Turns out I can't strategize better than Ferrari. Thanks for letting me know, F1 Manager 2022
In addition to our main Game of the Year Awards 2022, each member of the PC Gamer team is shining a spotlight on a game they loved this year. We'll post new personal picks, alongside our main awards, throughout the rest of the month.
There were a few candidates for my personal pick for Game of the Year. Destiny 2: The Witch Queen, the overhaul to finally rope me back into Destiny on a regular basis, would've likely been my first pick. Though Phil's already nabbed that one for his own, and his in-game hours make mine look inconsequential, so that's out.
The other game was Vampire Survivors, but thankfully so many on the PC Gamer team saw fit to adorn this game with some sort of accolade this year that it's already receiving a very well deserved GOTY award.
That isn't to say my actual personal pick is any less deserving of praise than these two, however. F1 Manager 2022 scratches an itch I had previously thought only possible if I quit my job and retrained as a F1 engineer. Seeing as that was never going to happen, I'm glad for my opportunity to replace Toto Wolff as Mercedes team principal with little to no relevant experience.
After seeing what a sim manager game can do to a person from my boss's obsession with Football Manager, I've long wondered what all the fuss is about. I'm not one for the footie, even if I did watch chunks of the World Cup like everyone else—that Messi, huh, he sure has two feet—but make a game that puts me in charge of tyre strategy and I'm sold.
There's a sense of adrenaline in monitoring the tyre degradation of two F1 cars in real-time. No, seriously. Maybe I shouldn't be surprised by that—last year I did figure out I'm a bit of a nerd for the minutiae of F1 2021 setups.
While a management sim might sound like slow-going, F1 Manager can be surprisingly hectic. During the races themselves, you've two whole cars to manage, and high expectations from sponsors, too. If you find yourself laser-focused on one car, firing radio message after radio message like you're digital Bono (the Lewis Hamilton Race engineer kind not the guy from U2), you might find overheating tyres and excessive fuel consumption waiting for you on car #2.
The amount of times I've focused squarely on getting Gasly over the chequered flag only to find Tsunoda running near-empty with three laps to go and ruined tyres.
I'm starting to even second-guess whether I actually know better than the team's themselves during real F1 races.
One thing I've learned from my time as a team principal is that I'm more of a Ferrari than a Red Bull when it comes to overall strategy. Sorry Tifosi. If it makes it any better I also have a worse record than Ferrari's strategists for the 2022 season—it turns out F1 strategy is really, really hard. For all my clever strategies and attempts to "do something they won't expect", I usually end up slipping back through the pack and ending up dead last as everyone on fresher tyres and more sensible strategies makes mincemeat of my lap times. I'm starting to even second-guess whether I actually know better than the team's themselves during real F1 races.
Ultimately, my goal in F1 Manager 2022 has been to lift Alpha Tauri to the top of the championship and eclipse Red Bull and Christian Horner as the obviously far superior team principal. Alas, this may have been too great an accomplishment for my rather middling team management ability, and Alpha Tauri is a team worse off than when I first ousted Franz Tost for the job.
Yet I have plenty of time to nail down strategy. One of the main reasons I keep coming back to F1 Manager 2022 and keep the championship dream alive for Alpha Tauri (kind of) comes down to how, and where, I'm playing the game. All of my time in F1 Manager 2022 has been spent on Valve's superb Steam Deck, which just about manages to keep up with the action with the graphics settings on low and AMD's FidelityFX Super Resolution upscaling cranked all the way up.
F1 Manager's menu-based action and suitably low graphics make for a great fit on the Steam Deck. The pad controls work neatly with the Deck without any tinkering, and since it's mostly menu based you can lie the Deck flat and play as casually as you like—great for long flights.
Admittedly, the game is a bit of a battery killer, so you might want to invest in a suitably chunky power pack to keep it juiced, but you can get a solid few hours out of the game before the Deck conks out. Plenty enough time to run at least a race weekend, so long as you're not too precious about playing in real-time and don't mind judiciously hitting the speed up button.
While I'm not sure I feel the need to queue up for next year's release—I can probably just restart my season and boot Gasly for Nyck de Vries anyways—as a new sports management game franchise that plays to my own interests, I can say I finally get what all the fuss is about with F1 Manager 2022.
* This article was originally published here