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F1 2020 Game Review by RaceDepartment

F1 2020 releases to the public on July 7th (Schumacher Deluxe Edition) and July 10th for the standard version - and we managed to secure some time ahead of launch day to give our thoughts on Codemasters newest racer.
  • Official videogame of the 2020 FIA Formula One World Championship
  • Incremental improvements to handling
  • Split screen multiplayer joins the franchise
F1 2020 | Comparisons between F1 2019 and F1 2020: Click Here and Here


I'm more than aware that the Codemasters Formula One franchise isn't to everyone's tastes. Some criticise the game for a simplistic approach to car handling simulation, others adore it for the detailed and lengthy career mode and gameplay aspects - as such, it is often incredibly hard to identify exactly what type of game the F1 title's are, and if they offer a suitably detailed driving experience to satisfy the general sim racer.

Let us start with the obvious. F1 2020 is the only racing game on the market to enjoy the official Formula One licence for the modern Grand Prix season (with exception of mobile games), that in itself pretty much guarantees a substantial number of people will flock to buy the software on release... leaving Codemasters in a bit of a predicament - do they go for 'simulation value', or do they appeal to the largest number of people possible?

Well actually, since taking over the franchise for the 2010 season, they've actually done a pretty fine job of finding a balance between realism, accessibility and gameplay - something yet further improved for the new addition to the franchise.

F1 2020 Review 6.jpg


In terms of handling, fans of F1 2019 will instantly feel the similarity between the two games, however much like I said last year, incremental improvements appear to have been brought to F1 2020, giving the cars a little bit more over the edge of grip feel than last season, whilst introducing an authentic touch of understeer on corner entry that adds a nice additional flavour to the behaviour of the cars.

Let us be perfectly honest here, this is in no way a rival for the big hitters such as rFactor 2, Assetto Corsa Competizione, RaceRoom etc in the force feedback stakes, but it is a step ahead of the last game, with a noticeably less dampened wheel feel (but still too much, btw), giving a perfectly serviceable handling experience to the game. Not uber realistic, but plenty good enough to not detract from the gameplay experience.

F1 2020 Review 5.jpg

  • Features 2019 FIA F2 season with 2020 to follow
  • Improved graphics
  • New and expanded 'My Team' career feature
F1 2019 | A closer look at 'My Team' customisation: Click Here

Content wise, the new game again features the supporting F2 season and drivers, with the 2019 season coming as part of the V1 release content, with 2020 set to follow as an additional free DLC at some point later in the year.

Graphics have also been improved over the previous version, with smoother and more detailed shadows, especially in HDR mode, particularity noticeable in the new game. I've always thought the F1 series does a remarkable job with the graphics and details such as sparks and trackside debris, and again, in 2020 these continue to look very impressive, although track layout detail, especially on venues such as Spa where many sim racers have enjoyed near countless laps on laserscanned versions, still leave a lot to be desired...

One of the biggest changes for 2020 is the 'My Team' feature, where players can become the 11th team on the F1 grid, signing engines, drivers, sponsors and designing and developing their own cars to race over the career span of the game.

These is a surprisingly detailed touch from Codemasters, and goes a long way on expanding from the often awkward attempts introduced in F1 2019. I'm famously not interested in this side of racing games, but from what I've seen of it so far, this actually looks like a very nicely implemented new gameplay feature, and one that will doubtlessly be popular with a large proportion of the playerbase.

F1 2020 Review 3.jpg

F1 2020 Review 4.jpg

  • Historic cars return, with Michael Schumacher starring
  • Is it improved enough to justify a new game?
  • Conclusion
F1 2019 | Check out our review from the previous game: Click Here

2019 was the Prost vs Senna edition, and 2020 sees legendary 7-time World Champion Michael Schumacher celebrated with a selection of historic cars from the successful German drivers career. The 1991 Jordan Ford, 1994 Benetton Ford and 2000 Ferrari being just some of the highlights from a solid selection of iconic cars from Formula One history.

