With the new season just getting underway, it seems F1 2020 release has been accidentally well timed. Representing the season Covid won’t allow you to have, Codemasters’ latest effort features the two new circuits and a new mode to express your inner Jack Brabham. Some of the tech is looking long in the tooth but, at the end of the generation, they’re adding some new, neat things.
My Team represents the biggest change to the single player offering. Feeling like a logical extension to the existing career mode, this gives you the opportunity to run your own team. You’re given plenty of control from changing the livery, adding sponsors and picking an engine supplier for your fledgling outfit. You’re also tasked with hiring a second driver and time on the clock is spent managing plenty of aspects.
The usual research and development grind is present but you now have facilities you need to build to gain more of the tech tree. You can spend time developing your second driver or hire someone else within your budget. They bolster the market with plenty of Formula 2’s names, including the late Antoine Hubert. This helps expand your options but increasing your driver’s stats can lead them to ask for bigger contracts.
Whilst it does mostly follow the path of the career mode, these extra commitments give you plenty to consider between races. Sponsors come with their own expectations and your ambitions usually dictate which ones you side with. Meanwhile, the activities you pick have various effects on the development departments. You can try to keep everyone happy or focus on a specific area, if you so wish.
It’s a slow crawl to the peak of the mountain but it’s one that I found engaging. The career mode has started to feel stale. Last year’s addition of driver changes gave some life to the grid but the management aspects of My Team kept me intrigued by some of the smallest decisions. Career mode remains for those that want to work their way from team to team but I find this mode much more interesting to tinker with.
Problems with press interactions still remain. This mode features fuller featured interviews but I’ve found myself in situations where I’m answering the same question twice and the usual rules apply with the answers you give. They still tie to your standing within the team and which department you want in your good books. You still can’t take accountability for errors out on track, which has always dumbfounded me.
The rest of the package remains largely as it was a year ago. The driving model definitely has seen some tweaks. I’ve heard people describe is as more consistent with less odd behaviour behind the wheel. As someone less attuned to that nuance, I can certainly say the cars feel more planted. I do find Codemasters’ games to be more manageable when you take turn the assists off. Since the hybrid era began, the cars have generally had fantastic traction and you continue to feel that.
Without assists, I feel the car holds the road better than last year. I always think about accelerating out of turn 2 in Austria. It’s a slow corner right on the crest of a hill and that gradient is what usually catches me out. When I power out of that spot in F1 2020, I’m not being spun into the nearest barrier. I can drive this with confidence which allows me to focus on racecraft.
Formula 2 fits much the same bill, albeit it with less power to play with. I still would like them to incorporate the feeder series more into the showcase modes. I want to come through the F2 ranks before finding a spot on the F1 grid but it seems like something Codemasters either aren’t interested in or can’t quite make it fit.
The classic vehicles prove to be a much bigger handful. The Michael Schumacher edition comes with a handful of his famous rides, including the Jordan he started his career in. The B194 also features and whilst there’s no way to trigger option 13, I can confirm it’s an absolute monster to drive. There’s something about how much those cars rev and how quickly they charge through the gears which terrifies me.
The AI remains aggressive and fun to fight against. To their credit, they do watch for you and race each other hard. Difficulty is dealt with on the usual slider but it’s a shame you can tweak aggression independently of pace. A bit of personality behind the wheel wouldn’t go amiss. Vettel will attack you in the same way Hamilton and Ricciardo will. Despite that, racing is still entertaining. Wet weather adds to the challenge and strategy of a race weekend and the changeable conditions still impress.
Sound design remains solid with the turbo engines sounding typically subdued when compared to the V12 demons of old. Hearing it bounce off nearby walls in the street circuits is neat. I find you get plenty of feedback when brakes are about to lock and the wheels are spinning. Visually, the tech is starting to show its age. There’s some pop-in and I find the ‘driver of the day’ graphic rarely wants to populate. Aside from that, it looks as good as last year but won’t match up to the PC version.
For a series in danger of going stale, F1 2020‘s new mode adds a credible, more featured alternative to the career mode. The longer investment will keep fans involved in the running of a team whilst the racing remains accomplished. It’s starting to look a little rough around the edges but the core is still compelling. It’s a shame Codemasters won’t add the revised calendar and circuits to the game but we can only hope they add the new Mercedes and Williams liveries.
+ My Team compliments an ageing career mode and gives you plenty to manage.
+ Driving feels consistent and gives you plenty of feedback.
+ Plenty of content and championships to spend time with.
- Load times feel longer and more intrusive.
- Press interactions can still feel a bit forced and lacking in options.