Getting Our Hands Greasy With The New F1 2020

There may not be any real-world racing, but F1 2020 hasn’t missed a beat.

Motor racing more than any other sport in the COVID era has found success pivoting to e-racing to satisfy fans desire for competition. The involvement of real drivers and teams, a smattering of celebs and the ability to race in new and unique venues has seen broadcasters enthusiastically jump on board. With the spotlight having never been brighter, Codemasters F1 franchise and F1 2019 has shone; enter F1 2020.

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Much like its real-life counterpart, each iteration of the game has been scrapping to find a reason to keep fans engaged while the sport crawls towards its now-delayed rule changes to reinvigorate the series. We got a chance to sit down with the 2020 version of the game, which celebrates 70 years of F1 and try it for ourselves. Without doubt, this year’s key feature is ‘My Team’, a chance to create and enter your own team into the season and manage each element of it… And Codemasters is excited about it.

The game’s director Lee Mather sat down with the world’s media (via Discord) to explain the mode and you could tell this is a dream that’s been realised. ‘My Team’ has been described as a game within a game, where you create and enter your own F1 team to race alongside the existing cars and drivers. It comes complete with a car-design centre, driver market, cost controls and sponsons. The better the team does on the track, the better the facilities you can afford and the better the drivers you can attract. Mather is adamant that for the first time beating your teammate isn’t the only goal, you now also want him to finish, safely, and consistently.

Mather said it’s the realisation of a plan they’ve had since the series started in 2010 and given this is likely to be the final game targeted for this generation of console, it’s here. ‘My Team’ is where the bulk of the changes for the new game come, with F1 paddock commentator Will Buxton brought in to add a life-like element as well. But it’s not the only change, with Mather saying the increased eyeballs on the game while there has been no racing means a whole new audience has been able to access the game.

As a result, the pick-up-and-play element of the game has been given a fresh look to ensure it isn’t too daunting for those who’ve liked what they’ve seen but had no experience with racing games. The use of the game by real F1 drivers has led to a raft of changes; keen gamer Lando Norris provided feedback about the ERS deployment which has seen that simplified, while Charles Le Clerc identified issues with the Spanish circuit which have also been implemented. For multiplayer fans, the game now has a local split-screen feature and a more dynamic career mode while the new Vietnam and Dutch GP circuits are included.

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With the game not due out for a few months it’s largely done meaning we got a release-level crack at the circuits, Zandvoort, in particular, is a riot of a track to drive, but will be a real-life passing nightmare. The driving is tighter than ever while the AI and driver behaviour have also been improved. Mather said that they’ve been working on driver-specific traits such as a ‘Ricciardo-esque late-braking lunge’ into the first corner and after only a handful of races it was clear that that happens. The game also looks beautiful, especially in the night-time setting at Bahrain with the cars glistening in the desert, while the sense of speed is also greater than ever before.

In a year that F1 fans are being robbed of real-life racing, the F1 2020 game will give those desperate fans a more than satisfying alternative.  Those familiar with the series will feel comfortable from the word go while those who are coming in for the first time will be treated to a tremendous recreation of what you used to see on your TV every other week.

Codemasters provided the preview build for PC.

This is a guest post from Matt de Groot

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