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What F1 24's 'overhauled' career mode actually looks like

by Nathan Quinn
5 min read

When Codemasters and EA announced F1 24 back in February, they promised an “overhauled career mode” to the excitement of many F1 game fans.

Particularly when there hasn’t been a major change to career mode since the inclusion of 'My Team' in F1 2020.

Details on the changes have been light until a recent media presentation which shed some light on the new inclusions that set F1 24’s career mode, specifically driver career, apart from previous entries.

This year the developers have put greater attention on the challenges F1 drivers face. Such as the battle with their team-mate and how a team’s priorities can shift towards the better performing one. On top of that, there’s the complexity of negotiating contracts with teams up and down the grid.

These changes come via the new ‘recognition’ system, which seems to be an expanded version of the ‘acclaim’ system used in previous F1 games to gauge a driver’s success and the teams that would be interested in signing them.

One facet of the recognition system is the constant tracking of the intra-team battle and the perks you can earn from dominating your team-mate. 

Abilities such as being able to have multiple car upgrades in development simultaneously, and being able to rush the R&D process now have to be earned by being the clear number one and can be lost if your form dips.

In addition to that are all new secret car upgrades and the fact that a clear number one driver within a team can take the reins of car development.

Effort has also been made to make the car upgrading process less repetitive as there are now R&D scenarios. These are optional but selectable each season and can include generous ones such as giving you unlimited money, or ones that heavily restrict your car development options.

What all of this implies is a challenge that the developers have actively tried to make the career mode more unpredictable as well as, if you choose it to be, harder. Not only in terms of maintaining your standings within your existing team, but also ensuring you're at a top team.

Whether that be by aggressively developing the car at a backmarker team, or making a break and signing for one of the established front runners.

“There's definitely the possibility you won’t get the contract that you want and you have to start looking at other options. That’s the risk that’s involved.” Lee Mather, senior creative director of the F1 games explained.

“So you can set yourself incredibly lofty goals and then find yourself not achieving them, your reputation in the paddock starts to go down, the chance the team your negotiating with is going to actually take you at the end of the contract window is reduced”

“So then you need to go back in and start renegotiating those terms, setting some realistic goals. 

“But then obviously if you start to negotiate too low, they’re going to say ‘this driver’s blatantly not good enough for us’, and the opportunity goes away and then you need to start looking at other opportunities. 

“So you could find yourself negotiating your way back down the grid if things aren’t going to plan.”

Contract talks don’t just happen at certain points in a season, instead discussions can be scheduled with teams throughout a season. Taking cues from the FIFA, now EA Sports FC, game series which overhauled the presentation and mechanics of contract talks a few years ago.

Rather than a simple take it or leave it offer from teams, there’s more of a back and forth over terms whilst the screen shows you and your agent sat with a representative from the team you’re talking to.

Unlike in EA’s football franchise though, there is an emphasis on these meetings remaining secret as leaks about talks can negatively affect your career playthrough.

“If you’re constantly in secret meetings the chances are that you’re going to be found out are significantly higher,” Mather said. 

“But I wouldn’t want to give away too much because otherwise it would spoil the whole concept of it being a secret meeting and that ‘oh no’ moment when you realise that your reputation’s been impacted because other teams are aware of it and your team have just found out that you’re speaking to another team”.

Obviously your career will come down to how well you do on track, and even there you’ll be reminded of the need to perform better and earn your place on the grid.

Your race engineer can come on the radio mid-race to give you an objective based on your current running out on track.

These in-race objectives are context-appropriate and can offer you alternative strategies to try and better your position in the race. Though we’re yet to see how this plays out and what the game can offer up if you're at the front with the full 26 points all-but secured, or a long way off the points positions.

Driver ratings have been given a re-work as teams now expect you to improve year-on-year with an overall rating target shown to have been a requirement for keeping the team you’re with on-side.

This applies no matter whether you’re racing as a driver you’ve created, which was the only option in previous F1 games, or if you’ve chosen to drive as a real-life F1 or F2 driver or even one of the classic F1 drivers the game features, labelled as ‘Icons’.

Obviously your starting rating and contract expectations change depending on who you are, with the likes of Juan Pablo Montoya and James Hunt, who are all-new icon drivers for F1 24, will start with a higher rating and therefore greater initial expectations than a F2 driver.

Likewise each driver has a set of accolades which are tailored to their achievements in real-life. So if you’re driving as Lewis Hamilton you have a target to win an eighth world championship, whereas for someone like Lando Norris, a likely aim is to get that first race win.

Meeting those accolades feeds back into your driver’s overall ratings which in turn increases your stock as a driver and freedom to move to another team in the paddock.

All of these systems will also be present in two-player career, including the secret meetings with other teams that can get leaked to the other player if you’re in discussions with too many teams.

It’s just over a month before we’ll get to see how these new systems work in harmony when the full game releases on May 31. 

What’s clear though is that EA and Codemasters have put a lot of focus into career mode this year.

And given the lukewarm reception F1 23 had, a lot is riding on driver career being a big improvement in F1 24.

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