An F1 race in progress in F1 24.

F1 24 review

Another odd in-betweener year for the racing series.

(Image: © Codemasters)

Our Verdict

Less assured and sorely missing story mode, this feels like a downgrade over F1 23.

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Need to Know

What is it? The latest instalment in Codemasters’ long-running series of official Formula One games.
Release date May 31, 2024
Expect to pay $70/£60
Developer Codemasters
Publisher Electronic Arts
Reviewed on Nvidia RTX 2070, 16GB RAM, Intel i7 10th Gen
Steam Deck Unsupported
Link Official site

Last year’s F1 23 was great because it offered three compelling single-player pillars, including the lavishly-produced, Drive To Survive-esque story mode. Take that away, in the now-predictable two-year cycle for such major features, and you’re left with something that really does invite the question of whether it could have just been DLC instead, despite a new emphasis on assuming the role of real drivers. 

Without the story mode, there’s a definite feeling of having done this before. Even the supposedly all-new career mode is predictable. Will we start the new weekend with a practice session in which we fulfil three R&D tasks? Yes, we will. What was once an innovative and enjoyable practice session which taught you the track and how to play the game is now some seven years old and overly-familiar. Sure, you can skip the practice targets using the ‘simulate practice’ option, which is a sort-of-fun minigame of risk, reward and quick thinking as you balance time left with percentage chances of failing the task, but if you’re skipping the part of the game where you play it, why did you buy it?

You bought it for the racing, of course. And in that respect at least, it’s still very good. Fast, responsive driving on all the real tracks, including four that have been entirely remodeled. The handling has been tweaked and feels a touch lighter than last year’s game. Max Verstappen himself has apparently helped Codemasters tweak the handling to make it more realistic, which is probably why it feels so smooth and driveable. Unfortunately, the rest of the gameplay is less polished than we’ve come to expect.

Cars still exhibit a tendency to turn in on you even when you’re clearly alongside at the apex, but now the difficulty balancing seems a little off, with cars suddenly displaying way more pace than you even though you’ve got a decently-charged ERS battery and the AI difficulty level’s at the top end of medium. 

(Image credit: Codemasters)

But absolutely destroying your zen-like state is your race engineer, who seems to have been at the ethanol.

You soon settle back into the cat and mouse play of longer Grands Prix. But absolutely destroying your zen-like state is your race engineer, who seems to have been at the ethanol. “Your tyres are looking too hot,” he barks as you literally turn the first few corners after putting them on the car. “Cool them down.” But he’s told you as you enter a fast corner and tells you you’ve failed within seconds. Thanks. But that’s not all. Better still: “Your lap times are a bit erratic” when you’ve been mega consistent but stopped for tyres a lap ago. That does tend to affect the lap times, mate. He also likes to set you an arbitrary lap time to beat during race sessions that’s some 2 seconds slower than every lap you’ve done so far. He’s a complete idiot. 

Also an idiot is whomever is in charge of tyres. If you’ve got it set to One Shot qualifying and it rains, it appears to be impossible to fit wet weather tyres, causing you to go out on slicks, unable to do anything except slide off the track and start dead last. 

The result is an uncharacteristically messy experience. It doesn’t matter so much if you enjoy going from last to first, Jenson Button style, but it will certainly irk the more serious F1 fans. The great thing about the series in recent years is that it’s simply become more polished with every entry. But it does feel like the attention to detail is slipping. “Lando Norris—at last a winner in Formula One!” is great scripting, well-voiced by the real Sky Sports commentator, David Croft. But it isn’t so hot when Lando already won two races ago.

Taylor's version

(Image credit: Codemasters)

But why should you care about performing busywork micro-quests mid-GP anyway? It’s all about reputation. Career mode’s focus is now on your own rep as a driver, within the team and compared to your rivals. This starts with you trying to beat your team-mate, which moves a sliding bar left or right between you as the season unfolds. You can gamble on how far you think you can push the bar at the start of the season, which is cool, giving every action extra significance. Do well enough against your teammate and you’ll start to get preferential treatment in the development of your car, even though you both share the gains. 

