Welcome... to Formula 1
A familiar sound if you would have heard in the startup screen of F1 2016, just one of the things returning as with many other features in the latest in this franchise. Many of us Formula 1 racers have been waiting for this game with a mix of excitement and trepidation. As F1 2017 was getting closer to launch many aspects of the previous game started to fall apart, especially in multiplayer.
As usual, before I begin I would like to show you a short video on the extra features that have been added, as well as a short stint in Practice 1 so you can get a feel for it.
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The premise is simple. You start your career selecting the team you want to race with and start at Australia with Practice 1. Many of the old features have returned, such as the team you have talking to you between sessions. However, there are new areas available to chat with them in.
There is a new feature they have added to Career mode. Between tracks, you will get invitations to do Invitational races. If you watched my video above, in the Championships section you will see the invitationals are locked. You can only unlock these by being invited during Career mode.
Another awesome new feature under Championships are other championships you can take part in other than Formula 1. These include Sprint sessions, Tours, Hot Laps Series, American GT Series, and so forth and so on. To unlock these you need to increase your reputation either in Career or Multiplayer mode.
The biggest, most anticipated feature in the game is of course the return of Classic cars. In Career Mode, you only get to race them as part of invitationals. You can of course set up your own Grand Prix season with Classic Cars, but not in Career mode. You will get to race in classic cars from 1988 to 2010.
A final word on the Career mode needs to be spent on the new Research and Development. As in the first image in the slides below, R&D was pretty simple in F1 2016. You just select whatever feature you want to upgrade and purchase them with points. In F1 2017 however, you are treated to an almost Final Fantasy like level up screen, where every piece of your car's parts can be upgraded. This is a whole new level of development that you need to work hard for by earning dev points during your career.
There is a big change in the gameplay, which is linked to one of the biggest real life changes in Formula 1. Cars are wider, lower and have wider tyres like they used to in the good old days. From chatting with online racers, there have been a difference in opinion on the matter. To me, this change is very positive. I feel more in control of my Mclaren (die-hard fan right here), and taking corners like I have always wanted to without spinning off, going wide or obtaining penalties is finally possible.
Practice modes in Career have some new gameplay features too. In the past we only had Track Acclimation to get us used to tracks pre-race, Tyre Management to aid us in learning how to spare our tyres and last longer out on the track, and the Qualifying session to test in practice what the best pace would be. New test modes include Fuel Management, doing the same as Tyre Management but with fuel, and a Race session where you get to do 5 laps to determine what the best strategy would be in the full race based on fuel and tyre wear.
These new modes are both exciting and frustrating. On the one hand, you no longer have to accumulate laps of points per practice mode to complete the mode. Once you get the lap right, you can head into the garage. Yet, these modes are harder to complete than before; you may well stay out for the full length of laps to do so.
There are also new tracks, although I suspect this has more to do with the Classic Car invitationals, where you spend most of your time racing them in, than anything else. These new tracks are Bahrain Short, Britain Short, Japan Short and USA Short. As the names imply, they are simply shortened versions of the tracks.
While driving in the car, we have some extra features in the on-screen display to the side. There is now parts wear included in its own screen. You can actually watch as each part of your engine and car wear down. Several complaints have been issued about guys having to change their parts during career mode, as they have been burning through them. This is one of the best new features in my opinion, and can actually lead for a DNF (Did Not Finish) for those you are competing against.... or yourself.
The graphics are at once both familiar, but new. The tracks are exactly the same, and it feels like they have simply been transported over from the previous game with improved graphics. Some of the people speaking to you between sessions even have crisper appearances, to the point where you can count the number of zits on their face. I'm all for realism, but they could have stuck with the Hollywood false beauty for that part.
The same applies no matter where you go in the game. Same images, even in-car, crispier and more colorful amendments. It makes everything just that much more stunning and enjoyable, especially night time races or the bright colorful skyscrapers of Abu Dhabi. The detail that have gone into the vehicles are amazing and a much appreciated upgrade from the previous iteration.
I need to touch on multiplayer as a separate item. This is actually what we have all been waiting for. I am part of several online PS4 F1 racing leagues, namely PlayStation Gaming League (Thursdays), Formula PlayStation (Wednesdays), The Ultimate Formula (Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays), and Superior Racing League (Saturdays and Sundays), the last of which I created a website for myself.
Practice for these leagues are in full swing from the first week of game launch. I am only on the second track for career, but did all my Time Trials and setups for each track to prepare for the leagues. And what an awful start it has been. First we were treated to glitches in all lobbies where, no matter where you finished or how cleaned you raced, everyone was disqualified at the end. Luckily, we received a patch to fix that.
Now there is a persistent yellow flag glitch. If someone crashes out, that part of the track is yellow flagged for the remainder of the race. Not something new, as we became used to this in F1 2016 towards the end, but I was really really hoping this would not have been transported over into the new game.
The lobbies are when selecting teams and tracks are far superior than before. The waiting screen looks superb. The timer is now very clear and you will definitely know when you are running out of time by the incessant sound it makes. The racing also seems to be slightly more stable, with only a few lags encountered by some.
As we go through further testing and practices before all our leagues begin, we hope Codemasters can tighten up on some of the niggly things that are ruining some races. Here is my Multiplayer video with some random 5 lappers I did... and you can see some guys on track have returned to disrespect you and wipe you out. You can tell they don't race for any leagues.
For league racers like me, we will be playing F1 2017 until F1 2018 comes out. That's just the nature of the beast. For Career mode and invitationals, you can play these over and over, since you get trophies for every season you complete and every vehicle you sign contracts for. It is worth playing it through over various seasons if only to experience every vehicle and classic car.
I've barely touched the surface of how enjoyable this game is, but I will leave the rest for you to experience. For true Formula 1 fans, this is a vast improvement on the previous game. It feels like everything from F1 2016 was simply transported over, and then majorly improved upon instead of building up from scratch. This creates a degree of consistency I am completely satisfied with. For non-F1 fans who get bored watching the races online, you may not find this enjoyable at all and may just be one of the peanuts going online and taking us off the track just for fun.
A truly exhilarating and fantastic upgrade of F1 2016 that will be keeping me busy until F1 2018.