hardwarechatter.com

Reviews

F1 2020 fi

F1 2020 Review: A Great Balancing Act

It’s my first GP at the Zandvoort Circuit in F1 2020. While the practice and qualifying sessions were dry, it’s just started to rain and there’s no sign of the sun. Thankfully, I had set up my car with a heavy emphasis on downforce and invested quite a lot of starting capital into the Aero department. I opt for a two pit strategy starting with the intermediate tires for the first half and switch to the wets for the rest of the race. I finished P5 in qualifying and I’m right behind Max Verstappen, the young prodigy who feels very much at home on the track.

Five red lights, the race starts and right into the first corner at Tarzan, Albon hits Hamilton, who goes sideways and Bottas piles on. Unable to dodge the mess, Charles Leclerc veers off into the curbs and just like that, two of the top drivers of the grid are out of the race. Now my strategy is to push hard and go in for an early pit-stop. I change the fuel mix to rich and step on it. With 10 laps remaining, the sun starts to peek from the clouds. At this point, I’m in P4, ahead of Perez by around 30 seconds and decide to change to the soft tire compound on the next lap in hopes of getting a podium finish.

f1 2020 zandvort
Zandvoort Circuit looks awfylly picturesque

Moments after I get out of the pits, my engine loses power and I push hard enough. At this point in the race, my best bet is just holding my position. With 2 laps to go, Bottas and Albon make contact, Albon drifts on to the curb and hits the tire wall and Bottas has to go into the pits to repair his front wing. I start pushing and finish the race on P2! This was my first podium of the season. The new ‘My Career’ mode in F1 2020 has yielded many such moments for me. While the core gameplay is quite similar to the previous entry in the series, the new game mode does change things up quite a bit.

So how’s the Gameplay in F1 2020?

Quite similar to F1 2019. But there are some major improvements for controller players and there are quite a few tweaks to the AI. On a Thrustmaster T500RS, the FFB is decent, though not on par with games such as Automobilista 2 or Assetto Corsa Competizione. F1 2020 is a difficult game to review. There is enough complexity in the mechanics and a steep enough learning curve for it to be considered as a sim. However, you just turn the assists on, connect a controller and have some casual fun. I would not, however, call it a sim-cade like Forza 7 either. You can play it seriously, timing each gear shift and neailing every corner, or you can just let the game do it for you and joke around with your friends instead. It handles both situations gracefully.

Apart from the ‘My Team’ game mode, F1 2020 also includes Splitscreen. This is by far one of the best features of the game and I’m glad to see it making a return. The new ‘My Team’ game mode is a great addition and adds enough progression for it to feel fresh. In it, you enter F1 as the 11th team and start from scratch. After selecting your engine, a primary sponsor, and a secondary driver, you’re basically playing a game of catch-up with the rest of the teams. Every 8-11 weeks, you have an option to renew the secondary driver’s contract or negotiate a new one.

Every race weekend, you can earn resource points and acclaim by completing the practice programs. You can boost your acclaim by getting a good qualifying result or by finishing on the podium. Every once in a while, you’ll have interviews that you can use strategically to either boost one of your departments or your acclaim. Higher acclaim unlocks better sponsors. Better sponsors make you more money. With more money, you can upgrade any of your 5 departments. Upgrading a department unlocks R&D upgrades for your car while reducing build times and reducing failures.

The R&D tree is divided into 4 parts: Powertrain, Aerodynamics, Durability and Chassis. The research points gained over the race weekends can be spent here to further improve your car. It is quite important to focus your efforts into making sure your car gets the necessary updates before each weekend otherwise your team will lag behind the competition. And no amount of exceptional driving will be able to make up for an outdated power unit. You should also be careful not to spend too much on upgrades before the secondary driver contract expires and must have enough cash reserved so that you can get a lucrative contract deal.

Overall, the new career mode adds a ton of new RPG-like mechanics and you do indeed feel like a team principal managing your team while racing at the same time. The rest of the game is fairly similar to the former title, with updated teams and liveries. The new AI improvements are a welcome change and you’ll find the drivers defending their inside positions more frequently now. However, on certain tracks, they are just too overpowered and the top qualifying times are next to impossible to achieve. Still, they are a major improvement over its predecessor and are much less frustrating to drive against.

