I’ve always been a fan of Formula One games. From the original racers to EA’s F1 Manager game, there’s a scratch that comes with being an F1 fan that these games scratch. The F1 2020 game is out and the latest instalment from Codemasters is by far the most comprehensive F1 game to date. If you want to see Ferarri make a good start to the 2020 season, this game might be the only way you’ll do it.
F1 2020: What’s New?
A good question to ask when it comes to reviewing an F1 game is “how much better can you make driving in circles every year?”. I think, in the past at least, it’s a very valid question. Sure enough, you’ll get updated liveries for the cars and driver rosters, but what else can a game like this actually do?
Remembering It’s A Game
Back in 2010, Codemasters picked up the rights to create F1 games and ever since they’ve been on a mission to create F1 simulators. That comes as a bit of a double-edged sword. One the one hand, F1-simming has led to esports being serious business in the motorsport world.
F1 2020 is all about being fun rather than being a sim
Realism is what makes all of that happen, but for me it led to me buying a game I played for a few minutes and them didn’t go back to. F1 2020 is very much aimed at making the sport fun to play on a console again. Now, the settings to do this were always there but F1 2020 is just more geared towards fun instead of being a simulator and that’s what makes this more appealing to casual gamers.
This matches the brief of F1 as an organisation too who have been trying to be more inclusive for fans with things like Fan Zones at tracks for race weekends.
For me, this game was summed up in Bahrain. I’m fuming I left the game without saving the video but I zig zagged my car, threading the needle and narrowly avoiding a crash. All the while, I wasn’t worried about too many penalties or breaking points. I was just here to have fun. I did still clip the wing and ended up nearly crying later. More on that in a bit.
The Many Modes Of F1 2020
I bought the Michael Schumacher Special Edition version of F1 2020. Why? Well, first of all, I adore Michael Schumacher. While I fell out of love with F1 for a few years, I was a die hard fan a few years back. You know, back when Eddie Jordan, Eddie Irvine and Michael Schumacher were giants in the world. The other reason I bought it was because it game me a few days to get a review done before the regular edition launched. So much for that plan. The game is so jam-packed with features I just couldn’t get it all reviewed in time. Anyway, here’s what you get.
Build Your Own Team
I don’t think I’ll have my mind changed that the ease of play is the biggest change to come to F1 2020. That’s mainly because the main mode people play in a game is very personal. If you want to simulate real-life, adding the 11th team to the grid isn’t going to look very appealing. I’m a big child, so say hello to Goosed Racing.
You get to build your own F1 racing team from the ground up. At the start, your team is in startup mode. Instead of big expensive wind tunnels, you have a lad with smoke coming out of a pipe in front of a fan. As you develop and earn more money you not only invest in your car and your drivers but you also invest in the factory. F1 fans know that a good factory is the big driving force behind a successful team.
Now, when it comes to building a team, most owners do it from the outside in. You get to live the Jack Brabham life of owning the team and the car you drive in. You’ll need to pick your teammate. For me, being all sentimental, I went for Michael Schumacher’s son, Mick. After that, you’ll need to pick sponsors and plot how your engineers will develop parts on the car to outpace the competition.
Theres a certain sense of ownership that comes with this mode that gets you super invested. For example, on race weekends, you have the choice of simulating any of the sessions. A typical weekend has Free Practice 1, Free Practice 2, Free Practice 3 and Qualification before the race on Sunday. I didn’t want to simulate any of them, purely because by completely sessions and achieving goals, I was unlocking more resource points to fast track part development of the car.
I was left nearly in tears at the end of one 14 lap race because my tyres wore out and earlier I had clipped my wing. Together, I was left with no downforce, no grip and a car trundling along while slipping through the field. But I learned from that and understood that a new team is aiming for the places further down the table and to manage the car better.
What I hope you take away from that is just how much fun owning every aspect of the team can really be. It’s also a bit of craic working on your car’s look. Even more so to make it look good as I learned from public reaction the Goosed Racing Mk 1.
The regular career mode hasn’t been replaced and will still appeal to those looking for an experience closer to the real thing. The beauty of career mode is that you can choose where you kick off your life as a racing driver. Build yourself up with a full F2 season, dip your toe is or, take the Lance Stroll approach and inexplicably get a seat in an F1 team from the get-go.
It’s important to note one massive feature that’s not new to F1 2020 but might get you interested. A season and even a race weekend is an investment of your time. One of my favourite features is that you can save mid-weekend, mid-session and even mid-race. So if someone calls you for dinner you can call a halt to the whole game and come back tomorrow.
You hear that? You can pause the horror and walk away. Or run….Seb…
Online also feels like more fun. Because I was testing during the early launch days, getting a game was taking quite some time. Codemasters has also had to upgrade their online service already because demand is greater than usual. I can understand that. Being locked up at home with F1 being delayed has left the F1-itch more in need of scratching than ever.
I’m actually going to reserve judgement for the time being when it comes to online mode. I want to play it over the next month or so and see what it’s like with a bigger population of gamers on better servers.
F1 2020: The Verdict
Earlier I said F1 2020 is all about being fun rather than being a sim. I’m not sure there’s a better summary I can give the game. The graphics are stunning. I’ve gone the extra mile with the Thrustmaster F1 Wheel and EKSA E900 gaming headset and can confirm this to be the icing on the cake in terms of immersion, but it’s not a requirement. Simply put, this game isn’t about Lando Norris dominating laps on Twitch without assists turned on. This game is about you being able to turn on your console and having a bit of craic.
Unless you’re Sebastian Vettel, in which case we recommend Ozarks on Netflix. It’s a good show.
If like me, you’ve taken some time out from F1 games, it’s time to play it Sam.
F1 2020 Trial Now Available
Before you buy, you can now test drive F1 2020 for yourself. Starting today, players on Xbox One and PlayStation 4 can download a free trial of F1 2020. Get a taster for the game yourself whether you’re a race weekend fan or hardcore sim racer.
Updated 23/11/2020: Article updated to include information on the F1 2020 free trial.