As guaranteed as day turning to night and England going out of a major sporting tournament “early”. A new year sees a new FIFA; but how new is it this year and is it actually any good? We gathered a new group of lovely Midlife Gamer FIFA fans to give us their verdict. First up we have Site Editor, Simon Stevens – (SiStevens) and Deputy Editor, Derek McRoberts (Digital Pariah), filling up the remaining attacking Midfield slots we have community members Neil Mathers – (neilmat), Kyle Davies – (Crystalskull), & Samuel Davies – (Linton).
How does the gameplay feel this year?
Neil Mathers (NM) – Last year was my transition year for FIFA. I started on 360 and moved to Xbox one towards the end of its lifespan; the difference between the two versions was vast, and almost felt like a different game – This year I’ve started on Xbox One from the kick off.
I’m not proud of this , but for the past four years I’ve only played Ultimate Team. Not once do I play a season or cup in anything but that mode. As a result I’m basing gameplay on the struggles I’m having with my below par team (the wife has limited me to spending too much on packs). As is the norm with FIFA you watch all the videos of what’s new before release, but when you load it up it never really feels much different to previous versions. The presentation is as slick as ever, and player likenesses are superb. It’s only when you play that every now and then you see a glimpse of newness. The forward that out strengths a defender, the use of white spray at free kicks or the new trick that skins a defender. One major feature I’ve found is that the keepers are much better. Having Ashley Young in my side I win a lot of penalties, realism is amazing, however i hardly ever score them. The keepers always seem to guess the right way to dive and leave me floundering for the rebound.
So to sum up the gameplay hasn’t changed that much from last year. It’s like your wife buying new shoes. You knew you were going to love it, but the added sparkle makes you love it that little bit more.
Derek McRoberts (DM) – To be honest, having been away from the series for a number of years only returning to 15, I couldn’t discern any real change to the gameplay.
Kyle Davies (KD) – The gameplay has changed massively this year, more so than i have noticed on previous FIFA releases. In my opinion it is a huge improvement over the past two or even three games. The two biggest changes that i think have improved the game are that you are forced to use a lot more build-up play making the midfield a lot more involved in the game which also takes away those annoying over the top balls on the counter attack that we all hated in the past. The other big change is that the AI players now actually seem to have a slight hint of intelligence, there are a lot less errors being made by the goalkeepers and especially the outfield players who no longer seem to try to pass the ball through opponents but rather over or around them, obviously this is more directed to the pro clubs game mode. So overall a big improvement.
Samuel Davies (SD) – Slower. Which isn’t a bad thing once you get use to it. The game no longer relies on pace to win matches, passing isn’t assisted as much as previously. Power bar ratio doesn’t seem to have that much of a balance but the dribbling is more refined, making beating players very satisfying.
Simon Stevens (SS) – Tougher I think is the best word to describe it. It feels more complete and takes into consideration all skills and scenario aspects. For example previous years it felt reliant on pace; if you were quick enough you could beat anybody regardless of skill. In FIFA 16 if you have low stats you are likely to pause after taking your first touch, low strength and you are likely to stutter and trip if you run into a player. This isn’t a huge overhaul it’s little tweaks here and there.
So what is your favourite element of FIFA this year?
NM – As I say, I only play Ultimate Team, so my favourite element is a little outside the box – The phone companion app this year is excellent.
From managing your team, tweaking formations, buying and selling players and applying consumables to treat injured players, you can do it all in the palm of your hand.
Gone are the days of missing out on Muller because you have to nip out of the house. Plus the current daily free gifts just for logging in are a nice treat.
DM – Be a Pro. There is something so satisfying about creating yourself in digital form and progressing them steadily while playing in a club with your community.
KD – For me it has to be the changes that have been made to pro clubs, the one big thing being the cap on the max buyout of players allowing those people who do not buy coins to be able to have a better chance of being able to afford the higher rated players which makes the game mode a lot more attractive and lets people compete more if they reach the higher divisions in season modes.
SD – The new pace of gameplay. It takes a bit of getting use to but it rewards tactical football.
SS – FIFA Draft. All the fun of FIFA Ultimate Team crossed with the decisions of Fantasy Football all packaged up in a bundle that you can complete in about an hour. The only downside of this to me though is the cost to play a game of FIFA Draft. 15,000 coins or “cash cow” FIFA Points. The exact same mode is in Madden this year, with the same sliding scale of rewards and its free. I guess Ultimate Team truly is the biggest cash milker at the moment so I can kind of understand why it isn’t free.
