Narrative modes in sports games are a very love-hate addition. Some players really enjoyed The Journey in FIFA or Longshot in Madden, but when it came to the Formula 1 game it was largely well-received.
Sure, there were some that maligned the resources spent on a story mode rather than improvements elsewhere. But from the 2019 Feeder Series mini-story to the fully-fledged Braking Point in F1 2021, it has been a success for Codemasters.
So can Braking Point 2 keep the momentum going in F1 23? Can it deliver an engaging sequel to what seemed like a self-contained story? Well we’ve been able to play the first three chapters to get a taste for the Braking Point 2, and it is a promising start!
Braking Point 2 starts in the 2022 season but with a new team on the grid, Konnersport Racing. This beautifully blends the My Team mode that was introduced in F1 2020 and saves the fictional characters from booting real F1 drivers from the grid.
Konnersport takes an obvious influence from Mario Andretti’s push to gain a spot on the F1 grid. The owner & team principal is even called Andreo Konner. Other real-world references shine through, with plenty of the cut scenes taking inspiration from Drive To Survive, while the title sponsor of Konnersport is helmed by Devon Butler’s father which is a clear nod to Lawrence Stroll’s influence on the sport in the name of keeping his son in a job.
When you get past those references and nods to the real world, the story gets teed up really well. Konnersport Racing joined the grid and signed Devon Butler (clearly for the money) and Aiden Jackson, who we left after F1 2021 seemingly on the cusp of a Mercedes drive.
Obviously, George Russell pipped him to that and left him taking a seat a Konnersport next to Butler. The struggles of a new team and a driver pairing that even the bravest of F1 Manager players would baulk at leads to inevitable problems.
In the first chapter, an engine issue ends the race for Jackson, and sees Butler gloating. The second chapter sees an inevitable coming together between the two and the third sees the ignoring of team orders.
These are familiar beats to anyone that has watched Formula 1 for a while, and a sensible place to start. But where Braking Point starts to shine is in its characters.
Familiar faces & new names
The characters we all know are exactly as we would expect. Devon Butler is the smarmy, punchable, guy we all know and hate. Jackson is still a bit naive. It would be odd for this to change given that, canonically, only a few months have passed since the end of the first Braking Point.
The story shines when we start to meet new characters. Andreo Konner is a guy living his dream, and clearly seeing it to be more complicated than he had hoped. Davidoff Butler, an early favourite of ours, looks every bit the villainous elder statesman. The man who has so much money that he is just used to getting his own way.
There is also mention of characters that we are yet to meet in the first three chapters. Casper Akkerman pops up in conversations and emails, and the new up-and-coming driver Callie Mayer is even name-dropped early on. It all promises a rich story full of characters with interlinking and clashing desires.
Choices & outcomes
The structure of Braking Point 2 is very similar to the first story. You get an introductory cut scene at the start of a chapter, then a few laps to complete a race objective before hitting another cut scene and your social/email inbox.
However, there is more to it than that. You’ll also get inbox actions as Andreo Konner, giving you the option to make some choices that can impact two things, Performance and Reputation.
Raising these levels gives you more options when it comes to answering press questions or further team decision moments, but how much they impact the story remains to be seen. It’s unlikely that the story will branch at any point, but we could see a few different outcomes based on the decisions made within the story, we'll just have to wait and see!
That said, there are bonus objectives within the race which can be set by your answers. We dismissed some “home track advantage” talk in Canada and had a bonus objective to beat both Lance Stroll and Nicholas Latifi. That’s a nice touch, but how deep it goes will have to wait until the full game is released.
Hold over issues
Unfortunately, the biggest issue from F1 2021’s Braking Point returns, which is the difficulty. Codemasters’ single-player AI slider of 0-110 is one of the best things about the racing experience in their F1 games. You can balance the speed of the opposition to suit your skill level by minute degrees. This isn’t how you set up Braking Point though.
Instead, you just have normal, challenging, and hard as your difficulty options. Most players will fall between the gaps of these, leaving them gaining seconds a lap on AI cars or miles off the pace in an unwinnable situation.
It’s a pain that, while AI balancing wasn’t complete in our preview build, was easily visible in our playthrough. We were flying up to the back of Lewis Hamilton and passing him with ease in Miami, we made overtakes around the outside of the hairpin in Canada and gained seconds a lap on Alonso in Hungary.
It’s a shame to see this difficulty level issue remain. Obviously we haven’t got the final build. It may change between now and the full release, but it is annoying.
A good start
Overall though, we’ve had a great start with Braking Point. The story is set up nicely, the cut scenes look beautiful and the voice acting and writing seems to have taken a step up in F1 23. All in all, we can’t wait to play through the whole thing. Will there be much replay value in Braking Point 2? We will have to wait and see but it is set to be a great adventure for players of all ages!
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