But F1 has changed significantly recently, so we caught up with Lee Mather, Senior Creative Director at F1 22 to find out exactly what players should expect, what’s changed, and how the Codemasters team implemented those changes. And yes, we are also talking about Supercars and VR.
Hi, can you introduce yourself. What is your role at Codemasters and at F1 22?
Lee Mather, Senior Creative Director for EA SPORTS F1 22 F1 22 is the 13th Formula 1 game I’ve worked on so far.
So sell it to us, why would gamers be interested in F1 22?
It’s a new era in the sport of Formula 1, and also a new era for us with the F1 series. The first thing that will stand out is that this is our first fully branded EA SPORTS title, which is clear from the new naming convention and something we are very proud to be a part of.
F1 22 offers returning and new fans to the sport of F1 an experience like never before, allowing players of all skill and experience levels to enjoy the excitement of F1 through our implementation of new sporting rules, a vastly different look and feel of F1 cars, broadcast and immersive presentation.
And what game modes will racers discover when they get behind the wheel of F1 22?
F1 22 offers players multiple ways to engage with the world of F1. My team puts a player in charge of not only racing, but also managing their own team. This year they will have to contend with multiple events that could affect the team’s performance or finances. They will also be able to choose how to start their My Team Career, but starting with a clean balance, or choose the entry point of a mid-level funded team or a fully funded championship contender team with strong resources and funding.
Driver Career puts you in the seat of one of the official Formula 1 teams, alongside your chosen teammate from that team. You will be able to race and upgrade your team performance, to fight for the F1 Drivers World Championship.
Players can also get their F1 fix by jumping into our fully customizable Grand Prix Mode, Time Trial or take it online with our social lobbies or ranked multiplayer.
And finally, not forgetting the Event Mode, players will be able to participate in weekly events or featured races.
As for Formula 1 as a whole and things have changed significantly this season, in fact there hasn’t been such a change in rules and regulations for decades, with new cars, wheels and more now in place. How did you go about making F1 22 play as close to real life as possible? Did the powers that be in F1, the FIA and the teams as a whole help?
We are very fortunate to have such a great relationship with the technical team in Formula 1. Obviously we are always building our cars to the new rules as they are announced, but we were able to discuss in more detail the goals and expectations of the outcome of those changes likely to be. This has allowed us to concentrate on specific updates to our technology and the way we create our cars. The change to the chassis made a significant difference in the cars ability to race closer than ever before. There’s also the move to an 18″ wheel and tire package that also affects the feel of the car.
Additionally, this year we’ve made significant improvements to our tire model, giving players an even more realistic yet forgiving feel while racing.
As for the new tracks, how did the process work to get Miami into F1 22, given that most of the game would be put together before the track was finished?
Wasn’t Miami a fantastic event this year? Building the car was exciting for us and we really had to pool our resources to deliver it to the level that we demand of ourselves. We received excellent CAD data that allowed us to accurately create the strip. We also had a team help us get additional reference photos. And of course, one of the highlights of the entire course (no, not the epic fake marina), Hard Rock Stadium, was something we got to share with our Madden friends.
Similarly, there were track changes in Barcelona, Melbourne and Spa. Will all these changes be seen in the game?
Melbourne, Spain and Abu Dhabi have been updated this year. It’s amazing how reprofiling a corner can make such a difference to the feel and flow of a circuit. I really like the faster flowing Melbourne version, it really suits the latest iteration of the F1 car.
There is no ‘story mode’ in F1 22. What is the reason to skip it this time? Will we see the return of narrative in future games?
We’ve seen great success with our F1 2021 story mode Braking Point with both new and returning players, and we’re committed to this feature as a studio. It was never part of our plans for F1 22 due to our two-year development cycle with our in-house teams, but it’s definitely coming back.
It’s not just F1 cars that drivers will be spending time with in F1 22, with Supercars and Safety Cars available for the first time. How did the idea to include this come about?
The inclusion of supercars is something we’ve discussed for a few years now, and there are a number of reasons why we think they’re such a great addition to the series.
They are a great way to reward players with a very cool reward that can be collected and redeemed, solely for playing the game. We were also inspired by the lifestyles and car collections of the Formula 1 drivers themselves. We wanted players to be able to experience the joy of owning such stunning cars. We were also inspired to add Pirelli Hot Laps to the game, where Formula 1 drivers take celebrities and journalists around the track to show off their skills in high-performance road cars.
Then, of course, there are the exciting new game elements we’ve created with them. Formula 1 is intense and absolutely on edge, so we wanted players to be able to take a break between F1 race weekends and relax with something a little more relaxed. What’s better than taking your favorite supercar to the famous Formula 1 track, participating in Autocross, Drifts or any of the other new track experiences we’ve created for them.
