With the release of the latest Formula One title, F1 2014, on the horizon and F1 2015 announced, I’m beginning to question the progression within the Codemasters series.

F1 2014 will be the seventh Formula One title from Codemasters since they took on the license in 2008, and in recent years the game seems to have been found lacking in advancements. It cannot be questioned that there is racing pedigree at Codemasters, but the Formula One series does not face direct competition dealt with by the Grid series, which must face comparison to Forza and Gran Turismo to name two.

You could argue that there are limits to the progression a series like Formula One –they are bound to maintain accuracy to the real Formula One series and that in itself limits them somewhat. With that said, the 2012 title F1 Race Stars saw Codemasters approach the license in a new way – veering down the route of an arcade style karting game.

It is not without effort on Codemasters part – the series has offered interesting gameplay modes alongside the standard career mode over the past few years. Whilst the first few titles (2009, 2010 and 2011) offered nothing out of the ordinary, 2012 saw the inclusion of “Champion’s Mode”, in which six world champions were like end level bosses, and 2013 provided racing fans with the option of the “Classic Edition”, providing bonus content focussing around previous decades of the sport.

The beauty of F1 2014 is there for all to see
The beauty of F1 2014 is there for all to see

Both ideas seemed viable and they definitely added new gameplay elements to their respective titles, but both appear to have been shunned after just one year of implementation. 2012’s “Champions Mode” was inserted because of the amount of previous Formula One World Champions in the F1 line up that year, and its removal was a reflection of losing one of the champions. “Classic Edition” is a bit less time sensitive in that it could really have been kept and built upon, but so far there has been no word from Codemasters to hint at the continuation of such content.

With the career mode as the main appeal of the game, they should focus on putting more into that area of gameplay in order to see the game flourish – but yet again licensing can be a hindrance. The player is free to move from one team to another in their career but drivers at other teams are static – an issue arising from the licensed material. In popular football series FIFA, Lionel Messi could be transferred from Barcelona to any other club not managed by the player in a career mode. In the Codemasters F1 games however, Lewis Hamilton will drive for Mercedes for the entire career – the roster only changes to accommodate the player. This issue in particular causes real problems for players wanting a realistic career playthrough.

With no announcements of any new gameplay features yet, we must consume ourselves with a number of hot laps of showcasing different drivers and different tracks. First there was Alonso at Bahrain, followed by Daniel Ricciardo testing the returning Austrian Red Bull Ring.

This video highlights the return of the Austrian Grand Prix after more than a decade off the race calendar. The notable trend of these hot laps is the inclusion of new content they are displaying. First showing off the Bahrain track at night and secondly the returning Red Bull Ring, a first time inclusion for Codemasters. It is also the first time the Sochi Autodrom in Russia is featured on the Formula One calendar and as such the first time it has been recreated for the Codemasters series. Following the trend, the latest hot lap sees Russian Daniil Kvyat tackle his home Grand Prix.

The releases of these hot laps are a great insight into the new content available in F1 2014, but it does slightly mask the lack of any gameplay announcements. If career mode can’t be improved, it is up to other areas of gameplay to sell the game to players fed up of the same old title. Choosing not to develop F1 2014 for next-gen consoles means that a lot rests on the gameplay to sell this title to people ahead of the more exciting prospect of F1 2015.

F1 2014 will be released on 17 October in the United Kingdom for PC, Playstation 3 and Xbox 360.