F1 2019 review: A big step forward despite earlier release date

Codemasters marks its 10th anniversary of making Formula 1 games with its most densely-packed and detailed edition in the franchise thus far.

F1 2019 review: A big step forward despite earlier release date

When it was announced that F1 2019 would be released in June, two months earlier than its predecessor was last year, there was a concern that the quality would be sacrificed for the earlier release date.

Fortunately, after over 24 hours of playing F1 2019, it’s already evident that no expense was spared with this year’s title, with more quality and quantity offline and online than ever before. 

The headline addition is Formula 2 – the first time F1’s main feeder series has been included in the games. It’s long been on fans’ wishlists and now it’s here, it doesn’t disappoint, as the cars are challenging to drive, requiring both patience and precision. They’re harder to tame than the F1 cars, but only make you appreciate the downforce and grip of the current grand prix crop more once you graduate to them. 

F1 2019

F1 2019

Photo by: Codemasters

F2 is integrated into career mode, with players tackling three short scenarios rather than a full F2 season (this is available elsewhere in the game). It’s the 2018 season rather than the current grid, but this makes sense within the context of career mode, and the 2019 grid will be added as a free update in the summer. 

It’s in F2 where your rivalry with two fictional drivers begins. One is your teammate, who at least in our playthrough was the nicest racing driver alive, while the other is arrogance incarnate. Both are one-note cliché characters but stand as a welcome addition to a previously lifeless career mode. 

However, with Lando Norris, George Russell and Alexander Albon all graduating from F2 to F1, it feels like a missed opportunity not to replace the cliché characters with the real-life young guns. 

The two characters follow you into F1, and play a pivotal role throughout your debut season, acting as the reference point for your success. For those not interested in this duo or F2, the game gives you the opportunity to completely skip F2 and move straight into F1 with all the official drivers. 

Sticking with career mode, one of the most requested features has been added – driver transfers. This provides the possibility of Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton switching places, or left-field moves such as Robert Kubica finally taking his place at Ferrari. This, coupled with the development race, really makes each season of career mode feel unique, and actually makes completing all 10 seasons of the career mode a possibility. 

Another headline feature was the ‘Senna vs Prost’ challenge mode. Eight scenarios where you either compete as Ayrton Senna in his 1990 Mclaren MP4/5B or Alain Prost in the Ferrari F1-90. Unfortunately, this proves to be the most underwhelming feature in the game, as it is nothing more than the pre-existing challenge mode with the Senna/Prost skins. 

F1 2019

F1 2019

Photo by: Codemasters

Considering this DLC will currently set you back an extra £20 on consoles (with three-days early access), it’s difficult to advise paying for the ‘Legends Edition’ of the game. 

Beyond the Senna/Prost cars, Codemasters has added the 2010 Ferrari and McLaren cars to its already extensive classic cars roster in order to celebrate its anniversary. As ever, the handling department has worked wonders, replicating the unique feel of each of the classic cars. 

The series has also continued its steep improvement curve to make the current-generation cars feel more realistic than ever, while also not alienating the casual fans. The gameplay has also been enhanced by the AI drivers, who are not afraid of throwing it down the inside if you leave the space - and with the 110-scale difficulty slider, everyone can find their own sweet spot.

F1 2019

F1 2019

Photo by: Codemasters

Many gamers prefer the challenge of racing online. Unsurprisingly our first online race resulted in an over-ambitious player - in a Senna-tribute livery and helmet - using our car as a brake into Turn 1 at Suzuka. Of course, there isn’t much Codemasters can do to prevent this, but its ranking system means once you receive your ‘safety rating’, you’ll only be matched with players of similar racing etiquette (or lack of). 

Once I dug myself out of the gravel, there was good racing and little signs of the connection woes that have blighted other F1 games upon release. It remains to be seen whether that statement stands after the game's wider release on Friday. 

There’s more customisation than ever before, with custom liveries in multiplayer for the first time. Gamers can unlock liveries, helmets and badges by completing challenges and earning the in-game currency. This actually provides a purpose for booting up sections of the game that were previously relatively pointless. 

