REVIEW – Playing F1 2020 during the first actual weekend of the season, while I have the chance to also drive on the circuits before the drivers could create an unusual situation, especially how I had the chance to create my team to race with the car I put together, causing a bit more havoc than the usual.
I had three days (or technically two, as I started to write this on Sunday afternoon, as I need time to translate what I wrote in Hungarian to English…) to review F1 2020, and this is all I could think of in this period. This is all the time I had before the embargo ends.
The game starts with you creating your character, with some presets. Still, the customization feels more serious than in Milestone’s games. Then you get to choose a pilot (you can have multiple created drivers), then you pick the team’s name, the main sponsor, the power unit supplier, the teammate, the livery/colour of the car, and the logo of the team. If you have all this, you get an interview with Will Buxton before the car is revealed. The answers you choose here define where your team will have initial upgrades (powertrain, chassis, aerodynamics, marketing, personnel, and durability). A quick hairpin: your starting budget must cover both the engine supplier’s cost (Honda, Ferrari, Renault, or Mercedes), as well as your second driver’s salary. You won’t get the chance to immediately sign Hamilton, as your team’s reputation (or acclaim) plays an important role here. Thus, you can only go for an F2 driver at the start. I picked Jack Aitken. If you want a meme option, all I say is Mahaveer Raghunathan. In case you don’t know who he is, check this video out below:
If you have experienced the most unbelievable performance of F2 in 2019, then let’s get back to the subject: your pilots will have acclaim levels (essentially the same thing as a level in an RPG), and each pilot will have four ratings. I’m going to copy this from F1’s website : „Experience – A higher experience score will help players collect a greater number of ‘Resource Points’, used in the game to buy car upgrades. Racecraft – A higher racecraft score allows the driver to unleash more effective overtakes. Awareness – A higher score here will mean the driver is less likely to lose control of their car when the going gets tough. Pace – Quite simply, the higher the pace score, the more rapid a driver will be throughout a race.” I will call Resource Points as RPs from now on. An overall score is an easier-to-overview number. Some numbers are debatable: Antonio Giovinazzi, who had a few races in 2017 with Sauber, has less EXP than the three 2019 rookies. Makes sense…
Each facility in the team has weekly costs, but they give you RP if you upgraded them to at least level 1. The quartet that directly impacts the car (aero, chassis, powertrain, durability) can be upgraded in four ways (fabrication increases simultaneous upgrades, build time reduces the time needed to create the upgrade, quality control reduces the chance of an upgrade failing, which would require more RPs to get it fixed, and resource point generation speaks for itself). Personnel has the simulator, fitness centre, analysis suite trio (which in order improves Pace, Racecraft/Awareness, Experience for your second driver), and the marketing has two options (sponsor relations speeds up your team’s acclaim growth, and managing activities results in bigger bonuses from the activities you give to the team).
In the calendar, you get to decide what to spend the free days in between race weekends on. These could improve the morale of the four facilities that work on the car (this has been in the game for years – this reduces the failure percentage), or you could improve your second driver’s states; you could gain some RP or acclaim too, or maybe see some minor costs or bonuses for the team. Speaking of money, you can shut down each facility if you desire, but that isn’t the best idea.
The sponsors have two types of payouts – one of them is received when you sign with them (signing bonus – you need to keep an eye of the contract length), the other one arrives if you complete their goal (for example, earn five points in the season). The minor sponsors follow the same route as the main sponsor, but they pay weekly (including their target, like leading the race for four laps). You can review the driver’s contract every 8-11 race weekends. You can also pick a rival – the bigger the name (with the same idea: beat him in qualify, have a faster race lap, get on the podium, finishing ahead of him, etc…), the more acclaim you win. That’s about it. It makes you play it more, and that’s good.
The other modes and the DLC
Item Shop will only be active after the review becomes available, and I have no clue what you can spend the points on, and the Podium Pass isn’t active yet either. I guess you get points from online races for customization? It’s going to have a Fortnite-like VIP customization tier it seems. Wow… Anyway, you can do an official career in offline solo (F2: 3/6 races or full 12-weekend season with 12 Sprint and 12 Feature races, or you can immediately go to F1). If you start in F1, you can choose any team, and then choose your teammate. This career can go for ten seasons. This has remained from 2019, but this mode still has the facilities of the team, but you don’t get to upgrade these. Thus, you get RPs a bit differently, and the upgrades could fail a bit more. Also, the previously known quality control/efficiency upgrade options are gone. The contracts became value-based, a bit more realistic.
