FIFA 16: 10 Common Complaints
Like Call of Duty, and, well, just about every single annualised franchise ever, actually, FIFA gets a lot of flack for not innovating enough when it releases at the end of each and every summer. With complaints that the core experience never changes enough to justify paying for another full-price title every year, the franchise has amassed a rather vocal group of naysayers during its meteoric rise to super-stardom over the past 10 years.
Annoyingly, the most common complaints usually boil down to the exact same reductive accusations. They might be from people who’ve only played the occasional friendly at a friends’ house or from those who despise the idea of annualised franchises altogether, but either way it’s clear these haters have never spent a substantial amount of time with these games.
And no matter how hard the developers try, these complaints have become so commonplace that they crop up without fail with the release of every new entry in the series. It’s a bit insulting, really; FIFA doesn’t change from iteration to iteration as much as other franchises that get sequels every other year, but the development team actually accomplishes quite a lot considering the unbelievably tight schedule that comes along with getting these football titles out.
So, with that in mind, we’re going to finally give EA a little credit for how much they actually achieve in moving the genre forward little by little every single year.
10. “Ultimate Team Is Broken”
Over the last few years since its initial inclusion, Ultimate Team has quickly become the most important part of the FIFA experience. While the signature offline modes are all still there, the only thing players seem to care about these days is curating their own squad to face off against other teams in the hope of getting bigger and better players.
But of course, with the inclusion of microtransactions and the ability to spend in-game currency on usable packs that reward players with a series of different buffs, a common complaint is that this set-up is nothing but a fix designed to keep players constantly buying and grinding their way to the higher levels.
In reality though, as much as the most bitter refuse to believe it, Ultimate Team is far from a broken or unfair experience. Just because the game mode is heavily based on a dice-roll doesn’t mean it’s an inherently biased system. You’ll notice that the people complaining about Ultimate Team’s supposedly cheating set-up are the same ones blaming the server connection every time they get beat in an online match.
9. “It’s Too Buggy”
To the outside world, every FIFA release must look like a complete mess. In the few weeks following a new entry into the franchise, countless gifs and youtube videos inevitably spring up all over the internet showing a long laundry list of humorous gameplay bugs that supposedly riddle the game.
To the uninitiated, these videos essentially confirm that these releases are churned out every year for the money alone, regardless of the quality of the finished product. Of course, considering the state some other games release in these days, FIFA actually does pretty well to ship a rather solid and functional game to market every single year.
While yeah, there are some dodgy bugs that pop up now and again, they’re rarely ever more than superficial one-offs. And hell, in the rare instances they do effect gameplay it’s only ever momentarily – hardly the gamebreaking, controller-throwing blemishes that they’re made out to be.
8. “There Aren’t Any New Features”
Even though they might not get the focus in EA’s marketing campaign, the FIFA series has actually amassed a rather large selection of modes and features since the days where Manager Mode reigned supreme.
From the focus on the self-created pros to the inclusion of a women’s division this year, EA is constantly testing new ideas to give gamers different and unique ways to play its flagship sports series. While of course some of these might have been executed better than others (Be a Goalie, anyone?) it’s outright wrong to say that the developers ship out the same vanilla set of features with every yearly release.
7. “Defending Is Underpowered”
A common complaint of those who are utterly terrible at defending (even I’m guilty of spouting this accusation before I bothered to actually sit down and learn the game proper) is the annoying, toys-thrown-out-the-pram lie that defending is too much of a dice-roll to be effectively used as a tactic.
Although a high-level player can absolutely trounce the average FIFA gamer while on the offensive, it’s never a fault of the game-mechanics themselves. Playing defensively in EA’s series is just as much about reading the flow of the game and guessing your opponent’s next move in a chess-like fashion than it is putting in those vital, close-shave slide tackles.
And you can tell this is the case when you actually do come up against these high-level players and only manage to get five yards into their half. Defending in FIFA can be tricky (and it’s definitely not the most exciting part of the game), but it’s much more complex and much more viable than the naysayers would have you believe.
6. “Crowds Are Lifeless”
Although you might be thinking that this is a rather silly complaint, it’s not necessarily the fact that people rubbish the admittedly poor quality of the crowds that’s B.S, but the wider implications that FIFA somehow lacks that classic footballing atmosphere. The background aesthetics will usually be the go-to example of EA’s “lifeless” atmosphere – and yet you couldn’t find a better example of FIFA’s commitment to delivering an authentic football experience.
While the crowds are admittedly full of shoddy textures and canned animations, the attention to detail goes beyond mere graphics. With authentic chants, a sea of coloured shirts and reactions to the most dramatic parts of a match, the background crowd actually does a great deal to sell the theatrics occurring on the pitch.
