Last year, Frontier Developments jumped into the sports management simulation world with the impressive F1 Manager 2022. Sports titles are often iterative, and with regulation changes, revolving rosters, and changes to vehicles, this series has proven to be no exception. That brings us to F1 Manager 2023. Given that Frontier had a strong foundation to build upon, this is another solid entry that adds strong features and brings more overall depth to the core gameplay.
It’s important to note how well Frontier did at translating a dense sim to an easily playable console title. While it’s a bit more cumbersome to navigate than last year’s version due to more layers and menus, it’s still rather straightforward — and the thoughtful user interface has to be applauded. A lot of PC ports can be difficult to navigate with a controller, but the console ports have always been a priority as they don’t feel like a lesser version at all.
My favorite new additions are the new Race Replay mode and the Exclusive Scenarios that come with the Deluxe Edition. Similar to moment-based modes in other sports games, these allow you to relive iconic real-life performances and feats. The best are ones with unique situations, such as tasking the player with mounting a shocking comeback in a limited number of laps or protecting a lead for the final duration of a race. These are challenging and fun situations, made all the more thrilling by the fact that results aren’t fully in your hands. You’re simply deploying a strategy, then hoping for the best result — just like a real race.
While this new mode is fun, it’s very much just a diversion. The bulk of your time will be spent in career mode, which is the only other real option. While it’s still the same basic format, you can opt to take over a top team right off the bat, or try to build out a smaller team into a contender. Numerous tweaks have been made under the hood to make this a more refined, fleshed-out version of the mode.
Six events in the year feature F1 Sprints, which are shorter races that determine the final qualifying lineup. These are fun tests that feel decidedly different from the longer, marathon-like sessions of an actual race that takes place over 50-plus laps. There are also more options to improve the drivers, as you can focus on what elements to train in on. For example, you can make it easier to overtake rival racers, or handle your vehicles on a wet track better. This adds more overall depth, and allows for some really satisfying long-term simulations if you want to play for in-game decades.
Similarly, there are more options with how you approach the pit team and develop new talent. The latter aspect is particularly important, as drivers’ skills and capability to learn new skills will greatly reduce over time. Eventually, even legends like Lewis Hamilton will have to hang up the racing gloves. That’s why scouting prospects and building out a developmental F2 and F3 team are just as important. Even if you start out with a great team, it won’t become a dynasty if you don’t plan for the future.
The extra layers of depth are great, but Frontier also made some really important tweaks to the actual races that make them far more enjoyable. The biggest change is that players now have more control over racing strategy. From telling drivers not to fight with their teammates over position to focus on defense or overtaking, there are several ways to race riskier or try to defend a lead. Depending on how a race is going, you’ll wind up rapidly changing your approach. Additionally, new on-track incidents and better team radio communication also add to the immersion. Each race feels like a unique situation to overcome, instead of just another lap around the track.
F1 Manager 2023 Review: The final verdict
F1 Manager 2023 is a great sequel that improves on every aspect of its predecessor. While the sheer amount of options can be overwhelming, they all serve their purpose and wind up adding to the overall experience. Some smart changes make the actual racing more thrilling than last year’s game. This is a game built to last, and I can’t wait to see how Frontier continues to build this simulation in future installments.
Disclaimer: Our F1 Manager 2023 review is based on a PS5 copy provided by the publisher. Reviewed on version 1.003.000.