F1 22’s Senior Creative Director on gameplay changes, F1 Life, and the future of the franchise in the U.S. – Interview

A look into what to expect from F1 22, from the Senior Creative Director himself.

Image via EA Sports

F1 22 will hit consoles and PC worldwide on July 1, as this will be a big year for the simulation gaming franchise. That is thanks to a litany of new additions and features, including the implementation of the new next-generation cars that are now being used across the Formula 1 circuit. F1 22 will also feature a brand new user hub, an Adaptive AI, and VR support, amongst other changes and additions.

But how much change should F1 players expect to see come July? We had a chance to talk to F1 Senior Creative Director Lee Mather, and asked him a number of questions regarding gameplay, next-gen cars, and more.

Next-gen cars and the work that went into them

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Every year in Formula 1, and the F1 game itself, brings change.The changes for 2022, as racing fans would have expected, go well beyond the usual. That’s thanks to the mass changes made to the real world Formula 1 cars for the 2022 season. Front and rear wings, and the floor, have all received significant changes, while the cars, in general, have become heavier. 

Mather told DoubleXP that as soon as Codemasters found out about the new rules, the F1 team went to work on implementing the new cars into F1 22. The F1 development team worked with Formula 1 to understand the goals and outcomes that it was looking for with the new rules, enabling the devs to move from the “heavily over body aero system” that had been used in the past. F1 22 will no longer feature the smaller wings, but this year’s model will come with a clear silhouette for the car. 

Mather believes that F1 players will benefit instantly from the new car, and the re-worked tire model. Users should also be able to notice the extra weight through the chassis and unsprung mass of the wheels and tyres.

As far as damage models are concerned, those too will be different. A key difference in damage models between F1 2021 and F1 22, according to Mather, will be how damage to the floor of the car impacs on aero performance. “With less winglets and intricate bargeboards, a more significant portion of the downforce is now generated by the floor,“ Mather told us. Mather added that it will be very important for players to be cautious on the larger curbs, in order to avoid significant floor damage.

On what’s new

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F1 22 will feature a wide swath of new features, but one not returning from 2021 is Braking Point. Last year for F1 2021, Codemasters added Braking Point, a story mode that followed three drivers across their differing journeys in the Formula 1 circuit. Users were tasked with completing objectives in each race, in order to progress along the way.

While Braking Point won’t be returning for F1 22, Mather stated that Codemasters does intend to bring it back into the future. The F1 Senior Creative Director told us that he and his team were “over the moon”  at the reception Braking Point received last year. While the focus is on the new cars and gameplay for F1 22, Mather sees the story mode, which utilized professional story writers, in order to flesh out a full-length story, making a return to F1 on a bi-annual basis.

Among some of the new features that will be in F1 22 will be the addition of Sprint races, supercars, an Adaptive AI system, new tracks, VR support, and F1 Life.

Sprint races can be played in both Grand Prix events, as well as in career mode and online play. Mather did confirm to us that sprint races will have online multiplayer, as users will be able to enable these events during any race weekend.

Virtual Reality (VR) support will also be coming for F1 22 on PC, and this is a feature that has been in the works for quite some time. Mather told us that Codemasters wanted to bring VR in for quite some time, stating:

“The implementation was started back at the beginning of the F1 22 development cycle, so essentially, not long after F1 2020 shipped.”

However, the devs wanted to bring VR into F1 without compromise. Thus, Codemasters enlisted an external team that has worked with the developers in the past, for bringing VR into other Codemasters games. 

Adaptive AI is another new feature coming to F1. This tailors the gameplay experience for beginners to the F1 series, and it’s something that newcomers might want to make use of. We asked Mather about the different difficulties that will be available in F1 22. Mather stated that there will be two different components to the Adaptive AI. One is a Casual Race Style, where the AI scaled based upon the player’s skill. Then there’s the Full Adaptive AI, that puts speed caps on the AI, in order to ensure that the CPU races with the player and brings the user closer to the action. 

We also asked Mather about the new F1 Life mode. F1 Life will be where users can access lobbies, friend lists, and game modes. And, users can also change the look of the hub, including the avatar and the furniture within it, and see the supercars that are collected throughout the course of the game.

Mather stated that this will be a venue where players can showcase their own style and taste. We also wanted to ask about some of the add-ons that can be acquired for F1 Life. Mather indicated that clothing and the Life customization options can be acquired through the in-game store, Podium Pass, and the new Brand Store.

As far as the supercars, which can be used in some of the game’s new modes, Mather told us that these new cars can simply be obtained through gameplay. Playing through F1 22 will yield tokens that can be used for buying the supercars.

F1 in Miami and the future

Image via EA Sports

We also wanted to discuss the new tracks in F1 22, namely the Miami Grand Prix. The latest addition of the Formula 1 circuit saw the action take place in the beautiful Miami metro area, and the new track will be in F1 22. However, an interesting component regarding this addition was that Codemasters was tasked with re-creating a track that hadn’t even been raced on yet. 

Mather told us that Codemasters, much like with other new tracks, received CAD data for the layout, as well as the grandstand and building placement. Codemasters had a team close by in Florida to help work with getting the look of the Miami Grand Prix right. Mather also noted that the Madden team helped with the design of Hard Rock Stadium, the home of the NFL’s Miami Dolphins and a key surrounding landmark of the new circuit in Miami.

The addition of Miami means that Formula 1 will have two separate races in the U.S. in 2022, one in Florida, and the other in Austin, Texas. Next year, F1 will have three races in the United States, as Las Vegas enters the fray. 

Mather stated that Codemasters always intends to reflect the F1 season as accurately as possible, so users should expect the Las Vegas strip to be a part of the F1 game series for next year. The F1 Senior Creative Director noted his excitement for Las Vegas’ entry into the F1 series of races, something that is certainly a sign of growth that Formula 1 is experiencing in the United States. Mather believes that his gaming franchise is gaining popularity here in the U.S., and that it, coupled with the sport itself, all benefit from the increasing interest.