What we’d like to see in a new F1 game

Thomas Harrison-Lord
What we’d like to see in a new F1 game
F1® 2020_20210119200158

With the officially sanctioned and Codemasters Birmingham developed Formula 1 games riding the crest of a wave thanks to F1 2020’s engrossing My Team career mode and the popularity of esports, continuing to take the series forward will be a big undertaking.

The most recent instalment ticks many of the boxes required for a great racing video game. Solid online performance with many lobby options, an in-depth career mode, a deluge of single-player options and even Formula 2.

But we think there are some further additions that could take the game to the next level. Here then, are our most-wanted features for the F1 franchise.

Formula 3 and W Series 

Aha, you see what we did there? Ever since the F2 support category was successfully added in 2019’s edition, it has proven the appetite for further single-seat formulas on the F1 bill. Namely, Formula 3 and W Series.

Watching young and hungry talents such as Piastri, Pourchaire and Sargeant duke it out in epic F3 battles was a highlight of the 2020 motorsport season. Having these cars in a future game will surely go down a storm and no additional tracks will need to be added. Sometimes a closely fought race in slower cars can provide the best racing, and the tight slipstreaming packs evident in F3 and W Series races should create frenetic action in video game form.

W Series – the single-seater championship for female drivers – will support eight Grand Prix in 2021 for the very first time, and while it may be a tight turnaround to include it in this year’s game, this would be another excellent addition to the series at some point.

Simply, the support categories add variety to the game, should be fun online and can provide more depth to the career modes.

The return of Weber and Butler

Alongside the introduction of F2 in the F1 2019 game, the Codemasters team also included a brief story, as your character battled fictional junior rivals Lukas Weber and Devon Butler. Both vying for future stardom – with Butler playing a more ruthless, Dan Ticktum-esque character – this played out through a series of cut-scenes in-between a short run of F2 on-track scenarios.

Sure, the story was hardly The Last of Us, but the seeds had been sown for a story-lead career. Weirdly then, despite your counterparts also progressing into F1 alongside you, the story stopped as soon as you reached the upper league.

In F1 2020, with My Team now extremely detailed and arguable the main career mode, Driver Career felt superfluous. The dream is to have a new story for the Driver Career to supplement My Team, analogous to how the FIFA and Madden series added The Journey alongside Ultimate Team.

Improved track representations

One thing we really hope for on next-gen hardware is for the developers to start from scratch with the circuit representations using laser scanning. Now, this may be difficult with Coivd-19 potentially restricting travel to tracks around the world to gather data, so if not in F1 2021, sometime in the future. Please.

Some examples of the current track models looking a bit dated are the strange dip in the asphalt at the beginning of turn 13 of the Hungaroring and a skewwhiff pitlane entry. Suzuka doesn’t look particularly smooth and some tracks don’t have up-to-date curbing.

These quirks have been in many of the recent F1 titles and simply do not exist in real life. At the very least, it’s time to go back and revise some of the more established circuits to bring the track models up to speed with other racing games on the market.

More circuit layouts

This request may feel a little strange at first because why would you want more tracks than F1 currently races at? Seems a little frivolous. But, after you’ve played a largely similar track roster through many years of F1 games, some variation wouldn’t go amiss.

Shorter, or ‘alternative’, layouts for some existing circuits were first introduced in F1 2017, but not a single new one has been added since. These were for Bahrain, Suzuka, Silverstone and Circuit of the Americas.

But, strangely for Bahrain, it’s only one extremely short configuration that is included. Adding in the Sakhir Grand Prix ‘Outer Circuit’ layout and the longer ‘Endurance Circuit’ used in 2010 would useful additions. Similarly, for Silverstone, the International layout is included, but not the National version.

Tracks that are already in the game but omit different layouts available in real life include Shanghai International Circuit, Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, Circuit Paul Ricard, Yas Marina and the Red Bull Ring.

The use of classic cars

F1 2020 has a varied selection of classic cars from F1’s storied history, and they are a blast to race with. The trouble is, there perhaps isn’t enough to use them for. Sure, during a My Team season you can choose to do optional classic car challenges in-between your main races and you can use the vehicles in online lobbies, but that’s about it.

What we’d like are some classic tracks to use the classic cars on. What gives us the hankering for this is F1 2013, which provided just this. We know that it’s possible. Back then, Jerez, Estoril, Imola and Brands Hatch were included to go alongside cars from the 1980s and 1990s. Driving Michael Schumacher’s 1995 Benetton in F1 2020 is cool, but just feels out of place driving around Baku.

Secondly, some scenarios and challenges that recreate epic on-track battles from years past would really set the tone – something that previous MotoGP games have offered. Maybe include some archive race footage and then throw you into the action. We would even happily pay extra for this as a form of post-release DLC.

New R&D programmes

A big element of the Driver Career or My Team modes of an F1 game is the development of your car and team. Completing races provides you with R&D points, which can be spent on upgrades that enhance your performance. If you participate in practice sessions, you can gain additional points by doing a series of programmes. It’s engrossing.

Sadly, these challenges have remained largely the same for several seasons now. If you’ve not played an F1 game for a while then you won’t mind, but if you’re a yearly player, these have become stale.

Track acclimatisation, tyre management, fuel management, ERS management, qualifying pace, race strategy and more general team objectives haven’t been significantly changed in too long, so new ways of testing the vehicle would be a small, but essential, addition to a future game.

Perhaps these could be along the lines of running a new front wing design or completing laps with a recommended setup alongside some of the existing tasks to mix things up a little.

Oh Jeff

One of the funniest elements of playing an older F1 game online with friends was the introduction of using voice commands to ask your engineer, Jeff, about certain parameters. One of which, was about fuel usage. To trigger Jeff into life you had to say ‘Fuel Target’ out loud. Unfortunately, the game had a hard time picking up Scottish accents, which lead to a fellow racer repeating ‘Fuel target!’ over and over, getting increasingly outraged.

Anyway, the point is, your vocal in-race engineer can be at times a little erratic. Such as telling you how great your start was, despite losing positions. Or congratulating you on a great overtake when you’re in last place. This provides some mild entertainment, but perhaps additional lines could be recorded. The process of how the game decides what he says could be refined, too, as at times it’s like trying to get HAL 9000 to open the door.

That’s it for our most-wanted F1 features in future games, but what do think? Do we have any glaring omissions? We’d like to hear from you in the comments and on social media. As always, keep it pinned.

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