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F1 23 hits the track in June, with a nod to gamepad drivers

Improvements to handling and throttle are under the hood; Braking Point 2 supplies the flashy livery

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

F1 23 launches June 16, Codemasters and EA Sports announced on Wednesday, and the Formula 1 racing simulation will indeed bring back a narrative mode, plus several courses that aren’t on this year’s F1 calendar but have been recent fan favorites.

In terms of big, back-of-the-box features, the second chapter of Braking Point, already previewed on Friday, grabs the most attention. Devon Butler, the villain from F1 2021’s narrative mode debut, returns as the top driver for the fictional Konnersport Racing; so does Aiden Jackson, the younger of two playable drivers from the first chapter (teammate Casper Akkerman, who goaded Butler into wiping him out at Abu Dhabi to end the season, has retired). Braking Point’s sequel looks like it will deliver a mixture of live-action and pre-rendered cutscenes, with real-life drivers (even Max Verstappen!) participating.

The “classic” tracks are familiar to any fan who has played the game over the past three or four years: Circuit Paul Ricard in France, Shanghai International Circuit (China) and Portimão (Algarve International Circuit, Portugal). Wednesday’s announcement said those three were confirmed “for launch,” suggesting that others may be added in later.

F1 23 will also debut two new tracks — Qatar’s Lusail International Circuit and the Las Vegas Strip Circuit, corresponding to the grands prix running there in October and November respectively. A total of 26 courses will be available at launch.

In terms of gameplay additions and improvements, a news release spotlighted new controller technology to give gamepad players “better control and confidence in those crucial race moments.” Races may now be set for 33% of their real-life distance (previous settings had been full, half, quarter, or five laps), further broadening accessibility to a growing audience. And yes, for longtime fans who have been asking, red flag stoppages and restarts will be a part of this year’s game, for the first time.

Codemasters also says it hauled back reams of data from the F1 teams themselves to create a handling model that is truer-to-life in terms of aerodynamics and tire grip. “Engine torque and inertia improvements also mean throttle control is more authentic and offers a greater level of connection to the car,” Codemasters said.

Speaking from experience, driving on a gamepad without either traction control or braking assist enabled has been nearly impossible because of the throttle input, even on an Xbox Elite Series 2 controller. So perhaps this, plus the new gamepad technology, will allow experienced controller drivers to turn off more assists (and pursue faster lap times).

F1 23 arrives June 16 to PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5; Windows PC via the EA launcher, Epic Games Store, and Steam; Xbox One and Xbox Series X. Two editions will be available, a standard edition and a digital only Champions Edition offering a lot of extra in-game content and vanity items.

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