F1 24 Review - Narrowly Misses Pole Position

  • First Released May 28, 2024
  • PC

F1 24 is too familiar in many areas, but an overhauled Driver Career mode and emphasis on aggressive racing ensure that Codemasters' latest is still an engaging motorsports experience.

The 2024 Formula One season is finally heating up. Max Verstappen will probably still win a fourth successive driver's championship after the final race in December, but at least the rest of the field is making life more taxing for the dominant Dutchman and his Red Bull team. Recent races have been more competitive and unpredictable, with multiple teams battling for first place in any given race weekend. It should be the perfect time for F1 24 to launch, but the same excitement generated by the real-life product doesn't quite apply to Codemaster's latest. It's still an excellent racing game, especially when you factor in an overhauled Driver Career mode, but its overt familiarity means there are fewer reasons than ever to upgrade if you own F1 23.

No Caption Provided

F1 24's most significant selling point is its new, reworked Driver Career mode. You can still play through this multi-season experience as a custom driver, but F1 24 now lets you strap into the helmet of one of the 20 superstar drivers on this season's grid. You may want to try and win Verstappen's fourth successive championship yourself or pick a younger driver like Yuki Tsunoda and earn your way onto one of the bigger teams in the sport. Not only this, but you can also opt to start as an F2 driver--beginning your career in either F2 or F1--and choose from a selection of legendary icons like Aryton Senna, Jacques Villeneuve, and errr… Pastor Maldonado. This isn't just a cosmetic change, either, because all previous stats and accolades carry over, including the number of successful podiums, race wins, championship victories, and so on. It's an enticing prospect being able to potentially win Michael Schumacher's record eighth world title or attempt to rebuild Williams back into a title contender with Senna behind the wheel.

Your driver's reputation within the sport will grow as you achieve top-10 finishes, complete contract targets, and tick off more accolades. This can help you secure a new deal with your current team or attract the attention of rival teams, who will then start vying for your services. If this happens, you can agree to attend a secret meeting and negotiate a move or turn down the offer, with the whole thing emulating the sort of behind-closed-doors nature of sudden driver moves that occur in real life. If you opt to stay with your current team, they'll be pleased with your decision. This is nonsensical considering the meeting was supposed to be secret, but these covert rendezvous are a nice new addition nonetheless.

Mid-race objectives don't work quite as well, despite being a solid idea on paper. The tasks you're given are somewhat contextual but still disregard crucial information to the point where they add little value. It makes sense for your race engineer to ask you to set faster lap times if you've recently fallen off the pace, but not when the reason you slowed down is because you pitted or were stuck behind the safety car for a few laps. Obviously my pace took a nosedive when I spent 25 seconds in the pits--that's how it works. Rather than adding impetus to specific phases of a race, most of these mid-race objectives are too arbitrary to ever be engaging. There isn't even a noticeable punishment for failing, which feels like an admission that this feature isn't quite ready yet.

What is ready are various enhancements to particular tracks that bring them in line with their real-life counterparts. Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps, for instance, has undergone significant changes, notably around the course's iconic Eau Rogue/Radillion section, with an updated run-off area, a new grandstand, and trackside artwork. Silverstone has also been improved to enhance its accuracy, factoring in elevation changes and the track's bumps and grooves, while Lusail International and Jeddah Corniche have both undergone visual updates.

If you choose to play as a current F1 driver, one of the other new features you'll experience is the inclusion of authentic radio chatter. Each driver has a plethora of audio samples taken from actual F1 radio communication. However, the utilization of these sound bites is sadly limited. You'll hear a line or two after crossing the finish line--with elated moments from certain drivers now repurposed to fit podium finishes and race victories--and they'll express dismay after a session-ending crash. Each driver remains deathly silent the rest of the time, though, refusing to respond to the race engineer or react to any other minor collisions. Again, it's a solid idea for a feature, but one where the execution could be better.

It's a similar situation with the new Challenge Career mode, which offers a truncated and episodic version of the usual 24-race season. Here, you play as a predetermined driver and compete against other players asynchronously for leaderboard placement within a particular timeframe. The current event--which runs throughout June--focuses on Ferrari's Charles Leclerc, with the first episode tasking players with competing in races across Australia, China, and Miami.

It's an enticing prospect being able to potentially win Michael Schumacher's record eighth world title or attempt to rebuild Williams back into a title contender with Senna behind the wheel.

