to a snail’s pace to take those winding road at Monaco, the rain transforms races on Silverstone into wild tracks that’ll have you attempting to drift through corners. Add to this a return to the ranked multiplayer, and there’s enough challenge thrown back into this year’s game to keep even the most seasoned racer on their toes.

The career mode has also gone through a major overhaul, switching from the “Make History,” tagline of last year to “Make Headlines.” As that tagline might suggest, it’s the media who play a pivotal role in your career; interviews with reporters will define your relationship with your team and how your rival driver sees you. So, blame the backroom team for you finishing dead last, and you can expect a few dirty looks when it comes to getting them to develop your car. There’s a lot riding on the consequences of the interviews, and whilst a launch day patch is scheduled to smooth out some fairly big wrinkles in the system (which includes interviewers not taking notice of how well you do in races) it’s one that works well for the game.

When you’re not tip-toeing through interviews or slogging through practice sessions and qualifying races, the return of the invitational classic car challenges are the “let your hair down,” segments of the career mode. There’s no jumped up yuppie in this year’s game; instead, you’ll just show up and race against the clock in some wonderful little cars from the yesteryear of the sport. Like I said, these races are almost the free-run sections, taking away the pressure of times or press, and letting you just make the most of the cars and the game’s photo mode.

The very last thing I want to mention is the game’s events mode, which will be offering up weekly challenges for the community to try their hand at. The events look like they’ll be a great way to play the game if you can only spare an hour, pitting you against contextual challenges that might have you aiming to climb from last place to finish in the top eight – in fact, that’s the very first event challenge of the game. It looks like the perfect way for players to jump in and out of the game without having to give up an entire afternoon to a single race.

It’s been a year that’s seen the arcade racer return in a big way with the likes of OnRush, The Crew 2 and more, but F1 bucks that trend; instead, doing what it’s always done exceedingly well – pushing the technical side of the game to its limit. F1 2018 might not be a huge departure from last year’s F1 game, but it’s a certainly a more polished version when it comes to gameplay whilst introducing some new features that inject a little more meaning into your career.

The Good:

  • Excellent feel and variety to each of the cars
  • Silverstone is a lot of fun to race in the rain
  • The revamped career mode offers a lot more meaningful gameplay

The Bad:

  • Still probably too technical for the casual player
  • If you’re not a fan of F1 the car selection might seem a little thin
  • The invitationals are a nice but unnecessary break in the career mode

Family Focus

F1 2018 is – of course – rated “3,” in the UK and “E,” for Everybody in the US. To be honest, I can’t imagine many kids getting a good handle on the game, but it could be a fun game to play through together – as long as you don’t scream at your child when they mess up a corner.

Disclaimer: This review is based on a code provided by PR for the purposes of this review.