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EA Sports F1 24 – Test: I have muscle pain like Max Verstappen and I think he's great!

EA Sports F1 24 – Test: I have muscle pain like Max Verstappen and I think he's great!

Annual updates to a game that does not change at its core is a problem for marketing. How can one argue in favor of a new version? Well, as EA Sports FC (formerly known as FIFA) has proven over the decades, true sports fans are satisfied with updated licenses for athletes and small changes to the game mechanics, so F1 2024 can only offer detailed improvements. Fortunately, Codemasters has more up its sleeve.

God, the Codemasters laundry list is forever long this year. What's not improved: Four track updates, new 3D models for the drivers, new cinematics, and a career that finally allows you to slip into the shoes of a Formula 1 champion… Yes, this may all be well and good, and I will go into more detail about this the topic. But the bottom line is that I don't care nearly as much about this list because two improved features stand out so much that the rest pales in comparison. I mean the controls and force feedback on the steering wheel.

This is amazing!

There are probably many small factors that lead to this end result. Codemasters previously revealed that the wheel suspension system, suspension system, tire simulation, etc., have not been fine-tuned according to physical values, but the corresponding 3D models are new, so that the newly distributed weights are fully reflected in the simulation. In the end, it doesn't matter what tricks the technicians come up with behind the scenes. In the end, what matters is how you feel on the steering wheel (or alternatively on the game controller).

First, I put it on my new steering wheel, so I had to use another peripheral to compare. The result is clear: regardless of whether I'm driving with a Fanatec Clubsport DD Plus or a Moza R5, the difference compared to last year is undeniable. There's more going on. Frequently applied uneven surfaces lead to more nervous shudders under the suspension, while a new interpretation of tire grip turns wet weather into a supposed ride down a soft soap sliver.

I've never sweated much when turning into a sharp curve at Monaco's Grand Hotel (not to mention the fast, winding curves in the harbour). Yes, it is more difficult to deal with because you have to correct more often. But it's also more fun because it's more dynamic. Especially since the improved force feedback provides more information.

I will not talk about the revolution, that is too good. The driving experience and basic force feedback build on what its predecessors established. But when it comes to car feel, F1 2024 is undoubtedly a step forward. I'm not a Formula 1 driver, so I can't judge how realistic the simulation is. But immersion definitely appeals to me, that's for sure. And even after hours, when the muscle soreness is at least as bad as it was for Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton in their karting careers.

Virtual reality is king – but only on PC

In contrast to games like Assetto Corsa Competizione, F1 2024 doesn't show any weaknesses on console either. The PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series versions, as well as the latest supported PS4 and Xbox One versions, do not differ from the PC version in their control details. Here it is also possible to obtain a stronger force feedback, provided that the steering wheel has sufficient torque (this is only the case with Fanatec steering wheels or, alternatively, Logitech G-Pro). I was able to test this out with our additional PS5 beta.

Only graphical blemishes are visible, but apart from fully supported ray tracing on PC, these barely affect the screen. 120Hz mode with low resolution? Yes, the Performance setting is back this year. At least at first glance, it seems to perform consistently better and hit the 120fps target more often.

It's a shame that the PSVR 2 will remain unsupported once again. PlayStation owners are glued to their TVs. On PC, virtual reality headsets have become an integral part of racing games. However, there are still some minor criticisms, as you can still only drive in VR from a cockpit perspective. A TV camera for a better overview of the track or a bumper for more speed is still not available. Compassion! F1 is so much better in VR that it's a real shame to be forced to wear a visual brace.

Why the weaker DLSS variant still auto-presets in VR mode, even though it's clearly distorted because it has very jagged pixels and only shows the background with annoying sharp edges, is a mystery to me. Seriously, who's driving this pixel mash before their eyes?

Four track updates and better lighting conditions

whatever. F1 2024 remains with the well-known engine, which is economical enough to enable VR sparingly and with temporary anti-aliasing or even higher settings, provided a reasonably modern graphics card can perform. Details of the new route on the four roads at Spa, Silverstone, Lusail and Jeddah do little to change this. Their updated track checks are long overdue and welcome updates that even casual F1 fans should notice. However, it affects performance only slightly.

However, the slightly fresher, more intense shadows as well as the somewhat high-contrast lighting conditions on all 24 included tracks don't really pop in VR due to the lack of HDR. They are more visible on a TV or PC screen.

Finally play as a star pilot

Enough theory: what does it look like in practice when you're not participating in online races? What should be mentioned here is the possibility of slipping into the skin of a Formula 1 star instead of playing the role of any unknown driver. If you wish, you can personally guide Lando Norris, Lewis Hamilton or Max Verstappen across the asphalt and have specially designed career scenes in which the newly designed driver models mentioned above show off their likenesses. By the way, these are not just current drivers. Previous icons like Jamie Chadwick also joined the list. However, if you want to compete as Niki Lauda's famous rival, James Hunt, you will have to purchase the more expensive Champions Edition of the game, which also allows early access to the game.

There's one thing you'll have to get used to: stars stay silent while everyone else talks. For example, the managers who hand them the contract. With one exception: you can hear them cheering and complaining over the pit radio. Original radio messages have been collected for this purpose, which you can also hear in the German version. So it is not synced.

EA Sports F1 24 – Dive into the gameplay in a multi-minute video

In this multi-minute video of EA Sports F1 24, EA provides comprehensive insights into the gameplay of the new racing game.

To ensure that you continue to put in the effort and not depend on your driver's fame, recognition plays a special role throughout your career. Each driver starts with a certain value. However, when signing a new virtual racing driver contract, you need to estimate how much you can increase your driver's reputation by the end of the season. Decisions on and off track affect this value.

As for the rest of the new Formula 1 version, it's really just the usual detailed improvements. The rest remains at the same level as before. So you can still immerse yourself in professional life as a couple, but only online so you don't notice your partner's secret meetings and contract agreements. Individual split-screen sessions are available locally, while you can enjoy the full Race Net program online. Immerse yourself in F1 World's driving modes and collect goodies or simply complete time trials. It may sound stupid, but it's true: drive the way you enjoy it – like every year.