1. Unprecedented feel and feedback
More so than in any previous version, users can really make the car dance in F1TM 2015. Handling has been thrust front and centre, and not just in terms of all-or-nothing single lap heroics. Improvements in over 20 areas mean suspension settings, weight distribution, aero and gear settings and even fuel burn can be mastered to expert effect - while tyre modelling is perhaps the most advanced in the industry, accounting for everything from temperature windows to the nuances of grip of each compound over long runs and in changeable conditions. All of that means the driving experience has been taken to a whole new level compared to previous versions - or as principal games designer Lee Mather puts it: "We've always had an incredibly in-depth physics engine, but this really is something special..."
2. Radically enhanced AI
Those changes also feed into the game’s Artificial Intelligence, which has an incredibly natural, organic feel. "This is to such a degree," Mather says, "that they'll make moves a human would. They might suddenly switch sides in a braking zone in order to pull off a pass, lock up and just make the apex - but then light up their rear tyres due to the compromised exit." Don't expect to bully the AI off the track, then - but do expect it to also have to contend with tyre wear and falling grip, meaning delicate poise and style are more important than ever.
3. The early release, and live patches
The June release date is the earliest in the history of the franchise, meaning gamers will be able to play along as the season itself unfolds. But that's not even half the story. While the game will contain the complete 2014 season data and pre-Melbourne 2015 landscape at launch, that will be updated shortly after launch, with further updates during the season to reflect real-time performance changes. McLaren-Honda could be a particularly fascinating case, with the MP4-30 set to potentially improve within the game as the team make progress on the track.
4. Career modes
Combined with the above, gamers can now pick any driver from the current field (Marussia pair Will Stevens and Roberto Merhi will be available after the first live patch) and compete with them over a full world championship campaign. For the most devout fans, there's also the Pro Season mode. Locked in to a full season, using the cockpit view only and with no assists or options to restart a session, it’s the ultimate test of skill and concentration - and the closest thing to a true Grand Prix weekend.
5. Pit wall interaction
From the Kimi Raikkonen school of direct conversation? More effusive, a la Sebastian Vettel and Ferrari in Malaysia this year? It all matters in F1 2015, with the ability to receive messages from your engineer - and to feedback with your own. The pit wall will lend their support on how performance can be improved (gauged on your expertise), while PlayStation 4 and Xbox One Kinect users can request information on a plethora of data and even ask for front wing changes at the next pit stop. Of course, they can also choose to cut the pit wall short, or even just vent their frustration, as certain members of the current grid sometimes do...
6. Sixty frames per second
It's a change Hollywood has toyed with in recent years, and a significant enhancement to the way F1 2015 plays. The higher frame rate reduces input lag and also makes the improved graphics (see below) pop with breath-taking clarity. Every touch of steering, every dab of throttle and brake, feels more direct and accurate - and in the world of F1 racing, where everything happens so quickly, that has a massive impact.
7. Stunning Graphics
The F1 game has always set an incredibly high benchmark in terms of visual quality, but F1 2015 has once again moved the bar higher. From the neon-infused streets of Singapore to Bahrain's shimmering floodlights and the rolling hillsides of Spielberg and Spa, the landscapes of the sport are painted in incredible quality. Every detail is nuanced: you can even see the shimmering heat hazes from cars ahead and visually track the conditions of your tyres.
8. The cinematic experience
It's not just the graphics that make for a more immersive experience in F1 2015. A new broadcast style incorporates opening sequences, grid sequences, on-track celebrations and of course the podium champagne, all voiced by Sky F1's commentators David Croft and Anthony Davidson. "We've recorded hundreds of thousands of lines of script to cover all permutations of results and events throughout the season," Mather adds. "Championship season sessions all have introductions, post-race podium and driver celebrations, all of which add to the overall experience."
9. New camera angles
The view from the cockpit has been refined in 2015, giving the most authentic and playable experience to date. A new camera angle has been installed on the front wing, to convey the incredible speeds, while the helmet camera "has received additional treatment this year to enhance the feeling of being enclosed in the cockpit of a Formula One car". As a complement to the improved driver's eye views, a new Force Feedback system only heightens the sense of connection between the car and the track.
10. The smallest of touches
"With the move to the new consoles we've taken the opportunity to start afresh with F1 2015," Mather says, "so we've built the game from scratch." Nothing has escaped attention. Each driver has their bespoke real-life steering wheel; every engine has a unique sound, tone and performance; even the pit crews are hyper-realistic, with Codemasters using motion-capture software to perfect the speed and movement (each team also has bespoke uniforms and equipment). It's the kind of detailing that sums up Codemasters' approach - as Mather says, "we've created a Formula One game which will allow both beginners and experts to compete, and really race like a champion".
F1 2015 will be released in June, and will be available on Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC.