Do You Like the FIFA Series’ Annual Update?
The ability to reconcile an authentic game of football has been the forte of EA’s prestigious footballing franchise in recent years. But we want to ask if it is necessary to update the game annually?
A new FIFA game hits the market each year and fans can’t stop but wonder what changes would be made. With every annual update bringing the subtlest shifts, the 2016 offering opts for a move towards greater realism and midfield attrition. There have been years when upgrades were so minor that one wondered if there was even a need to buy the new game. Usually it is either just a roster upgrade or some visual tweaks, but the engine more or less remains the same. However, more recently we have seen EA Sports taking strides to deliver a new experience each year. At the end of the day, we can simply say that “the more things change, the more they stay the same.” We try and argue if the annual soccer franchise should switch to annual DLC updates, if the changes aren’t that significant each year.
That does hold true for sports titles, especially soccer games — the aim remains the same score against the computer or human opponent. How much of that experience can improve depends on the technology available and new features, each title brings. When the PS4 and Xbox One were launched in November 2013, FIFA 14 was made entirely on the new Ignite Engine. This engine was not utilized on previous-gen consoles, PS3 and Xbox 360. Now that is one reason to invest in a brand new FIFA title. The new engine offers improved physics, player reaction, controls and animations. The obvious improvements are mainly graphical, which we saw in all FIFA titles starting from FIFA 14.
Having played FIFA 14, 15 and 16, we can say that FIFA 15 offered a significant improvement over FIFA 14 and was fun to play online. The emotional engine intelligence truly shined, as players would react on every near-miss, goal or foul. The mentality would change from the start to the end of the game when teams are desperately defending a lead or trying to equalize. We saw 10 men celebrations for the first time. Barclays Premier League was presented with authentic television graphics, overlays and all 20 stadiums.
When we came to FIFA 16, EA Sports marketed it with the tag line “Play Beautiful.” We have the cover star, Lionel Messi, with his signature dribbling style known as “No Touch Dribbling” in the game. FIFA 16 also introduced national women’s teams which was a first for the franchise. We also saw improvements all across the board in defense, attack and midfield, with the game now played mostly in the middle of the pitch. Pro passing provided better passing mechanics and the long ball counter attack goals were tweaked.
The FIFA Trainer would help rookies and experts by guiding what buttons to press as they played each key pass or attempted to score goals. This time, the German Bundesliga got an authentic treatment from EA Sports. The commentary each year also gets a boost with Martin Tyler and Alan Smith — sounding more natural and less scripted each time. The career mode has gotten several new changes such as pre-season friendly tournaments, training drills, and more realistic transfers.
While we think the changes in FIFA 16 are nice and every year the added authenticity in television graphics, presentations and real stadiums are much appreciated. Could all this be provided as DLC? The only way possible is if the engine isn’t overly tweaked and there are only minor updates that may not require a full release. This means one can save on the full price and pay only for the updates instead. Some of them could be optional and others required.
We think EA Sports is in the midst of making a lot of across-the-board changes. We aren’t sure if every soccer simulation fan has Internet access to make sure they get the annual DLC updates. At the same time, the game has to be different each year to keep fans away from Konami’s Pro Evolution Soccer series, which recently got a lot better.
We hope FIFA 17 is a marked improvement over its predecessor. And hope the career mode gets more exciting moments whether you’re a player or manager. In fact, it should be done in a way that the manager starts a career at a small club and takes it to the UEFA Champions League (known as European Champions Cup in the game) and wins it. It can still be done on FIFA 16 and older games, but with a dramatic storyline. In the same way, we can have a young regional star who can make his way to the biggest clubs in the world. If these changes are included in the upcoming FIFA games, we won’t mind spending full price on the franchise each year.