Codemasters has been developing Formula 1 games for ten-years. It’s an impressive milestone for the British developer, who continues to innovate and up the bar with each passing installment. This year’s entry into the franchise, F1 2019 is the studio’s best effort yet of creating the most authentic, realistic and feature-complete Formula 1 game. Whether it’s the introduction of the FIA Formula 2 Championship, the all-new customizable 2019-season regulations car or the ability to host curated online Multiplayer Leagues, there’s no doubt that F1 2019 is the team’s most ambitious outing ever.
To coincide with all the new and improved features in this year’s installment, Codemasters has given F1 2019 a fresh lick of paint across the surface. That means a new menu interface greets you upon booting up the game. It’s here where you can access all the beloved classic modes like Career, Grand Prix Championships and Time Trial, as well as new additions, such as the Showroom for viewing each of the game’s vehicles, from F2 to F1 and classic racers, in all their glory up-close and in-detail with their relevant biographical information – along with the F1 Esports Hub, which hosts all the latest news, event results and broadcasts of the official competitive series. Aspiring esports drivers who wish to compete will also be able to sign up for future events from this interface, too.
I really appreciate how much focus the developer is giving to esports and their willingness to train and develop racing drivers of the future. The involvement of both Formula 1 and all its teams, including Ferrari for the first time this year, really shows just how well established the F1 Esports Series has become. This is a premier competition for those who desire to make a name for themselves in the competitive racing field, and F1 2019’s authencity will take this to entirely new levels. Another example of this are the updated HUD elements that bring the game fully in line with the style of the official Formula 1 televised broadcasts. It looks so slick and makes you more immersed into the racing than ever before.
But with its esports focus, F1 2019 isn’t just about pure direct competition, as it’s also a fantastic spectator sport as well. F1 has always featured a brilliant replay and spectate feature for witnessing online races, but in this year’s installment, Codemasters has introduced a new Theatre mode which automatically saves highlight reels from recent races. These clips can be viewed, saved permanently and on PC, exported to video files from within the game itself to be edited and shared online with the entire community. It’s a fantastic addition for content creators, esports drivers and fans alike, all of whom can now easily highlight their favourite and most successful moments from a race. These are the types of features that are a testament to the team’s overall ambition for F1 2019, and that is to create the most authentic and realistic Formula 1 experience out there.
That all begins with the introduction of Formula 2. It’s a first for the franchise, with the entire 2018 F2 Championship available at your fingertips. You can experience F2 in Grand Prix, Time Trial, Multiplayer and Championships modes, and even race using F2 cars on all the F1 tracks – including those which aren’t actually present in the real-world FIA Formula 2 Championship. Codemasters has also implemented all the official F2 teams and drivers from the 2018 season, alongside the full weekend structure with feature races and sprint races – including reverse grid for the latter. There’s also points handed out for qualifying and fastest lap times set, as well as “special rules” for the Monaco qualifying event, but it wouldn’t be a Codemasters F1 game without the full authenticity treatment to go with it. Therefore, the developer has also added official F2 commentators Alex Jacques and Davide Valsecchi.
Formula 2 is also how the Career mode officially commences in this year’s installment. You’ll begin your road to F1 with the “F2 feeder series,” which includes 3 specific scenarios from the 2018 F2 Championship. It’s a little underwhelming, since I’d have loved to have raced through the entire 2018 F2 season and then progress onto the 2019 Formula 1 season. It’s somewhat of a missed opportunity, but at least there is a progression mechanism.
During your short stint at F2, you’ll race alongside your fictional F2 teammate named Lukas Weber, as well as your closest rival, Devon Butler. You’ll also compete against famous F2 drivers who made the move up to F1 in 2019, including Lando Norris, George Russell and Alexander Albon. The most interesting aspect of this, however, is how the game remembers your performance, actions and responses to interview questions during this prologue segment, which sets the stage for your debut in F1. Naturally, your performance here also influences the contracts you receive from F1 teams as you move beyond the Formula 2 stage.
