Codemasters’ F1 2021 is out on July 16th for Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, PS4, PS5 and PC. Along with the introduction of several new features and modes, it also marks the first title in the series published by EA Sports. So what should you know before diving in? Let’s take a closer look.
New Tracks and Drivers
A new Formula One title means new tracks and drivers. F1 2021 has 21 tracks in total (including Shanghai International Circuit) with three – Imola, Portimao and Jeddah – coming in a post-launch update as per the developer in recent previews. In terms of drivers, you can expect 20 F1 racers representing 10 teams along with 22 F2 racers and their 11 teams. New additions include Mick Schumacher, Yuki Tsunoda and Nikita Mazepin while My Team will have its share of World Champions being available (more on that later). Unfortunately, there won’t be any classic cars or tracks appearing.
Casual, Standard and Expert
Racing sims can be difficult to get into and Codemasters’ Formula One series is no exception. To that end, it will offer three game settings – Casual, Standard and Expert – to suit a variety of players. Casual Mode is a more streamlined experience, providing simplified menus and other pre-made settings. Expert is meant for veterans and provides a variety of settings to mess with including switching car faults on or off. Standard hasn’t been properly detailed but it does aim to provide a more authentic experience while letting you tweak things.
With F1 2021, Codemasters is introducing a brand new story mode called Braking Point. Taking place across three seasons – the 2019 Formula 2 season along with the 2020 and 2021 seasons in Formula 1 – it has players controlling Aiden Jackson as he works his way up the ranks. He’ll be guided by Casper Akkerman, who also serves as his teammate while others like the team boss, Aiden’s mother and many more can be interacted with. Even Devon Butler, the smug rival from F1 2020, returns.
There are five teams to choose from, including Renault, which later rebrands to Alpine; Racing Point, which rebrands to Aston Martin; Williams; Haas F1 Team; and Scuderia AlphaTauri. Braking Point aims to inject some emotion and drama into the various rivalries and choices made on and off the track, while the high stakes of trying to be the best remain.
Braking Point Length
Though it will offer plenty of drama, it shouldn’t take too long for average players to finish Braking Point. Codemasters estimates about five to six hours for completing the story based on one’s skill. How replayable it will be – like if different choices can lead to different outcomes – remains to be seen but thankfully, that’s not the only mode available.
Career Mode is where you’ll really be cutting your teeth and thanks to the Expert setting, you can make things tougher by increasing the AI’s R&D progress, disabling or enabling the option to meet the press, enabling vehicle faults and more. R&D in general has been revamped, doing away with the skill tree presentation for a clearer presentation and working alongside Practice Programmes (the number of which has changed).
Players can also complete secondary objectives in Practice to unlock Development Boosts to save money on upgrades. There are also multiple heads of R&D and a Quick Practice option available, the latter introducing a risk vs. reward mechanic. Of course, the biggest change to Career Mode is two-player support. You can either team up with a friend or race as rivals and see who’s the best with press briefings, media appearances and Championships all included.
Real-Season Start and New Season Driver Stats
Another cool new feature is Real-Season Start which reflects real-world standings and lets players complete any races that are remaining. Even R&D up till that point is simulated, providing the closest experience to the live season as possible. As new tracks become available, they can be added into the calendar (which explains Portimao and Imola releasing after the game launches). Driver Stats are also being expanded on with a new Focus attribute in addition to Awareness, Pace, Racecraft, Experience and Overall Rating. And just as last year, these will be updated through the season.
Another mode that will command a lot of your attention is My Team. The usual experience of building a team and leading it to success remains but there are additional factors to think about. Focus, which influences a racer’s readiness, will determine whether a driver performs at their peak or not. There are also Department Events which force one to make a range of choices, from renewing the license on software or deciding whether a teammate works in the simulator instead of attending an event.
Expert settings can come into play here as well, allowing you to adjust R&D speed, the rate of earnings and more. Formula One World Champions and legends like Ayrton Senna, Michael Schumacher, Alain Prost, Felipe Massa, David Coulthard, Nico Rosberg and Jenson Button are also selectable drivers in My Team, though you’ll need to purchase the Digital Deluxe Edition to get them.
Outside of two-player Career, split-screen makes a return along with online multiplayer options. Driver rankings and league play are available along with esports implementation but players can also partake in the Social Play lobby. This provides an option for more casual races while still keeping the more competitive options available. Additional car decals and items have also been added for customization.
In terms of PC requirements, F1 2021 is more or less the same as last year’s iteration. The minimum requirements include an Intel Core i3-2130 or AMD FX 4300, 8 GB of RAM and either an Nvidia GTX 950 or AMD R9 280. Recommended requirements include an Intel Core i5 9600K or AMD Ryzen 5 2600X, 16 GB of RAM and either a GTX 1660 Ti or RX 590. The key difference from last year’s version is ray tracing support. For the minimum requirements, an RTX 2060 or RX 6700 XT is needed while recommended requirements include an RTX 3070 or RX 6800. Regardless of your configuration, a whopping 80 GB of available installation space is required.
Along with the PC version, F1 2021 on Xbox Series X and PS5 will also have ray tracing support. It can be seen in the front end along with Photo Mode and replays so the overall extent of its implementation still needs to be analyzed. This is in addition to improved quality of models and textures along with faster loading times. Current gen players also have access to two different modes – Performance and Graphics.
PS5 and Xbox Series X/S Visual Modes
Graphics Mode for PS5 and Xbox Series X players amounts to running the game at 2160p and 60 FPS (while Xbox Series S players can run it at 1080p and 60 FPS). Performance Mode should be worth looking into for racing enthusiasts – it knocks the resolution down to 1440p on Xbox Series X and PS5 but offers 120hz support. You’ll need a compatible screen for the same but it should result in a more fluid experience. It’s also worth noting that 3D audio will be supported on current-gen consoles along with Dolby Atmos and DTS:X.
On PS5, F1 2021 will also make use of the DualSense controller’s adaptive triggers. In an interview with GamingBolt, Codemasters said that, “The additional feedback which they offer will relay to the user exactly what the car is doing beneath them.” It remains to be seen if different road surfaces will offer different kinds of haptic feedback but DualSense support should make for a more realistic experience overall.
Broadcast Experience Options
Depending on your preference, there are a number of options available for the Broadcast Experience. Going with the Helmet mix will provide a better recreation of the audio inside of a driver’s helmet. Other options include Driver mix and Broadcast mix, though you can tweak different settings as per your own preference
Pre-Order Bonuses and Digital Deluxe Edition
Two editions are currently available – Standard and Digital Deluxe – but each has their own pre-order bonuses as well. Pre-ordering the Standard Edition, which is just the base game, also nets the Braking Point Content Pack. This includes character avatars, car liveries, suits, gloves, helmets and victory radio voices that mimic Aiden, Casper and Devon, thus letting your avatar become them. You also get 5,000 PitCoin.
The Digital Deluxe Edition offers the base game, the Braking Point Content Pack and the My Team Icons Pack which includes Schumacher, Senna, Massa and other legends along with in-game customization items for My Team mode. You also get 18,000 PitCoin and three days early access.