When EA went big and splashed out the cash on the acquisition of Codemasters, the lines were drawn for the F1 series of titles to begin to reach all new heights. And even though it’s probably too early for any proper navigation from the EA team to help Codies with their push to provide another stellar F1 experience in the upcoming F1 2021, it’s fair to say that the game is still most definitely on track to be the finest F1 title yet.
After attending a hands-off F1 2021 presentation by the Codemasters team, led by the F1 Franchise Game Director, Lee Mather, what Codemasters have lined up for F1 2021 is nothing short of exciting. Running as the twelfth F1 title to be released under the Codemasters name, all of the basics that you would expect to see are going to be present. As the official game of the F1 series, that means full access and licensing rights to all 20 drivers, all 10 teams and no less than 21 circuits. For anyone looking to immerse themselves into the glitz and glamour of the F1 roadshow – albeit one that has been hit fairly hard by the pandemic – this is more than likely going to be the go-to game.
Coming to Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S (optimised), PS4, PS5 and PC through Steam on July 16th 2021, F1 2021 is allowing Codemasters to go properly big; when you consider they’ve still got the might of EA ready to point them in all new directions after that, it’s an exciting time to be a virtual motorsport fan.
As mentioned, the basics will be present and so if you wish to jump into the fastest car on the grid and the firesuit of Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton, or prefer to be a back of the grid runner like George Russell in the Williams, the opportunity will open up. A full career mode will run as standard, taking us to the far-flung reaches of the globe, before racing around the finest tracks of Australia, the US, Bahrain, Great Britain and more.
All standard stuff. But then F1 2021 will let you go deeper still with a huge amount of customisation, ensuring this is a game for all skill levels and all players. A new Expert Race Style will now be in place to complement other options (most notably the Casual style from previous). This will let you mix up the options how you wish, ensuring that if you’re looking for the most hardened F1 test yet, the 2021 edition of the game will be able to provide it.
F2 will be present as well, with no less than 22 F2 drivers and 11 F2 teams in tow, with the full F2 2020 season stats in place from lights out. This will be enhanced as things progress with the F2 2021 season details rolling out further down the line.
Additionally new tracks will arrive post-launch too – namely those of Imola, Portimao and Jeddah – with the much vaunted Chinese circuit appearing in the new Braking Point story mode.
Ah yes, Braking Point. This is where Codies are going really big and as they look to capitalise on the likes of Netflix’s brilliant Drive to Survive series, Codemasters are looking to deliver full immersion through their new story. With visuals that have been outsourced to ensure a stupidly high level of detail (remember, Codemasters know how to make a racing game look good, but outside of that it’s probably best to get dedicated teams in on the action), the new Braking Point tale looks absolutely stupendous – both visually and in terms of content.
It focuses the action on one Aiden Johnson, an upcoming star who is looking to make a name for himself. This will take place over three seasons – an initial opener in F2 and then a couple of seasons in F1 – with you able to select your team of choice from a limited number of five, all prior to seeing an exciting story develop. Relationships will need to be made with a variety of characters, Devon Butler will return from previous games and a range of story specific interactions will need to be decided upon. Of course, that’s just the deal off the track, and you’ll also need to stand up and be counted on it too. That’s a gimme already though, isn’t it?
It’s Braking Point which is looking like being a superb addition to the full F1 experience, and whilst short (three seasons aren’t going to see you needing to invest more than 5-6 hours or so), it does seem like a fantastic way to build up a rapport with not just the game and its ideas, but the fact that there is room outside of F1 just being ‘a racer’.
Of course, that racing is going to take centre stage too, and it should well be thick and fast. There will be a new two-player career mode for those looking for it, letting you either work as a team or go up against each other in a competition for the best seats in the house, whilst the opportunity to either jump into a season from the very beginning, or utilise a ‘real season start’, helping Lewis make a comeback after a particularly poor Monaco GP for example, enhances the options.
F1 2021 will also amend things on the practice sessions front, letting you use Development Boosts and new R&D enhancements as you see fit. MyTeam has been enhanced too, with a new Focus driver statistic coming into play, affected by the talking that is done on and off the track by the player.
And of course, the multiplayer scene hasn’t been left behind either with new Beginner and Experienced Social Play Lobby shortcuts giving players the option to jump into races depending on their skill levels. This is only complemented further by increased levels of filtering in the server browser lists.
There’s a ton to be excited about for F1 2021, and that is no more true than in the details of the next-gen versions of the game. With feature parity across the board, we’ll find that Xbox Series X|S players get Smart Delivery, a performance/graphics option, Ray Tracing goodies, faster load times and optimised 3D spatial audio. The same can be pretty much said for those on PS5 too.
With pre-order systems now live for both the Standard Edition of the game (£59.99 from the Xbox Store) if you want the easiest, cheapest way to the front of the F1 grid, this is it. It’s helped that this includes the Braking Point Customisation pack and 5000 PitCoins for good measure. But those looking for the top podium step will probably be more interested in the Deluxe Edition. It is this which throws in 3-days early access and no less than seven of the most iconic drivers for MyTeam (Michael Schumacher, Alain Prost, Ayrton Senna, Jenson Button, Nico Rosberg, Felippe Massa and David Coulthard) plus 18,000 PitCoins and a 10% price discount for returning players. Whichever edition you take, it’s safe to say that EA and Codemasters are on the right track to deliver a stunning F1 2021 experience; one that should be the most customisable racer yet.
Our full review will follow nearer launch. For now though let us know how excited you are for F1 2021 by dropping into the comments.
Huge thanks as always go out to Codemasters for allowing us deeper insight into how F1 2021 is looking to play out.