Braking Point will return in F1 23. The first three chapters indicate a much deeper story between Aiden Jackson and Devon Butler, with a surprise new dynamic set to be explored.
A dedicated story mode in an F1 game had been an omission since the series started with Codemasters in 2010. The inclusion of Braking Point in 2021 marked a turning point for the franchise. Aiden Jackson’s rivalry with the devious and ambitious Devon Butler engaged fans and provided a new standpoint for players to enjoy.
Disappointment that the mode had been removed in F1 22 can be discarded, as Braking Point is back in F1 23. A direct sequel to the original, the basic formula from 2021 has returned but has been enhanced, with multiple new elements added to give a more detailed and realistic feel.
With F1 23’s drive for authenticity as an attempt to cement the series, Braking Point 2 is EA and Codemasters’ offering to fans who want an engrossing mode that explores the high tension, drama, and stakes of modern F1. The 2022 season provides the setting for the first three chapters.
A new setting expanded
After the high-stakes drama ending of the original Braking Point, protagonist Aiden Jackson did not get his Red Bull drive. He has instead found a new home in Konnersport Butler Racing. The name is a giveaway: Jackson’s teammate is antagonist, Devon Butler, with Butler’s father providing financial backing to the team.
This is an entirely new dynamic and is the central point of the story. Braking Point 2 has used the current debate of family ownership and sponsorship in motorsport to explore the political dangers a driver and team face in this scenario. The first three chapters take place over the 2022 season, with Konnersport’s car proving rather unreliable. The three chapters see three key events occur.
It is off track that the mode starts to showcase its strengths. A new home screen in Aiden’s trailer shows the usual email hub but also has socials that show fan reactions to chapter events. Calls from the Team Principal will also be taken here.
Devon Butler is back, worse than ever
Butler acted as a fantastic antagonist in 2021’s Braking Point. The preview of Braking Point 2 indicates that he is still as ruthless, arrogant, and manipulative as ever. Joining Jackson at new team Konnersport, Butler’s arrogance leads to him believing that he can control the team, and get preferential treatment.
Commentators David Croft and Natalie Pinkham point out the irony of the situation. If both drivers could simply work together the pairing would be almost unstoppable. With both drivers the polar opposite in terms of personality and driving style, neither gives an inch to the other.
Teammate antics on track
The first three chapters show three key events for the player to navigate. A new feature while on track is bonus objectives, challenging players to move further up the grid once the main goal is completed. Depending on the difficulty mode, this can be highly rewarding, or almost impossible if too ambitious. Interviews also take place post-race, and your answers impact the team as normal.
As Jackson, you first have to make your way into the points in Miami, only to suffer a loss of power. A furious Jackson confronts the Team Principal post-race. What could make the situation worse? Butler arriving to gloat that he not only finished but secured points.
The second chapter sees a team’s worst nightmare, teammates colliding. Jackson has to regain the positions lost for the remainder of the race. The cinematic following this tense on-track encounter leads to a phone call from the Team Principal, stating that the team cannot operate in that way again.
The third chapter is by far the most intriguing and sets up a brilliant drama for the full game. Jackson is faster than Butler at the Hungarian Grand Prix, and Konnersport instructs Butler to move aside for his teammate. the instruction is met with silence. The objective is simple, pass your teammate. Once achieved, players then need to move up the order before the chequered flag.
The cinematic sees Butler during the team debrief denying he ever heard the radio message blaming the comms. At this point, we see the potential true side of Devon’s father. He attempts to sympathise with Jackson, with Jackson somewhat naively confessing to wanting to leave the team. Davidoff advises the best way to keep Devon in line is to beat him.
Davidoff is a very different character from Devon. While Devon is brash, loud and emotional, Davidoff is the polar opposite. He shares the same showmanship traits but is calm, collected and uses this to his advantage. Attempting to influence Jackson by admitting he is on the side of the youngster and advising him to keep beating his son hints at a more plan in later chapters. At this point, the demo ended, at the perfect time.
Team Principal navigating politics
An inspired concept choice has been to include managing Konnersport through the eyes of Team Principal Andreo Konner. Like Aiden, interactions with Andreo are via a dedicated hub. A social feed is also available, reacting to race events. Devon’s father will always call in this menu, ensuring that his son gets preferential treatment within the team, or potential integrity or bad PR issues be buried.
This leads to players needing to make key decisions when Butler’s arrogance leads to him taking decisions without consulting the team. One such example occurs in chapter two, where players are given a decision point to play. Butler has said a tour of the garage has been arranged, but the first the team hears of this is when the Team Principal is approached by the media.
At this point, players have a choice. Go ahead with the tour which gives in to Butler’s demands, a more cautious approach which provides a non-committal answer, or flat-out denies the tour to the press. Regardless of your choice, players will then receive a call from Devon asking for pit priority at the next round, his reasoning being Jackson not pulling his weight. The decisions made do not influence the gameplay but do impact team morale.
Playing as the Team Principal gives gamers a glimpse into the impossible situation of managing two eager but uncooperative drivers. Konner needs to reign in Butler’s antics while also keeping Jackson happy. Then he has to factor in Davidoff Butler’s motives and end goals as both Devon’s father and the. The phone call from Davidoff ending with “Leave Aiden to me” is both intriguing and ominous for the full release.
A promising evolution
Braking Point 2 expands on a brilliant concept from 2021 to take us further into the realm of F1 politics. The first three chapters of 2023’s offering showcase that EA and Codemasters are after a more immersive experience, with a focus on political fallout. While F1 Manager focuses on managing an F1 team, it does not replicate this amount of detail.
Driver fallout, Team Principal political pressures and decisions are an entirely new concept for F1 gaming. The ability to make choices that impact interactions with others has changed the concept. These are spectacular and original curveballs that no F1 fan was expecting.
One could argue that Braking Point 2 is straight out of the “Drive to Survive” playbook. Regardless, it has worked. It has real promise to be a truly engrossing mode and cement EA and Codemasters as the lead F1 game producer. It applies an emotional backdrop with sky-high stakes.
The preview cliffhanger ending has left those of us lucky enough to play it wanting to see what Davidoff Butler has in store for Aiden Jackson. June 16th cannot come around fast enough.
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