Much like previous games within the franchise, I'm not overly fussed with historic content, as it really doesn't feel up to scratch from a physics standpoint, and the inclusion of a 1988 McLaren racing against a 2009 Brawn just doesn't do much for me personally - however it does add yet another different gameplay experience for those who are interested, and if desired, one can happily ignore the cars and stick with F1 or F2 from the modern era - so no harm, no foul on that score.

I must admit with that all said, I do get a little bit of a cheeky grin when seeing two of my favourite cars in the game, the Nigel Mansell Williams FW14b and the Damon Hill Williams FW18 - two cars that carried my two favourite drivers to World Championships, so even if you can easily argue the driving experience isn't that realistic, it's still pretty cool to see them in the game.

F1 2020 Review 2.jpg


F1 2020 | Check out our other gameplay videos: Click Here

In summary, the Formula One franchise of games from Codemasters is a difficult one to judge when one considers all that has gone before this new title. Unlike the majority of racing simulations we will be more familiar with here at RaceDepartment, the F1 series is a yearly franchise, and as such it is incredibly difficult for Codemasters to continually come out of the starting blocks with a significantly different experience than the previous game.

Much like FIFA syndrome, this leads to the unenviable situation of recent games all looking and feeling rather like one another, which isn't an ideal scenario when the studio are looking to recoup nearly £50 for a full price release day purchase.

However, as the years have gone on, the franchise has gradually improved with each release to get to the point where Codemasters are dangerously close to having nailed that fine line between accessibility and authenticity. F1 2020 offers a driving experience that has enough authenticity to satisfy sim enthusiasts, whilst providing gameplay features that should keep players coming back for more. A pretty good combination if you are willing to look past the serious simulation credentials of the game.

Overall, I would say that although the game has many similarities to F1 2019, and aside from My Team only enjoys minor improvements over the previous release, those changes are enough to justify a brand new title, despite the surface similarities between the two.

If you are new to the F1 franchise you are going to love this, and if the 2018 and 2019 edition didn't float your boat, then this one is unlikely to either.

Will I play it again? Absolutely, and I'll enjoy every minute of it too.

(oh and for the love of all that is good - still no mouse support. Come on, it's 2020 folks....)

F1 2020 is set to release on July 7th for PS4, Xbox One, PC and Google Stadia.

Got questions about the game? Start a new thread at the RaceDepartment F1 2020 sub forum here at RaceDepartment, and let the community help you out!

F1 2020 Review Footer.jpg
 
RaceDepartment Editor-in-Chief, occasional YouTuber, commentator and broadcaster, with a passion for motorsport on both the real and virtual racetrack.

Paul Jeffrey

RaceDepartment Editor-in-Chief
Staff member
Premium
Jun 5, 2009
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Assuming I wake up on time, the coffee is strong and I don't screw up the settings, I'll be live streaming the game from 08:30 UTC on the RaceDepartment YouTube channel - so pop over and say hi the comments and I'll do my best to chat with you and answer questions / showcase anything from the game you want to see.

RaceDepartment YouTube; Click Here (don't forget to subscribe :D )

Edit: So, live stream completed. Not perfect by any stretch of the imagination (although the tech issues are now resolved): Linky.

Cheers
 
Last edited:

G_B

100RPM
Dec 29, 2018
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The Fifa of the racing game, maybe with a little hope ... they could release a nice new game on the next console and then just update and pay the DLC for ten years, it would make more sense and the final DLC with VR update^^.

When you consider the limits imposed by the F1 federation due to the use of trademarks, Codemasters is literally eating our money...

Well afterwards, I'm always admiring the game presentation, the staging and the career mode, it's the only thing missing from the other simulations.
 

punto

1RPM
Jul 29, 2011
4
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I like the real sims like rFactor, AC, ACC and Raceroom, but..... then don't have a real game in it. It is 'just' driving. I miss the real goal in these sims. I don't play much multiplayer and am not willing to commit to a league. So I end up just driving against the AI or doing hotlaps by my self.

