F1 2015 was a bit of a disappointment to me, with the (very positive) gameplay and mechanical tweaks outweighed dramatically by the lack of a real career mode The sheer lack of content made it really difficult to get invested in, and I found myself bouncing off the game much quicker than I have done with others in the series. Fortunately, from what I was shown of F1 2016, it seems like this general sentiment has been taken on board, making this year’s iteration something that’s immediately pinging on my radar.
First up, the biggest improvements from last year’s game have been further tweaked and refined to allow for a better gameplay experience. The jump to a new physics engine went surprisingly well last year, and whilst there haven’t been any massively major jumps for the most part, although there are some tweaks that have allowed for a more accurately represented vehicle, such as the wheel tethers, which combined with the physics engine from last year give a smoother performance from the cars on the track.
As mentioned though, the biggest update is definitely the career mode. An inexcusable omission from last year’s game, 2016 is including a hugely in-depth 10-year career, with the return of many of the best features of previous games, alongside a bunch of new ones that will enhance the experience. You can choose an avatar, helmet and team, then you’re presented with your agent. Your goals will change depending on the team you sign for, and these will change throughout the course of your career if you decide to stick with them or move on to one of the other teams for a new challenge. Unlike previous entries in the series, it sounds like practice is going to be one of the key areas of focus in the career mode. Each section of a race weekend will come with its own set of challenges, and reward you with the ability to upgrade things on the car, to improve your performance as much as possible as you progress throughout the career. Previously, there has been a sense of only really achieving something when you’ve completed a race. The aim of this career mode is to try and make it feel like every single step is an achievement, whether it’s taking the perfect line across multiple corners on the trot in practice, taking pole in qualifying, or edging past your rival to win in the main race.
What did surprise me is just how deep Codemasters are going with the details. It sounds like they’ve really taken the criticisms of last year’s lack of features to heart, and this is essentially them going “Fine, want a career mode? Then have THIS!” and in turn throwing every single kitchen sink they can find in with the rest of the game. Want to be able to check out the telemetry of the car on turn 3 at Silverstone? You can go back and look into those details. It may seem like it’s just stat porn for the hardcore audience, but it’s also a great way to adjust things for your garage team to further improve your performance. Of course, this is only for those who want to go all-in on the experience. If you want to strip things back to just allow you to race, that’s totally fine as well. One of the F1 series’ big things (for me, at least) is how accessible it is. If you want to go in with all assists turned on, and just push the “go” pedal until you cross the finish line, that’s just as valid as getting a racing wheel, pedals, setting everything to manual, putting a helmet on and dousing the dog in champagne on a Sunday evening.
The team behind F1 2016 have put an awful lot into it so far, and it’s catapulted the game up my most anticipated list based on its showing at E3. The career mode looks like it’s going to suprass everything that’s come before it, and will more than make up for a lacklustre outing in 2015. F1 2016 will be releasing in “summer 2016”, so there’s not long to go!