Formula 1 is back in the real world, but it’s been a long time coming. All the while through quarantine and scheduling delays, Codemasters was working to release its best racing game yet: F1 2020 for Xbox One, Playstation 4 and PC. It’s engaging and endlessly playable, though not without its caveats.
The Drive’s Senior News Editor Jerry Perez and Deputy News Editor Caleb Jacobs-both lifelong F1 fans-tried their hands at the new title and reconvened after a week of casual playtime. Here’s what they came up with on F1 2020.
Caleb Jacobs: Codemasters’ F1 games aren’t full-on racing sims, but they’re also more realistic than, say, Forza Horizon. That’s fine by me, and I think F1 2020 does it better than in years past.
Jerry Perez: Yeah, I remember getting the first F1 game developed by Codemasters for the Xbox 360 back in 2011 and it was definitely more arcade than anything else. It was sprinkled with a few touches here and there that elevated it a little, but it was mostly just a fun F1 arcade game. Oh my, how things have changed.
CJ: There’s a clear effort here to bring F1 2020 up to a sim level, at least in some ways, and it’s definitely more refined than before. And there’s a game mode for every mood-for better or worse: My Team, Driver Career, Grand Prix, Time Trial, Championship and a host of multiplayer options. That said, it tries to be a lot of things at once.
JP: It definitely has a lot more options than before as far as what you can do with the game-I especially liked the exhibition events where you can drive vintage cars like Ayrton Senna’s McLaren MP4/4 or some of the old, V10-powered Red Bulls. However, I do feel like maybe it has too many options, and it can be easy to get overwhelmed by the abundance of events, challenges, and different ways to earn XP, etc.
CJ: Yeah, I’m with you there. We talked about this before but it’s kind of like… who has time to explore all of this? Maybe that’s not bad, but it’s a little intimidating as a casual gamer. More times than not, I have an hour or so to log on and play. If I spend 20 minutes toggling settings and flipping through menus, it feels a little tedious.
JP: Yeah, who’s got that kind of time? My kids do. They’ve got the time, especially nowadays with being stuck at home more often than not.
JP: My experience with F1 2020 began in the same way that it probably does for most folks, with My Team mode. Unlike in previous years, however, I didn’t only have to create a driver and choose a name and suit design, but I had to create an entire team!
In this mode, I had to go through the process of picking names, liveries, sponsors, and a bunch of other things that I never had to do before. You can choose to be a driver only and bypass all of this, but I figured I’d give it a shot considering it’s one of the biggest changes for 2020.
CJ: Right-that’s the biggest addition. It’s immersive and, truthfully, equally as well-done. You just have to make the commitment to the game to get the most out of it. If you can invest the time to plan team activities and upgrade your car’s sidepods before the next Grand Prix, all while keeping your sponsors happy, you’ll see a return.
It’s also worth noting that in the Driver Career mode, you now start at the F2 level and work your way up. I liked that aspect. Plus, there’s yet another category of cars to race.
JP: That’s the biggest thing, I noticed. If playing the game for a full season required a serious time commitment before, given the free practices and qualifying formats, then now even more so. I didn’t realize it at the time, but My Team required me to basically play team owner and driver. It’s definitely cool, but it’s a game within a game, one that you must keep your team alive while also racing an F1 car around the “world.”
You cannot escape Formula 1’s ace pundit, Will Buxton.
CJ: Don’t forget the usually loaded questions you have to answer after each race at a press conference. They can either make or break your team’s morale, and you’ve gotta be careful how you word every answer… even though the answers are…