A story mode is the big feature coming to F1 2021

The F1 2021 Video game Title on a blue background

When it comes to the F1 series of video games, I tend to skip years. I really enjoyed F1 2020, but didn’t play F1 2019*. I bought F1 2018 after skipping F1 2017. I was thinking I would hold off on playing F1 2021 but after today’s first bit of information, I might reconsider.

Where is the Braking Point?

Sure this is F1 2021 published by EA, it’s hard to assume that they had any real involvement. They only bought the studio a few months ago and this game has been in development for at least 18 months. Today’s teaser doesn’t start with the traditional “E. A. SPORTS.” intro you’d expect. The only EA mention happens when you see the EA SPORTS logo at the end of the trailer.

The first bits of information came out this week, with the major feature this year being a story mode, they’re calling “Braking Point”.

From the sounds of it, you’re controlling a pre-determined character (there are three characters mentioned: Devon Butler, Aiden Jackson, and Casper Akkerman) and it will see you go from Formula 2 into the fierce competition of Formula 1. Does this mean the story mode spans multiple seasons? Or, will there be some plot point where you have a few races in F2 before an injury to another F1 driver gets you promoted mid-season?

EA’s history of sports story modes has not always been solid. Madden’s story-focused modes are weak, while FIFA’s The Journey started strong but then tried to do too much. A strong story mode in a sports game shouldn’t feel like playing a 10-20 hour RPG. It also shouldn’t take you away from the point of playing the game (in this case, the racing).

A render of the 2021 McLaren for Codemaster's F1 2021

I suspect the mode will have plenty of story-specific moments, shortened races but very little opportunity to branch the story too much. You probably won’t win the F1 title in your first season. However, I do suspect the story won’t allow you to DNF every race.

The first year on Series X|S and PS5

F1 2020 was a stunning-looking game and with F1 2021 being the first year on Series X|S and PS5, I suspect the game will look even better. Again, the trailer shows us nothing in the visual department, so we only have a few renders they included with the pre-order announcement.

I’m also eager to see how they handle the real F1 season. Will we get all the tracks including the possible pending ones? There are 23 races scheduled for the 2021 season, but it’s possible for more or less depending on the Pandemic situation.

One thing that frustrated/disappointed fans of F1 2020 was that there was no post-game support to include some of the races that were later added to the 2020 season. You also couldn’t adjust the season to better match the 17 race season. While they’ve announced that the Deluxe Edition of F1 2021 will include classic drivers, there is no mention of bonus courses or if there will be any sort of post-release content.

A render of the 2021 Red Bull for Codemaster's F1 2021

Enough to keep the hardcore happy

With everything else they announced for the game (Two-Player Career, Real-Season Start, and many returning modes), I’m not too sure how the hardcore F1 game community feels about this. The Braking Point story mode is clearly trying to appeal to a more casual audience. I’m also not sure if the other new features are big enough selling points.

It’s a tad frustrating that the trailer has zero gameplay. It’s a teaser that doesn’t even tease the action you’d expect. We got some car renders (no Mercedes or Ferrari models though), but not even a shot of a car crossing the finish line is surprising.

In any case, while it might sound like I’m sour on the game, that’s farther from the truth. I am hopeful F1 2021‘s Braking Point story mode will be engaging enough and I’m really excited to see the game in action. F1 2020 was a favorite of mine from last year and I love watching F1. If they can deliver a solid racing game, I’ll be more than happy.

*I would later download the game via Xbox Game Pass.