I’ve heard some people call Formula One boring, but you’ve only got to look at last weekend’s race at Silverstone to see that it’s ANYTHING but that. Crashes, penalties, last-minute take overs… it had a bit of everything, didn’t it? Sure, races are long, and yeah, there can be seasons where one team’s dominance can leave the results feeling a bit predictable, but there’s no doubting that it can also be packed to the brim with exciting tire-to-tire showdowns.
F1 2021, the latest release in the long-running racing series, looks to capture that excitement on consoles once more, with this year marking the debut for the game on the PlayStation 5. It also brings with it a new story mode (which is an absolutely brilliant addition that will even appeal to complete casuals to the sport) as well as an array of refinements to other game modes. Basically, it’s more of the same excellent racing players have come to expect from Codemasters over the years, but this time with the freshly-placed ‘EA Sports’ badge graced over it.
Check out a gallery of screenshots for the game below:
The racing of F1 2021 feels as satisfying as ever, with the range of options at the player’s disposal offering both an ultra-realistic take on the sport and a more casual one that allows players of any skill to level to enjoy the action. Want racing lines that give an indicator of your speed? You can have it. Or do you want full control of every aspect of your car with minimal help? You can have that too. Whilst these can all be customised, they’re also broke down into ‘Casual’, ‘Standard’, and ‘Expert’ options that players can choose to cater to their own playstyle. It helps make the game more accessible for newbies, but also gives them a progress point to work towards as they find themselves getting better at the game and striving towards a greater sense of realism.
There’s a similar sense of realism found in the presentation of the game. The F1 series has always been a visual showcase, but F1 2021 on the PlayStation 5 looked incredibly realistic. Honestly, you could put it next to a real-life race on TV and would struggle to spot the differences, so yeah, it’s certainly impressive just how fantastic it all manages to look. Add to that the impressive physics system that captures the actions of the cars accurately and the revamped damage system that shows every hit each car takes, and there’s simply no doubting that this is the best that the sport has ever looked on console.
“The racing of F1 2021 feels as satisfying as ever, with the range of options at the player’s disposal offering both an ultra-realistic take on the sport and a more casual one that allows players of any skill to level to enjoy the action.”
It all comes together to make for a racing experience that both looks and feels outstanding. I wouldn’t say that F1 2021 has really pushed the boat out too much in changes to the core gameplay itself, but there’s been enough done to help it cater for a wider audience of players whilst still remaining authentic and a whole lot of fun to play. It even takes full advantage of the PlayStation 5’s DualSense controller, with the haptic feedback and responsive triggers making you feel like you’re sitting right there behind the wheel of a Formula One car. And, of course, it looks stunning; not only is it the best-looking racer on consoles right now, but it’s also one of the best-looking games, period.
So the racing of F1 2021 is great and it looks the part, but how are the game modes this time around? Returning players will be happy to see the Career Mode is still present, with players either taking a created character or a real-life Formula One star to the peak of glory. All of the features of previous entries are present here with more to the mode than just racing, whilst some refinements have been made to help streamline the experience.
“It even takes full advantage of the PlayStation 5’s DualSense controller, with the haptic feedback and responsive triggers making you feel like you’re sitting right there behind the wheel of a Formula One car.”
The biggest addition of all is the fact that it can be played in online multiplayer, allowing two players to either race for the same team or competitively against one-another. I genuinely think this is a complete game-changer, with the co-operative (yet very competitive) aspect of playing on the same team working wonderfully when playing with a friend. We’ve seen plenty of Formula One teams have racers that are ‘friendly’ but also super competitive over the years (remember Hamilton and Rosberg at Mercedes?), and that translates perfectly to this game mode. Do you take risks to try and outscore your teammate? Do you let them pass if they’re faster than you? Or do you become a real b*****d and try to take them out so they can’t get the points to clinch the championship? Whatever approach you take, a good time is sure to be had when playing through F1 2021’s Career Mode with a friend.
Would you rather build your own team from scratch and take that to the upper pantheons of Formula One? You can do that in MyTeam, which doesn’t only see players creating and designing their own team, but managing every aspect of it. From press briefings to R&D, there’s plenty to consider as you slowly build up both your team’s reputation and winning streak. Admittedly, I’ve never been a big fan of MyTeam – I prefer focusing on racing more than fine-tuning the different aspects of a team and building it up. There have been improvements made here though, especially when it comes to R&D and developing your team’s facilities, so those that enjoy the mode will easily lose hours building up the perfect team.
“Honestly, you could put F1 2021 next to a real-life race on TV and would struggle to spot the differences, so yeah, it’s certainly impressive just how fantastic it all manages to look.”
Whilst the Career Mode and MyTeam have seen improvements, it’s the new story-driven ‘Braking Point’ that really feels like the highlight of F1 2021. Similar to the likes of ‘The Journey’ in FIFA and ‘Longshot’ in Madden, ‘Braking Point’ sees players taking rising star Aiden Jackson from the lower echelons of F2 all the way up to Formula One. Of course, there are plenty of twists and turns along the way, with a big focus placed on a cinematic presentation that captures the essence of the sport perfectly. Whether it’s a big crash, trying to survive a race with a damaged car, or competing with a teammate, everything you’d expect from a dramatic season in Formula One is here.
It makes for a really enjoyable and unique experience. It’s not just about racing either, with different objectives introduced throughout different races that up the ante and challenge players in a variety of ways. Not only will these show players how to adapt in order to get better at the game, but they help diversify ‘Braking Point’ in order to distinguish it from the other modes in the game. You’ll spend plenty of time completing long races in the Career Mode, after all, so it’s nice to do something a bit different here. It’s a resounding success overall and something I hope Codemasters continue to integrate in future editions of the game.
“Whilst the Career Mode and MyTeam have seen improvements, it’s the new story-driven ‘Braking Point’ that really feels like the highlight of F1 2021.”
I’ve got a heck of a lot of love for F1 2021 and have really enjoyed my time with it so far. However, there are a few little things that were disappointing. For one, it doesn’t include the new Sprint events, which is a bit of a shame given that it’s something that has been introduced for this season. There are also three tracks that are a part of the current season missing from the game. It has been confirmed that these will be hitting the game sometime in the future as DLC, but it does make it feel like players aren’t getting the fully authentic Formula One experience as it stands (and especially since two of these courses have already been raced across this season). Do these problems stop F1 2021 from being a great game? No way, it’s still utterly brilliant, but they are still sticking points that stood out to me.
F1 2021 continues the trend of superb racing from the team at Codemasters, though the improved Career Mode and narrative-focused ‘Braking Point’ really take it to the next level. There is something for everyone here across all game modes, whilst the varied difficulty levels and diverse selection of assists ensure anyone can feel comfortable speeding around in a Formula One car. It just so happens to look outstanding too, especially on the PlayStation 5 where the DualSense is also taken advantage of in an immersive way. It really is a special game.
The only caveats come with the lack of Sprint races, the missing tracks, and the fact that the main driving formula hasn’t been evolved upon that much from previous entries, but it doesn’t really matter. This is still the best that the F1 series has ever been, with enough varied content on offer to suit both newbies and veteran fans. We already knew that Codemasters were geniuses when it came to racing games, but this might just be their finest release yet.
Platform(s): PlayStation 5 (Reviewed), PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PC