The FIFA franchise has been a part of my life ever since my first game back in 1997. At that time I was a seven year old lad, who spent every single spare second of his day playing FIFA. I’m proud to say that not much has changed in 18 years.
What has changed however is my love for the game. Admittedly, over the last few years I’ve grown tired of FIFA. Since the launch and focus of the largely popular game mode, FIFA Ultimate Team, I’ve found myself playing less and less as the years have gone by. But why?
I know many of you will be thinking, “It’s because he’s not very good at PvP in FIFA” and my reply would be, you’re absolutely right. But that’s not why my love for the game has faded in the past. The main reason is because the PvP element of the game does not truly resemble how Football is actually played. It’s a warped, arcade version of the beautiful game and that does not sit right with me.
So this morning I fired up my PS4 and downloaded the demo, not really excited in the slightest. Fast forward to now, 11:12am, and I’m delighted to say that my love for FIFA may well be back.
First, it is very clear that the developers of this game have attempted to balance player attributes, specifically within FUT, in order to reduce to recurring dominance of skilful and fast players.
In the last two or three instalments of the FIFA franchise, if you didn’t have a team filled with the aforementioned attributes, you lose, plain and simple.
However, this year, I’m going to stick my neck out on the line and say that pace and skill will NOT win you games. This is down to two very key new mechanics that have been added to FIFA 16 this year. Both of which are to do with Defending.
In FIFA 16, defending has become far slicker. In previous FIFA’s, when you were up against a speedster you had no chance. There would always be one winner in a CB vs RW match-up.
Now I feel like it’s far more evenly matched. Defenders are now much more agile when tracking an opponent, being able to turn as quickly as the attacker, providing you with more time to pick the right moment to make a tackle.
You’re still vulnerable to through balls but that will always be the case no matter how fast your CB’s are. That’s another point I’ll make. Last year most FUT players picked CB’s that had decent pace. This year, whilst still a good attribute to have in a CB, standing/sliding tackles and interception stats will be even more crucial. This brings me to new mechanic number two…
Interceptions make a colossal difference when playing FIFA 16. If you’ve had a go on the demo already, you’ll know this to be true. This new mechanic is something that has, by itself, changed the way FIFA is played.
In previous FIFA’s you could very easily pass your way through the middle of the pitch, back to front, in no time at all. Now this is far more difficult. I love this new addition because once again it cuts out the incredibly fast build up play favoured in previous FUT matches. I believe due to this one mechanic we will be seeing a much slower style of build-up play. My advice, don’t fill your midfield with strikers that you’ve moved from ST to CAM to CM. Instead fill it players with high interception and passing attributes.
A logical progression in this review would be to cover the new ‘Driven Pass’ mechanic after talking about ‘Interceptions’. This is because the Driven Pass is the perfect way, and maybe the only way, to get through your oppositions CM’s.
If you prefer to play through the middle when playing FUT, Driven Passes will be key to your journey to Division One this year. For those who are not aware of this new mechanic, Driven Passes are now possible over shorter distances. Before, a driven pass could only be done when switching flanks, but in FIFA 16 you’ll need to string a few short Driven Passes together in order to get through the middle of the park.
The mechanic itself works very well. In my few hours of playing FIFA 16 it’s become clear that power-ups will also play a big role especially with Driven Passes. If you over cook a Driven Pass the receiver will miss-control the ball, which is a nice little feature for those, like myself, who look to EA to create an authentic Footballing experience.
Other notable mentions:
In FIFA 16 you have the ability to perform a ‘Fake Tackle’. When experimenting with this, the function doesn’t really do anything. However the demo is only PvE, therefore, when applied to FUT it may come into its own.
When attacking, players make much more logical and realistic runs off the ball. AI players will also find space more intelligently, again favouring players who enjoy passing it around.
When the Football is struck in FIFA 16 its flight varies a lot, which is a good thing. I’ve pulled off some very nice outside of the boot through balls with YaYa Toure and David Silva, which are very satisfying when done correctly.
Another point is when shooting at goal the ball now moves more in the air and has more variation of curl.
The crowd chants are very polished compared to FIFA 15. No longer will there be long spells of silence followed by a sudden outbreak of euphoric chanting. This year it’s consistent with a nice blend of quiet and loud chants with a lot of variation in the songs, which is good.
Visually, as expected, the game looks better than ever. The player faces have much more lighter and darker aspects to them, with a good use of shadows to bring out strong brow and jaw lines.
A slight negatively would be that EA doesn’t seem to have done anything with the crowd. There’s still a sense of there being about 6 different movements the crowd can make, of which about 10,000 fans use at the same time.
Yes! Handballs are back. I’m very happy about this! I’m also happy to say that after 10 matches I only had 3/4 handballs given, which is a dramatic change from previous games where there would be a handball every 5 minutes.
Overall FIFA 16 is much improved this year. The integration of AI interceptions and the increased agility of defenders creates a much more even battle between attackers and defenders. Something that’s been desperately needed for a while.
The general gameplay feels far more realistic. I feel like when I play a match in FIFA 16, I’m playing it the way I would see it played on television.
This is huge for me. I think I’m falling in love again.
What are your first impressions of the demo? Let us know in the comments below!
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