Lessons Football Manager MUST Learn From F1 Manager

The future of Football Manager has never been so exciting. Last week's blog post from studio director Miles Jacobson revealed a massive graphics overhaul is coming in FM25, and that Football Manager 2024 will be a true love letter to the current format of Football Manager.

As someone with more than 1,000 hours in every FM title since 2011, it's safe to say I can't wait for the future of the Football Manager franchise. The next step in graphics has been needed for some time, but there are some lessons that Sports Interactive can learn from another franchise as they try to make a visual leap forward.

A new Frontier

For a long time, Football Manager's visuals were never really a problem as there was nothing to compare them to. Sure, FIFA players would be occasionally be appalled by what they saw from FMs 3D engine, but with nothing else out there showing what could be done, there wasn't a yardstick to measure by.

Well last year, that yardstick arrived. F1 Manager 2022 launched last summer with stunning visual fidelity.

F1 Manager 2022
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LOOKING GOOD - F1 Manager blew players away visually

Built on Unreal Engine 4, developers Frontier created a game that reproduced TV camera angles at the Formula 1 tracks to give players a sense of truly being part of the sport.

This immediately highlighted the gulf that appeared between Football Manager and what was truly possible. Especially as FM streamers like Work The Space jumped straight into F1 Manager and the community could actively discuss the differences.

Now we're not saying that F1 Manager is the reason Sports Interactive has decided to improve things. After all, Miles' blog post said it has been in the works for years, but it certainly accelerated the issue for players.

However, F1 Manager isn't without its issues, and there are lessons that SI should learn from their new

Smooth as silk

One of F1 Manager's visual issues is that animations aren't always the smoothest. Overtakes can look a little weird, with cars darting around in ways they wouldn't be able to in real life. Crashes are particularly bad for this, with cars just doing odd things that break immersion.

This is the biggest point for Football Manager, make sure key animations look right! A dodgy slide tackle animation or weird goalkeeper movement will undo an engine that otherwise presents the game well.

A stadium in Cities: Skylines
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GAMEDAY - A hint at what we could see in FM25

SI has chosen the Unity engine for FM25, which powers games like Cities: Skylines and PowerWash Simulator.

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That means we can't expect high photorealism like F1 Manager, but we should then get smoother moments of high drama. Players shouldn't expect FIFA-like graphical quality, and FM25 should still be useable on low-end PCs and laptops.

Commentary

Some players have wanted commentary in the game for a while now, and fresh visuals seem like a good time to add some. F1 Manager's commentary is solid, using Sky Sports commentator David Croft to give the game a big race day atmosphere.

Football Manager could do the same, at least for the match day walkout, half-time, and full-time. Voicing every highlight might be a touch too much, but adding in some voice lines from Clive Tyldesley or Peter Drury would add to the immersion of the game.

The key will be to make it too repetitive. That's tough given that Crofty's lines in F1 Manager definitely repeat too often, but it is something players expect from sports games, and would certainly be more appreciated than just the crowd noise that we currently have.

Retain the complexity

Football Manager has built a strong reputation for being hard to master. The new visuals should only be the icing on that magnificent cake. This is a balance that F1 Manager maybe got wrong last year. By focusing on the visuals, Frontier seemed to leave out a lot of the nuance and complexity that is managing a Formula 1 team.

The Football Manager 2023 tactics screen
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MAKING MAGIC - Tweaking tactics is core part of FM

Thankfully, Sports Interactive already has a very strong foundation of gameplay, but it is not something they can just leave to stagnate. The core of FM has always been the detail of the game and the shuffling between spreadsheets. FM25 is set to give players a full interface refresh, but it must retain the intricacies of squad dynamics, training sessions, scouting, and tactics if it is to really push FM forward.

Adding and refining gameplay features will still be an expectation from fans even when the new graphics engine arrives.

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