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June 2021

F1 2021

Platform(s): PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X
Genre: Racing
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Developer: Codemasters
Release Date: July 16, 2021

About Tony "OUberLord" Mitera

I've been entrenched in the world of game reviews for almost a decade, and I've been playing them for even longer. I'm primarily a PC gamer, though I own and play pretty much all modern platforms. When I'm not shooting up the place in the online arena, I can be found working in the IT field, which has just as many computers but far less shooting. Usually.


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PS5/PS4/XSX/XOne/PC Preview - 'F1 2021'

by Tony "OUberLord" Mitera on June 2, 2021 @ 9:00 a.m. PDT

F1 2021 is a new next-generation racing experience, featuring the teams, drivers and circuits for the 2021 FIA Formula One World Championship.

Pre-order F1 2021

The 2021 season of F1 kicked off earlier this year, and on July 16, the video game will launch as well. The upcoming game is the 12th in the long-running series, but it is also the first since 2003 to involve EA as the publisher. We had the chance to attend an online presentation of the game and take a few laps in a current build to learn more about the changes in the upcoming release.

The marquee feature of the game, Breaking Point, was not available in the preview build. This story mode puts you in the racing shoes of Aiden Jackson, a fictional racer coming up through a season in F2 and two seasons in the highly competitive world of F1. It takes heavy inspiration from Netflix's "Formula 1: Drive to Survive" series and intends to deliver a thrilling story experience with its fair share of twists and unexpected turns.

The story mode features a roster of other (fictional) characters. Casper Akkerman, Aiden's teammate, is an older driver who's struggling with his own demons and wondering if he should still be driving. Devon Butler returns from the F2 feeder story in F2 2019 as the story's main antagonist, and other characters including various wives and moms will also be featured. It sounds like it'll be a very character-driven story, and completing it should take an average of 5-6 hours.

The new game allows two players to participate in the same career, either as teammates for the same team or on opposing team as rivals. It sounds like this will be the full career experience, complete with the need to manage contracts, research and development, vehicle management, etc. Adding a friend into the career mode mix sounds like a lot of fun either way, and I am looking forward to checking that out after the game releases.

The career mode is also getting some other tweaks. Gone is the R&D tree, replaced with different research pursuits displayed in an easier-to-browse menu system. Team events will require key decisions to be made that may affect their success. The "Meet the Press" feature remains largely the same, down to the same animations and characters, but it will have a much-welcomed expanded list of questions and potential answers.

Practice session objectives are now specific goals that must be hit in addition to goals such as minimizing tire wear or achieving a high enough score while driving through gates. There is also a time management minigame of sorts if you do not want to drive it yourself. You can select a benefit, but each one has a chance of success and how much time the attempt takes out of the session.

That is not the only new feature to hit the game, as the Real-Season Start feature is another way to play. With it, you can jump into the 2021 season as it is playing out or choose any weekend that has taken place. You effectively replace any driver and inherit that driver and team's season points. The intention is that this mode is updated as close as possible to the conclusion of a race weekend, and the research and development of the teams are simulated between weekends. Think what you have what it takes to finally nudge McLaren into a top contender, or bring Haas up into the midfield? You will certainly get your chance.

There is also a new driver stat called Focus, which is a measure of a driver's readiness and motivation. This stat changes throughout a season based on a variety of factors, including decisions that you make in team activities and their race performance. This stat is independent of their other stats, which are updated periodically for real-world drivers and is unique to each player's own seasons and how they have shaken out.

Other new features include Expert mode, which allows players to have much finer control over various features and difficulty settings, better multiplayer lobbies for both beginners and experienced racers, and lobby filters to find specific kinds of multiplayer games. F1 2021 will also have more customization options; in addition to the features from the previous game, you can now customize the stickers that appear on the inside of the halo and change the voice line that your driver says upon winning a race.

I spent some time with the current build of the game doing a couple of race weekends in the career mode and a few time trial sessions. The overall handling feels similar to that of the previous iteration, but the tire model does seem to be a little tightened up, as was mentioned in the presentation. The overall game presentation is also better through subtle effects, such as the haze in Bahrain and enhanced shadows and lighting. The new game also supports ray tracing, though admittedly I did not activate it much and am curious to check it out in the final release build.

I played using both an Xbox One controller and a Thrustmaster TMX Pro, and both remain viable options, as they were in the previous game. With minor tweaks, the controller is a perfectly viable option, but the game really comes alive with a quality wheel and pedal setup. Much of the menu system is completely the same as the previous game, so it remains quite easy to configure your input devices, adjust things to your liking, and get racing with minimal effort.

There is a lot I want to dig into with F1 2021 once it comes out. The changes to the career mode alter things that were not necessarily broken but are welcome modifications nonetheless. The Breaking Point mode remains a wildcard, as it was not available in the preview build, but if the developers are truly following the ingredients that made "Drive to Survive" successful, I suspect the mode might be a compelling way to spend a few evenings. There is a little more than a month to go before the launch of F1 2021, and I am looking forward to getting more time behind the wheel with it.

Previewed on: AMD Ryzen 7 3700X, 32 GB RAM, NVidia GTX 2070 Super

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