F1 2020 Review: the virtual Formula One championship is back

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Simultaneously with the resumption of the championship after months of stop, Codemasters is preparing to launch the new F1 2020.

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F1 2020 review Review: the virtual Formula One championship is back

Punctual like a Swiss watch, Codemasters’ most famous course is preparing to make its debut this year too. Scheduled for July 7th for owners of the special edition dedicated to Michael Schumacher (three days later for everyone else), F1 2020 looks like a transition chapter from the driving model point of view, but it does not fail to field numerous noteworthy content innovations. For the first time arrived on the shelves almost simultaneously with the real championship, which started just over the weekend just ended, the game of the British team has had to face more than one problem in the last few months.

Despite the strong dedication shown by the developers, unfortunately, we will hardly be able to see a faithful reproduction of the real championship, also and above all due to some changes in the calendar. To cope with the postponements of the past months, in fact, the federation has decided to insert new tracks in the calendar, which will most likely include Mugello – as famous in the motorcycling world as it is semi unknown for the circus run by Liberty Media – and the Autódromo Internacional do Algarve of Portimão, which recently received the highest rating – mandatory to host a Formula 1 race following strong adaptation and renovation works. In short, what we will experience in the Codemasters game will be a sort of alternative championship, a gigantic “what if“capable of erasing all traces of all the problems of the last few months and letting us experience, exclusively, the entire world championship as it was originally conceived.

A new year of F1

F1 2020, however, is not just a way to relive Formula 1 and savour its always accurate reproduction of the real context. That of Codemasters is a complete and enveloping game, rich in content. The focus of the production, this year as in the previous ones, is certainly not to perfectly reproduce the driving feeling or try to attack the market of naked and raw simulations with force.

Nevertheless, some steps forward from this point of view have not been lacking: the cars are definitely more stable and faster, showing, among other things, a fair difference from each other. One of the biggest problems of last year, that is the perennial understeer which made it very difficult to make some curves, seems to have been greatly mitigated. Furthermore, playing without help, the impression is that of having greater control over the car, also and above all when exiting corners.

An excellent step forward, which seems to aim to reproduce more likely sensations. Because realism, especially when it comes to advanced cars glued to the ground like F1 cars, it is not necessarily synonymous with difficulty.

Uncertain balance of the great unknowns of this year is represented by performance, an element that is anything but secondary within a product like F1 2020. Without the possibility of having feedback from the real counterpart in time for the launch, it seems that the team has tried to leave the strength values ​​of the past year almost unchanged, avoiding unnecessary gambling. We are writing this paragraph immediately after the conclusion of the first round of the world championship, which evidently brought to light the need for a future balance of performance and strength on the pitch. Just look at the exploit of the Racing Point, McLaren’s great speed and Ferrari’s difficulties. We hope that the development team can react promptly because given the impossibility of repurposing a championship with the exact same stages as the real one, not having even the correct balance of the grid would be a very serious blow for the Codemasters product.

Another great addition in terms of gameplay is the one related to the new management of the ERS, which we have already told you about several times during our previews of the past months. Thanks to feedback from real drivers, the mechanism has been completely renewed: the old manual management has been removed, not used even in real cars, to make room for a semi-automatic system much closer to that used by F1 cars. The only form of control that we will have on the delivery of power will concern the possibility of inserting at our convenience, by simply pressing a button, the “overtaking” This system seemed much easier to manage than in the past, as well as being well balanced. Although the aforementioned mode provides a rather considerable boost to performance, in fact, it also involves a very rapid consumption of energy, forcing us to carefully dose its use.

The other novelty of this year is the one related to the “sporty” driving mode, especially suitable for beginners and those who want to enjoy the outline and the managerial ambitions of some of the single-player modes, without having to deal with too high a challenge. . This simplified driving system is can only be used in offline mode and will remain completely separate from the traditional one, called “realistic” by the development team.

This is an addition that will certainly not interest long-time fans in any way but could bring new players closer to the brand: a detail, in our opinion, decidedly positive. However, we would like to clarify that the use of the new model significantly impairs the gaming experience, as well as making you take bad habits that could preclude the possibility of switching easily, in the future, to the traditional driving system. Leaving all the active aids, also simplified with respect to their counterparts in a realistic way, we are faced with a completely different game, which almost seems to drive the machine for you; counteracts your steering and tries to reposition the car on the ideal trajectory, helping you a lot in braking. Unfortunately, the latter aid cannot be changed (will automatically be set to “high”) with active steering assistance. As we had already been able to tell you in the preview, we found this type of assistance a little too invasive.

The eleventh team

If from the point of view of physics and the driving model the changes seemed to us so interesting, but not particularly disruptive, the discussion becomes quite different when we analyze the new contents. The main course, the one that everyone was waiting for, is the well-known My Team, renamed in the Italian version “Stable career“.

A sort of revised and corrected version of the traditional career, in which we will not take the place of a simple driver who landed in one of the teams really in the running for the F1 world championship, but those of the owner of the team, with all the possibilities and responsibilities, follow. Initially, we will be asked to choose a name for the team, as well as the main sponsor, a supplier for the power unit, the livery and the colours that will represent us during our adventure in the world circus.

