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[REVIEW] F1 22 in VR – Putting F1 into a new perspective

There’s no way of telling how intense driving an F1 car can get unless you’ve actually driven one. No matter how ‘realistic’ a racing sim like F1 22 might be, it still won’t convey the nitty-gritty. Even if you swap out the standard controller for a steering wheel, you’re still missing that “thing” that takes it to the next level of immersion. Well, that next level might finally be here with the VR version of F1 22. But if there’s one thing that the VR port has taught me, it’s that the next level is still far away from the max level.

Honestly, it’s the addition of VR support that persuaded me to get F1 22 in the first place. As explained in the original F1 22 review, the game’s definitely good but it doesn’t exactly reinvent the wheel. The driving experience, (most) of the graphics, and the sound are once again top-notch, as they were in F1 2021. Then again, I’d expect nothing less from Codemasters, the undisputed champion in a one-man F1 simulator race.

But VR, now that’s something worth trying. Strapping yourself in a racing rig, complete with a steering wheel and everything, to submerge yourself entirely by stepping into a virtual F1 environment… that’s absolute F1 boner material if I ever saw it. And trust me, up to a certain point, it definitely is. But there’s also no denying that VR tech has a long way to go and that a game like F1 22 might be a little too beefy for the current VR standards.

Because if you think that environments looked a little rough around the edges on your 1440/4K monitor, you’re in for a rude awakening in VR. I’ve tested F1 22 VR on the Oculus Quest 2 using Oculus Link and SteamVR, which was already a pain to set up in the first place. It took me some tweaking and fidgeting in the settings to get everything running smoothly. Complaints of flickering 2D pre and post-race screens (since the only element in VR is the actual race) and Parkinson-like head movement… I’ve experienced them all. But after some trial&error with the settings, I got F1 22 to the point where things got acceptable.

But no matter how much you tweak settings, in-game graphics won’t make major leaps forward in VR. And that’s to be expected. Especially with a game like F1 22, stability trumps visual fidelity, so sacrifices have to be made. And they are definitely made, even though it doesn’t result in piss poor visuals. It’s just a matter of lowering your expectations. Or better, have none at all. Go in a blank slate with no previous gameplay for comparison. If you do that, you probably won’t have to deal with the disappointment of the obvious downgrade.

In fact, if you go in a blank canvas, you’re in for an eye-opening experience. If F1 22 VR does one thing well, it’s conveying the claustrophobic feel of sitting in an F1 vehicle. Watching a race through an onboard camera might make you believe that you know what a driver sees. But honestly, those onboard camera shots don’t even come close. The VR experience in F1 22 does. Once you’re comfortable with your car and have the balls to look in your mirrors, you’ll truly start to understand how little a driver sees. Even looking into the mirrors at top speed can feel like a suicide attempt.

And the experience only gets better when the weather starts to play an integral part. If you’re already shitting your monocoque because you have no idea what’s going on around you, try navigating yourself in the pouring rain. Good luck tracking the diffuse red charging lights with that halo smack in your field of view. It’s a good thing that F1 22 won’t put you through the horrors of an actual crash in VR, because you’re bound to meet the tecpro barrier at some point.

Now, the question remains: Is F1 22 worth buying if you’re only in it for the VR experience? My answer is yes. Definitely. But only if F1 22 is the only thing that’s missing from your setup. If you’re shy of one of the other components (steering wheel, racing seat, VR headset, or a beefy GPU), it might be a bit of a hard sell. F1 22 in VR is absolutely an eye-opening experience for those who can manage their expectations. But spending more than $60 on it to step into F1’s virtual reality space… I doubt that it’ll be worth the expense.