Though it's billed as a bite-sized mode, you still participate in a full practice session before one-shot qualifying and a short five-lap race. R&D upgrades also function the same way they do in the regular career mode, so you'll typically want to complete each practice objective to earn as many upgrade points as possible. This does also mean that upgrades can sometimes fail, putting you at a disadvantage against players with successful developments. You can replay an episode as often as you like to try and achieve a higher score and bypass these random failures, but that's a lot of time to dedicate to a mode where the rewards are a measly selection of bad-looking car liveries, helmet designs, and gloves.

The scoring system is also convoluted in how it rewards overtakes above all else. Currently, the best way to achieve a high score is by qualifying in first place and then replacing all of your engine parts to accrue a grid penalty. This puts you in last place to begin the race, where you can then work your way back up to P1 and attain as many points as possible. It's a backward way to play and the mode is too much of a time-sink to even act as a viable companion to the regular Driver Career mode.

In terms of F1 24's other offerings, My Team--where you play as a team boss, signing drivers and managing team finances--has remained identical to last year's game. Multiplayer is also much the same, aside from ranked races being reduced from 25% of a full race to only five laps' worth. F1 World is back as well, offering quick race events and a grind for car upgrades if you care about earning various cosmetics. I'm not particularly interested in unlocking an official Puma shirt to wear in a game where you spend 98% of the time looking at tarmac, so F1 World continues to feel like little more than a vehicle for microtransactions. The Drive to Survive-inspired Braking Point is also absent this year. Codemasters' take on a story mode has only appeared in every other F1 game since debuting in 2021, so the potential next installment won't arrive until at least F1 25.

With this scarcity of new modes, EA has been touting Dynamic Handling as F1 24's standout new feature. It's a complete overhaul of the game's handling model, aiming to produce a realistic experience by making myriad changes to things like suspension kinematics and tire models. Initially, however, these changes were met with a wave of negative feedback, especially since they felt superfluous in the face of F1 23's terrific handling model. Since then, a major patch has been released to address many of the problems the player-base had issues with, and the end result is mostly positive.

The front end of the car is still a tad too pointy, and curbs do almost nothing to dampen your speed, but at least the cars are now fun to whip around the track whether you're playing with a controller or wheel. There's a ton of downforce when taking fast corners that gives you an immense amount of grip, so there's a clear emphasis on driving aggressively and attacking certain sections of each track. This might make things a tad easier, and the cars are certainly more straightforward to tame this year, but it nails the feeling of being an accomplished F1 driver.

The same patch that addressed the game's handling also improved F1 24's on-track AI. Other drivers are now prone to making mistakes, locking up on corners, and occasionally crashing into each other. Mechanical problems will sometimes force them to retire, too, adding some unpredictability to a race when the safety car or a red flag is introduced. The AI still isn't without its problems, however. They tend to bunch up, creating long trains of five or six cars where no one can overtake or break away from the pack because everyone has DRS. Being stuck behind these groups is frustrating, especially when the AI's straight-line speed tends to dwarf yours, no matter the car.

No Caption Provided

F1 24 was riddled with other bugs at launch but has since improved by cleaning most of them up, yet one of the most egregious still remains. Sometimes, even amidst a torrential downpour, the game will refuse to let you use wet tires. The same is true for the AI, but they can still drive normally on slicks while you're left spinning in circles. Codemasters is aware of this issue, so hopefully it will be rectified soon, but up to this point, most wet races are simply unplayable.

There are still a few more kinks to iron out, then, but regardless of these issues, F1 24's on-track action remains robust and engaging. The overhauled Driver Career mode is also a net positive, even if some of its ideas don't quite come off, yet an enduring sense of deja vu is present elsewhere. This makes F1 24 difficult to recommend if you've played any of the most recent games in the series. There aren't enough new ideas here, and modes like F1 World continue to disappoint by focusing on cosmetics in a game where your avatar is rarely seen. F1 24 is a terrific game in isolation, and the new Driver Career mode will be enough for some players, but it feels like another game hampered by the demands of its annual release schedule.

Back To Top

The Good

  • Reworked Driver Career mode adds authenticity by letting you play as real drivers
  • The new handling model promotes aggressive driving and is compelling with either a controller or wheel
  • Several tracks have been updated to reflect their real-life counterparts

The Bad

  • Modes like Challenge Career and F1 World are underwhelming
  • AI drivers often bunch up in long trains where no one can overtake or break away
  • A bug prevents drivers from using wet tires

About the Author

Richard played F1 24 for 28 hours on PC, using both a wheel and controller while attempting to win a championship with Oscar Piastri. Review code was provided by the publisher.