Another way of driving
Having available the Grand Prix mode, of course, our first instinct was to test the simplified driving system in depth, an interesting addition that can only be used in completely offline modes. Once the tracks were chosen (as per tradition, it is possible to create a real personalized mini-championship consisting of several grand prizes in sequence), we found a new box waiting for us in the settings screen.
In addition to selecting the length of free practice, qualifications and races, starting this year we will be able to change the driving system, alternating at will the “realistic” one, selected by default, and the “sporty” one, more suitable for casual players. If the traditional one seems – at least formally and structurally – not to have undergone major changes, the simplified one is instead something completely new for the series. Once chosen, in fact, the entire aid management screen will be immediately modified, considerably reducing its complexity. The items relating to traction control, anti-blocking system and so on, considered fundamental in order to simplify the user experience and therefore enabled behind the scenes, will disappear; an unprecedented option will also appear assisted steering.
This aid is perhaps one of the most marked and – in our opinion – invasive of the package. When we activated it, in all honesty, we almost didn’t think we had the same game in our hands that we had played until a few minutes before. At each turn, the car is basically sucked into the ideal trajectory, almost completely ignoring our inputs while traveling.
As if that weren’t enough, activating this kind of help forces us to carry along too assisted braking, which remains stuck at “high”, the maximum value. The combination of these two aids gives us back a car that seems to be on autopilot, requiring only very small corrections when we are in traffic, and a small tap on the brake from time to time in the most closed and complicated corners. During our tests we managed without too many problems to complete several laps of the Melbourne circuit without touching the brake, and with very few, almost imperceptible, interventions on the left stick.
It may seem unnecessary information to you, but for the sake of completeness we would like to specify that this combo of aids proved even more invasive when we tried to use it in tandem with a steering wheel. It seems clear enough, moreover, that this addition is designed specifically for less experienced players that, using the pad, in the past they had a hard time modulating the steering, brake and accelerator inputs.
By turning off assisted steering, things get much more interesting. For example, we will be able to manage the incidence of braking assistance at our convenience (which can also be completely disabled), allowing us to gradually increase our control over the car. Also appreciated are all the other nuances of this “new” driving model, such as simplification of off-piste terrain physics and the possibility of having an automatic vehicle recovery system. These choices arise from a careful analysis of the main problems encountered by the players with the old chapters (which evidently often ended up in the sand and are in serious difficulties when returning to the track), and actually end up smoothing some edges of the product without distorting the general dynamics too much.
Although our first approach to the accessible driving system did not exalt us so much, we are still happy with the move made by the development team. The unprecedented “casual” model is, after all, only an extra element, an additional possibility that does not end up in any way affecting on the quality of the traditional handling system, which however has received significant improvements this year.
We have already spoken briefly about some of them in the previous preview, but given the greater familiarity acquired in the meantime with the new iteration of the Codemasters course, we have even managed to perceive new ones. Driving after installing this latest update we found ourselves in the hands of the apparently easier cars to drive in the first instance, but extremely difficult to handle when trying to file that last tenth of a second driving to the limit of grip and our possibilities . By deactivating all the aids and making a very rapid comparison with the title of last year, which we have specially played side by side with the new edition, we also notice greater difficulty when exiting corners, with cars that tend to struggle a bit more in traction. The latter, for the time being, was perhaps the most curious and controversial change we have encountered.
A new season
With the arrival of this new build we have finally been able to thoroughly test various historic cars, including related ones to the figure of Michael Schumacher and provided exclusively for the Deluxe Edition. Among them we find the car with which the German made his F1 debut back in 1991, the Jordan 191, flanked both by the two Benettons with which the champion dominated in the mid-nineties, and obviously by the Ferrari F1-2000, with which he made his debut with the house of the prancing horse. Finally, there is not even the F2004, the fireball of his seventh and last world title.
These cars, as always happens for the “older” ones, present, steering wheel in hand, significant differences with their modern counterparts. The clearly understeering nature of contemporary racing cars, perhaps more intimately connected to the effects of an aerodynamic load of a different caliber than that of the less advanced single seaters, disappears almost completely. The result is vehicles that are so difficult to control when satisfactory to drive. Even modern cars have undergone important updates: now they have more accurate liveries and in line with those that will run the current championship, and also some of the models have been updated to their 2020 version, continuing the ride that will lead the team to provide players with completely identical means to the real counterparts.
In the new build there are also all the tracks of the original calendar. Among them, in addition to Zandvoort, which we talked about extensively in our preview a few weeks ago, we found waiting for the other unpublished track this year, that of Hanoi, where the Vietnam grand prix was supposed to be held.
A particular circuit and in some ways also extremely technical, ready to undermine even the shrewdest of pilots at the slightest mistake. Despite having appreciated the high speed and precision necessary to get out of some passages of the track unscathed, the initial impact did not give us the same emotions as the first time in Zandvoort. Although the Dutch one remains a stingy track of overtaking and exciting brawls, its more “lived” nature and its less regular road surface are able to further enhance the effectiveness of the technologies with which the development team has decided to approach the creation of the circuits .