Ready your engines as Codemasters is returning with what looks to be its most ambitious venture into the world of Formula 1 to date. The 11th instalment builds on its predecessors by adding an all-new My Team management mode and a Casual Mode that caters for new and unfamiliar players. Ahead of the title's July 10th release we were invited to play a short teaser and had a chance to catch up with the game's director, Lee Mather, who had a few additional details to share with us.
The new My Team mode promises to complement the beloved Career by allowing players to fulfil their dreams and shape their own Formula 1 team. The mode is the flagship addition to the latest iteration, and whilst we couldn't experience it first-hand in the demo, there was still much to discuss. In My Team, you have the freedom to fully customise your team's branding and identity, which can be done by creating your own colour scheme, team emblem, and even the race suits sported by team members.
Success within My Team doesn't just hinge on your performance on the racetrack as there are many important decisions that you're required to make in your downtime. As a fledgeling team owner, you'll invest your time off the track into various activities with the goal to bolster the many facilities you oversee (these include: Aerodynamics, Chassis, Powertrain, Durability, Personnel, and Marketing). Mather explained that sending a driver to Training Camp can help improve their performance but a drawback is that they can no longer use that time to assist other departments. We can see these strategic segments providing a nice change of pace between races and we're excited to see just how players choose to personalise their teams.
Another of F1 2020's headlining features is Casual Mode, which helps to lower the skill barrier and is available across all non-competitive events. In Casual Mode, the pressure has been reduced significantly as players are reset back on the track if they slip up, and terrain has been modified to be less slippery and punishing. Menus have also been stripped back and include just a few core aspects for newcomers to get their heads around and tinker with.
F1 2020 doesn't leave its more hardcore players in the backseat though, as more comprehensive features such as a customisable HUD have been added. Players can now completely personalise their displays by adjusting the positioning of aspects such as the course map, the race leader board, and current lap time. A hotly-requested feature also added for the first time within 2020 is a rear-view mirror, which can be added as part of the customisable HUD. This is a touch we can certainly appreciate as we can't tell you how many times we've swerved off the track whilst taking a poorly-timed glance behind us.
The track roster within F1 2020 has also been expanded upon a touch with Hanoi Street Circuit and Circuit Park Zandvoort joining the line-up. These additions offer a taste of both past and present with the Vietnamese track constructed earlier this year and Zandvoort dating back to 1939. We found Holland's Zandvoort to be a punishing gauntlet of tight corners and it felt more than deserving of its medium difficulty rating. We are unable to share our thoughts on the Hanoi Circuit at present, however, but we will be sure to dive into our full thoughts in due course.
Making a triumphant return to the series is split-screen multiplayer, which has been absent since F1 2014. Mather told us that Codemasters worked in conjunction with another team to help revitalise this mode due to how "physically and graphically intense" the project was. With split-screen currently enjoying a resurgence, fuelled largely by the indie scene, we can see many fans being pleased with this unexpected revival. We also queried whether split-screen would be coming to online modes in a similar fashion to Mario Kart, and whilst Mather confirmed it wouldn't be in 2020, he alluded that it's still a possibility for future entries.
With cross-platform play becoming increasingly popular we asked whether F1 2020 would support this functionality to help bolster its online lobbies. Lee Mather informed us that "for 2020, that's not something we're able to do at the moment, but it's something we've started to do a significant amount of research into". We also asked whether F1 2020 would be a presence on the upcoming PS5 and Xbox Series X and we were told that the focus is exclusively on current-gen systems, with Google Stadia being a first for the series.
F1 2020 is looking to be the most accessible entry yet in Codemasters' long-running series and it promises to offer much more than your typical annual upgrade. The casual mode represents a much more relaxed point of entry and we can imagine split-screen being a lot of fun with a friend in the Career mode. The absence of cross-platform play may come as a disappointment to some, but fortunately, it appears as though the team are busy exploring this avenue for future entries. Be sure to keep an eye out for our full review when F1 2020 launches on Google Stadia, PC, PS4, and Xbox One on July 10.