We love the Formula One series from Codemasters, there’s no hiding that. For the last few years they’ve continually delivered excellent home representations of one of the most demanding sports there is, and made them accessible too. Each one has seen a steady iteration of features that have built the titles into deep and detailed racing games that can be played however you want. Sure, they’ve not been known for being as demanding as sim racers, nor as technical, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have some bite to them and need some skill to handle if all the assists are off. Arguably one of the greatest talents of the developer has been balancing real life against providing a thrill, and the success of the virtual races in 2020 with actual drivers from the sport shows how well it’s done. Each new season brings a challenge though – how do you improve and change enough to keep bringing people back? We’re not far off finding out with the F1 2021 game.
The biggest update is probably that Codemasters are now owned by EA, and a change in publisher is going to bring something different to the table. Whether that’s good or bad is yet to be seen, as it feels like the version of the F1 2021 game we’re going to get is the vision set out after last year’s version, and maybe with minimal guidance. What’s in store this time is an expansion of the career mode called Braking Point which features Devon Butler from the 2019 game (everyone’s favourite racing villain!), but is really all about deepening that experience of earning your place in Formula One by excelling in F2 and heading into one of five teams at the top, all through a campaign spanning 3 full seasons. From the trailer footage and the info available so far, it looks like we’re in for more off-track action with rivalries developing through the paddock, driven by your on-track antics, and here’s hoping for repercussions if you decide to be too cavalier about it all.
Probably the most anticipated feature for the entire Codec Moments team is the two player career option. This is a full career done either as co-op teammates or versus rivals, and was sorely missing from last year’s game. Back in 2019 we were able to buddy up in an online season and it’s a lot of fun, but this takes it further by integrating all the standard single player features like resource points, upgrades and development of the car. We can’t wait for this. If you’ve not got a friend or two with the same racing passion there’s always the single player career, though My Team is back to make that more entertaining. Be the driver and team boss and take your own grid entry from zero to hero… or fail to keep up with the budget caps and run around at the back. We jest on that last part. It looks as if there are enhanced department events to get more involved with that will boost the team and performance, and no doubt there’ll be loads of options in creating a bespoke team logo and livery like last time.
Keeping pace with the real life season, the F1 2021 game will continue to update the driver stats meaning that you’ll always be racing against the current performance levels of the actual grid. If Mercedes’ current luck keeps up it might mean you’ll be lapping Bottas regularly in a Williams, or much more likely, watching Verstappen’s rear wing from a distance. The whole menu system and access to the modes has been given an overhaul and streamlined, which seems to flow into the car upgrade system too. The inclusion of being able to develop parts and focus on specific areas of performance was great for career and My Team, though we can’t deny it’s been a bit clunky and slow. Hopefully the new look and feel will make it easier to get to grips with, and maybe the research times will reduce a little bit as well, meaning I get more than two new front wing end plates per season.
Of course, the F1 2021 game will have specific next gen features for those plumping for it on PS5 and Xbox Series X|S. Aside from the obvious graphical enhancements and expected smooth framerate, there’ll be improvements in loading times to take advantage of the SSDs. More intriguingly will be the extra detail in car damage and tyre wear, and here’s hoping it’s not simply a different set of textures as the rubber wears down. Codemasters have always been great with giving the feeling of grip whether it’s through the controller or wheel and pedals setup. If the additional processing power of the new machines gives the headroom for a more complex tyre model then this could be one of the most significant changes we’ve seen in years.
Without doubt this is shaping up to be a great game. The last couple have been close to perfection and just needed a bit of nudge to get them all the way there… could the career tweaks and usability be just the thing? Of course, there’s not just new features, online returns along with the eSports integration, there’s split screen multiplayer for those in the same room, and we’re likely to see a fair amount of customisation through the pit points system from 2020. As we’d expect with the fully licensed F1 2021 game it’s got all the tracks from the new season, including those that have already been cancelled in real life, so at least we can still find out who dominates in Canada or bins it in Singapore. In just over 2 weeks we’ll be back on track and fighting for every championship point, and we can’t wait.
The F1 2021 game will release on 16th July for PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S and PC, and the deluxe edition will net you some goodies for use in the form of iconic drivers and exclusive liveries.