As for the Safety cars, this year we have opened the opportunity to experience many key parts of the F1 race in a different way. Safety cars are a major part of the race and can significantly affect the outcome. By introducing this element, it helps players keep all the authenticity and excitement, while choosing how they want to engage with them.
Safety cars can be a real racing moment, but not everyone wants to drive during the time period when it is on the track. For players who don’t want the full immersive version, we’ve also added new broadcast versions, which present them TV-style, with a shortened Safety Car period.
And how did the introduction of these supercars affect things technically? Was it a challenge to make sure they fit in with the rest of the F1 experience?
We already had the technology to build cars within our EGO engine. For several years we have had safety cars that cannot be driven. However, we wanted these cars to feel perfect for the player. As we worked to further develop our physics, we made major improvements to the way the suspension and tire models were implemented, and this was enhanced by the supercar implementation.
As a fan of Formula 1 and fast cars, they fit perfectly.
Going from the stunning F1 machines to the equally stunning – but completely different handling – Supercars is certainly a big shift. What is there to ensure that players have no problem adapting to the driving styles of each vehicle?
Great question. We know that Formula 1 cars are challenging to drive, and switching between the crazy pace of an F1 car and a supercar can be a challenge. We also know that we have a lot of new players coming into the game through different channels, such as Drive to Survive or through the excellent social channels that Formula 1, teams and drivers and EA drives.
All of our vehicles have a wide range of assists to ensure that players of any skill level can compete at a level that suits them. Among those assists are traction control, ABS, steering assist, automatic transmissions, Auto DRS and ERS, to name a few. We also have additional drift assistance for supercars.
We’ve also added a fantastic new feature for our new players, Adaptive AI. For players who may be new to the game, they can enable two different levels of adaptive AI that will ensure they always experience the thrill of wheel-to-wheel racing.
Can you tell us a little more about life in F1? How deep does customization and personalization go?
F1 Life gives the player the opportunity to truly personalize and customize their F1 experience. F1 Life gives players the chance to have a space that’s their own and show off the collection of supercars and trophies they’ve unlocked. They’ll also be able to change the look and feel of all F1 Life locations, changing everything from the floor to the walls to the furniture you and your friends’ avatars sit on. This area has also been expanded to be used as a multiplayer lobby, giving players a chance to show off their style and see who they’ll be racing against. Style is something that is synonymous with Formula 1 and the drivers, so we wanted players to be able to show their own style and personality in F1 Life through a range of amazing real clothing brands that they can use to dress up their avatar.
Visually, the F1 series has always looked great, but what changes have been made this time around to really make things pop?
I can’t take credit for the answer, so this goes to our Senior Art Director, Tuart Campbell.
We have continued to improve our ray-tracing technology and this is especially evident during wet weather. The new supercar feature called for rain-on-the-windscreen effects not previously seen in an F1 title.
We were also challenged to bring a brand new feature to F1 Life. This required a lot of new rendering techniques around how customization and dynamic objects are handled, as well as making the new supercars look their best in F1 Life locations.
You also really push the boat out in terms of broadcast and commentary, relying on some of the most famous voices from the F1 circus to help the immersion. What was it like working with these guys and gals, making sure they all had a place in F1 22?
It’s great to be able to tap into such incredible talent across the F1 world. Working with the right talent not only adds to the authenticity of the game, but also gives us the opportunity to do something new with our broadcast-style presentation. Finding room for everything in the game is never a problem. In most cases, people play the role they play in the real world, plus, with such a huge game, we’re never short of things for people to do and be involved with.
We can’t talk about F1 22 without mentioning the inclusion of VR. Please tell us about the immersion that VR brings to the game and why you chose F1 22 as the first F1 title to implement it.
We heard loud and clear from our players that they want VR in the F1 series. We had to make sure we were in a position to deliver it at the level we expected from our work. We wanted to make sure that the VR experience on the track would be as immersive and exciting as it deserves. We also had the great opportunity to work with the team that delivered the VR for the DiRT series so we knew we were going to get quality. In addition to our incredibly detailed visuals, deep and immersive audio, and the sheer pace and excitement of Formula 1, I think everyone will love what we’ve achieved with VR.
And finally, if there’s one dream addition you’d like to see in any F1 game in the future, what would it be?
An exploratory trip to lap Spa in an F1 car would be at the top of my list. Seriously though, we have so many ideas and great things we want to do with F1. We’ve achieved a number of dream features over the years, and we hope to see many more materialize in future releases, but if I tell you what I have in mind right now, I’ll be giving away too much.
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