Codemasters has finally brought the world’s greatest motorsport into virtual reality, skipping real-world drama for thrilling racing. It’s a strong adaptation, even if it doesn’t quite take pole position. Read on for our full F1 22 VR review!
It’s a tough challenge to keep an annual sports series fresh, but Codemasters has succeeded with F1 22. For the first time in the series’ history, we have an official Formula 1 game playable in VR, giving you ‘J opted for the PC version (sorry PSVR owners). Similar to Star Wars Squadrons, VR support is entirely optional but more importantly, it spans the entire game, allowing you to drop in and out at your convenience. It’s perhaps the most ambitious entry to date, so it’s deeply unfortunate that F1 22’s performance isn’t always there.
Before we get into the VR details, it’s worth explaining to regular drivers what’s changed in F1 2022. There are some big revisions beyond your standard roster updates. The 2022 season saw major changes in aero regulations and rules, which Codemasters accurately reflected. The car’s physics have been overhauled, the steering is refined, and you’ll find a new adaptive AI system that mirrors your performance, which is sometimes hesitant to overtake. The 2021 Formula 2 season is represented, and we also have the newest track on the 2022 calendar, the Miami International Autodrome.
As for VR support, it’s slightly limited but you’ll find it where it counts. There are no interface tweaks here for menus and you can’t choose a 3rd person view like in the flat game, placing you directly inside the cockpit but only when racing. You’re not locked in place with the camera, which means you can end up running through the car if you stray too far from where you synced. You probably won’t be too surprised to learn that your standard motion controls aren’t supported either, it requires a standard gamepad or steering wheel. Wanting to go all out I chose the latter, using a Hori Racing Wheel APEX which did the job well.
Once I started running, I was surprised. As a lifelong F1 fan, the game really captures that rush of grand prix opening moments well in VR for me. Between wider tracks like Monza and the narrow streets of Monaco, I felt that suspense once the lights turned green. Over the years, F1 has always been the scene of close combat. Hamilton versus Verstappen, Schumacher versus Häkkinen, Prost versus Senna, every era has that fierce rivalry that has gone down in racing history. When you go up against Lewis Hamilton and Charles LeClerc, desperately trying not to crash as we round the corners, you feel that sense of presence.
It’s a game that demands your full attention, VR or not, and the payouts are particularly exciting for it. Once you put on your helmet, you no longer have the benefit of seeing cars sneaking past you without actively checking your exterior mirrors. Instead of a HUD, speed stats are presented via the cockpit steering wheel to maintain immersion, and you can radio in for updates. When it rains, the water drips onto your visor and vision is never terribly obscured by it, or by the spray from the cars in front of you. F1 22 ticks a lot of simulation boxes and honestly, I’ve never had so much fun with a serious racer.
Unfortunately, F1 22 has some VR performance issues at launch that I didn’t notice in flat mode. For full context, my gaming PC is using a Ryzen 7 2700X and GeForce RTX 3070, which meet the recommended requirements for VR, and I used a Meta Quest 2 through Oculus Link and Virtual Desktop. However, until I opted out of the visuals of the automatically applied graphics settings, performance stuttered quite badly at times. Going through the first chicane at Monza, crashing into the back of Max Verstappen’s Red Bull and knocking us both out because the helmet image isn’t ideal. To make matters worse, this wasn’t an isolated case, so hopefully this will be fixed in a post-launch patch.
Beyond individual races, there are plenty of modes to choose from, but unfortunately Codemasters has discontinued Braking Point, the new story mode for F1 2021. Still, we have a faithful career mode, where you can play any of 20 existing pilots between the 10 teams. Alternatively, you can create your own custom team via MyTeam, the choice is yours. Multiplayer is filled with local split-screen (though obviously not in VR) and online play, the latter offering casual and ranked options. Solo players looking to shake things up can set up their own Grand Prix weekends or season schedules alongside time trials. Finally, “Pirelli Hot Laps” introduces new challenges that will earn you XP for your “Podium Pass” for new cosmetics, ranking your performance between Bronze, Silver, and Gold.
All of them work fine for the most part. Going one-on-one with friends is more exciting than ever and while I was getting into creating, building a career in Esteban Ocon’s BWT Alpine proved to be a lot of fun in my game. those looking for something different, you also have playable supercars, like the Aston Martin DB11 V12 in Time Trials and Hot Laps, which handle steering and braking differently. It’s a new experience and I had fun with them, even though it felt out of place. You also can’t race them against other supercars, a missed opportunity.
I’m just not in love with the game’s big new mode, F1 Life. It provides a new central area that other players can visit, allowing you to customize both your living space and your avatar, all purchased with Pitcoin. There’s a virtual showroom to get a closer look at the cars, and you’ll buy supercars there too. I just wish it was more interesting, there’s not much to do and to some extent it feels like an excuse for more microtransactions. Luckily, F1 Life isn’t the key to a larger experience, so that doesn’t hurt too much.
Otherwise, F1 22 is a visual delight and Codemasters clearly got to work for this presentation. Cars and tracks look incredibly realistic on high settings with great attention to detail. Once I switched to the lower settings for VR, it consistently hit those higher frame rates as well. If you’ve played previous entries you’ll find that it’s not a huge leap forward visually over F1 2021, but in all honesty it would be hard to improve on what’s already there. It remains a fairly dynamic experience.
F1 22 VR Review – Final Impressions
Codemasters brilliantly captured the most exciting aspects of Formula 1 in VR for F1 22 and I have never felt so immersed in a racing game before. While I’m sad to see story mode gone and don’t care that much about F1 Life, I can see F1 22 appealing to both long-time series fans and newcomers looking for a new pilot. Hopefully a post-launch patch will fix these performance issues, but if you’re willing to compromise for now, F1 22 is a great recommended choice.
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What did you think of our test of the F1 22 VR? Let us know in the comments below!