While all of Codemasters’ Formula One games have been great in recent years, F1 2020 feels somewhat special.
For anyone that has played F1 2017, 2018 or 2019, a lot of it is familiar. Like any video game franchise with yearly instalments, the core remains the same; “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” as they say. So, upon booting up F1 2020 for the first time you’ll be prompted to create your own driver, choosing their face, name and number, etc. But then you get to the game’s main menu, which is wonderfully presented by the way, and straight away you see it: the new ‘My Team’ mode.
My Team is the biggest new addition to this year’s iteration of it Codemasters’ F1 video game series, and it is brilliant. After selecting a primary sponsor, you use the lump sum of cash they provide to source a power unit, hire a second driver, and then finalise the nitty gritty details of your team such as its logo, colours, etc. From there, My Team plays a lot like the Driver Career found in previous F1 games, but there’s an extra layer of depth that makes success that bit sweeter.
“Never before has an F1 game provided so much depth, customisation and choice”
Create your own team and you’ll have to manage its finances, investing in departments as you see fit. You’ll also be in charge of scheduling activities between race weekends, managing secondary sponsors to bring in yet more cash, and keeping an eye on drivers that you might want to hire in the future. Make the wrong choices and you might find morale in some of your team’s departments at an all-time low. Even worse, you might find your team strapped for cash and at the bottom of the standings. Get it right, however, and you might have the best R&D around as well as your favourite F1 driver competing by your side, boosting your car, and team, to the front of the pack.
Those who aren’t interested in what happens behind the scenes will be happy to hear that My Team doesn’t come at the expense of the old Driver Career, either; you can still jump into that mode if you want, taking part in a full or shortened F2 season, or heading straight into F1. It’s the best thing to do if you just want to get on with the simple act of racing while directing the R&D of your car along the way. And whichever mode you choose, there are more new features that make them both more enjoyable and accessible by all.
“You can make the racing experience as stress-free or as hardcore as you’d like”
Upon starting a new Driver or My Team career, for example, you’ll find that you can now choose the length of a season – 22, 16 or 10 races. You can choose which circuits make the cut, too, of which there are two new to F1 2020; Circuit Zandvoort and Hanoi Street Circuit. And finally, as well as standard and pro racing styles, a new casual setting has been added into the mix, helping new racers find their feet with easier steering and functions such as ERS being handled automatically.
Even if you don’t want to throw yourself into a lengthy career, F1 2020 has plenty for you. Grand Prix mode allows you to select your own string of events to compete in, while Championship mode offers six championships to complete with F1, F2 or classic cars. And for those who like to push themselves without having to worry about other drivers on the track, there is, of course, Time Trial mode. Unfortunately the challenge-like Invitational events have to be unlocked by completing them in Driver Career or My Team modes first.
For many, human competition will be the highlight of F1 2020. New to F1 2020 is two-player split-screen, allowing players to take on friends or family members quickly and easily. Though of course, there’s online multiplayer as well. Alongside the usual ranked and unranked race options, leagues are available, allowing players to find some long-term competition. There are also weekly events, tempting players to spend time practising and qualifying before returning at a later date to compete in a final heated race. And for those who are seriously skilled, there’s a dedicated esports menu for upcoming events and suchlike.
Everything taken into consideration, never before has an F1 game provided so much depth, customisation and choice. Whether you’re a hardcore fan of the sport, or simply a lover of racing games who doesn’t know their Lewis Hamilton from their Sebastian Vettel, you’ll find some way to enjoy F1 2020. And enjoy it you will, because aside from all the new modes, features and content, the core of the F1 game series has been inexplicably improved upon yet again.
“F1 2020 is racing perfection”
The handling in F1 2020 is better than ever before, giving you confidence to push your car to its limits once you’ve become accustomed to it. And of course, with a myriad of assists available, you can make the racing experience as stress-free or as hardcore as you’d like. And then there are the visuals; playing on Xbox One X for review, they’re simply sublime, edging ever closer to being indiscernible from the real thing. During gameplay, performance is rock-solid, too. Only during replays do you notice the framerate becoming a little wobbly, but that’s not really much of an issue, is it?
F1 2020 is the best F1 game ever made, of that I have no doubt. The mighty fine engine at the heart of Codemasters’ F1 series has been fine-tuned over these last few years and now it’s at peak performance. Even better, what surrounds it – the bodywork – has been substantially upgraded for this release, making it fuller, richer, and more desirable than ever. F1 2020 is racing perfection. The question is, where does it go from here?