Where F1 2019 felt like you were holding onto the reins of a runaway wild stallion, the accessibility of F1 2020 makes for a much more anxiety-friendly experience.
Yet, at the flick of a switch, the safety assist functions disappear and you’re left with a closer, more authentic experience that treats your car like the untamed, four-wheel engine of doom that you would expect from a Formula 1 machine.
F1 2020 looks brilliant. Codemasters have once again cranked out a cracking title which may currently be the best, most authentic, racing sim experience available. From on-track physics to the sheer visual and audio simulation of high-speed racing, F1 2020 is the pure racing experience that racing fans deserve.
This year’s edition also features the truly awesome Michael Schumacher, along with access to some of his classic cars, gear and Michael’s unique celebration – which players can use to customise their career or multiplayer avatars. There is also a new feature whereby you can create your own livery for your cars. While the options for designs are limited and some of the slider features are a bit clunky, it’s still a welcome addition to the game. It injects some much-needed personality into some of the staler parts of the experience.
“Accessibility is the hallmark of F1 2020.”
Accessibility is the hallmark of F1 2020. The driver’s assist functionality options mean that when everything is turned up to maximum, you’re essentially a passenger with the best seat in the house. Braking, steering and environment interaction can all be dialled back to seem almost optional. It means that younger F1 fans, or those wanting a more casual experience, can jump in and feel the thrill of the game without needing to invest significant hours in order to get there. You also get to dial back the intensity of your rivals. On the most basic difficulty setting, you’ll gain seconds per lap on the other drivers, and while that doesn’t sound like a lot, in F1 conditions seconds mean everything. As with all of these settings, there’s a sweet spot for everyone. After a few races, you’ll find the right balance that will make your drive time that much more enjoyable.
There’s still all the brutality that you would expect from racing at this level. The margins for error are razor thin and the price for failure is incredibly high. With none of the assists on, straying even a single tyre off the track can lead to a wild spinout. Worse still, brushing a wall or an opponent’s tyre can cause damage to critical aerodynamic parts of the car, making you lose almost all control until you can make a lengthy pitstop, in which your crew will take an agonisingly long time to make the necessary repairs. We’ve learned that even yelling at the TV will not cause the pit crew to move faster than a casual walking pace! The frustrating lesson to learn here, of course, is to not make mistakes.
The player experience in F1 2020 has been expanded, to make your time off the track more meaningful. The all new ‘My Team’ mode is a breath of fresh air for the series. As a brand new eleventh team in the F1 competition, you’ll get to build your racing empire from scratch. You’ll create a driver, select an engine supplier, woo sponsors, hire a teammate, build facilities, and develop your team, all before you even set one inch of rubber on the road. There’s a lot to take onboard ahead of each Grand Prix, which adds more depth than we’ve seen in any previous release. It will also extend your playing experience through multiple racing seasons as you fight through contract negotiations with support drivers and focus development of your car to deliver better performance. This is definitely the game mode to play for all those wannabe Christian Horners or Guenther Steiners out there. (We’d normally put something quotable in here from one of these legends, but there were too many swears that required redaction).
For those interested in a more traditional game style, ‘My Career’ is still here, where you can grab the wheel of one of the existing cars and focus on hitting the GPs alone. It’s a stripped-back experience, which feels a little empty next to the depth of My Team. It does, however, suit those more interested in the sim racing experience.
If we have to give this year’s edition any marks down, it’s for not pushing the boundaries hard enough. The overall package of 2019 was exceptional and made significant improvements on the 2018 game. F1 2020 contains minor improvements, which definitely make the game more accessible, although the let-down may be that it doesn’t do enough to put polish on last year’s excellent visual or audio effects. Let’s not muck about though, F1 2020 is an exceptionally good experience and deserves to be on the shelves of any racing enthusiast with a need… a need for speed!
F1 2020 is available now on PS4 and Xbox One.