F1 2021 review – Championship standard gameplay and a thrilling story

f1 2021 gameplayCodemasters

In recent years, the real-life Formula 1 seasons have given us drama like we’ve never seen before. When it comes to the virtual world of F1 2021, Codemasters have perfectly recreated this with top-tier gameplay and a brilliant new mode in Braking Point.

Making a new game, coming up with new features, and matching the real-world rollercoaster ride of Formula 1 is an incredibly difficult task, but the developers have smashed it out of the park each year.

Article continues after ad

As this year’s F1 championship battle is being contested between Red Bull and Mercedes with Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton, respectively, the virtual world of F1 has also got its fair share of thrilling twists too.

F1 2021’s new Braking Point mode is a genius addition that harnesses the drama of the hit Drive to Survive Netflix series, while Codemasters have retained the top-tier racing gameplay that they’re renowned for.

F1 2021 – Key Details

  • Price: £54.99 / $59.99
  • Developer: Codemasters
  • Release Date: July 16, 2021
  • Platforms: Xbox, PlayStation & PC

F1 2021 trailer

Codemasters remain pacesetters with F1 2021 gameplay

Red Bull and Mercedes cars at Yas Marina in F1 2021Screenshot via F1 2021
Racing should feel exhilarating, and in F1 2021, it is.

It’s that gameplay that sets it apart from the chasing pack of other virtual racing experiences. F1 cars should feel fast to race, be tricky to handle at times, and sound ear-piercingly loud as you fly down a straight. And in F1 2021, they do. 

Article continues after ad

Prior to launch, Codemasters lifted the lid on a new ‘expert’ race style, and they’ve delivered. No matter if you’ve played F1 games for your whole life, if you drop in for an expert race and don’t drive right on the limit, you’re going to find yourself as a backmarker on the grid. 

Just like the cars do in real life, the game punishes you for going millimeters wide on a difficult corner, but rewards you in a big way for putting together a beautiful flowing lap where you hit all the apexes on corners and perfectly time those DRS pushes on straights. 

Article continues after ad

If that’s not your style, the less-advanced modes are still equally as fun as ever, and there’s nothing better than carving your way through the pack as Lando Norris or Fernando Alonso in a shorter, more casual race.

Alpha Tauri and Mercedes cars battling it out at Monza in f1 2021Screenshot via F1 2021
Fighting wheel to wheel in F1 2021 is challenging but incredibly enjoyable.

MyTeam improvements are welcomed

The star of the show this year are the career modes – be that MyTeam, Driver career, or the all-new Braking Point. 

Starting with MyTeam, Codemasters created some brilliant foundations for the mode in F1 2020, but over time it became repetitive as you rose up the grid. This year, there are more choices to be made, a revamped Research and Development system, as well as a wider variety of cutscenes between races. 

Article continues after ad

When you bring on a new driver or upgrade an R&D department, the game will give you choices that have longer-lasting impacts than before. It adds a nice twist rather than everything being hunky-dory and on the right track. If morale goes down, your team could spiral, and it’s an interesting balancing act to manage over the course of a season.

Factory workers in F1 2021 career modeScreenshot via F1 2021
MyTeam now has more options in F1 2021, and you have to balance morale more than ever.

Braking Point is a Drive to Survive fans dream

As for Braking Point, well, if you love Drive to Survive, you’ve got an enjoyable mode on your hands that you can sink hours into, going back and forth with the different in-race scenarios. The story, of course, draws parallels with the real-life action of a young hotshot teaming with a veteran who feels under fire. 

Article continues after ad

While thoroughly entertaining, it does feel awkward at times when you outperform the set objective for a race. If you’re tasked with finishing fifth and find yourself on the podium, the game won’t react too much or acknowledge the success.

Though, if the mode is to return next year, there is a solid foundation to build off of.

f1 drivers shoving each other in Braking PointScreenshot via F1 2021
Braking Point stars Aiden Jackson, a young upstart in F1, but there are significant challenges for him.

Rating: 8.5/10

Overall, the game is, as always, the best pound-for-pound F1 experience out there. It blends casual play with a full-on simulation of the real thing in such a perfect way that other games don’t. 

Article continues after ad

The only real glaring issue is that, when it releases, you can’t race around the complete F1 calendar as Portimao, Imola, and the all-new Jeddah circuit are coming in later updates. 

Regardless, F1 2021 is a must-buy for all fans of the sport – regardless of whether Drive to Survive has gotten you hooked recently, or you’re a life-long fan who has tried to build a simulator set-up in your own home.

Reviewed on Xbox Series X

Article continues after ad

Related Topics