FIFA 16 at Gamescom 2015: what it means for career mode
Today EA unveiled a raft of new features for FIFA 16 at its Gamescom show in Cologne. Predictably, Ultimate Team took the prime slot, but it was genuinely refreshing to see career mode getting some decent air time. It seems that this year EA have based a lot of their career mode changes on community feedback, and a lot of the new features are ones that have been requested for years.
However, it wasn’t all perfect and there were some worrying omissions from EA’s show. So let’s have a look at what they revealed, what they didn’t, and what it might mean for career mode in FIFA 16.
One of the biggest problem areas of FIFA 15 has been player growth. Youth players get promoted as slow weaklings, and 10 years down the line they’re still slow weaklings. A player may be mispositioned (particularly so with full backs, who are either mispositioned wingers or centre backs) and so will be weak in areas important to his position – a mispositioned winger playing at full back could have 50 stand tackle but 75 finishing, for example.
FIFA 16 will see the debut of a player training feature with more than 30 different drills, which brings the possibility of countering this growth problem (if it still exists in FIFA 16) by helping players improve in specific areas and hopefully counteracting some of the problems we faced before. That winger full back with 50 stand tackling could work on his technique, thereby getting better in an area that was poorer than it should have been.
However, it sounds somewhat limited. You can only train five players at a time, so if you’re having widespread growth problems then it may not be enough. I also want to know exactly what areas can be improved – can players get faster and stronger, or improve their vision? Or is it only technical stats that can be improved?
The best player growth news would have been that EA have simply fixed it, rather than giving us a slight fix while failing to patch existing problems. What we need is a scenario where young players start out with decent physical stats and grow in a more natural way where their technique improves over time, rather than coming out of the academy with 56 sprint speed and 87 dribbling. Hopefully this is what EA have done, but only time will tell.
Pre-season has always felt very tacked-on in FIFA games. In FIFA 15, for example, you play three friendly matches before the season gets underway, but there’s very little linking these games – you will likely play three teams from completely separate countries, meaning there’s no sense of your club embarking on a pre-season tour of, say, Germany. Further undercutting the realism was the fact that you were still limited to three substitutions per game, despite the games being friendlies, which should allow you unlimited substitutions.
EA have sought to address this lack of realism by bringing pre-season tournaments to FIFA 16. Before each season kicks off, you’ll be invited to take part in three tournaments based around the world (there are nine in total, but you’ll have a choice of three each pre-season). The idea is you’ll get a chance to test out formations and players and play against decent opposition, all in a much more realistic environment than isolated friendlies played against random opposition.
There’s more to it than that, though, as any money you win from the tournament will be added to your transfer budget. You may already know what your best team and formation are, but the financial incentive means that pre-season tournaments have a real, solid reward on offer alongside gaining a greater insight into your squad dynamics.
While this is a nice addition to the game and adds some much-needed immersion, there are other areas that I would rather were addressed first. The scouting system needs a whole raft of changes (more on that later), while there are still plenty of gameplay issues that need addressing. I’m genuinely glad that EA have seemingly fixed pre-season, but I can’t help feeling there should have been greater priorities. Which brings me on to…
What worries me most about the new announcements is that there is almost no mention at all of youth scouting, other than EA claiming they have made “fundamental improvements across transfers and scouting”. We were all heavily disappointed when it transpired that FIFA 15’s scouting system was nearly identical to that of FIFA 14. Although EA have promised changes, they have gone very quiet on specifics. So while scouting in FIFA 16 probably will not be an exact knockoff of FIFA 15’s scouting system, we have very little information to go on. I’m not feeling massively hopeful about this one.
There are several implications of this. Does it mean that we’ll end up with scouted playmakers who have insane mental stats but poor technical stats? Will it still be impossible to find strikers when you search for the ‘Attacker’ player type? Will it still be ridiculously difficult to find a realistic full back (rather than a mispositioned winger or centre back) ? I’ll try to find out more information, so keep checking back.
Here are some more things that EA say are coming to FIFA 16 career mode:
- Sign free agents outside of the transfer window.
- Scout Reports – After scouting a player reports are available to you now for an entire calendar year before expiring vs three months in FIFA 15.
- Transfer Budget -Transfer budgets are now more realistically tailored to the club you’re using in Career Mode. Also, a percentage of the remaining budget from the previous season will carry over to the next. and will vary based on where your club finished in regards to season goals.
- Loans – Short loans have increased from three to six months and there is now an option to issue two-year loans.
- Friendly Subs – You will be able to issue an unlimited number of substitutions during friendly matches.
- More Realistic Transfers – While the transfer window is open, we have tuned the number of ‘high-profile’ moves by big players to better match the number of changes that typically happen in the real-world.
