F1 2020 will be the final F1 game on the current generation of consoles and it is arguably the best in the franchise. It improves on the already solid basis from F1 2019 and expands with the new MyTeam game mode. This, along with improved AI and probably the best handling model Codemasters has made, is why F1 2020 has become a standout already among fans.
We got plenty of time with the game and this is our review on the new addition to the F1 franchise.
We’ll start by looking at one of the most overlooked parts of the new game – the handling. Ask any racing fan and they’ll tell you how important the handling model is for a racing game. F1 2020 improves on the model featured in the previous two games in the franchise. Every car has it’s own handling, so no car feels the same but all are easy for players to just jump in and drive. You can go from driving an F2 car in your career to driving your MyTeam car and it doesn’t require you to spend a full practice session just getting used to the car.
The cars feel responsive and all flow well with the track. The biggest problem some players had is how much cars understeered in previous games, and this time around it doesn’t feel as punishing.
This comes along with the improved AI to give you a very competitive racing experience. AI drivers defend positions better and make more mistakes. Previous games the AI felt like they are stuck on a set line – almost like a Scalextric car – which meant they wouldn’t defend as aggressively, and if you were following a slower car you could find yourself getting stuck for a while. This year, however, the AI makes more mistakes so you feel like you are driving against a real driver that could lock-up in a corner or have incidents more often.
This creates plenty of interesting races. When you put pressure on a driver, there is a chance they will make those key mistakes you might see more often when facing drivers online.
MyTeam expand on what Career mode did well
The new game mode in F1 2020 is MyTeam. You take control of a brand new F1 team and start from scratch to eventually compete with the top teams on the grid. This has been a welcome addition already, as it expands on the career mode of previous games.
Now we have driver transfers, F2 drivers coming into F1, facility improvements, and so much more. It is a great take on what it’s like to run an F1 team, and how much back-office maintenance is in the sport. You control nearly every aspect of the car, from where the R&D points get spent on, to what sponsors you sign, to even team name badge and liveries.
The only downside in this game mode, however, is the lack of customization. It’s great to see more options than players had in multiplayer last year, but still, there isn’t enough to make a team feel fully your own.
I know this is nit-picky, but so many current games focus on customization that this does stand out. Look at MotoGP20 as an example: you can make a unique helmet, number, and name for your rider. For F1 2020 this is what is missing from an otherwise outstanding MyTeam mode. This is a small issue however, as it doesn’t take much away from the experience.
Podium Pass is an interesting addition
The addition of the Podium Pass may seem like a cash grab from Codemasters, but it will allow fans of the franchise to make their experience more personal. The pass only offers cosmetic rewards, similar to battle passes in other games. Items can range from new liveries and helmets to new podium celebrations. If you were able to get the Micheal Schumacher Edition of the game, you would have enough Pit Points to unlock the first pass.
This is a better model than just one-off purchases, as it rewards players for playing the game and can give them goals. Micro-transactions in games have always been a touchy subject, but it seems that Codemasters have gone about this in the right way with F1 2020.
For those who have been playing the F1 games on PC over the past few years, you might have experienced random frame drops. What used to be an annoyance in previous games is the random stutters and lag players would get during a race. F1 2020 does not seem to have those issues. It seems to run well on high graphics on mid-spec PCs, which allows you to see and experience the full beauty of the game.
The cars are outstanding, and Codemasters have done very well to make them lifelike despite us only seeing them in pre-season testing. The tracks are stunning in the dry and wet, and the addition of more real sponsors around the track is a welcome detail.
The overlay has been given a new look as well, resembling the overlay you see on the likes of Sky Sports F1 or F1TV. The ability to see the time difference between you and the cars around you all race long instead of just at the end of each sector is fantastic as well. It allows players to work out where they are losing time in a race, and whether it is worth pushing.
F1 for everyone
F1 2020 is a lot more accessible for new players, with an “easier” mode for players playing on lower difficulties, making the game more fun for the casual fan or people who want to get into the sport or game. This was Codemasters’ goal – to make the game less “elitist” for the player base. It is still a challenging game at higher difficulties, and veteran players won’t experience these changes if they don’t want to.
Another big change is the new ERS system. Previously, players had to manage between five different modes during a race, or have it set to auto ERS. The auto was too inconsistent, which led Codemasters to change it to a button press. Now your ERS modes are normal or overtake. In qualifying, you still need to turn the ERS mode down at points to get it during the whole lap, but now during the race, all you need to do is press the overtake button and you get that added power.
This year’s F1 entry is a standout for the franchise and a great way to end on the current generation of consoles. MyTeam and career mode have been praised for adding more depth and getting players to complete more races and seasons. The new AI is competitive and more realistic, and Codemasters have made an effort to make the game feel more forgiving to newer or more casual players.
The issue I have with customization will most likely change in future editions of the game, and for now it is still nice to see the team you made the fight against real teams on the grid. With improved graphics and overlay, Codemasters have made the latest generation of F1 games the best-looking racing sim out there.
What do you think of F1 2020? What features stood out for you the most? Let us know in the comment section.