With the 2020 FIA Formula 1 World Championship season now underway with three races down, Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team are once again storming away into a championship lead with the rest of us wondering who can really take the fight to them? Now with Codemasters latest installment into their F1 franchise, the answer could well be…..YOU.
Released on the weekend of the Styrian Grand Prix, F1 2020 once again allows fans and gamers to be able to race against virtual versions of arguably the best drivers in motorsport. This time however developers have implemented some new features that could elevate this outing from just another yearly update to something more meaningful.
First things first, the game is based on the official calendar which means we are able to race on Hanoi and Circuit Zandvoort before the drivers are able to in real life. Hanoi is deceptively complicated with the late apexes being a real challenge to hit but Zandvoort is an utter dream to drive in an F1 car at full chat.
MyTeam is probably the biggest new feature of the game with the player being able to create their own race team and join the grid with the ten other outfits.
You start by choosing your team name and colours as well as the livery that will adorn your car, which is the Formula One Management designed car from previous games just updated a little. You will also have to select a driver, a power unit manufacturer and title sponsor from the starting budget given.
The budget is enough to have a little left over but don’t go thinking you can sign F1 drivers straightaway, Formula 2 is where you will have to look for your teammate but you only get a starting selection before it opens up as the season unfolds. The power unit stats might be a little off as Ferrari is currently the better engine but a performance update is most likely on the way to sort this.
After assigning some team activities at your headquarters and an interview with Will Buxton that actually has more impact on your car than you realise, you are then ready for your car reveal and first race.
This new mode is where I have spent most of my time in the single player offerings. The feel of running your own team and making decisions about upgrading the facilities or signing new drivers and sponsors is like a Management Simulator but not enough to confuse the casual fans with a boat load of stats and graphs.
There is also a normal career mode in the style of past games, however this time you can implement a full season of Formula 2 (the 2019 season) beforehand as well as being able to choose the length of the seasons if you are someone who doesn’t traditionally have a lot of time. Unfortunately no cut scenes to introduce rival characters have returned and probably for the best if it wasn’t going to be expanded upon.
Handling has been looked at once again with this game and has definitely benefited from the driver input gained from the Virtual GPs that took place during the delayed period of the season.
Cars now feel like they have a lot more downforce compared to the 2019 game. Chucking the car through the Maggots-Becketts complex at Silverstone is now exhilarating as you really feel the car sticking to the track. Speaking of sticking to the track, running without some of the assists such as traction control feels more intuitive than previous games. Although the car personally feels like it still breaks traction at the wrong points in higher gears, it is less of an issue this time around and is easier to drive on the limit.
ERS has also changed now due to input from real drivers. You now have an overtake button rather than have to manage 5 modes throughout a race which makes it a lot more fun as you are not constantly tweaking things on your wheel or controller and can concentrate more.
A casual handling mode has been added to the game to assist new players and people who are more fans of the sport rather than people with dedicated wheels like myself. This mode allows you to turn on driver aids such as steering assist, and braking assist. These can only be used in single player modes but I commend Codemasters for putting these in so more people can enjoy the game.
Multiplayer hasn’t changed too much from 2019 with E-Sports, weekly events leagues joining your standard ranked and unranked matches.
One new feature that I personally do not agree with is the Podium Pass. Now this acts like the game Fortnite where you complete challenges over a certain amount of time to gain rewards as you move up certain tiers. Although it is probably one of the less intrusive systems I have seen in a computer game with micro-transactions, this has meant that the majority of customisation options that were in the game have been locked behind this pass, as well as a “VIP” tier which you have to pay to unlock with “Pit Coins”.
This would be easier to stomach if it wasn’t for the fact that this affects what liveries and race suit options you have to start with in you MyTeam career mode. 5 basic options are available or more dedicated ones depending on the edition of the game you get. Frankly this low amount of customisation can lead to some people’s careers feeling less unique as most will at least start with the same livery just with different colours.
On the plus it doesn’t seem too much of a grind to move up tiers as everything you do in the game gains you some experience points to go towards it.
Other issues I’d say include the strict corner cutting system not giving the forgiveness that the actual drivers are afforded in real life and the classic cars once again being more of an after thought even with the money and acclaim attributed to the special events in your career mode.
While the introduction of Michael Schumacher’s most famous cars is brilliant to see, the Benetton B195 being my favourite, you only get these in with the top tier Schumacher edition. I feel like the classic cars should be curated more with their racing years so a race seems more feasable.
A Williams FW14b is never going to beat the Mclaren MP4-13 yet they are put into the same class. The fact that they have three 2010 cars in the game is more the mould they should go for so we’d get variety and realism in a potential race.
Codemasters have to be commended for the game they have produced here. With the COVID-19 pandemic and the difficulty with which the final months of development may have produced, the fact that the amount of bugs in the game hasn’t dramatically increased is very impressive.
Yes there are a few things like game crashes online and once again advancing time in sessions make the AI suddenly jump in speed. Overall the game is well produced and will likely be supported throughout the coming months to fix other problems.
I would recommend this game with out a seconds doubt for any gamer or F1 fan. Codemasters have produced in my view their best F1 game to date and have made beating the mighty Mercedes a fun exciting prospect for F1 fans everywhere.