But once you’ve cemented your position as the better driver, you start new rivalries with others. Poor Sergio Perez soon has the sword of Damocles hanging over him as you vie for his Red Bull seat. There are also supposedly ‘secret’ meetings with other teams, but as soon as you turn them down (why on Earth would Lando Norris want to go to Williams? Come on, now!) your agent tells you the team is really happy with your loyalty. Secret indeed. Get caught sneaking, though, and your rep will take a big hit.

The returning F1 World mode still sees you completing events and series to earn points to spend on your car, collecting and upgrading rare loot to make your ride more competitive. However, the novelty has worn off a little, and the quality of the loot on offer is questionable. It is simply very underwhelming to open a new reward and find some ugly gloves inside. The ‘Dino’ sticker of cartoon dinosaurs to go around the inside of the halo is cute, but hardly worth writing home about.

(Image credit: Codemasters)

The game engine has been beautifully optimised and still doesn’t need a mega-rig to look great.

What is worth telling everyone is that you can now play career mode as an icon. Past drivers like Ayrton Senna, James Hunt, and even Pastor Maldonado (yes, icons of all sorts) are no longer consigned to team-mate status—you can join Leclerc as Nigel Mansell, back at Ferrari 34 years later. Amazing scenes. It does make the game at least 10 percentage points better when you do this. The game also takes into account drivers’ own career stories, allowing you to win Lewis his eighth (cough ninth) world title.

The game engine has been beautifully optimised and still doesn’t need a mega-rig to look great. On a now-ageing RTX 2070-enabled laptop, it still manages to run on Ultra-High at 1080p with ray tracing enabled at a silky smooth frame-rate. Stuttering is rare, only evident on a few specific corners, like the approach to Aquaminerale at Imola, suggesting there’s some kind of processor bottleneck at that point rather than the engine straining to run the game in general. Aside from some further, odd time-lagging after camera changes in a few replay scenes, it runs perfectly, with glorious environmental graphics and beautifully detailed cars. Even the drivers look better this year, with more realistic faces, even if they don’t close their eyes fully when they blink. The overall effect is getting close to the TV presentation now.

In isolation, F1 24’s still an incredible video game. But this template is so well-worn now, it finally feels like a change is needed. When ten-person dev teams can make gems like New Star GP and create a fresh-feeling, super-fun F1 game with just as much tactical depth and emphasis on management of resources as this, you do wonder if it’s time to properly shake things up. For all the new career structure, it still boils down to trying to keep everyone happy and beat your rivals, which isn’t that different at all. In fact, the old system was arguably clearer and it certainly feels like it’s all the same mechanisms anyway underneath all the new circles.

The crashes are decent but still underplayed. It would be better if the game went back to the crash physics of F1 2010, but the cars here do at least occasionally get airborne in accidental crashes, which feels like a step forwards, even if such spectacle is still few and far between. The multi-zonal car damage is still reigned in from what it could be, but on full simulation damage the cars do fall apart reasonably nicely and look suitably shattered after a big shunt. Even so, a few more AI mishaps would liven things up considerably.

VCARBs diet

(Image credit: Codemasters)

For all the gloss and improved presentation, last year’s game will be half its price in the bargain bin and demonstrably offers a more compelling single-player experience thanks to the Braking Point 2 story mode. Instead, thanks to the optional VIP pass and Pitcoin currencies (you can buy unlockable items faster by spending real money), F1 24 could cost you another £31.39 if you feel you need 50,000 more Pitcoin. Further monetising a full-price game is a bold move, especially when it doesn’t quite feel quite as finished this time out. 

Annoyingly, Steam Deck isn’t supported at present, although the same was true for F1 23 at review, and that received support with the first patch, so fingers crossed the same will happen for this one.

It’s very likely Codemasters is prepping something bigger for next year like they did with F1 23 and F1 21 before that, but that doesn't make this offering any better. Unless you absolutely must have the correct teams and drivers on the grid or simply had to preorder to play the time-limited (now expired) Max Verstappen events of the Champions Edition, there’s no clear reason to pay up to £79.99 for something so similar yet objectively smaller. Well, except for playing as Nigel Mansell. That is just too cool.

The Verdict
F1 24

Less assured and sorely missing story mode, this feels like a downgrade over F1 23.