F1 2020 on the other hand is not like a sim but is is indeed a GAME with goals and a career and now 'my team'. Just like I play Forza for collecting all the cars, it is rewarding. IF someone could make a sim AND a GAME, that would be the dream :) .
 
Feb 2, 2018
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Can we change the actual physical design of our car?
The model shown in the screenshots looks like the perfect backmarker, horribly bulky compared to the 2020 cars.
 
Jun 26, 2019
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I like the real sims like rFactor, AC, ACC and Raceroom, but..... then don't have a real game in it. It is 'just' driving. I miss the real goal in these sims. I don't play much multiplayer and am not willing to commit to a league. So I end up just driving against the AI or doing hotlaps by my self.

F1 2020 on the other hand is not like a sim but is is indeed a GAME with goals and a career and now 'my team'. Just like I play Forza for collecting all the cars, it is rewarding. IF someone could make a sim AND a GAME, that would be the dream :) .
Totally agree, enjoying the process of a race weekend, as we see in real life is a good feeling. I hoped ACC would bring that but in the end the career lacks a bit of “atmosphere” in my opinion to reach the level of F1 game.
 
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MarkR

500RPM
Premium
Feb 8, 2017
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Thanks for the fair and balanced review and live stream Paul. I enjoy the F1 games and at the same time agree with your view on the driving being accessible and good enough if somewhat behind the main sim games.

Also, I really appreciate that you make clear your own preference for hardcore sims like RF2, it helps set the frame for the review, yet were also willing to give F1 202 a fair review. I think if more reviewers and general forum posts did that it would help understand why they hold a certain perspective. The one area I'd be more generous to F1 and where it's better than many sims is the implementation of the full flags and rules.

I think the F1 games have by far the best career mode of any current racing game available and 'My Team' adds greatly to that. I've seen a few streams of the My Team mode and it is superbly detailed and in-depth. I know that will only appeal to those of us who like the single-player career mode and it was great to see the AI behaving well too. For me, the main thing will be finding an AI setting that is reasonably comparable with the real-world performance of the cars.

With both you and GamerMuscle reporting the FFB is slightly improved I'm even more optimistic about the game. (GM has some good Fanatec DD settings in his stream too).
 

jacobc62

10RPM
May 16, 2018
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Can we change the actual physical design of our car?
The model shown in the screenshots looks like the perfect backmarker, horribly bulky compared to the 2020 cars.
The car model used for the My Team Career mode is the FOM/generic/multiplayer car, meaning that the only alterations to it's design can come in the form of the scheme, and not the shape of the car.
 
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Feb 2, 2018
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The car model used for the My Team Career mode is the FOM/generic/multiplayer car, meaning that the only alterations to it's design can come in the form of the scheme, and not the shape of the car.
That's a great shame, another half baked feature. Thank you nonetheless.
 

MattyH1812

10RPM
Feb 21, 2019
14
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"Official videogame of the 2020 FIA Formula One World Championship"

Yeahhhh.... pretty sure they can't possibly market it as that if/when tracks that aren't in the game are used in the 2020 season
 

Dave Thayer

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Mar 31, 2018
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Nice review Paul. I have F1 2019 and a couple other past versions. I am still up in the air about getting a new F1 game every year since all I do with F1 2019 is time trials or quick races on all the tracks. Looks like they are putting more effort into Career action, which I dont get into.

Residing in the US, I wish they would bring back a form of Indycar SIM type game like they do these F1 games, but that is another story. I miss the Sierra, Papyrus gaming years And I cant afford Iracing or have the dedicated time to get my moneys worth.

Anyway, I will watch more of the game reviews after release of F1 2020 and see what the public has to say about it. If they every do a major breakthrough and add VR support, that would be one version I would get, even though I do use VORPX with F1 2019.