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I think that a lot of gamers in their 30s, like myself, continue playing games solely in the hope that someday some titles will help them relive those childhood memories. The feeling of playing NFS: Underground after midnight, with all the lights off so your mom didn’t murder you. The feeling of playing Virtua Cop 2 and killing the hostages for fun. The feeling of playing GTA: Vice City with cheats.

F1 2020 did not help me relive those feelings, but it came damn close.

f1 2020

My previous experience with the F1 franchise is limited only to the 2018 game. Sure, I made the mistake of choosing the driver with the Ferrari in there, but the gearbox constantly committing ritual suicide after hitting the rev limit for 1 nanosecond made the game nearly unplayable for me. I skipped the 2019 version entirely and was rather skeptical of the latest one.

“Jeff here, you are causing unnecessary wear to your transmission.”

Sod off Jeff, I can’t drive around the circuit never shifting down from 8th you silly tit.

The main question for driving games has always remained more or less the same, you either go for the arcade-y style of gameplay to attract a bigger audience, or lean towards a more simulator style to appeal to the realism crowd. For the first type, you gotta keep churning out newer versions of the game to keep it fresh and the monies flowing. For the second, you keep improving the existing product and keep adding new DLCs for fun and profit.

Most driving games today can be easily differentiated as to which style they belong to. You’ve got for example Forza and The Crew 2 on one side, and Automobilista and iRacing on the other. But F1 has always attempted to sort of tread that fine line between the 2 sub-genres. That’s a big ask, and in my experience, they have never truly been able to deliver, until now.

The Positives

When the game begins you are asked to create a persona – I chose to be an Asian woman from Honduras. You can choose your company logo too.

The new My Team mode, which is the one you should absolutely start with, surprises you with the first choice for a teammate. It’s none other than, and I’m not kidding here, Mahaveer Raghunathan. It is impossible that Codemasters isn’t aware of the meme-god level of incompetence that Mahaveer has shown in the sport, so this is a rather good joke, to begin with.

It takes about half an hour to set everything up, create your team, choose livery, set the FFB, AI difficulty, and other gameplay settings, but I can’t complain. There’s a huge amount of granular control to suit drivers of any level, and you will need to keep tweaking things for the first few hours at least. I also quickly found out that the AI limit was capped at 60.

The idea of you owning the team that you’re driving for sounds rather simple, but it adds a surprising level of immersion to the whole thing. You need to worry about sponsors and their goals, worry about signing the other drivers, worry about departments, and their upgrades. You decide the team schedule, see the millions coming in and going out. It’s all brilliantly done, simple, and effective.

I didn’t spend much time with the multiplayer mode, or the historic racing section, or the F2 one. Keep in mind that I am playing the vanilla version of the game, without the Schumacher DLC, and even then there’s already an overflow of content. I’m sure it’ll take me months to get bored of the career mode, you do already get the occasional invitational historic race in there anyways. Or maybe I’m easily satisfied.

f1 2020

The core gameplay of F1 2020 hasn’t really changed substantially from past entries. You’ve still got those different goals in practice sessions, ERS, Tyre, Fuel management, etc., and you run through Practice 1 to 3, followed by qualifiers and the race. The physics feels slightly improved, but it’s hard to tell, especially at my level. The graphics have really gone up a step, the textures and lighting are quite beautiful. The sound engine seems to have had an update as well, it’s nice to hear the echoes while driving close to the walls in Vietnam.

f1 2020

I was also pleasantly surprised at how well the game is optimized. I ran it on a 2017 Omen HP with i7 7700HQ and 1050ti and didn’t face any major overheating issues on the High graphics setting. F1 2018, on the other hand, always tried its best to melt my little red baby, even with graphics set to Low.

The cutscenes also feel fresh, and there are a lot more interviews. Happily, Codemasters have fixed the “Thanks! That’s everything” dialogue without making it sound weird. The post-race celebrations are also good, and apparently there are a bunch of celebration moves you can choose from, although I didn’t bother with them too much, there’s far too much customization in there for someone like me. I will say that this is a rare game where the celebrating people actually look happy, rather than the soul-dead ghouls of other titles.

One important thing to note is that I played the game on the Logitech G29 setup, and even the H shifter came in handy for a historic race. I believe it is possible to play this game on a controller, but it will be rather cramped with the buttons, especially if you want to go all manual. Controlling the DRS, ERS, and fuel mix on the go with a controller could get a bit hairy. As expected, it’s unplayable with just a keyboard alone.

f1 2020

The Negatives

I don’t have anything major to complain about when it comes to F1 2020. The fact that the car liveries are not identical to the real-life ones doesn’t really bother me. The incessant “Communicating with Online Services” is annoying, but a small bother. I did face a single crash, after the end of the Canadian GP, but haven’t had any problems since.

Perhaps because of the recent slip-ups of companies like EA and Bethesda, my expectations from game companies have gone quite low. What Codemasters have delivered here is so good in my opinion, that bitching about minor glitches and inconsistencies is unfair. Hence I will not.


Buy F1 2020 right now. The base game is great and well-priced. The Schumacher DLC isn’t too costly either, but it’ll take you a long time to finish the standard package, so you can wait for the DLC to go on sale.

There’s a good 70-80 hours of gameplay in F1 2020, unlocking stuff, improving your lap times, learning the tracks, and it’s not just some silly grind, it’s a fun and rewarding experience. You can make it more simulator-like by increasing the difficulty and damage, or you can pass a few casual hours playing as I have.

You have the control to play at your own level and get what the entire purpose of a video game is in the end, entertainment.

After a very long time, I’ve found a racing game that ticks all the right boxes for me that doesn’t have the brutal realism of Assetto Corsa, nor the wooden physics of NFS Shift 2, just a lovely way to appreciate the sport and feel yourself a part of it for a few blissful moments.


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