F1 2021 game director says people will be “surprised how far we’ve taken it”

F1 2021 will be a huge leap into the future for Codemasters’ popular F1 video game series, and in more ways than one.

F1 2021 will be released on next-generation consoles including the Xbox Series X|S and PlayStation 5, boasting a visual uplift and faster loading times, the first time that a next-generation F1 video game has ever been released.

And that’s not all, because F1 2021 will be the first game to be published by EA Sports, following their high-profile acquisition of Codemasters, the successful British video game developer.

The official videogame of the 2021 FIA Formula One World Championship, F1 2021, will be released on Friday July 16, 2021. And, if fans pick up the Deluxe Edition of the game, they can access the game three days earlier on Tuesday July 13, 2021.

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Ahead of the release of F1 2021, Mirror Sport sat down (virtually) with Lee Mather, Franchise Game Director of the F1 video game series at Codemasters, to talk about the new game, the features he’s most excited about and much more.

“Obviously, Braking Point is the headline feature for F1 2021,” Said Lee Mather.

“I think people will be surprised just how far we’ve taken it, and the quality of the work that’s been achieved because as a studio that makes some of the world’s best racing games, to bring in such a strong story element, which has been beautifully scripted, acted, and then animated and rendered in gorgeous CG.

“I think it’s a really significant departure from what we traditionally do year on year.

Lee Mather: “I think people will be surprised just how far we’ve taken it, and the quality of the work that’s been achieved”

“And if you look at what we did in 2019, with the F2 feeder series, that was really cool.

“And we did a lot more of that internally, whereas we’ve taken some of the writing, and obviously, our professional writers on F1 2021.

“So I think that’s really exciting. I can’t wait to hear people react to that.

Braking Point is the brand new story mode that will be introduced in F1 2021, where players take on an epic journey as they rise from the ranks of Formula 2 to a shot at stardom in the world of Formula 1.

It immerses players into the glamorous world of F1, giving a taste of the lifestyle both on and off the track: the rivalries, emotion and dedication needed to compete at the highest level.

It also re-introduces players to the much-maligned villian Devon Butler, who makes his return having debuted in F1 2019, and Mather explained why Codemasters decided to bring him back for F1 2021.

“When we created Devon, we sat around and we thought, yeah, it’s like the voice is right, the face is right, you do want to give him a slap!”

Devon Butler returns in F1 2021
Devon Butler returns in F1 2021

“And we kind of felt a little sad knowing in F1 2019, when we saw how well received he was that he wasn’t going to get a repeat performance in F1 2020. Because obviously, we knew what we were doing in F1 2020.

“But we hadn’t sort of really planned the return of Devin in F1 2021, until so we saw how popular he was.

“We talked about different ways of bringing him back in F1 2021. And I think you’ll get to see so much more of Devin and his character, and the sort of person he is in F1 2021.

“But yeah, it was the reception was brilliant. There were even fake Twitter accounts for him.

F1 2021 will be the first-ever next-generation Formula 1 game, and Mather explained the benefits players can expect from this new title on consoles like the Xbox Series X and the PlayStation 5, but also explained why players on Xbox One’s and PS4’s won’t be missing any features.

“The big difference for us this year, is firstly, you can play on any of those platforms.

“So if you’re playing on a PS4, you can play against your friend on a PS5, and you’ll get the same experience, you’ll get the same features.

“But the player on the PS5 will get the ability to run at 120 frames per second if they want to, which is obviously really nice in that, in a racing game, silky, smooth, lovely inputs.

“You’ll also have the ability to use the new triggers on the PlayStation 5, they’re a really great feature.

“You’ll also be able to get the improved visuals on the damage model.

F1 2021 will run at 120 frames-per-second on Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5
F1 2021 will run at 120 frames-per-second on Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5

“So we’ve now got a much more intricate damage model in F1 2021. But the player who is playing on the next-gen platforms will get to see a visually more striking damage model.

“But the actual physics of it will be the same, you’ll still be damaging the same components. So we can take that to the next level as well.

“So it’s very much pushing those visuals, pushing the performance and giving the player the option of performance versus their visual experience in Formula 1 game.

But it’s not just new features that fans can look forward to in F1 2021, because Mather also explained the changes that Codemasters has made to the gameplay and driving physics, including the introduction of a brand new tyre model.

This new tyre model, coupled with the fact that the F1 2021 will have a suite of assists that players can adjust based on their skill level and preferences, make this a game for sim racers and casual racers alike.

“if you’re the sort of player who wants to play with all of the assists on, you’ll still have a very similar experience as you’re used to in previous years.

“But if you want to delve a little deeper into it and start winding some of the assists back, you’ll certainly feel that the balance between aero and tyre grip is significantly different this year.

“The tyre model has moved closer towards reality this year, again, which has made the cars feel more nimble, they feel more darty, they certainly feel more direct.

“Which in some cases can make them more challenging, but we’ve got the assists there to catch people who can’t handle that sort of thing.

“And we’ve certainly taken a lot of feedback, and this is something we’ve been getting a lot of feedback in the beta about, is how people were able to find a setup that kind of always worked for them in 2020.

“And now because of the aero balance and the tyre balance, the physically mechanical grip balance, the setups are much harder to nail down.

There's a new tyre model for F1 2021
There’s a new tyre model for F1 2021

“And they’ll obviously need to vary more circuit to circuit. So I think we’ve certainly added a lot more depth to the handling in that respect this year.

“I think if you look what we did in F1 2020, when we bought in the Casual Race Mode, that’s opened up the ability to go a little bit more aggressively on the tyre model and the aero model this year.