And this subtle dedication to atmosphere is present in every part of the game, from the dynamic replays to the increasingly sophisticated commentary, all coming together to create the definitive footballing experience on console.
5. “Wide Crosses And Through Balls Dominate”
To the most reductive of FIFA haters, a major complaint is that EA’s series lacks the goal-scoring flair of Konami’s Pro Evolution Soccer. While that may be true in a sense (it’s definitely rarer to see 40 yard screamers in FIFA) to say the only way to score goals is to rely on crosses and cheap through-balls is entirely untrue.
You’ll definitely see plenty of headers and crosses thrown into the box in your average game either online or off in the latest entry in the franchise, but that has more to do with the way gamers themselves play than it does any built-in preference. In a general sense, players are usually more comfortable running up the wing simply because it takes less skill than to take on an opponent’s defence where it’s the strongest.
And even then, it takes a well timed and accurate cross into the box if you want to get anywhere near a strong chance at goal. Rather than lucky goals coming off these efforts, what you’re more likely to find is an opponent sprinting down the wing, putting in a cross at the very last minute and watching as the ball comfortably lands in the hands of your goalkeeper.
4. “Career Mode Is As Boring As Ever”
Once a staple of the entire FIFA brand, the Manager Mode portion of the experience has been cast aside by even the most hardcore faithful of the franchise in recent years. As complaints have risen about the feature not evolving much since 2007, fans still assume that the mode offers nothing other than the same attempts at drama, dynamic results and season-spanning progression year in, year out.
Which is a real shame, because EA has actually upped its game when it comes to crafting this section of the experience in recent years. Through completely overhauling the feature and fine-tuning it over the past few instalments, the newest incarnation of Career Mode is the best it’s ever been.
But even if you still don’t like the direction this portion of the title has taken, it’s hardly indicative of the game’s overall quality. While many outsiders still focus on its repetition as a blight on the series overall, Manager Mode is only a fraction of what the modern FIFA experience has to offer, and it hasn’t been the focal point many claim it to be for years now.
3. “Pace Is The Only Thing That Matters”
In one of my first online games that I didn’t actually outright suck at I received a rather stern message from my opponent accusing me of “pace abusing”. At the time I had no idea what this even meant, but I’d soon learn that overusing players with a high pace attribute is one of the series’ biggest cardinal sins.
But while yeah, faster players have an advantage when it comes to pulling off those epic pitch-long dribbles, sprinting and keeping up a player’s pace isn’t a cheap and easy tactic to employ. Although these players will definitely have an edge when it comes to a counter-attack, there’s absolutely no way they’re going to be able to worm their way through a well-organised defence.
And yet, like anyone who remembers how socially despicable it was to use “noob tubes” in Call of Duty 4, using one of the features that the FIFA games have constantly built upon and perfected over the course of its series has become a tactic that’s entirely frowned upon.
2. “Teams Are Imbalanced”
This is a tricky one to get over, because, from a gameplay perspective, the asymmetrical nature of having a five star team face off against a three star squad provides the perfect ammo for the complainers who make excuses for every one of their defeats.
But in reality, it just wouldn’t make sense to have every team start on an equal footing; if you went to see Sheffield Wednesday play against Real Madrid, would you expect an equal competition?
While there are some teams that are better than others in FIFA, there isn’t one that you can automatically dominate with. Hell, even the Classic XI, a bonus squad which features historical legendary players, can get absolutely annihilated by a player who knows what they’re doing.
Overall, it’s just easier for people to blame a built-in imbalance for their failures rather than admitting they’re actually a bit naff at the game.
1. “It’s The Same Old Gameplay”
Although we’ve touched on parts of this so far in the article, the most frustrating and utterly B.S complaint FIFA fans are sick of hearing is the insultingly reductive “but the gameplay hasn’t changed” argument that you hear coming out the mouths of those who don’t even play the titles every single year.
Not only is it annoying to argue against, it’s factually just a complete lie. Although the changes might be small and seemingly shallow every year, they all add up in a way that continually improves on the series and pushes it forward.
The modern FIFA we know looks nothing like the FIFA of ten years ago, which was a series riddled with intrusive mini-games and an entirely unnatural approach to recreating the authentic flow of true football. While there wasn’t an overnight switch, the stylistic change came after years of constant iterations and developments, with improvements to the physics engine, player animations and fundamental gameplay differences all coming together to distinctively change the experience each and every year.
So although the series doesn’t make radical alterations with every new instalment, what these devs can achieve in a 12 month production cycle makes this argument an insult to the hard work and passion that’s gone into keeping these games fresh year in year out.