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F1 2021’s first line of Podium Cross cosmetics is unacceptably weak


Let me preface this petty grievance by saying that I’ve about 12 hours of on-track time in F1 2021’s profession mode alone, about two weeks after the sport launched. I adore this sport, and it’ll devour tons of of my waking hours over the following 12 months. Nevertheless it’s for that purpose I’m elevating this stink: The customization unlocks and choices, to date, are weak. Unacceptably weak.

The primary eight-week season of the sport’s Podium Cross affords simply 5 automobile liveries — and the colours can’t be altered for 2 of them, together with an “epic” all-black livery known as Shadow. A 3rd livery on this assortment, like many others provided within the day by day retailer (six in my assortment to date), has main options which can be locked to a black shade solely.

Why is that this an issue? F1 2021’s deepest mode of play is My Crew, the place you create your personal two-car System One staff, race one in all them your self, and handle the automobile’s improvement and different off-the-track crises and intrigues over a multiseason pursuit of the championship. It’s a mode that screams “emergent narrative,” and after sinking 120 hours into it in F1 2020, I may give you a backstory for my staff colours, the badge, and the stripes on its livery. If that’s not half my enjoyable of the mode, it’s no less than one-third. And in F1 2021, I’ve to begin it throughout, with some very rinky-dink newbie outfits.

Screen showing eight cosmetics available in F1 2021’s Daily Item Store

Within the Every day Merchandise Retailer immediately are three automobile liveries, two of that are animal print, in case you need your racing staff to appear like your eccentric aunt dwelling on the Higher East Facet.
Picture: Codemasters/Digital Arts by way of Polygon

The bigger difficulty — larger than my aesthetic disappointment — is the uncomfortable query it raises about sports activities video video games as they begin to resemble Fortnite and different video games that provide tiered loot and season passes of unlockable content material.

And that query is: Completely, I need the Centaur emblem from F1 2020 for my staff badge in F1 2021 (assume gun attraction in Rainbow Six Siege). However do I actually need to purchase it once more? God, it’s agonizing. You see, the Centaur represents the truth that my fictitious automaker makes use of Ferrari engines beneath an unique chassis, and …

Anyway, Codemasters appears to acknowledge the dangerous optics of reacquiring previous cosmetics, since many of the automotive, firesuit, and helmet designs to date are all new. (The Galaxy livery, whose colours can’t be modified, is a straight elevate of a design from final 12 months; so are a few of the base designs everybody will get at the beginning.) The studio has additionally added three extra sorts of unlockables — radio calls to your created driver’s victory; new (fictional) sponsor decals; and a private decal ringing the inside of the cockpit’s protecting halo. However that additionally means fewer areas within the Podium Cross’s 30 ranges to reward gamers with a automobile pores and skin or badge icon.

In any case, Fortnite’s and Apex Legends’ communities would revolt if Epic Video games or Digital Arts, respectively, vaulted the whole lot and made everybody reacquire their wardrobe after a 12 months rolled over. However for a sports activities online game … it’s … assumed to be kosher? Due to a decade of Final Groups, sports activities video players have change into conditioned to a full reset of a mode that might simply be as persistent as For Honor, a sport Ubisoft launched in 2017.

screen showing items that are unlocked at levels 19, 20, and 21 of F1 2021’s podium pass

At stage 21 of F1 2021’s inaugural Podium Cross, one unlocks the so-called “epic” Shadow livery. It’s simply an all-black design. That’s it. Not even a matte end.
Picture: Codemasters/Digital Arts by way of Polygon

As for why the annual launch mannequin persists, that’s as a result of a $60 or $70 buy yearly is the spine of the assured minimal funds that publishers make to sports activities leagues and their gamers associations. Per-copy gross sales are the premise for royalties above that. I do not know what, if any, reduce the NFL or the NFL Gamers Affiliation will get from Madden Final Crew income, however I’d level out that what persons are truly spending cash on there isn’t an merchandise with a participant’s or staff’s likeness on it; it’s the alternate, in-game foreign money that acquires such issues.

However there’s a distinction between increase groups of recent gamers, who could carry out in another way in an iterated, improved online game, and straight beauty gadgets that don’t have any purposeful goal. The entire content material provided in F1 2021’s Podium Cross, or the Every day Merchandise Retailer, is beauty. None of it improves a automotive, doubles XP achieve, or provides your driver an attribute perk in multiplayer or every other mode. I’m undecided if that’s higher or worse, truly. Saying bye to nice designs that I bought for a buck or two is irritating as hell, however I additionally rebuild my Diamond Dynasty staff and my Street to the Present participant yearly in MLB The Present.

F1 2021’s group is not any extra restive than Madden’s or NBA 2K’s — but it surely’s no much less vocal, both. And Codemasters seems to have painted itself right into a nook. The choices appear to be providing final 12 months’s designs within the Every day Retailer (microtransaction solely) or within the subsequent eight-week Podium Cross, and listening to individuals howl about shopping for one thing they already paid cash for. Or, proceed to pump out new designs, run out of concepts (the Shadow livery actually is only a shameful give-up), and listen to followers clamor for the good stuff they bought final 12 months.

Sure, a greater livery editor — akin to what you get in a Gran Turismo or Forza sport — would clear up the whole lot. It’d additionally kill a product line for Codemasters and new proprietor EA, so I doubt that’s coming to console gamers anytime quickly. (F1 PC modders have been enjoying with customized designs for years.) Whereas most everybody who races in F1 has a RaceNet account with Codemasters — and due to this fact, one assumes, some document of the content material they owned final 12 months — I doubt {that a} studio nonetheless crunching to ship three new race programs as free downloadable content material can also be working to present us again a few of final 12 months’s biggest hits.

Probably the most cheap make-good I can fathom would come subsequent 12 months, if Codemasters let of us carry over one or two designs to begin their careers in F1 2022. (Sony San Diego Studio did one thing like this when it instructed customers to add customized logos and different designs to MLB The Present’s vault by the tip of February in the event that they needed to make use of them on this 12 months’s new sport. However these customized cosmetics are all free user-generated content material.) Regardless of the case, we nonetheless want higher designs than the stuff I’ve seen to date. I’ve purchased half a dozen fits and liveries, and but I’ve been racing my profession with stuff included on the disc.

That doesn’t embody the Centaur, which, goddammit, sure, I will re-buy. Grudgingly. However I’ll. I wager a whole lot of folks would, too. That’s the issue.

Roster File is Polygon’s information and opinion column on the intersection of sports activities and video video games.

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