In Grand Prix, aside from this year’s cars (the paint jobs are not final yet, I currently have 1.02, pre-release, keep in mind… but let’s hope the Mercedes will be black by the game’s launch), there’s also last year’s F2 class and the classic F1 cars. I’ll list them: ’88 McLaren-Honda MP4/4, ’90 Ferrari F1-90, ’90 McLaren-Honda MP4/5B, ’91 Jordan-Ford 191, ’91 McLaren-Honda MP4/6, ’92 Williams-Renault FW14B, ’94 Benetton-Ford B194, ’95 Benetton-Renault ‘B195, ’96 Williams-Renault FW18, ’98 McLaren-Mercedes MP4-13, ’00 Ferrari F1-2000, ’03 Williams-BMW FW25, ’04 Ferrari F2004, ’06 Renault R26, ’07 Ferrari F2007, ’08 McLaren-Mercedes MP4-23, ’09 Brawn-Mercedes BGP001, ’10 Ferrari F10, ’10 McLaren MP4-25. The Jordan-Benetton-Ferrari 2000 car quartet, as well as an exclusive Schumacher in-game model, overall, helmet, and podium celebration emote (the jump) are behind the Deluxe Schumacher Edition DLC. (Hey Milestone, THIS is how you provide a review code. You don’t send out the base game with no DLC but the complete package.) The pre-orderers also get the Seventy Edition DLC, which is purely cosmetic (unique car livery, podium celebration, helmet, overalls, gloves, shoes, and player badge).
The custom championships have been brought over from last year (2020 F1, 2019 F2, Classic Championship with 12 stages and only the first six gets points; F1 Sprint with 6 stages, with a random order on the first track, followed by reverse order based on championship positions on later tracks; F2 World Tour with 10 tracks and full race weekends; Legendary Tracks Classic with multi-class races and five tracks). The Invitational Events are also here (12 of them), and these give acclaim and money in My Team, but at a glance, I only see TWO on the new circuits. Time Trial – self-explanatory, and you have the same three categories here (F1 2020, classic F1, F2 2019). The multiplayer has split-screen (the last time we had this was in F1 2014), weekly events, you can create or look for leagues (and perhaps join them), participate in ranked/unranked events, or even do LAN races. (<- take a few notes) There’s also eSport, as expected.
On the track
The game feels more accessible towards beginners, and while it’s not a hardcore simulator (Max Verstappen avoids it for this reason), it’s passable as a simcade. In the career (or My Team!), you can pick to have either a 10, 16 or a 22-weekend season. You can set the length of the race (5 laps, or 25/50/100% of the real race distance), the difficulty percentage, whether you need a formation lap or not, flashbacks, parc fermé rules, car damage, Safety Car, rules and flags (getting black flagged for shortcutting too much), how strict corner-cutting penalties should be, whether the game should help you at the start procedure or not… or the tyre’s temperature (have both carcass and surface temperature, changes the controls a bit), and if you want the drivers to move from teams or not. If that’s not all, brake assist, traction control, proper racing line, automatic gearbox, pit lane helper (to avoid speeding in it and to get you out of your pit stop as fast as possible), ERS, DRS, fuel assist… and if this is still not enough, you can set the whole thing to Casual to make it even easier to access (and not punish you if you go off track).
I like the background music in the menu. The engines feel improved audio-wise, especially the Honda. Will Buxton doesn’t sound the best, but the coronavirus could have caused issues in the recording. The post-race team and driver animations seem rehashed (except for the battle pass, or should I say, Podium Pass ones that are not available to me at the moment), the exploit that let you replace the engine post-qualify has been fixed, the graphics feel okay, but I used it on medium for 1080p/60fps, as there’s still Denuvo in the game (WHY?), and the rain looks still incredible. The physics felt a bit more improved, and it’s too early to judge online, as it could be unstable later. Still, it also improved. Controls are fine, and the gameplay keeps you hooked even offline, and the ambience is mostly there. Also, there’s the overtake button on the ERS, which gives you a lot of extra power for a short period, but it drains your battery fairly quickly. I also like how you can put a virtual rearview mirror on the halo.
Let me quote the editor-in-chief’s comment that was sent along with the Steam code: „Let’s hope that at least this one will be good. :)” And what the Codemasters doc file mentions – the team performances will be reviewed, the liveries are not final, the sponsors on the track are not final, the split-screen gameplay can crash if you change the controls too much… these don’t affect the rating. My Team’s acclaim levels and sponsors aren’t balanced that much yet either, same here. These are promised to be fixed by July 7, the release date of the Deluxe Schumacher Edition.
Still, it’s an 8 out of 10. The game has been expanded, and I haven’t seen that many stupid bugs like last year. Still, some weird things might pop up later, and yes, the cooperative career mode was somewhat created, as your teammate can give the RP in My Team. And let me quote myself from last year: „a special thanks to Magnew for providing a review copy of the game, and also props to Codemasters for giving the Deluxe Schumacher Edition of 2020, as it allowed me to entirely inspect the game, complete with DLC before it’s available. Thanks.” I changed the edition of the game and the year.
The game will be released on July 10, 2020 for PC, PS4, Xbox One and Google Stadia.
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+ My Team!
+ More classic cars (but they cost money…)
+ Split-screen multiplayer, Hanoi, Zandvoort
– Do you remember last year’s Weber-Butler duo?
– F2 2020 nowhere to be seen
– The drivers feel a bit like cats in the driver market, rival screens :)))
Genre: Annual video game adaptation of the Formula-1 series, including four-wheel, open-wheel race cars, maybe even in your team, optionally with Formula-2 or classic Formula-1 cars
Release date: July 7, 2020 (Deluxe Schumacher Edition) / July 10, 2020