F1 2017 is unleashed and we’ve got the interview

We talk to Codemasters to discover what’s new and worth looking forward to in F1 2017.
The front of the iconic McLaren MP4/4
The McLaren MP4/4 makes an appearance in F1 2017 © Codemasters
By Phil Barker

With the action in FIA Formula One World Championship hotting up and a host of stars in with a shout of winning this year’s title, Codemasters has picked a great time to announce the launch of F1 2017.

It doesn’t seem long since Codemasters released F1 2016, a game that set the standard when it came to racing virtual F1 cars, and we’ve seen numerous brilliant racing games like Project CARS 2, DiRT Rally 4 and WRC 7 hitting the headlines in the meantime. Now it’s time for Codemasters to enjoy the limelight again, and with F1 2017 racing towards an August release date it looks like Formula One and racing fans are in for a treat.

F1 2017 sees the return of historic F1 cars including the iconic 1988 McLaren MP4/4 driven by Senna and Prost, and the all-conquering 1992 Williams FW14B driven to victory on multiple occasions by Nigel Mansell. There’s a more comprehensive championship mode, and lots of other features to look forward to as well. Lee Mather, creative director at Codemasters, explains more.

What has been the biggest change in F1 2017?

Mather: Where do I start? From the major technical changes in the sport, the incredible range of iconic Formula 1 cars, the continued expansion of the Career mode, to the track updates and refinements and the inclusion of the new ‘Championships’ game mode, there’s no shortage of exciting changes and additions in F1 2017. And those are just the ones we’re talking about now. We can’t wait to start talking about things in more detail over the coming months in the run up to release.

What’s been the biggest challenge you guys have faced with making this year’s game?

We’ve set the bar high for ourselves this year, following the critical and public success of F1 2016. Our biggest challenge will be to top that.

Classic cars are set to return; how did you decide which ones to add?

Believe it or not, it wasn’t as hard as we expected. Even with a team of very passionate Formula 1 fans, some of them with a love for certain teams, we did eventually find common ground. There isn’t a single car amongst the selection which doesn’t get all of us massively excited.

Is there a championship for classic cars, or just single races?

With such a strong range of cars, we wanted to make the best possible use of them within the game, giving the player a wider range of experiences than in any other F1 game. This extends beyond their inclusion to integration within the main Career experience.

How far back into F1’s history are you guys planning to go? How far does the throwback feeling go?

We had in mind that we wanted to cover off some of the most dominant, iconic and significant F1 cars of the last 30 years. We actually included a question about classics in one of our recent fan surveys. The results further reinforced our classic selection, so we’re really excited to see the reaction from the fans.

Do you think players have been looking for more detail within career mode? Or do you get lots of people who just want to dip in and out of races? How do you think you’ve struck that balance with this year’s title?

We take a lot into account when planning the direction of the game. Obviously we have a picture in our minds of the game we want to make, and how we can best represent Formula 1 the sport, while also making a really compelling racing game which interests and excites a wide range of gamers. We also take feedback from the fans onboard, on our forum, social channels and through the surveys which we run.

The front of a Ferrari F2002 in F1 2017
It’s not pretty, but it was definitely quick © Codemasters

Will people playing career mode have to get involved in setting up every last detail if they want to succeed? Or is it still possible for people to just jump in the car and be competitive? Are there pre-defined setups for the less mechanically inclined?

Building a game which is both authentic and accessible to a wide range of gamers has always been a key consideration. Adding the Practice Programmes and tutorials in F1 2016 served as great tools to educate players of all levels, along with adding some great new gameplay. In an area such as car setup, we allow a huge level of customisation, but also offer more simple preset options to cater for all styles of gamer. Something we’re super excited to talk about further in the coming weeks is the new ‘Championships’ game mode which we’ve added in F1 2017.

How many people are working on this year’s title? How has the development process been?

The team size is very similar to that of F1 2016, with a few new additions to keep things fresh. There’s still a huge buzz in the studio off the back of F1 2016; this positivity breeds even more positivity and furthers creativity on the title. Even the promise of unhealthy late night takeaways for dinner can’t take the shine off things!

The front of a Williams FW14B in F1 2017
Remember this? © Codemasters

Tell us a fun fact about this year’s development.

This year we’ve instigated a new rewards scheme in the studio. We’ve always rewarded the stars of the week, but this year we’ve purchased a truly (ironically) awful trophy for them to place upon their monitor, before passing it on the following week. Along with that, they receive a small star trophy which they get to keep, adorning their desks forever. We’re classy like that.

F1 2017 will be landing on PS4, Xbox One and PC on August 25 2017. 

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