“And again, it’s not a case of we don’t want to make the game hard for the sake of making it hard. You know, that’s not what Formula 1’s about, and that’s not what the drivers experience.

“And we’ve said this many times, the drivers will always say, Formula 1 cars easy to drive, it’s not hard to drive, that’s their job.

“So why would you want to put a player in front of a console, play Formula 1 game and say, well, I can’t play it’s too hard, because that’s not the experience a Formula 1 driver has.

“So it’s finding that balance, making sure that we’ve got the right suite of assists, that anybody can enjoy the on-track experience.

“And those who want to take it to the extremes, find that they’re tinkering with all the settings to try and find those tenths here and there.

“It’s a balancing act. But you know, what I think from the feedback we’ve had so far this year, from the BETA, in particular, is something that we’ve nailed.

Players will be able to choose from a suite of assists in F1 2021
Players will be able to choose from a suite of assists in F1 2021

With the sport of Formula 1, and the F1 video game series, becoming more popular every year, what was once a niche sport has become part of the mainstream, and Mather has seen the growth for himself having been at Codemasters for over a decade.

“We’ve often said this ourselves, we often referred to Formula 1 has sometimes being people’s dirty little secret. And they don’t always want to talk about they love Formula 1.

“And now I remember when the first series of Drive to Survive came out, standing on the train go into work, and people were watching it on their phones or chatting about the episode, they’d watch the night before.

“And all of a sudden, it was everywhere. And people were talking about it, who traditionally hadn’t.

“Or you’d look on Twitter, and they were, you know, some of the Call of Duty guys I follow suddenly talking about how they’d be watching Drive to Survive, and they were loving Formula 1.

“And then the next thing you know, they’re playing Formula One, and they’re playing with Lando Norris!

“It’s suddenly become more accepted because it is exciting.

“And it’s not just about the on-track (action), it’s the world around it. And it’s it really is now way, way broader, I think, than it ever was.

Mather also talked about EA’s acquisition of Codemasters and remarked about how smoothly the transition has been for himself and the team so far.

“I think a few of us have been through similar in the past, I’d say this is definitely the been the nicest and the most welcoming one that I’ve ever been through. It’s been really lovely.

EA completed their acquisition of Codemasters earlier this year
EA completed their acquisition of Codemasters earlier this year

“I mean, everybody who we’ve spoken to, and it’s been a lot of people, it’s been a lot of introductions, a lot of meetings.

“But they’ve all been along the same theme, which is, hey, we’re not coming in and telling you what to do. We’re not coming in and asking you to make changes.

“This is what we have, if you want any of it, help yourself, you know.

“EA have got so much, so many teams that don’t necessarily just work on one specific franchise, there’s so much tech, so many things they’ve got on offer.

“We can pick and choose which ones would help us to grow Formula 1 even further. So it’s been really cool so far.

Codemasters and EA are certainly not the only ones having to work together to develop a game in the midst of a global pandemic. But with this being their first release following EA acquiring them, their first release on next-generation consoles and the fact that they’ve introduced tons of new features, their achievements cannot be understated.

Mather revealed how proud he is, that his team have delivered this game in difficult circumstances.

“I think it’s absolutely amazing.

The official videogame of the 2021 FIA Formula One World Championship, F1 2021, will be released on Friday July 16, 2021 for PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC via Steam.
The official videogame of the 2021 FIA Formula One World Championship, F1 2021, will be released on Friday July 16, 2021 for PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC via Steam.

“Codemasters and in particular, our IT and infrastructure teams have made our lives incredibly easy.

“You know, it could have been so much harder to transition into everybody working from home in this way. And yet, they’ve made it pretty seamless.

“We did the majority, I’d say probably the last third of f1 2020, was when we transitioned to working from home. So that was incredibly disruptive. But only for a couple of days, in the end, you know, it was so seamless.

“F1 2021, on the other hand, was kind of being still conceived and going through a lot of the designing creative process while people were transitioning to working from home.

“Which is a shame because it’s so nice to just have those chats around people’s desks and throwing ideas around and standing in front of a board making scribbles and stuff and you do miss some of that.

“We use Microsoft Teams. And they’ve expanded the functionality and feature set in that which has made it easier and easier.

“So we’ve all slipped into it quite effectively, you know, and I don’t think it’s had any detrimental effect on the development of the game.”

You can check out the full F1 2021 video game trailer below.

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The official videogame of the 2021 FIA Formula One World Championship, F1 2021, will be released on Friday July 16, 2021 for PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC via Steam.

The new F1 game will feature all the teams, drivers and circuits from the 2021 FIA Formula One World Championship, including three brand new circuits in Portimão, Imola, and Jeddah, which will be available to all players as free post-launch content.

F1 2021 also expands its iconic Career mode with a new two-player option that allows friends to join online and play co-operatively or choose different teams and take rivalries to the track in synchronous race sessions.

Across all formats, returning features include driver-manager experience My Team, two-player split-screen, shorter season options for both F1 and F2, esports integration and accessible menus and handling.

Players who pre-order the Standard Edition will receive the Braking Point Content Pack, a set of exclusive in-game items inspired by the fictional stars of the new story experience, and 5,000 PitCoins.

Benefits for the digital Deluxe include seven soon-to-be-unveiled iconic F1 drivers for use in My Team, complete with customisation content, 18,000 PitCoins, the Braking Point Content Pack, and three days early access. F1 2021 supports Xbox Smart Delivery and PlayStation’s free upgrade when players switch to an Xbox Series X|S or PlayStation 5 * .

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