F1 2020: A controversial review
In this post I will give my personal opinion on F1 2020, the last F1 game released by Codemaster. You have to know, I am quite a fan of F1 and F1 games. Through the years I have played at F1 2015, 2017, 2018 and, now, 2020. I also played for a weekend to F1 2019.
The way I play
First of all, let me say which are the conditions in which I play. Usually, I start the Career mode and I play at least for two years, usually until I am able to win the championship. I always start with a low-tier team (in 2018 I chose Alfa Romeo) and either I stay with them or I pass to a top team like Ferrari or Red Bull. In F1 2020 I started with my own team, using the new "make your team" feature. As reference, consider that the car level is just slightly better than Williams.
I usually play without any driving aid, so: no TC, no ABS, no stability control. I use the driver camera, in recent years I disabled the halo column because, man, it is disturbing. For what concerns the game modality, I go with a 100% duration weekend. So three free practice sessions, three rounds of qualifying and a 100% duration race. The AI level may vary between games; for F1 2020 I went with 100/110.
My setup includes a old and simple Logitech Driving Force GT. For the price I payed it, it is a very good wheel. Then a 27-inches 1080p 60Hz screen, an Intel i7 4770K and a GTX 970. It is enough to play at 1080p with "high" levels of graphic details.
These details are very important because they help you understand if the information I am giving you is valuable for your use or not.
Driving model: 2018 vs 2020
The first thing I noticed when I started F1 2020 is that the car's handling is very different from 2018. Obviously, this can be explained with the modifications in 2019 rules. The result, however, is that, in my opinion, cars are much more difficult to drive. If you are used to F1 2019, the difference are obviously minimal. But if you, like me, are coming from F1 2018 you should be aware of this. Power oversteer is massive: it's extremely easy to lose your car when exiting from low speed corners. With the Alfa Romeo in 2018 I was able to push with fresh tyres, and oversteer became a problem only after few laps.
On the other hand, understeer is no better: even in this case, if you are even a bit faster than the correct corner speed, you will lose much times. Honestly, as long as I can remember, this is the most difficult F1 game.
As you maybe know, recently Codemaster said that the feedbacks from F1 drivers have been really helpful. However, I have not seen this, particularly for what concerns the traction. Trust me, you won't notice a increment in the traction; instead, it looks like the asphalt is slippery like it never has been.
For what concerns the ERS, it's okay: now, basically, during the race you use only the modality Medium (which is quite conservative) and Overtake. You can switch very fast to Overtake because now you have a dedicated button to use like an on/off overtake button. It is very similar to the use of the "overtake button" during the last GP, used by Lando Norris on the last laps.
New F1 game, old bugs
Let me tell you the story of the second race I did on F1 2020: the Hanoi circuit, in Vietnam. Well, the first thing I should mention is that the track, in my opinion, is a massive piece of shit. Driving there looks like driving in the parking of a supermarket. However, this is not Codemaster's fault. So, no complains here.
After some difficult free practices sessions, I am able to qualify in the 21° place, behind my teammate Mick Schumacher, but in front of Latifi, with the Haas being within our reach.
After the start, I can only manage my tyres for few laps; near the 12° lap, I have to pit. Once again, we don't have the possibility to manually do the pit stop. I would have liked this, because it's annoying to just press the clutch when restarting and nothing more.
Around the 20° lap, the Safety Car is deployed, and the awkward show begins.
I come into the pits - I was last, so no time has been lost, it's better to change the tyres again. At the pit exit, I overtake the SC because it was still waiting for the leader which was behind us.
It took 5 laps to Magnussen and me to reach the SC.. Basically, when I could reach 300km/h on the main straight (I had quite a slow setup), the SC could reach 297km/h[^1]: I had to drive basically at race pace to keep it up with the SC!
But when the SC came back in the pits, another beautiful thing happened: after 1 lap, basically all drivers pitted. Probably they had their programmed pit stop around that lap. But, unlike a real F1 strategist would do, they waited for the SC to come in to just pit afterward. If you are a fan of F1 games, you may recognize this bug. Basically every F1 game in which they put the SC had this thing. It really, really pisses me off because I can not regain the concentration after seeing such a stupid choice from the AI.
What about the bug for which if you used a flashback during a radio transmission than the engine volume remains low? Yup, it's still there.
Well, I have come back here to add some details about other bugs I found. The first is still related to Safety Car situations. If the SC is deployed and there are drivers which are one or more laps behind the leader, they are not allowed to pass the SC in order to regain their real position.
This is HUGE. It means that, if you are one lap behind and, say, you pit and change your tires to softer ones, you will not be allowed to fight with the positions above yours. Instead, blue flags will be exposed for a long time, making it really simple to get a penalty. This is ridicoluos. I would have preferred an automatic way of re-sorting the drivers in the correct positions, maybe "ghosting" the drivers, similarly to what is done at race start.
The second, and again, I bet that you can remember this very well, is related to slow drivers during Free practices and qualifying. If during your fast laps you have a slow car in front of you, they will let you pass. But the very next moment they will start to race against you and try to pass you. Eventually, if you let them pass… they will slow down to give the position to you again.
It's incredibly frustrating. And, still, this bug - which has existed for a very long time in F1 games - is not cited in reviews.
Rant about "professional reviewers"
Before buying this game I looked at some reviews, obviously, and nobody mentioned this very old bugs. If you play these games for real, you know what I mean. But if you just play 30 minutes with all the driving aids on, hell, I bet that you can notice these little things! They may be little, but it's extremely disturbing during a race having to deal with this shit. Still, I can only read about the new "My team" mode, which is nice, okay, but who cares? If I want a manager experience, I buy Motorsport Manager. The driving model is nice, there have been improvements… and other very generic sentences.
I am regretting buying F1 2020. I expected it to be a very consistent and mature game, but it is not. It has ten-years old bugs, I don't like the new driving model and, after playing it for two races, I am not tempted to play more.
[^1]: To check this, I watched the replay after the race. Guess what? You still can not jump at a particular point in the replay, but you can only "scroll" it all until you reach the desired point. Yup. In 2020.