F1 2021 is the fourteenth title in a series of racing simulations, and remains the official video game of the Formula 1 Championship. The latest title comes with a new feature called Braking Point, the first story mode for the franchise. Braking Point takes players through the 2019 F2 season and into the F12020 and 2021 seasons. This new mode is for F1 2021 is the culmination of a large time investment by Codemasters, and is part of the developer’s drive to expand the appeal of the series.
In an interview with Game Rant, senior creative director of the F1 series, Lee Mather talked about the making of Braking Point, its inspiration, as well as its overall purpose to expand the series ’gameplay and appeal. This interview has been edited for conclusion and clarity.
Q: So what excites you the most about this game?
A: We are all very happy with Braking Point. We knew from the concept that it was going to be something special and something very different for the series. After we dip our toes into the water with F1 2019The F2 feeder series, we thought, “We’re actually pretty good at doing character play.” Which is pretty scary for a team that traditionally makes racing games.
It’s not easy to incorporate the kind of emotions that the characters desire. I think what we achieved with Devon Butler really gave us the confidence to keep moving forward with what we have done F1 2021. So obviously we’re putting the wheel moving in 2019 for what we’re going to do F1 2021.
Q: That’s a pretty scary backup to take.
A: Yes and I think we learned a lot in 2019 and, obviously, we also worked with professional writers. We can do a very broad mention of what the story is, but we can’t give the ins and outs. We can give the F1 aspect, but then they can build emotion and decorate the story as well as build the character and the character timeline. I don’t think we will have that level of professionalism in that writing.
Q: Does it finally feel like a natural transition? Adds in story mode to F1 2021?
A: Yes. We are lucky because we can see a lot behind the scenes of this sport and we can talk to a lot of people who work in F1. And you realize how good all these people are and how their lives are, and how their daily lives are. It’s not massively different from what we do. This is an industry full of passion. This is a sport where everyone is in it because they love what they do and they love working in F1, which is very similar to the way we work.
I think the players, they’re going to see Drive to Survive potentially and they’re going to see how that translates to what we’ve done as well. There is a lot of inspiration from Drive to Survive. So there’s always a little bit of fear to get into it, a little bit of potential risk of getting into it. This is a slightly different direction, but we also retain the core of the other game, so this is an addition. We’ve built this game again, expanded its appeal, and given players something fresh, new, and exciting.
Q: And pushing for survival paves the way and naturally lets more people enter sports and games?
A: I think that’s something we’ve seen on a massive scale over the last few years. Since Liberty took over F1, you’ve noticed how people can use F1. Not just through the Pay Per View TV channel, there is now great social content from all the teams and F1 itself. Their YouTube channel is filled with incredible stuff and then clearly Drive to Survive is, it’s drama, racing, joy beautifully presented, and beautifully filmed. I think it really excites the audience who don’t even know that they are F1 fans.
Q: How much contact and input is there from the actual team when making the game?
A: So in terms of making the game itself, that’s our instruction. In terms of experience on the track and driver experience, we get very good input from the team now. We found that during the lockout, while the team was not racing, we had access to a group of people who would normally travel the world.
And once everyone got back into things and they traveled again, we had resumed the meeting, they had become normal. Recently a few teams were able to take advantage of the beta version of the game and we’ve already gotten feedback on what they think F1 2021. So it’s really great. And as the team increasingly realizes how great this game is and what a large audience video game has in store, this game really opens up more doors for us. We are working closely today.
S: And back to Braking Point. Does the team aim more for a shared experience or more for a different path?
A: This is a linear experience so we can control what happens in the story. Obviously there are so many different assets that you can produce, so if everyone could take a different path, we would have to create a lot of different sequences and that would be very difficult to manage.
We have a very strong story we want to tell. That’s the approach we take, we want everyone to have the same experience and everyone experience the same great story with a character -based narrative.
Q: And is this the last step or is this more just a clue to where you want the franchise to go?
A: So we have a lot of things we want to do with F1. This is one of them. You will also see that we have two career players this year. That’s another great ticket item we’ve long thought about and wanted to do. As I said, F1 2019 give us a chance to try this out and see how we think it will work out.
We’ve seen other sports titles definitely include story mode over the last few years and we’ve always felt with F1 that you can create a really great career experience. I think this also expands the appeal for players who are potentially watching Drive to Survive or who have a passive interest in F1 and suddenly that also catches their attention. So it expands the appeal of the game and provides a variety of ways to engage with F1 content that I feel is very important.
Q: In general, how does the team’s approach make the game a simulator for hardcore gamers and a fun racing game for more casual fans?
A: Yes, that’s one of our long -term goals, expanding players ’ability to race Formula One cars. They always get fast, they always get late, get very hard, slow down fast. And it’s very hard to get someone unfamiliar with the game of racing fast.
That’s why last year we brought a very helpful relaxation mode on a massive scale. This helps the player be able to navigate the circuit. So I think we always strive in the same way as we want to make cars as accurate as possible and to create reliable tire models that are strong, and have great physics. We always look at the levers we can pull to make sure that no matter your player level, you get a great experience.
To another level, this year we have an expert setting that gives players who have played Formula One games for years access to many of the things we should play while creating an experience. So I think, year after year we expand the appeal and always give opportunities to people who, regardless of their skill level, have the opportunity to play in a Formula One game.
Q: To what extent do you say that games sell Formula One versus Formula One sells games? Is it a racing game that then invites people into that world or especially for people from that world?
A: I think over the years that has changed dramatically. We had a strong career and my team’s game mode was there, there were a lot of exciting reasons to play. Whether you are a Formula One fan or not. The game itself has a great structure and loops so people want to play. And I think that’s a very powerful method for people who might like racing games to play Formula One and get experience there. Then they will start falling in love with the sport as well.
Q: What brought about the idea of the Start of the Real Season?
A: The initial thought of Real Season Start was to see the suitability of the season in the game. We love the concept of changing history or changing the future or deviating from what happens in real life. Like a player making changes to what’s going on in the current season.
The more we discuss it, the more we see concerns about what might happen again this year with circuits that won’t be on the calendar or won’t be on the calendar but that’s not what we do. We see this will open up a very cool opportunity. We were at least able to produce results from the race weekend so that players could still have a season that contained results for tracks that we didn’t actually have in the game itself.
Q: Is there a game that you feel you haven’t asked enough, something you feel has been under the radar?
A: We didn’t shout too loudly about what we had done with the damage. This year we are present on the next generation platform and the current generation. Something you will get from the next generation platform is in visual damage. You will definitely see more scratches and bolts on the car but the damage model itself has been significantly expanded.
And this is something you will take advantage of on all platforms. There are now more areas of cars that can be damaged. If you play with damage simulations, you will demolish the wing mirrors, damage the bargeboard, small wings, floor edges. Such areas we have looked at in more detail and detail with damage models.
F1 2021 will be available on July 16 for PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X / S.
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