As team boss, you’re in the driver’s seat

Annualised sports series games always face a tough road — how do you innovate with such a tight turnaround, while still maintaining the experience that existing fans want?

F1 2020
From: Codemasters
For: PS4, Xbox One, PC
Rating: (G) ★★★+

Somehow this year’s F1 game, F1 2020, manages to do it — and do it well.

F1 games have traditionally straddled the line between being arcade-focused and being a true in-depth simulator. This year they’ve made the game a little bit more realistic, but that’s not to say that your casual racing fan can’t get a kick out of it.

The F1 games are pretty traditional in the sense that there’s always a career mode, a quick race mode, and a multiplayer mode for you to take part in. That’s true of this game as well — however, this year they’ve introduced the ability to enter your own team into the F1 series. You’re able to customise cars, drivers, liveries, and every other little aspect of the team in a move that was completely unheard of a few years ago, given the restrictive nature of the F1 licence.

For most people, this will be the bread and butter of the experience. Managing the day-to-day aspect of the team, its R&D structure, the sponsors and, of course, racing in the races is where the majority of people will find their enjoyment here, and I certainly did. You have to play a balancing act of keeping all aspects of your team happy, even if that’s not the fastest way to do things — or instead going all out in one department to the detriment of others. Building your team from minnows of the sport to world champion is what drives this mode, and is every bit as compelling as in similar modes in games such as NBA 2K or FIFA.

Outside of this though, it’s same-old, same-old. The multiplayer is still fun and functional, albeit in my experience entirely reliant on the behaviour of others. If you’re in a lobby full of people determined to drive you into the wall, it’s going to be a miserable time, but you can equally have some cracking battles with people wheel to wheel.

The historic content is also again a welcome addition — this year the focus is on all time great Michael Schumacher, with several cars from his early days in F1, through his iconic dominant Ferrari days in the early 2000s. It’s great driving these cars (particularly as they sound incredible compared to current-day cars!). It’s nothing beyond a momentary distraction, however.

For me, once you’ve done a few races in your team mode, or even finished a season, the game’s lifespan just isn’t there. It’s not like a FIFA or NBA game where content is able to be continually added and the experience is dynamic throughout the year. It is what it is, and that’s fine, but it also limits what you can do beyond the initial period playing the game. If you’re a racing fan, then F1 is a great time, but only temporarily. It’s fun to play during race weekends, but there’s not much there on a daily basis.


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