What do you not like or what has disappointed you? What needs improving?
NM -One bug bear I have is when listing players for transfer. All players require a buy it now price, a la EBay, when listing them on the market.
However, the starting point is always 50 coins from the starting price. I’ve lost count of the times I’ve hurriedly listed a player and then realised I’ve stuck a 400 coin price on him when he’s worth thousands!
There is always the pack weighting which annoys FIFA UT players year after year. It’s amazing what a thrill opening virtual packs gives you, some would say it’s arguably as good as playing the game itself. It’s also amazing when your 300 FIFA coin pack gives you Ronaldo from Empoli not Madrid, and 3 rare contract cards. That disappointment/anger could drive a man to kill.
Contracts, formations and training should not be rare EA and deep down you know it!
DM – Nothing. all of the game modes are well constructed, and I’ve yet to experience any game breaking issues.
KD – Its actually one of the things i do like but i think they have taken it too far and that is the balance of the players during shooting and passing. If your player is a bit off balance your shots will likely be going out for throw-ins rather than towards goal. I think it is a nice touch and good addition to the gameplay to add more realism but the players seem to be off balance far too much and too often. This is especially bad if you call for a pass from a computer controlled player as you never know if they are on or off balance. So i think that needs toning down a little. One other thing is the referees just cant wait to hand those yellow cards out, they seem to be far too strict.
SD – The passing accuracy is too sensitive. And the power bar needs addressing. Every pass seems to either go 5 or 50 yards
SS – I say it every year and I’m goign to say it again. That god damn clock in the top left of the screen. The clock doesn’t stop at 90 minutes on TV so why does it stop at 90 minutes in the game. A little thing but it would allow you to know at what stage of injury time you are at so you can change your gameplan slightly
What would you like to see “patched in” to FIFA 16 or implemented in FIFA 17?
NM – As previously mentioned the buy it now option needs to be improved or removed to stop me messing up my transfers.
For the game itself, on the higher difficulty levels there appears to be a touch of rubber banding in the game. A goal to put you 2-0 up is often followed by a goal back by the CPU after an unstoppable dribble or thunderbolt shot.
Oh and the Liverpool players could have a higher rating, but that’s more down to Mr Rodgers than EA!
DM – Ugly characters. my god some of the player created characters verge on the distractingly grotesque.
KD -The one i would like to see is more customization for clubs in pro club mode, The addition of custom kits and maybe stadiums that you can build up as you progress, I cant see this ever happening but it would be a nice touch. Id stay away from custom badges though for obvious reasons.
SD – A saints row 3 style “sex appeal” adjustment in the player creator. ;)
SS – The women teams in the game seem to be just a dialed in aspect. National teams only? This should have been the full compliment of women’s teams, the licenses must already be there. I’m expecting this to be included in FIFA 17.
What score would you give FIFA this year. The Choices are: “Back of the Net” – highly recommend, “Going into injury time” – pick up when the price drops, or “Corruption Charges” – Avoid this Year.
NM – A bit of a heart vs head question. As I’ve owned and loved a copy of FIFA since the long distant memories of the MegaDrive my heart says Back of The Net, as living without the game in my life seems unthinkable. Especially as I couple it with the commentary down and the Midlife Gamer podcast playing in my ears.
However my head would give it Going Into Injury Time. The improvements and differences are largely cosmetic. Which possibly doesn’t justify the £45 price tag. I guess it’s similar to replica kits. Do you buy the new one every year for a touch of white piping on the sleeves? For me who proudly owns three new Liverpool kits, it’s a big yes, now while the Mrs is out its time to buy some more FIFA points.
DM – If I’m fully honest, Fifa is one of those games you could easily skip a few years and not really miss out, other than the community aspect, so it will have to be “Going into Injury time”.
KD – Overall its a much improved game this year in my opinion so it has to be back of the net from me.
SD – Back of the net!
SS – I’m kind of inbetween two scores here. I don’t think quite enough has been done this year to warrant a week 1 purchase if you are a FIFA regular. However it is is certainly worth the money of a full price purchase if you have skipped a year. Can I say an Injury time goal?