It’s a painful fact that many in the sports gaming community struggled to find sports titles that fulfilled their pre-release promises over the year of 2021. It feels like those who preferred the likes of a solid franchise or career experience were left out in the cold with minimal updates and promises of deeper experiences ringing hollow as post-release support has been minimal for many large developers in the world of sports gaming.
Best Career Mode In 2021: F1 2021
However, there were a couple of titles that did deliver and separated themselves from the pack. While many sports games originally started out providing a career mode as an alternative to franchise mode, it feels like career modes now generally get more support than franchise modes. Nevertheless, very few deliver an experience that creates a world where it feels like I am the focal point, and my choices and performance matter.
For those who have yet to experience F1 2021 from Codemasters, it is a fully fleshed out mode that has been providing yearly additions that are meaningful. The career mode also creates an ever-evolving experience that draws you in and provides the type of depth and replayable elements that warrant an award like this.
A great career mode always starts with options. Options that let players decide their approach on entry and provide enough flexibility to deviate as the career mode advances. F1 2021’s career mode not only does that, but does so in a way that continuously allows the mode to feel fresh, evolving, and challenging.
From the start, Codemasters allowed users to either start out in F2 and work their way up from the bottom of the proverbial ladder, or choose to start in F1 as a lesser team and try to help bring the prestige level of that current team to the forefront — while battling the likes of Mercedes, Red Bull, and Ferrari in the process.
What sets F1 2021 apart from most other career mode offerings is the amount of detail that is involved, and the speed with which the peripheral interactions take place. Too often the developers create scenarios that become repetitive, mundane, and useless in a very quick manner and that brings about a stale and forced experience.
Codemasters has literally mastered the ability to keep the experience moving forward without making one’s career feel like just a series of strung together exhibition races. Another very important aspect of any solid career mode is the ability for the player to experience the highest of highs and the lowest of lows, as what happens in most careers regardless of the sport.
F1 2021 does an awesome job of making sure the opportunity for that to happen is built into the game, but it is almost always determined by the player in a very organic way.
One last note about the award-winning career mode from Codemasters and its F1 series is the fact that while not an absolute necessity, the graphical fidelity of F1 2021 (on new/next gen or last gen) is astounding. It adds tremendous depth and realism to the mode, and it enhances the experience in a way that sim-text cannot.
My last thought is one I often have with this series when I review it each year, and it’s the thought of “how do they top this come next year?” It’s a valid thought and concern for sure, but every year the developers find a way to do just that, which is something to be celebrated and appreciated.
Community Vote – Best Career Mode In 2021
- NBA 2K22
- MLB The Show 21
- F1 2021
From a community perspective, NBA 2K22 took that award home, and it’s understandable because it’s extremely popular, and 2K makes a very deep career mode that is willing to take some risks in the process. It’s not for everyone, and microtransactions do hang over the mode in a lot of respects (especially if you like the various online elements of it), but it’s easy to see why the community went this way.
Close behind NBA 2K22 was MLB The Show 21. This feels a little more like a legacy pick to us because the community did not like the career mode as much as usual this year, and yet it still took home the silver. The Show tried to tweak some things with the “Ballplayer” mechanic this season, and not all of those changes were well received, but it’s easy to argue The Show is the inverse of NBA 2K with its career mode. To put it another way, The Show plays it more “safe” most of the time, so we still think it was perhaps for the best that the developers tried to more aggressively tweak the formula this year.
F1 2021 was a relatively distant third in the voting, but there was a mountain of votes between third and fourth place, so it still was a solid bronze. On top of that, we do think that’s still impressive considering how popular NBA 2K and MLB The Show are in comparison to F1 (at least in our neck of the woods).
All in all, while it was a down year for career modes, we do think the top three games were at least worthy of being on that podium, even if we disagree with the community for the top spot.