- Improved Player Transfer Values – We’ve addressed values of players to better match the real-world transfer market.
From that list, a few stand out. Being able to sign free agents outside the transfer window is obviously a useful addition and adds a nice realistic touch. It means that now you could quickly bring in a replacement if a key player gets injured outside the transfer period.
Carrying over a percentage of the previous season’s budget is also a welcome addition, as this was a very frustrating issue for a lot of players (myself included). I’m also looking forward to seeing more realistic transfers, although this should probably be taken with a pinch of salt as it’s something EA promise every year.
Of course, all of these minor changes are very promising on paper, and I look forward to seeing how they play out when FIFA 16 is released. Let’s hope they’re as effective as they sound.
One final thing that EA have mention for FIFA 16 is improved story-telling. Commentators will pick up on developing story lines and notable player performances, while also covering transfer rumours and player debuts. Key stats will be picked out both in commentary and in-game graphics (presumably information in the top corners of the screen), while everything is referenced within the context of the league you are playing (such as how important the game is if you’re in a relegation scrap, I would imagine).
What will FIFA 16 career mode look like?
Despite these announcements, expect plenty to remain the same from FIFA 15. I doubt there has been enough time for the FIFA 16 developers to fix every problem from this year’s game, and every year there are elements that stay unchanged from the previous year’s edition. So I don’t think we should expect a radically different career mode in FIFA 16.
That said, the player training feature could help to improve one of the most persistent problems over the past few years of FIFA games – player growth. Yet it will not mean much if EA haven’t addressed the numerous problems that have affected player growth in the past – poor physical stats in youth players that never improve, mispositioned players with poor stats for their positions, and more. EA need to have made significant changes under the hood to improve player growth, in addition to the introduction of player training.
For FIFA 16 news from E3 2015, see below
EA revealed a number of FIFA 16 gameplay features at the E3 conference. Let’s see what FIFA 16 news they gave us.
1. Confidence in defending
EA announced a number of improvements to defending in FIFA 16. Defenders will be more agile, able to turn more quickly and react to opponents’ dribbling moves in order to keep them under control. Players will have more control over tackles, and will be able to change the length of a slide tackle or make their players stop and get up mid-tackle, making them less likely to be taken out of the game.
Teams will supposedly defend as a unit much better in FIFA 16, with improved AI able to track runs better and decide between covering space and closing down an attacker. Interceptions have been improved (perhaps defenders will finally stick a leg out rather than letting the ball roll past their feet!), while you will even be able to do a ‘fake tackle’ to trick attackers into committing early, thereby making it easier to dispossess them.
Finally, EA tell us that goalkeepers have been improved to make them less likely to be beaten by freakish long shots. Keepers will backpedal and be able to track the ball better when it is struck from distance, reducing the likelihood of you being beaten by a long range wonder goal.
2. Control in midfield
FIFA 16 will see those interception improvements come to midfield as well, and it will affect both attack and defence. You will be able to fine tune your team’s interception mentality (i.e. how aggressive it is) in Player Instructions.
Passing has also been changed in FIFA 16 to introduce more ‘purposeful’ passing. Hold RB/R2 while passing to activate a new driven pass, which will be much more direct than regular passing and will be used to bypass defences and catch them out on the break.
3. Deadly attacking
Attacking will perhaps see the biggest changes in FIFA 16. First is what EA call ‘no touch dribbling’. You’ll be able to decide when your player takes their first touch, allowing them to feint, change direction and perform skill moves without touching the ball. The idea is you can dummy in one direction and then explode in the other, giving you an edge over defenders.
Crossing has been tweaked with new animations and runs by attackers. Players in the box may decide to run deep or go to the near post, giving you more options when you’re out wide.
Shooting in will also get some changes in FIFA 16 to make it less random. EA say that “players will feel the difference in each shot attempt and better understand why a particular shot has taken a specific trajectory.” That means you can adjust how you take shots in the future, hopefully giving you a better chance of scoring next time.
4. Improve your game
FIFA 16 will see a new game type to help players improve their skills. The FIFA Trainer will put you in a match situation and provide visual hints and advice on what to do in any given situation. Players will be given two options that should help improve their understanding of how to better compete in actual matches, not just in the isolated Skill Games settings.
Speaking of Skill Games, FIFA 16 will have a new Basic level aimed at first-time players of the franchise.
5. Women’s national teams
For the first time, a FIFA game will finally feature women’s teams (albeit only 12 national sides. Still, better than nothing). EA say they didn’t just take men’s player models and tweak them for women in FIFA 16, but created specific player models from scratch.