Both liveries and logos they can be assembled through special editors, which however we have not found as efficient and effective as we would have liked. Especially as regards the livery, it is mostly the possibility of choosing between a handful of presets and then changing the colours. After choosing a sponsor and having an idea of ​​how much we can spend, the time has come to dive into the drivers market to hunt for our future teammate. Given the scarcity of funds and the fame of the newly born team, we will be forced to content ourselves with giving an F2 driver the joy of making his debut in Formula 1.

Once we arrive at our team headquarters, we can start improving the various departments and checking our relationships with sponsors. Initially, we will have only one, but with the passage of time (very little will be enough) new ones will be added.

We will also be able to quickly and easily organize our schedule of commitments and monitor the work of the various research and development sections. Net of some small changes, the differences with the traditional career mode at first glance may not be so evident, but going deeper into the effects of this change of perspective will begin to emerge forcefully: the market, for example, is managed in a slightly different way, so as to prevent us from trying to bring drivers with ambitions too far from the real potential of the car to our site; each “top driver” will have minimum requirements to satisfy, forcing us to work actively to improve structures and machine continuously and organically. The goals to be met to please the sponsors – and to get extra cash – also require careful teamwork. Some, for example, will ask us to finish the championship in a certain position in the constructors’ classification: to reach such a goal, however, we should also be able to count on the points of our teammate.

To be sure that he too can improve over time and make a greater contribution, we will be able to unlock some additional structures with money from the team, such as a room used as a simulator in which to allow him to practice. During the race weekend, however, there are no particular differences with the traditional career.

A new season

Also there “Pilot career“has however undergone numerous updates, especially with regard to the menus and the user experience in general. Here too we will be able to access a real calendar, which will mark the arrival of any improvements or of our salary day after day.

(Embed) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lfbq4qkoenY (/ embed)

This money will be used to develop our pilot skills, thanks to which get permanent bonuses within our ten-year career. Among these, we cannot fail to mention the possibility of hiring a team of social media managers able to make us increase fame more quickly, or that of unlocking further answers during interviews with the press.

The classic “workstation” screen remains almost unchanged, accessible when away from the team’s headquarters. The market was also enhanced, which after introducing the transfer from one team to another of all the official drivers, finally introduced the concept of withdrawal.

The “older” drivers will, therefore, be able to enjoy their well-deserved retirement, leaving more room for the new levers. On the other hand, all the dynamics present during the race weekend were completely unchanged, with the various challenges to overcome during free practice, useful both to familiarize yourself with the various tracks and to accumulate a handful of points more. Another very important change compared to the career of the previous chapter is that relating to the removal of the introductory storyline.

This does not mean, however, that it will not be possible to start from F2, far from it: we will have the opportunity to choose whether to start with a selection of key moments, in a similar way to last year (but without any plot or rivalry whatsoever), or opt for a whole or halved season. If we wanted to avoid the minor category entirely, among other things, we will finally be given the opportunity to do so and land directly in Formula 1.

To keep company with the two main modes, strictly single-player, we obviously find the classic “Championship” and “Grand Prix” modes, very important for all those who prefer to practice or compete without any superstructure. There is also the “Time Trial” mode, in which we can compare our performances – asynchronously – with those of all the other players in the world. Instead, we have not had the opportunity to try the multiplayer mode, and we refer the judgment on the online to a dedicated article.

Polished single seater

Perhaps one of the most subdued aspects of Codemasters production, at least until last year, it was the average quality of the tracks, not always up to the situation. This year there have been important updates also in this sense, both as regards the new tracks, those of Hanoi and Zandvoort, both for some old acquaintances of the circus. Compared to last year, for example, the “killer back“that terrified the virtual pilots struggling with the Japanese Suzuka circuit.

A great deal of work was done during the creation of the new tracks, especially with regard to the Dutch one. The team itself said it was particularly enthusiastic about the result, for the first time supported by the use of laser scans and above all full-bodied data on the ground above which the structure stands. Even the Hanoi circuit, although it cannot replicate the charm of the other new entry of the 2020 edition, received a respectable treatment. In this case, it is the track itself that is much more anonymous and less exciting. To accompany everything we found a good number of better and specific fixes for many of the bugs of last year. The driveability of the cars is significantly improved, and it is no longer necessary to climb in first gear to be able to get that pinch of extra-rotation in some of the more closed corners, and even the AI, although still far from perfect, seems slightly perfected.

Our rivals, by setting a difficulty higher than 80, have almost always proved themselves fight and ready to slip on the first opportunity. The safety car has not yet been received, which we never managed to get on the track during our tests, not even trying to do it on purpose.

Technically, F1 2020 offers adequately updated machines and some widespread improvements in both modelling and sound – now much more likely and realistic – even without particular flicks. The glance, however, remains top-notch, both in the PC version (tested in the preview phase) and in the PS4 version, with which we carried out the review.


F1 2020
F1 2020

Analyzed Version PlayStation 4 ProThe purpose of F1 has always been to accommodate a large user base, preferring the authenticity of the contour and atmosphere to the implementation of a completely realistic and simulation physical engine. That of Codemasters is basically a simcade, despite having simulation ambitions slightly above the average of the congeners. With this in mind, the last chapter is almost perfect: F1 2020 presented itself on the starting grid with an additional driving model specifically designed for beginners and new aids available for anyone, as well as with an interesting new managerial model of the brand. Despite the difficulties of balancing linked to the delayed start of the F1 championship, the final result is definitely appreciable. The British team seems to have put in place a complete and playful articulated product, which alongside the tested guide system of the series combines new contents of excellent workmanship.

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