F1 2020 Customization

With the new game mode, you can choose and customize your car livery based on the sponsors you currently have. This adds a great new element of personalization and further increases your immersion. You also get access to a podium pass and unlock new suits, gloves, emotes, and car liveries every few levels. You can earn levels by playing any game mode and don’t feel forced to complete a particular objective to be able to unlock an item.

There is an optional VIP which gives you access to even more customization items that you can purchase with in-game currency, called pitcoins. Pitcoins can be gained through unlocking more levels on the podium pass or by real-world money. While the game does have microtransactions, they are purely cosmetic and the progression is quite fast such that you never feel forced to pay for them. Moreover, if you reach enough levels in the podium pass in a season, you can earn enough pitcoins to pay for the next VIP. I’d even go so far as to say that this is one of the best monetization models of this generation.

Conclusion

If you’re new to the series, this game is a must-buy for both F1 and non-F1 fans alike. While it’s a sim, you can have the same amount of precision and fun with a controller and the game does a pretty good job of teaching you the mechanics. In a sentence, it’s the most comprehensive F1 experience that you can have today. Codemasters have refined the series to a fine mix of excitement, challenge, and adventure. While there’s still a small way to go, F1 2020 is the strongest the franchise has ever been.

Outlast: A Legacy of Terror

In 2013, Montreal based independent development studio, Red Barrels dropped a gameplay trailer for a survival horror game on YouTube. The 4-minute long trailer featured an intensely gripping chase sequence through the blood-smeared corridors, claustrophobic prison wards, and dark, looming hallways of asylum, with a good old jumpscare at the end, that got everyone on the internet talking.

This game was Outlast, which has become quite the sensation since its release, simply because of its unique gameplay experience. The plot follows the protagonist: Miles Upshur, an investigative journalist, who after receiving a mysterious message from an unknown source, finds himself in the bowels of Mount Massive Asylum. He is chased by its crazed inmates as he tries to unravel the secrets hidden deep within the facility.

The gameplay involves playing cat-and-mouse with the many horrors if the asylum. The player cannot fight back against the inmates and can only run and hide, with a camcorder and its night-vision feature as their only weapon. Resourcefulness is key, as one must use the camcorder judiciously lest its battery runs out. Later, a DLC was released titled Outlast Whistleblower which is just as scary if not scarier than the original. It delves deeper into the secrets of the asylum and its sinister origins.

Outlast hallway
The hallways of Mount Massive Asylum alone are enough to send chills down your spine

In 2015, Red Barrels dropped the first teaser to a sequel, and eventually released gameplay footage. Upon its release in 2017, it received mixed reviews from critics and fans alike. The story follows the protagonist, another investigative journalist, whose helicopter crashes into the untamed wilderness of Arizona. He must rescue his wife from the crazed cultists and heretics who inhabit the place, before escaping from their clutches.

The essential gameplay elements are the same as those of the prequel. The camcorder returns with its night-vision feature and also comes with a handy microphone. A new inventory system is introduced that allows one to view the number of batteries and bandages that one currently possesses. As most of the game takes place outdoors, it loses some of the cramped and claustrophobic surroundings that made the prequel so effective. The chase sequences felt repetitive and the gameplay depends on trial-and-error most of the time. However, the story was much more psychological and felt much more personal, and dealt with the very ambitious theme of Faith. Overall, Outlast 2 was a worthwhile attempt at building on its prequel and is a worthy successor.

Outlast 2 Northern Arizona Canyons
Northern Arizona was a great setting for a satanist cult

In October last year, a teaser image, titled “Where freedom ends”, was released on Red Barrel’s blog page. Two months later, they would go on to release a poster of their upcoming project, ‘The Outlast Trials’. It will act as a prequel to the two games before and will be set in the same universe but in the Cold War era. The player can play alone or with up to 3 friends. In June, Red Barrel dropped a teaser trailer for the game, that got all the fans excited and terrified at the same time. From the trailer, it is vaguely evident that the theme of mind control experiments will be at the crux. Release dates and platforms for ‘The Outlast Trials’ are yet to be announced, although a 2021 release is anticipated.