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F1 22 promises more glitz and glamour as fans worry it means microtransactions

‘F1 Life’ supplements new car designs, tracks, and rules

Owen S. Good is a longtime veteran of video games writing, well known for his coverage of sports and racing games.

When it launches July 1, F1 22 will lean into the fast and flashy lifestyle that Formula One fans have seen over four seasons of Netflix’s popular documentary Formula 1: Drive to Survive. But some fans are wary that that means battle pass bling and microtransactions more than a new mode or an expansion of the game’s popular career.

F1 Life, as it is called, is “a new space for you to unlock and show off supercars, clothing, accessories, and more for the world to see,” according to publisher Electronic Arts. The game’s official website doesn’t expand on the thought. Commenters in the F1 series’ restive subreddit wondered why EA and developer Codemasters couldn’t bring back classic competition cars, which were last seen (and driveable in most modes) in F1 2020.

“Classic F1 cars would make it so much better,” said one user. “It’s an F1 game, not a normal car game.”

F1 2020 was the first game in the series to introduce the Podium Pass, basically a schedule of tiered loot and unlockable cosmetics for use across several modes. Players have to buy into each season with Pitcoin, a secondary currency also introduced that year. Pitcoin is acquired for real money, and sometimes is awarded in one of the Podium Pass’ tiers.

The cosmetics in the Podium Pass so far involve a created driver’s racing suit, helmet, and gloves, and especially liveries for the multiplayer and career-mode car. In terms of outfits and accessories, the F1 series has never had sequences where its drivers appear in street clothes or civilian life. So, whether F1 Life means a fresh set of cutscenes to show off these unlockable customizations, as drivers walk the paddock on the way to practice or qualifying, or something more interactive, remains to be seen.

Other promises made with F1 22’s announcement on Thursday include “the opportunity to choose between immersive and broadcast style Formation Laps, Safety Car periods, and Pit Stops.” This likely points to an expansion of commentary from host David Croft and analyst Anthony Davidson, which so far has been limited to pre-race grid introductions and post-race driver-of-the-day honors, with zero audio from the pair during the race itself.

Of course, F1 cars have changed dramatically with the introduction of new rules, and the vehicles in F1 22 will reflect that, including the new shape of the rear wings, back canopies, and wheel guards that distinguish this year’s chassis. Such aerodynamic changes were made to foster tighter racing and more overtaking opportunities in real life, and Codemasters says F1 22 will feature “a new handling model that recreates the intense wheel-to-wheel racing that’s had us on the edge of our seats so far in the 2022 Formula 1 season.”

New courses, such as the Miami International Autodrome, whose inaugural Miami Grand Prix will race on May 8, will be included in the game. Also, sprint format qualifying — where a shorter (100 km) race on Saturday sets the grid order for Sunday — will be included in all of the relevant modes. F1 Sprint races will be staged at three events this year, beginning with this weekend’s Emilia Romagna Grand Prix at Imola, Italy. The format was introduced into competition last year but was not present in F1 2021.

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