F1 24 Isn't Held Back by PS4 or Xbox One, Says Codemasters

Why F1 24 isn't Upgrading to Unreal Engine

Why F1 24 isn't Upgrading to Unreal Engine

When EA Sports WRC moved to Unreal Engine last year, fans were hoping this would lead to F1 24 switching to a brand-new engine for the first time in the franchise's history. However, once again, this year's F1 game will be powered by Codemasters' in-house EGO engine.

While it has continually evolved and improved, the EGO engine has powered every F1 game since Sumo Digital's F1 2009 on the Wii up to the current entry. Fans who worry that the engine's age is hampering the F1 games often lament Codemasters for not changing to a new engine.

We sat down with senior creative director Lee Mather, who explained why F1 24 hasn't switched to a new engine and how EGO has been tailored to push the F1 series forward.

Current EGO engine is "bespoke to F1"

“When we moved to the new version of EGO in 2015, it was originally going to be a company-wide move by all of the racing teams. Instead, it became the F1 engine,” Mather told RacingGames.

F1 24
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“It became bespoke to Formula 1. That gives us a strong position. Everything in that engine is tailored to deliver what we need from Formula 1: that is, to build a track-based racing game with incredible visuals and 20 cars on track.”

“We’ve got a very bespoke engine that we’ve continued to build upon from 2015. It doesn’t lack anywhere in any of the tech options. It’s got all the latest tech to support the latest video cards and hardware, so we’re pushing the visuals. Every year, Digital Foundry picks it up as one of the benchmarks of not only visuals but performance.”

“It gives us the ability to be flexible. For example, this year we’ve made major overhauls to the physics. It’s our tech, so we know exactly what we’re doing. We’ve got a skilled bunch of people who can make those changes quickly and easily.”

No plans for Unreal Engine upgrade yet

Last year, EA Sports WRC became the first Codemasters game to drop EGO in favor of Unreal. However, after EA Sports WRC's bugs and performance issues highlighted the challenge of optimizing racing games in Unreal, keeping the tried and tested EGO engine was probably a wise decision.

This, coupled with the F1 games' radically different requirements, means the F1 series is unlikely to move to Unreal anytime soon.

F1 24 screenshot
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“Looking at what WRC did, that decision was made to accommodate what they were looking for: the ability to create 30-40 km rally stages. That’s not a requirement we have, so the tech that drives that isn’t something we need,” said Mather.

“We’ve got an engine that delivers exactly what we need from it. We don’t need to consider other elements. We’ve got the flexibility to keep building and growing it.”

For now, it seems that the F1 games will stick with EGO for the foreseeable future, as Codemasters is comfortable and confident with the technology. “We’re putting our eggs in EGO at the moment. It’s definitely delivering what we expect of it,” Mather asserted.

F1 24 isn't held back by PS4 and Xbox One hardware

EA Sports WRC not only moved to a new engine; it was also Codemasters’ first current-gen-only game. Conversely, F1 24 is launching on PS4 and Xbox One as well as PS5 and Xbox Series X|S. Despite the PS4 and Xbox One being over ten years old, Mather doesn’t think the older hardware is hindering the EGO engine.

“The thing to remember is that we also support a very wide range of PC specifications as well. Some of those go down to similar spec levels and even lower in some cases than previous-gen console hardware,” said Mather.

F1 24 screenshot McLaren
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“We always have to consider scalability in the tech and engine. Not just because of the previous-gen consoles but also the lower-spec PCs people play on. We also offer a scalable experience on PS5 and Xbox Series X|S so players can choose whether they want a graphics fidelity mode or performance mode and run in 120fps.”

“It doesn’t hold us back in that respect because we already need that scalability to support different versions on PC. A key part of the engine is that it’s scalable for what we’re doing with it. We don’t need to worry if it’s scalable if you want to build an FPS or RPG. It’s very tailored to Formula 1, so we can deliver the performance and visuals across a wide range of specs.”

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"We probably did ourselves a disservice"

The last known update for the engine was EGO v4.0, which was first used in F1 2015. Internally, however, it has radically evolved since then.

“That was a moment in time when people recognized a shift. But the scale of work that goes on every year is so vast that we can probably increment those numbers year on year,” Mather explained.

F1 24 screenshot Ferrari
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“One of our tech directors quoted the increase in lines of code between when we started with this version of the engine in F1 2015 to where it is today, and it’s vast. We’ve continued to improve and refine significantly. Back then, we didn’t have streaming tech in there, and now we can stream in textures and detail that we didn’t have.”

“We’re supporting things like dynamic diffuse global illumination, which is cutting-edge tech for video cards on PC. We probably did ourselves a disservice by not incrementing the version number – it’s not something we talk about publicly even though it’s something we’re incredibly proud of.”

Post-launch update will add "further visual enhancements"

Despite sticking with the EGO engine, F1 24’s visuals have been upgraded compared to F1 23. Using Dynamic Diffuse Global Illumination will result in improved shadows, lighting, and reflections, while the cars will look more accurate thanks to updated CAD models. But the visual improvements won’t end there.

F1 24 screenshot
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In a surprise revelation, Mather revealed that a post-launch update will add “further visual enhancements” to F1 24. “There’s a post-launch visual update planned where we’re going to be bringing in some new tech, which we’ll be able to talk about closer to launch."

"Further visual enhancements are coming,” he teased. It seems, then, that Codemasters' EGO engine has plenty of life left in it yet.

Are you pleased or disappointed that Codemasters hasn't abandoned the EGO engine for F1 24? Let us know in the comments below.

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