F1 2019 in the test - why it is better than its predecessor, although not all innovations are convincing
Vettel, Hamilton, Bottas - these are names that every Formula 1 fan knows. But what about Artyom Markelow, Alessio Lorandi and Niko Kari? Here Formula 2 spectators only nod, everyone else shakes their head.
A logical step: The driving experience with its precise balancing act between arcade and simulation has been convincing for years, Codemasters only improves details here. With a completely new racing class, on the other hand, you drastically increase the scope and further enrich the overall package. And if the campaign has been too sober for you so far, you will be happy about a short story - which, however, is far from exhausting its potential.
Formula 2 with all the rules
The Formula 2 cars are characterized primarily by a longer braking distance and slower acceleration compared to Formula 1. They also lose grip faster if you give too much gas when exiting a corner. Formula 2 also differs from its big brother in the series in some control points that Codemasters has taken over in great detail.
A race weekend does not consist of one race, but of two: a normal race and a sprint race over a shorter distance. Whoever wins qualifying gets four points, and two more points are awarded for the fastest race lap. In addition, the starting position of the first eight drivers will reverse in the second race.
So far, only the drivers from the Formula 2 season from 2018 are in F1 2019, Codemasters will deliver the current ones later with a free patch. Another downer: the Formula 2 racing cars are only available in single player, but not in online races - that too will only change with a later patch.
A story that doesn't deserve the name
The campaign in F1 2019 will start this year in Formula 2, but you will not drive through the entire racing calendar, but only do a few laps in three short scenarios. Then the introduction ends and you move up to the premier class.
In the first scenario, for example, the car suffers from a loss of performance, so you have to let your teammates out. That is done quickly and not particularly exciting, but it serves as the lead story for F1 2019.
After each scenario, you meet in a cutscene with your teammate Lukas Weber and your rival Devon Butler for a brief exchange of blows.
The fictional racing drivers are, however, clearly exaggerated: Butler considers himself the very best racing driver in the world and is not a shame in the event of defeat for no excuse, our team-mate, however, constantly speaks to us and praises the team spirit. That gives our competitors a personality, but the plot does not offer more than an exaggerated staging.
The worst, however: After the three scenarios and the switch to Formula 1, the story ends! Although you read in transcripts what the two fictional drivers say about you in interviews, there are no more cutscenes.
If you don't feel like the F2 pre-skirmish and the two new drivers, you can skip the introduction and swing directly behind the cockpit of Ferrari, Mercedes, Red Bull and Co.
The usual motivating campaign
The campaign in F1 2019 offers hardly anything new apart from the F2 introduction, but it is motivating thanks to the management and role-play elements introduced in the predecessors. The research and development system is again commendable.
If you achieve team goals and complete training programs, you will receive resource points that you invest in your car. For example, you improve the engine for more power or the aerodynamics for better handling. A great solution to grind: If you don't feel like completing all training programs every race weekend, you can have them simulated for the first time in F1 2019. Then you won't get all the resource points, but at least half.
The campaign now feels very dynamic: Your opponents are working on their cars from week to week, which means that the teams' car performance increases over the season. With the start of the new season, as in the previous season, the regulations for some parts have changed, which can mess up the performance of the cars. In addition, the Formula 1 drivers now change teams independently. Small flaw in the atmosphere: They still keep their old sponsor stickers on their helmets.
In terms of contract negotiations, nothing has changed compared to the predecessor: If you achieve good results and stick to the team goals, you can demand bonuses such as faster pit stops or several vehicle updates at the same time when renegotiating. Only the interviews after practice, qualifying and the race that were introduced in the previous year and cannot be canceled can become annoying in the long run because they are again far too predictable.
Driving behavior for beginners and professionals
Accelerated out of a curve too quickly? Your car turns. Started too early at the start? That gives a penalty. Are you braking too late and hard before a curve? The tires block, white smoke rises. If, on the other hand, you activate all driving aids, F1 2019 plays almost like an arcade racer and forgives you many mistakes.
The control with controller also works well. In theory, you can also drive with a keyboard, but this restricts the steering and throttle control significantly. City circuits like Monaco and Azerbaijan become a struggle for survival.
Codemasters put some resources into modes and extras off the track this year. For example, there is now a showroom in which you can view all of the cars in the game with performance data and descriptions.
The panorama shots and insights into the team pitches before a race are even better staged this year, the faces of the official drivers look even more true to the original. This year, the night races stand out graphically with their pretty headlights.
F1 2019 now also saves highlights after a race, which you can watch directly after the finish line or at a later time in the new replay mode. The photo mode is of course there again and allows you to take snapshots with many different filters and settings.
The e-sports menu, on the other hand, is less convenient. There is now a separate tab for this in the main menu, but almost all buttons lead out of the game and open a separate browser window.
Multiplayer Leagues and Customization
The bad news first: Codemasters does without a local split screen in this iteration as well. The developer has also canceled the online championship, but you can still put together your own championships - now also in your own leagues.
In leagues you team up with like-minded players and create racing events that take place over several real-time weekends, just like the big role model. You will also take part in rated and non-rated races again.
For the extra portion of motivation, Codemasters has come up with optical adjustments for your car. In online races, you no longer only have to use licensed racing cars, but can also drive your own racing car. However, this only relates to the choice of paint.
With each completed ranking race you win points, which you put in new paintwork for your car as well as helmets, suits and gloves for your driver. Codemasters is also selling some items and paint jobs for real money through Steam. But none of them change the performance of the car.