11 Big Changes Coming to FIFA 16
Last year FIFA focussed on attacking play, creating a fast and hectic matches which, while fun, wasn't necessarily the most realistic experience. The midfield could be bypassed entirely and the advantage in most situations was with the team in attack. FIFA 16 is looking to address that imbalance.
Outside of changes to core systems there are some bigger innovations, like FIFA Trainer and the introduction of Women's Teams, which will make this the most accessible entry in the series to date.
Here's a run down of the most prominent changes we've seen so far…
1. Defenders Aren't Chumps
Most people equate excitement in football with offensive play. FIFA 15 probably gave too much of an advantage to its wingers and strikers who, blessed with pace, were able to get by its more static and lumbering defenders. When defending in FIFA, the default tactic is to track a player and apply pressure, limiting the passing options of the player in possession. But while tracking, defenders weren't as nimble or as reactive as their real-life counterparts. FIFA 16 adds more animations, which enables defenders to pivot while tracking a run, allowing them to keep within touching distance of more skilful players for longer. If you commit to a tackle, the recovery time is much shorter – press tackle again, and the defender will get back to their feet. It means tackling is no longer an all-or-nothing dilemma.
2. Your Team Has Your Back
The team works much better as defensive unit, with players in support maintaining their shape and adapting in response to the attack team. It's as if the centre-back now has the ability to communicate to those around them, shouting at team-mates to track a run or maintain their shape when under pressure.
3. Quality Tackle!
For as long as I can remember there's been two types of tackle in FIFA: the subtle one, where you stick a leg out and hope to retrieve the ball, and the slide tackle, where's it all or nothing. FIFA 16 let's you tackle in the air when a loose ball is falling. You can perform a ‘fake' tackle, which can be used to lure attackers into committing early. It's the defensive equivalent of a step-over.
4. Goalkeepers Make Less Silly Mistakes
Goalkeepers are tricky to get right. You want them to save most reasonable attempts on goal but you don't want them to be perfect, saving every single shot. FIFA's done a lot of work since the switch to PS4 and Xbox One to improve its keepers, but they still ran into problems dealing with situations that wouldn't trouble most real-life keepers. For instance, in FIFA 16, goalies are no longer caught off guard when there's a shot from distance, since they can now backpedal while keeping an eye on the ball. It eliminates some of those freaky long-range efforts that would've snuck in last year.
5. Players Better at Intercepting
Players across the pitch have much more awareness of the ball as it travels through space, and if it's within reaching distance they will stick out a foot to trap an errant pass and steal back possession. It all means the midfield – the key creative area of a game – isn't so easily bypassed anymore. Games can still be end-to-end affairs, but it's one of the small changes that definitely gives renewed focus to midfield play.
6. Pass with Power and Purpose
Elevating the importance of the midfield is also accompanied by new modifiers which allow players to be much more potent. Hold down R1/RB in FIFA 16 and the subsequent pass will carry additional power. It's like a through ball but with much more purpose. It's not an easy thing to execute, and used in the wrong situation it's really easy to put the ball out of play. But used just right, it's the ball that can truly destroy a well-marshalled defence.
7. Making Crossing Satisfying
Scoring from a cross in FIFA isn't particularly fun or satisfying. It's a functional goal. Tweaks have been made not only to how crosses are delivered but more importantly to the types of runs players make into the box. There's much more variety, with players going deep or running to the near post, and it means that the potential for beautiful and spectacular goals is increased as a result.
8. Fancy Finishing
A lot of the changes above benefit midfield and defence, but attack isn't neglected with a range of new finishing animations. There are multiple types of header which again makes crossing a more attractive and exciting strategy. But the new volley animations are particularly satisfying and attractive. Striking a ball sweetly as it falls out of the air is one of the most exciting things you can see in a game of football, and FIFA 16 now has something which comes close to that experience.
9. Keep Your Eye on the Ball
Small tweak here. Players actually watch the ball, tracking it as it flies through the air, rather than just staring forward. It's a small tweak, but watch a player follow the ball and then connect for a thunderous volley looks great.
10. FIFA 16 Teaches You How to Play FIFA
It's hard to explain to someone how to play FIFA. There are so many types of passes, with multiple modifiers creating different outcomes. It's hard to just pass someone a controller and expect them to pick it up. Recent instalments introduced Skill Games, which, while they did a decent job of conveying the basics, it was sometimes hard to transfer those lessons into an actual game. FIFA 16 takes a new approach with FIFA Trainer, a constant on-screen guide which drills you as you play an actual game. At all times it presents you with two suggestions of what you should be doing. So if you're not in possession, it'll advise you to pressure play or track the player with the ball. This is done through a mixture of text and button prompts. It sounds like a lot, but it's fairly stripped back. It will also scale to your ability. So if you're a total novice, it'll focus on the basics, but for more advanced players it'll teach you the best situation in which to use a lofted through ball. It's a neat idea, tackling a problem many new players encounter, but it's success relies on keeping the UI simple and intelligible.
11. Women's Teams
FIFA 16's announcement led with news 12 international women's teams would be included for the first time in the series. Obviously, it's about time, and it's something the team has been working on for quite a while. Over the last couple of years, there's been intense debates regarding how much work it takes to animate female characters. The FIFA team has spent extensive time making sure its female players aren't reskinned models stolen from elsewhere in the game. The models have been created from scratch to represent female anatomy accurately.