After a turmoil filled few months during which FUT 15 has hogged the community limelight, it’s easy to forget that right now, (yes now) we are potentially right on the cusp of the grand unveiling of FIFA 16. Traditionally this happens around May/June time, so with that period looming large, we take a look at the things we’d like to see most from EA SPORTS next series entry.
I’m going to start with my obligatory “FIFA’s gameplay has come a long way” caveat (which it has) but if there’s one thing preventing the work that’s already gone in to Player Locomotion, First Touch Control, The Impact Engine and many others from shining, it’s undoubtedly the sheer pace at which FIFA plays. When I visit FIFA press events there are always a plethora of frame by frame comparison videos showcasing the new intricacy of footwork, and player motion. In that context, you can’t help but think “how did we ever play FIFA without this”. But run those comparisons again at full FIFA pace, with a gameplay camera view and those intricacies are instantly lost in the chaos.
It’s like Da Vinci painting the Mona Lisa and then only allowing you to view it on a 50mph conveyor belt. It doesn’t matter how much work went in to it, or how beautiful it is, you’ll never get the chance to fully appreciate its brush strokes. That’s why for me, the best thing EA can do for FIFA 16’s gameplay is just rein in what’s already there. Give the brilliant technical advancements they’ve spent years developing a chance to actually be seen and felt behind the controller. Because that’s where FIFA lacks most for me, “feel”. It’s got more bells and whistles than it quite possibly needs, but the “feel” of the games are pretty much at a constant. There is no ebb, no flow, just in your face blockbuster action which is fine early on, but over time, its lack of variation wears thin.
Quite simply, you’ve done the work guys, just give us the time on the ball to experience it.
When I walked away from last year’s Career Mode playtest, I won’t lie, I was bitterly disappointed. After what I saw as a foundational set of changes from the year previous as well (FIFA 14) I was very much expecting the revolution to take hold this time around. But as we all know, yet another set of incremental updates came our way. Career Mode is certainly more stable this time and better for those updates, but it’s just all too familiar. Bar the updated squads and kits I can’t help but feel that we’re all simply re-treading the same path. Which itself is further compounded by glaringly under developed features like press conferences, which are allowed still, to stick out like a sore thumb. You can get away with that kind of thing the first year you bring a feature in, but three years later? Not for me.
Is it a lack of resource, a lack of willingness, FUT bias? Only EA can answer that. But for FIFA 16 Career Mode needs equal billing alongside its money spinning rival. FIFA’s online revolution has undoubtedly made it the game it is today, but the series heritage is very much rooted in offline management simulation. The “Online Career Mode” debate swirls annually as always (which probably deserves an article of its own) but the reality is that EA need to massively invest now, in what’s already there.
Career Mode, despite FUT’s dominance still has a huge community following which could and should be amplified even further by a really meaty set of updates for FIFA 16. We’ve covered some of what we need cheap Fifa 16 coins, but without doubt, Career Mode deserves its own grand unveiling this year and its rightful status, as one of FIFA’s biggest modes. Rather than having to awkwardly shuffle in at the back of the press room, hoping no one notices.
Which brings me neatly on to FUT, the reason this site even exists, and the center of most people’s FIFA universe. Hate it or love it, FUT is an absolute machine and its rise to prominence since its humble beginnings in FIFA 09, is nothing short of spectacular. But, in a similar vein to Career Mode I guess, the last couple of years have seen only modifications to FUT’s formula, rather than the rapid revolution which got it here in the first place. The money men will think the formula is working just fine, but as we all know, stand still and you’re dead in the water. Vultures are circling.
So for me in FIFA 16 what FUT needs is something new. And I mean brand new, not a removed feature from previous versions, then put back in with the usual “we’re listening to you” rhetoric. Just don’t take important things out in the first place. But thankfully, EA do seem to be learning that lesson, and now that they’ve righted quite a few wrongs last year, FUT undoubtedly needs something extra. A new mode, new card types, new ways of squad building, new anything. Of which there are countless great ideas and suggestions in forums throughout the land and hopefully EA heads too.
The cause of the recent turmoil, Price Ranges will be much more palatable when EA start FIFA 16 with a blank canvas, of that I’m sure. But even with ranges representing a huge behavioural shift for the mode and the community, FUT undoubtedly needs a new, irresistible angle to go with those changes, which will hopefully level the playing field in years to come.
If Career Mode is “awkwardly shuffling in at the back of the room” Clubs is outside in the gutter soaked in its own vomit. The now alcoholic, scruffy former rock star crushed by the weight of its own expectation. A sorry tale indeed. Because at the turning of the last generation, the “11v11” concept was exactly that, the rock star addition that was going to propel FIFA to the stars, replicating the real world game, blow for blow in an online space. And that was exactly how it started, albeit hamstrung at the time by emerging internet speeds and no real way to organise yourselves in-game.
There’s no doubt in my mind that with a much better player performance rating system, slower gameplay, custom club kits/badges and continued innovation of the way clubs can organise themselves, Pro Clubs could again be massive. But with it not even making the disk for the PS3 and 360 versions last year, I’m incredibly worried it won’t make the cut at all for FIFA 16.
Which would undoubtedly be a huge mistake, because there is so much untapped potential in clubs, it beggars belief. Again, is it a resource issue, a willingness issue or, FUT bias? Whatever the reason for Pro Clubs forced partial retirement, I’d absolutely love to see it back with a bang for FIFA 16. Redeveloped from scratch, a once again thriving community, and no blue afros. I can but dream.
The leap to next-gen consoles has undoubtedly given FIFA the extra power it needed to replace the series synonymous cardboard cut-out crowds, amongst other things, but what it hasn’t necessarily done yet, is push the graphical boundaries in the same way for example that the NBA 2K series has. There are key differences between the games, notably larger arenas and more players, for the FIFA team to deal with but all the same FIFA right now (perhaps unfairly?) still isn’t spoken about in the same bracket of visual loveliness. Is that because we have overly lofty expectations? Or because EA haven’t yet solved the next-gen hardware puzzle? I’m hoping for the latter.
Either way, I think it would be a real statement of intent for FIFA 16 come out swinging showcasing a level of visuals which not only rival the NBA 2K series, but if anything surpass it. People always think of FIFA as a separate entity, but there is an awful lot of shared tech across the EA SPORTS portfolio and after that, EA as a whole. Those movement physics you see in Battlefields soldiers, are undoubtedly what you see in FIFA too, I mean why develop two engines? These days it’s just not cost effective.
FIFA 16, with Battlefield level prettiness. I think that, regardless of the “it’s all about gameplay” warriors (it’s about everything coming together as one, in reality) would make everyone sit up and listen to what EA has to offer this time around.