Rivals is the biggest theme of F1 2019, and this extends heavily into the Career mode. Both Devon and Lukas will progress onto Formula 1 alongside you and the press will question your relationships with them. The game also rewards you for choosing them as rivals, but regardless of who you pick, the selected adversaries will appear at invitational events with the usual sweep of bonus objectives to complete. Driver transfers are another big feature of this year’s entry and for the first time, both the player and official F1 drivers can sign contracts with different teams.
Drivers will move at the end of the season depending on their success, and there’s even a rare chance of a mid-season change, too. As always, the Career mode does feature the complete ten seasons of racing action you come to expect, where the dominance of the current leaders of the sport are challenged by a field of new, up-and-coming drivers. Furthermore, in line with the F1 2019 regulations, Codemasters has added a new rule for the fastest lap point, as well as new tire classifications.
Rivalries also extend online with the new Leagues feature being introduced for the first time in F1 2019. Here, you can create or join various online championships with a full suite of management tools at your disposal. Owners can promote members to admin roles, who can apply grid penalties, edit results in private leagues and more. There’s also voting systems to postpone events, change tracks or settings and kick players. Each competitor also has their own attendance rating, so event organizers can easily see how reliable potential league members are, whilst racers will also earn special league medals for their in-game trophy cabinet based on their performance. League options include private or public play, scheduled or on-demand races, AI substitutes, regulations car or official teams, and whether event applications require admin approval or not.
F1 2019 also features shifting weekly events, including both modern GPs and classic car showdowns. Weeks are split into two phases with practice and qualifying events before the actual race itself. During the initial phase, players can complete practise programs and set a qualifying time for the race weekend, which consists of match-made competitions. Drivers are given a score based on their qualifying time, total race time, finish position and assists used. They’ll also earn in-game trophies, as well as Competition Points, a new currency in F1 2019 that allows you to acquire cosmetic items, such as helmets, gloves and suits for your driver, as well as slick liveries for the 2019 regulations car.
All of this is brought together with the new Super License system, which has been massively overhauled for this game over its initial inauguration in F1 2018. Improvements to the safety rating make it more effective at matching you against players of a similar driving etiquette, whilst penalty detection has also been enhanced. Codemasters has even given the Super License system its own dedicated interface, where you can view your in-game trophy cabinet and display them to other players who view your profile. Trophies can be earned from both online and single-player racing. With Super License, Codemasters is also creating a more extensive method of storing and sharing stats, and you can even view other player’s info when they are offline, as you no longer need to be present in the same session. It combines to create a nice progression system that will extend the overall replay-ability of the game, whilst even giving every driver their own backstory and accolades.
Super License also ties into the new 2019-spec regulations car that’s found in F1 2019. This customizable race car built for online races can be personalized with a variety of different liveries that are unlocked as you progress through the game. Whilst many of these can be acquired using Competition Points from Multiplayer races, the only downside to this system is that some of these designs are locked behind a Premium Tier currency, which means they can only be obtained individually by spending real-life money. Currently, this system isn’t very intrusive, and the entire game can be enjoyed without the need of investing into these premium designs, with plenty of liveries for the regulations car still acquirable via in-game progression should you wish to make it your own. Despite its tie-in with microtransactions, the regulations car in F1 2019 is a highly welcomed addition that gives league racers and organizers significantly more freedom in personalizing their cars and events.
But the improvements don’t stop there. Codemasters always pushes the boundaries of racing innovation with each passing Formula 1 release and F1 2019 is no exception to that rule. To no real surprise, it’s by far the most beautiful and technically accomplished F1 game to date. F1 2019 is a visually stunning masterpiece. Whether you’re enjoying it on the Xbox One X connected to a 4K HDR display or a high-end gaming PC that’s running the game maxed out, this is one seriously attractive racing game. The colours are full of life, the track environments are so realistic, and the framerate is a rock-solid 60fps. I’ve never felt more immersed into a Formula 1 racing experience before, and it’s arguably one of the prettiest racers out there, especially in terms of trackside detail and lighting, the latter of which has been substantially improved over its predecessor.
