F1 2021 is on its way, and with it comes a brand new story mode.
Dubbed Braking Point, the mode was front and centre of the game's announcement trailer back in April. But what will it bring to the game, and does it need to do to avoid being a flop?
The risk of story-led sports modes
Braking Point is not the first time a major sports game has tried to integrate a story mode into its annual release.
FIFA has tried it with "The Journey", and Madden with "Long Shot". Madden's attempt was a woefully slow mode that gave you a lot of cut scenes and very little to actually do. There was very little choice for players, resulting in the same outcome for everyone, and then it just bled into Franchise Mode with little lasting impact.
With FIFA it was the same story, as RealSport101's FIFA expert Michael Wicherek told us: "The Journey was a fantastic idea with so much potential, but much like the press conferences in Career Mode it lacked individuality which players crave in storyline modes. [...] The Journey was put on the backburner."
F1 2019 even tried it with a small integration of Formula 2 and the introduction of Devon Butler and Lukas Weber, but again it lacked some permenance and impact.
From all of these are there some clear lessons that Codemasters should take on board to make sure Braking Point is a hit.
RPGs are so successful because every player can have a different journey based on the choices and decisions they make within the story.
That's what everyone wants from Braking Point. There have to be decision branches and points in the mode where we can take meaningful, lasting choices.
These can't just be about what team to join or what sponsor to sign with, they need to do things like put more roadblocks in our way to F1, or ease the road ahead by compromising on our ideals.
Braking Point will see the return of Devon Butler to the F1 series. The antagonist from F1 2019, Butler has become something of a fan icon thanks to his abrasive personality and of course the endless fan-created memes.
The new characters have to be well-written and pose a challenge to us. From the trailer it sounds like Akkerman will be a rival driver, while Jackson could be a Team Principal or owner. Could we have to negotiate a bitter rivalry with the veteran Butler guiding us? Or will Butler once again be the main villain of the piece?
While fans will likely want to take on Butler again, Braking Point needs to separate itself from F1 2019, especially if Codemasters see it as a recurring mode.
A lasting impact
Braking Point can't just be a quick 10-15 hour adventure before we go diving into My Team or Career Mode.
The mode needs to have a lasting impact for players that dive into it, be that having Jackson & Akkerman as a new 12th team in My Team, or having difficulty signing sponsors because you angered them in Braking Point. There needs to be a crossover into the other areas of the game, otherwise Braking Point will just go the way of The Journey and Long Shot.
F1 2021 release date
F1 2021 has an official release date of 16 July.
Fans can get their hands on it ahead of time with the Deluxe Edition, which offers three days early access.
It will be available on both PS4 & PS5 as well as Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S and PC.