In days gone by, pre-pandemic, the annual installment of the officially licensed Formula 1 game would arrive about halfway through the championship. But we are not long ago and in our 2020 F1 started a shortened, socially distancing season at the Red Bull Ring in Austria. So when F1 2020 launching this week – tomorrow for the Deluxe Schumacher edition, Friday for the standard edition – transporting players to an alternate universe where there is no COVID-19 and where F1 racing started as usual in Australia in March.
The Codemasters team probably didn’t intend to create a multiverse corner for F1 2020, but if this year has taught us anything, it’s to make the most of the cards we get. The advantage of this digital release is that it means that almost a year before they host their first F1 events in Meatspace, you can race on new tracks in Hanoi in Vietnam and Zandvoort in the Netherlands. But the addition of a few new tracks isn’t the only way Codies has ensured that things don’t get old – no mean feat for an official franchise for a sport that doesn’t really change that much from year to year.
Whose team? My team
Probably the biggest new addition to F1 2020‘s gameplay is a new career mode. This one is called My Team, because instead of joining one of the existing 10 teams, it puts you in the role of a new team owner (as well as F1 driver). You get to choose the team name, design a livery and logo, find a title sponsor and choose a second driver for the team. Between races you lead the team, which (hopefully) means bringing in more money than you spend, while keeping every department happy.
As in the past few F1 episodes, there are also RPG-style elements with in-game media interviews. How you answer their questions affects the morale of different departments in the team and your position in the sport.
These additions don’t make the game as strategic sim as something like Motorsport Manager, but they do add an extra dimension to the game beyond “driving car around and around, preferably faster than everyone else.” If you don’t feel like going the My Team route, the other career mode paths are from F1 2019 are still present and correct – please refer to that review for details. To learn more about how the gameplay works over each race weekend, check out our review of F1 2018as it is largely unchanged here.
Another new feature compared to recent F1 games is the return of split-screen (local) multiplayer, joining the online multiplayer and esports modes for those who don’t just want to race against the AI.
F1 driver says road holding is much better
Driving an F1 car at the limit isn’t easy, of course – there’s a reason it’s considered the pinnacle of motorsport. But a game like F1 2020 should appeal to a much wider audience than the very best drivers in the world. To that end, Codemasters has added a “casual mode”, which simplifies menus, makes off-track driving easier and adds some extra assists for players who don’t want to focus too hard. (However, this mode is for offline play only.)
But for those who do want a more realistic sim experience, you can configure the different assists to your liking, all the way to “pro mode”, which lets you do all the work yourself. For those wondering how well the game simulates driving a real F1 car, pay attention to the praise for F1 2020 by George Russell, who is a member of Mercedes-AMG’s Young Driver Program and currently in his second year with Williams F1 as one of the two drivers. Russell said on Twitch that he was shocked at the improvement in the way the cars interact in the game, and other current F1 drivers have reportedly helped Codemasters realize the realism of the game. F1 2020†
I haven’t driven an F1 car in real life, but I do play a few different racing games a year, and I’m happy to report that F1 2020 is up there with the best of them in terms of fun. It’s incredibly engaging with a steering wheel and pedals, and you can tailor the game to the difficulty you’re looking for. It looks and sounds as good as you’d hope a turbocharged hybrid F1 car sounds. If you’re a fan of the sport, it’s probably worth picking it up.
- Brilliant physics, and the F1 cars are fun to drive
- Does well to simulate how much multitasking is involved in driving a modern F1 car
- Career mode is captivating and offers different ways to race through an entire season
- As hard or as easy as you want
- The AI is pretty good
- The actual F1 will not come to Hanoi or Zandvoort at all this year because of the pandemic
- Come up with something new every year to write in these reviews
- My attempts to create a team livery and badge
verdict: Worth buying if you like F1.
List image by Codemasters