F1 2019

F1 2019

Photo by: Codemasters

All of these online additions will only encourage more participation and viewership of the third F1 Esports season. Codemasters has made it easier than ever to follow and be a part of the competition. For those who want to race competitively but aren’t quite fast enough for the Esports series, the developer has added a ‘leagues’ mode to the game, where anybody can create or join a racing league.

Online players will also be delighted to hear that there are now online replay highlights within the game, which look even better with a field of custom liveries and helmets. This is all furthered by the graphical improvements to the game. Wet-weather racing looks as stunning as ever and environments surrounding the circuits are crisper. 

Considering its earlier release date, Codemasters have included a miraculous amount of new additions which make the game feel fresher and more immerse than ever before. Longevity has long been an issue of any annually released franchise, but F1 2019 appears to have the tools to suggest that we could be enjoying this edition all the way to next year’s release. 

F1 2019 Legends Edition is out today on PC, Xbox One and PS4

F1 2019 game to allow official driver transfers

Previous article

F1 2019 game to allow official driver transfers

Next article

eNASCAR Heat Pro League heads to Watkins Glen

eNASCAR Heat Pro League heads to Watkins Glen
Load comments
How an unlikely tie-up won sim racing's biggest prize Prime

How an unlikely tie-up won sim racing's biggest prize

An unlikely partnership between World Endurance Championship LMP1 privateers Rebellion Racing and Williams Formula 1's highly-successful sim racing team yielded victory in the inaugural 24 Hours of Le Mans Virtual. Here's how it triumphed in the biggest sim race ever staged

Jun 15, 2020
How seriously should Esports be taken? Prime

How seriously should Esports be taken?

As interest in Esports has increased during the coronavirus lockdown, the lines have become blurred between what's real and what's virtual - especially when some high-profile participants seem to be playing for laughs, says Luke Smith

Jun 10, 2020
Why Abt's deception left Audi with no choice Prime

Why Abt's deception left Audi with no choice

Daniel Abt's suspension by the Audi Formula E team - and possible loss of his drive - for fielding a ringer in an Esports event could be considered an overreaction. But in a wider context, his employers had little other alternative

May 26, 2020
How Leclerc is embracing his new mission Prime

How Leclerc is embracing his new mission

The emergence of Ferrari F1 driver Charles Leclerc as a Twitch streaming star has been one of the pleasant surprises of lockdown so far. He says it is giving fans a greater insight into his nature, but that's not his primary purpose

Formula 1
Apr 23, 2020
Leclerc's Virtual GP annihilation deserves great credit Prime

Leclerc's Virtual GP annihilation deserves great credit

The introduction of Charles Leclerc, Alex Albon, George Russell and Antonio Giovinazzi to Formula 1's Virtual GP last weekend meant it was a step above the franchise's debut two weeks ago. But a dominant performance from Esports newcomer Leclerc stole the show

Apr 6, 2020
How the hidden side of being fast has been exposed Prime

How the hidden side of being fast has been exposed

The lack of real track action so far this year hasn't stop drivers from keeping their racing brains 'fresh', as former F1 star Stoffel Vandoorne suggested last weekend.

Apr 2, 2020
Why entertainment isn't Esports greatest virtue right now Prime

Why entertainment isn't Esports greatest virtue right now

MotoGP's virtual #StayAtHomeGP was a sad reminder of some of the storylines that could be unfolding had the real-life season not been delayed indefinitely by the coronavirus pandemic. While we can bemoan Esports as being a poor relation of the real thing, it has an even more important function to perform

Mar 30, 2020
F1’s pantomime Virtual GP is fun but unsustainable Prime

F1’s pantomime Virtual GP is fun but unsustainable

F1 Esports' inaugural Virtual Grand Prix last weekend provided brilliant entertainment to those tuning in to watch a mix of F1 drivers and celebrities battle on track, but was a missed opportunity for marketing its own Esports stars. A change of approach is needed if it is to successfully fill the void until the resumption of proper racing

Mar 24, 2020