The women’s national teams in FIFA 16 are: Australia, Brazil, Canada, China PR, England, France, Germany, Italy, Mexico, Spain, Sweden and USA.
So that’s the FIFA 16 news, but what about FIFA 15?
FIFA 15: what do you want to change?
FIFA 15: what do you want to change?
FIFA’s career mode needs to improve, we all know that. Recently #ChangeCareerMode has been gaining traction on Twitter, while YouTubers are also putting forward their own suggestions on how EA could really take it to the next level.
This page is for you to discuss your own ideas on career mode. What current features do you want to see improved? What new additions to you want to see in upcoming FIFA titles? Share your comments below.
Here are a few things that I would love to see:
1. Fix scouted player names!
I love Shuttleworth Virtanan, I really do, but when was the last time you ever met a Spanish person with a name like that? Some nations seem to be unaffected while others seem completely screwed. The scouted names were fine when the game came out and an update broke them, so I’ve got a lot of hope that this can be fixed.
2. Improve physical stat growth
Only physically strong players seem to grow physical stats from an early age. All other types have to wait years until they grow – if they even do grow at all.
So is it great if you’ve found a physically strong player? Nope, because they usually get promoted with about 50 sprint speed.
And why do goalkeepers spend their first few years growing in physical stats but not GK stats? Are they spending too much time in the gym and not enough on the training ground or playing youth matches? I’m no coder, but to my simple brain I’m sure it wouldn’t take much to fix this.
3. Scouted player types need addressing
Do you really want fast players? OK, scout wingers and pray for a full back with massive potential. Scout any other position or player type and you’re pretty much screwed.
Want a fast attacking midfielder? Don’t scout attackers, get a fast full back. Want a quick striker? Don’t bother, just look for a fast full back. Fast winger full backs end up with amazing technical stats so they can be played pretty much anywhere. They make the other player types more or less redundant.
But scout a defensive minded full back and you get a player with 50 sprint speed and terrible work rates. Add to that the frequent low/low work rates no matter what player type you look for and you’ve got a team full of lazy, slow players – perfect for life in the Premier League, amirite?
Another problem – you can’t find strikers by searching attackers! You have to search physically strong, which often gets you slow forwards with great tackling, or search technically gifted and get slow forwards with 40 stamina.
On the other hand, physically strong players often become beastly at everything. If you find a physically strong central midfielder with high potential, it’s entirely possible they’ll end up with the Complete Defender, Midfielder and Forward specialities. While this is awesome, it completely breaks the immersion of the game. Why scout any other player type? Oh yes, because physically strong players are slow as hell.
So we need more realistic player types – or at least player types that aren’t completely borked. This may need a larger overhaul than fixing physical growth but it’s something that’s completely messing up the youth scouting system.
4. A youth system that is meaningful and immersive
Currently, youth players sit in your academy twiddling their thumbs for one or two years until you decide to promote them. Until that time it’s a borefest and you end up completely forgetting about the players you have already found because what do they do for most of the month? Nothing. The only time you’re reminded about them is when you get an update from your scout.
Instead, we need something that is interesting, something that feels real.
What we need is a youth league. I don’t mean having to play youth matches in addition to first team games, but how about having a youth squad league table, and every week your youth team plays another team from that league?
How about getting a report every week from your chief scout telling you what the score was in that game and how each player performed? How about your scout letting you know who had been progressing well in the youth league and could be ready for promotion?
For this to work we’d probably need a youth academy auto filled with players when you start a career mode, but that doesn’t sound like a huge demand to me. The players’ quality would depend on the team you are, so York City will have an auto-filled academy far inferior to Manchester City’s. As time goes on and we scout more, we can replace these players with ones we’ve scouted ourselves.
Then at least we’d have a reason to keep tabs on the youth academy and a reason to work hard on it. I appreciate this is probably a longer term goal but it’s something a lot of us have been crying out for for years. If this could be implemented in FIFA 16 it would be a huge step forward.
5. More customisation
I know there are potential issues with changing the sponsors on your kit, but having the option to upgrade your stadium would be awesome. Who wants to take Plymouth Argyle to the Premier League and see them lining up at home against Chelsea in a stadium that can house 10,000 people? It looks ridiculous and is totally unrealistic. For clubs that don’t have named and rendered stadiums, surely this wouldn’t be too hard to implement.
So that’s my FIFA career mode wishlist, what about yours? Make sure you leave you ideas in the comments below and let’s see if we can get a list together.
Also check out the #ChangeCareerMode hashtag and watch the videos other YouTubers are making. We seem to be making a difference here, so let’s get our ideas together and see if we can change career mode for the better.