F1 2021 Removes Classic Cars, Focuses on New Features and Next-Gen Hardware

Codemasters and EA revealed details for F1 2021 this week as a hands-on preview was offered for the media. While we were able to get our hands on a preview (that you can read here), there was also an opportunity to go deeper with an interview with the face of the F1 development team, Lee Mather. With the success of the short narrative that was included in F1 2019, Codemasters will be doubling down with a story mode known as Braking Point that will take place over the course of a few seasons. Also, with this game being the first on next-generation hardware, and most notably on the PlayStation 5 that includes the technology of the DualSense Controller, we got the scoop on how this will be implemented into the game.

We asked Lee about how the development team took advantage of the new hardware. He goes on to mention, “for F1 2021, we’ve focused on improving the visual fidelity of the existing tracks and making use of the extra power available to us on the new consoles. Ray tracing will be used in cut scenes, replays, Photo Mode on new-gen consoles (Xbox Series X|S and PlayStation 5) and within the front end. One of the most noticeable improvements to the next-gen platforms visuals is in the damage. Both the visual damage on the car’s body and on the tires has been significantly improved over current-gen.” F1 2021 will also be available on the previous generation of consoles. Lee mentions the improvements players on those platforms can expect. “There’s obviously a change in the car models themselves,” he states. “You’ll notice updates to the circuits and the detail around the track. The game has always looked great on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One and we continue to increase the visual fidelity.”

F1 2021 will offer a performance mode, much like DiRT 5, to race at 120 FPS. We asked Lee if he thought this would have any impact to the racing experience. “There’s always a sweet spot when everything just feels right for the player. It’s not just down to the platform or the controller, it’s also down to the display they’re using. Latency is also a factor for anyone who plays an online game. For anyone playing F1 2021, everything that’s under our control will have parity across all platforms. The physics simulation, damage, and network games will all function and perform in the same way across platforms.”

As for the DualSense Controller on the PS5, the integration seems to be rather detailed. Lee offered a deep dive on this. He states, “For PS5, we are utilizing the adaptive triggers by attaching the amount of resistance directly to slip ratios of the tires. This means when your car locks up under braking, the amount of resistance through the brake trigger increases resulting in a more immersive connection with the car. Likewise, when wheelspin occurs, the resistance of the accelerator trigger is increased. We have also applied a subtle difference to the resting resistance of the accelerator and brake triggers to simulate the difference in pressure needed to fully depress the brake vs accelerator pedals in a real-life F1 car.”

EA and Codemasters merged this year and this will be the first game that features the EA Sports intro when loading the game. We asked Lee what type of tools or influence EA has had on F1 2021. He states, “It’s still early days in the relationship, and F1 2021 was well into development when the deal was completed. However, we’ve already been given the keys to the EA toybox and it’s glorious. We can pick and choose the services and tools that will help us continue growing the F1 series and really bring our vision to reality.”

Braking Point is the new narrative experience in F1 2021 and while its not something completely new, it will be a focus in the game. Lee explains the decision and the process to us; “story modes in other sports titles are something that has caught our attention in recent years. We dipped our toes into creating a short story narrative with the F2 feeder series intro in F1 2019 and it was very well-received by the fans.  Netflix’s fantastic Drive to Survive series has also been a major contributing factor in our aim to create a compelling, engaging, and engrossing story experience which goes beyond the on-track experience. It’s also been nice to bring back Devon Butler as we all had a love-hate relationship with him.”

My Team will bring with it seven legends to lead your team to victory. We asked Lee about the decision making process on the driver selection. He states, “as is often the case with things like this, there’s always some friendly debate, but it was clear who we needed and wanted to include in the game. As well as being some of the most successful and iconic drivers in F1 history, we needed a range of drivers, from successful to ultimate legends of the sport. As the drivers are part of My Team, they have a value attached to them. As we want players to enjoy the icons, we needed several drivers they could hire relatively early in their My Team experience. Then as they build their team and finances, they’re able to hire a more expensive and successful driver.”

With the inclusion of the legends on My Team, it leaves the popular Classic Mode in question. According to Lee, this is being foregone this year with the focus being on My Team. Lee states, “there are no classic cars in F1 2021. Collectively the studio evaluates the priorities and new features before starting work on a new title. For F1 2021, we wanted to focus on our exciting new innovations such as Braking Point, two-player Career and Real-Season Start. We are also continuing to innovate My Team with seven iconic drivers as part of the digital Deluxe Edition. We’ve also undertaken a project to improve the visual fidelity for the next-gen platforms and created Imola, Portimao and Jeddah. We also retained China in the game, which isn’t part of the official 2021 calendar.”

If you are familiar with Lee, you know he is a giant Lewis Hamilton fan. The current Formula One season currently sees Red Bull driver Max Verstappen in the points lead. We poked the bear with Lee and asked him how and why would Max win the World Championship. He went on to say, “ I see what you did there (wink). You obviously know I’m a Lewis fan. There’s no doubt Max has multiple titles in him, but not until Lewis hangs up his gloves. Either way, we’re in for one hell of an exciting season. I can’t wait to see how it plays out. I can really see Ferrari and McLaren starting to get in the mix at certain circuits, which adds to the excitement.”

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