Guess what folks, it’s that time of the year again! The latest Formula 1 video game title is about to hit the shelves and we at Motorsport Week have been given the privileged opportunity to bring you an in-depth look at what Codemasters have to offer with F1 2020!
For years the F1 title has steadily been improving within the house of Codemasters since they attained the licence in 2009, and their latest offering has done so again.
The arrival of the ‘My Team’ mode is a new introduction to the franchise, one I’m sure players have been coveting for a very long time – I know I have!
Players now have the option of beginning a career mode as a driver/owner to the travelling circus that is F1 by becoming the 11th team on the grid, much like Bruce McLaren and Jack Brabham once did all those years ago.
The ‘My Team’ mode allows the player to customise almost everything about their outfit – including their actual outfit – as they prepare to tackle the gruelling challenge of the Formula 1 World Championship.
Aside from the usual refineries of picking your characters attributes as well as the agonising choice over your driver number – I know, it’s a doozie! You’ll then be able to do the same for your team!
Your team will come next and much like the ‘multiplayer car’ which was also in the 2019 title, you’ll be able to design the look of your livery, choose sponsors and engine suppliers and then your final choice is to decide who your team-mate will be! You’ll be able to pick from a dozen of current F2 drivers who are looking to make the next step into F1.
As you gather results, more sponsors will be willing to put their name on your car and through that, you can earn more cash to improve the team’s facilities which in-turn will drive performance and reliability of both the car and your fellow team-mate. It will also be possible further down the line to swap out your team-mate for someone else should you feel displeased with the progress of your current stable-mate.
One final facet of being a team-owner is also getting to decide how your down-time is spent between events with such tasks as team-building, training camps, and working on specific departments of your team, so be sure to utilise your options wisely because it all adds up.
It’s a very rewarding game mode with plenty of replay quality as you bid to repeat the feat of Jack Brabham and win the title in your very own team.
The 2019 title offered a small storyline to go alongside the introduction of the FIA Formula 2 Championship by offering up a rival in the form of Lukas Weber (pronounced Vay-ber) and he would be your career rival as you made the progression to F1. This looks to have been removed in favour of the new ‘My Team’ mode.
But should the player wish to tackle the 2019 F2 ladder in its entirety with the already established teams and try to get to F1, it is possible. or if tackling the F1 championship straightaway is the way you want to go, that is also an option.
Having spent many years playing racing games as well as almost every F1 title, F1 2020 has made some improvements across the handling model. Whilst being a self-professed pad player for over 20 years, I’ve noticed the subtle changes made by Codemasters as to how the cars behave out on track.
In previous titles gone by, it was often tricky to find the limit with the cars offering almost no warning as to when the edge of grip was reached, which led to many mistakes and smatterings of virtual carbon fibre all over the place.
The F1 2020 title has tweaked the behaviour of the car to feel connected to the player – you can push and you’ll notice where the limit of grip is more often. When the car is on the limit and you see those green or even purple sectors come through, it can be a very rewarding experience.
Also, changing setups on the car feels more sensitive. Tweak the suspension, camber, tyre pressures, differential, you name it and you’ll notice the difference. Tinkering with setups will certainly be a joy for those who can find their sweet spot.
For those who get their hands on the Schumacher edition of the title, they will be able to drive some of the most iconic cars of the German’s illustrious career with the introduction of the Jordan 191, Ferrari F2000 and both title-winning Bennetton’s – the B194 and B195.
Other classic cars such as the monstrous McLaren-Honda MP4/4, Damon Hill’s Williams FW18 and Red Bull RB5 have also kept their place.
So should you ever feel nostalgic and want to hit the track in some old classic cars, the opportunity is always there.
The untimely passing of Anthoine Hubert in last season’s feature race at Spa-Francorchamps shook and saddened the entire motorsport community. It was always going to be a contentious topic as to whether his character could appear in the latest video game which currently contains the 2019 F2 championship line-up.
I am pleased to say Hubert has been kept within the title and remains a playable character in the standout pink No.19 BWT Arden car. It is a touching and honourable tribute by Codemasters to keep the Frenchman in the title.
Formula 2 will also have the 2020 line-up available to download when it is finalised.
The F1 2020 title has brought back the split-screen option, so if you have some friends around your house (socially-distanced of course) then there is the ability to battle each other without having to venture online to do so.
However, should you wish to tackle some of the other players around the world and feel you have what it takes to claim victory, the ever-present online mode is available.
One sticking point of the online mode since the title has reached the latest generation of consoles has been the lower quality of stability for almost everyone in any given lobby. We’ve noticed this especially during the F1 esports events during the recent lockdown period as McLaren’s Lando Norris would often disconnect to the instability of the online platform.
I have often noticed it myself over the years where players would drop in and out, or even lag across the track and cause crashes sometimes through no fault of their own. However, that issue appears to have been tackled, however, once the game is fully released and many more of you join the online world, it will then get a real test of how good the improvements made.
One thing I mentioned in the review of the 2019 title was an inconsistency in the timing of interviews by the press after race events in career mode, this has yet to be rectified in this latest title. It may be a small niggle, but continuity and a sense of realism can sometimes just make everything feel more connected and put together.
Also, the Jordan 191 and the Benetton’s feel very wayward at the rear of the car, something I can’t imagine was intended given the period of cars, so potentially, there could be a patch could come and help that.
The 2019 effort was a credible step forward and made great strides into getting a much more cohesive title together for all those who enjoy them.
It’s by no means a sim racer like iRacing and the like, but this is comfortably the best F1 title Codemasters has produced. If you already own F1 2019 and are wondering whether it’s worth replacing, I would personally urge you to do so given the leaps this game has made in all areas over its predecessor.
The immersive and oh so addictive ‘My Team’ feature is a major step forward, giving you endless hours of enjoyment and another dimension to what was previously just a racing game.