Codemasters has revamped the night lighting entirely for F1 2019. There’s a much greater sense of realism to races that take place in the latest hours of the day with vastly superior quality all-around, but there’s more. For example, F1 2019 has vastly uplifted its environments with higher-resolution geometry deployed to trackside buildings in Monaco. Object placement and crowd density has also been increased, whilst a new scan-based tarmac gives a better light response as it bounces off the track surface. Combined with the new F1 broadcast HUD elements and better rain effects, it results in one tremendously sexy game that’s ultimately pure eye-candy. The improved lighting system also goes together with HDR (High Dynamic Range), delivering more realistic brightness values and contrast levels across all environments. Audio design is also top-notch too, with improved broadcast sound bringing you even closer to the race weekend action than ever before.
Naturally, a game of this calibre deserves to have its visual effects showcased in the best way possible, and in addition to its excellent new Theatre mode, F1 2019 also includes the finest iteration of Photo Mode the series has ever had. It’s one that’s certainly hard beat as you can manually adjust several settings, tweak options and move around sliders to achieve that perfect shot. There’s a real sense of pleasure to be had from using F1 2019’s Photo Mode, and I love being able to change the time-of-day and weather conditions used for the image without having to reload. Plus, the newly introduced ability to change tires on the fly for your shot is excellent, not to mention the fantastic depth-of-field options that allow you to achieve that perfect sense of blur, realism and focus in your photo. It’s brilliant, in every sense and I’m ecstatic that Codemasters makes it better and better with each F1 installment. Combined with the Theatre mode, F1 2019 is a fantastic game for capturing and sharing your greatest on-track moments and highlights.
F1 2019 also has some of the best racing AI in the market today. This is an area Codemasters always excels in and once again, this year’s installment continues to up the bar in this department. Racing against AI competitors is fierce, brutal but exciting with each successful overtake giving you a real sense of accomplishment. Races in F1 are intense from the moment you hit the tarmac for practise to the actual race spectacle itself. F1 2019 delivers brilliant racing through its Career mode and Grand Prix Championships, regardless of how you to choose to play. If you want an exhilarating racing game that will challenge and push your driving ability to its limits as you shave off every possible tenth of your lap time, then F1 2019 is a must have. You don’t have to be the world’s biggest fan of Formula 1 to appreciate just how close-knit and thrilling the on-track racing experience is in this game.
Codemasters has delivered its best Formula 1 racing game yet in F1 2019. It’s one of the most enjoyable racing games available today on PC and consoles with brilliant racing, stunning visuals and a spectacular line-up of track environments. With F2 cars joining the roster of modern-day Formula 1 machines and classic racers, there’s a ton of content to sink your teeth into. Whether it’s the 10-year season Career experience, the all-new competitive online Leagues races or the classic Time Trial mode as you set your best laps and rise the leaderboard, F1 2019 is literally stuffed with content.
Personally, I love testing each of the cars, setting times and improving my racing ability in Time Trial, but seeing those Rivalries develop in Career mode is certain to keep me engaged. Moreover, F1 2019 celebrates the developer’s tenth official installment into the Formula 1 racing game franchise, and it’s a cracking entry to mark such an incredible milestone for the team who continues to push the boundaries with each annual installment. Love Formula 1 and tight, close but exciting races that push you to the limit? Then do yourself a huge favour and pick-up F1 2019 – you won’t regret it.
There’s also another treat for those who buy the F1 2019 Legends Edition – and that’s access to exclusive Senna vs Prost content. Whilst it’s annoyingly locked behind a paywall but will be available for standalone purchase in the future, F1 2019 Legends Edition players can drive as Ayrton Senna in his 1990 McLaren MP4/5B and Alain Prost in the Ferrari F1-90. Both drivers and their vehicles can be used in Multiplayer, with eight tailored race challenges also included for good measure. If you enjoy the classic race cars and the thrill of Formula 1 competition from the 1990s, then the Legends Edition provides a neat upgrade over the standard F1 2019 experience.
Alan is the co-founder and co-owner of FullThrottle Media. As someone who enjoys spending all his free time playing video games, he keeps the website updated with new and relevant content, including news stories, reviews and opinion pieces for the games he likes writing about the most. He also tweets too much, probably.