FIFA 16 Career Mode Details
Career Mode in FIFA 16 delivers two of our community's most requested feature updates and many other key changes. (Available on Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC only)
The first new addition to Career Mode is one we've championed as a site for some time – Pre-season Tournaments. Gone are the mundane series of pointless friendly games, and in their place a myriad of exciting tournaments spread across the globe. There are nine different Pre-season Tournaments in total, but you'll be invited to choose from a selection of three at the start of each season.
The stature of your club will affect the quality of tournaments available, with Chelsea in our play through invited to the Asia Elite Trophy also featuring the likes of Bayern Munich and PSG. As well as altering the quality of opposition, the stature of the tournament will also affect the amount of prize money on offer. Which, you'll be pleased to hear goes directly in to your transfer budget should you be victorious. For that reason alone, pre-season is now well worth playing.
The tournament format consists of a 4 team group stage, where you play each team other once before moving on to a Semi-final and Final should you be successful. But even if you find yourself knocked out in the earlier rounds, you'll still receive a portion of the prize pool to go to towards your transfer war chest. So all is not lost either way.
The presentation of the new Pre-season Tournaments is excellent, as we've come to expect from EA these days. And it extends way beyond pretty menus too, with custom ad-boards, commentary, in-game overlays, and even unique trophy celebrations all designed and styled to represent the region and tournament you've entered.
Another small but incredibly significant change to the pre-season format is the much demanded inclusion of unlimited substitutions. You can now make as many as you want. It's so minute but in terms of the realism and immersion of pre-season, being restricted to three substitutions in previous FIFA's was a real killer, so it's great to see this long standing issue finally rectified.
What Pre-season Tournaments add to Career Mode above all else is a reason to play. I used to (like most of you I'm sure) simulate the majority of my friendly games, because they were nothing more than dead weight before the season started proper. Now you have a potential transfer fund boost on offer, varied opposition, locations and potentially your first managerial trophy too. Pre-season Tournaments are a very slickly integrated and very welcome new addition to the Career Mode family.
Another community most wanted feature for Career Mode has always been Player Training, which finally makes its debut in FIFA 16. It's based around Skill Games (don't panic, it's going to be fine) but the whole process can be automated (told you) as well if you wish to do so.
You have five player training slots in total, which you can assign to anyone in your first team squad. That includes youth players also, providing you've signed them to a permanent contract. After that you select an area of focus for each player to work on during that week. For example as Chelsea we put Diego Costa on a finishing drill, and Ruben Loftus-Cheek on to passing.
Once assigned you can either manually play the Skill Games yourself, or ‘simulate all' to see the results in seconds. For me, the latter is by far the most attractive option long term. The player's performance in each drill (rated A-F) will then start to improve the stat areas the training focusses on. Over time, it will slowly increase their overall rating too. You can only train your team once a week in an aim keep things balanced, and we saw some pleasing results with that in mind when comparing the benefits received from training by established players, compared to upcoming talent.
We trained Diego Costa for about 15 weeks consistently on his finishing and he went from 90 finishing up to 91, which probably isn't a difference you'll notice in-game. His overall rating didn't progress at all during that time either. Ruben Loftus-Cheek however, over the same duration gained +4 for his through passes and his overall had jumped +3 too. As you can see, a much larger net benefit from training a ‘promising' player, rather than someone already at the peak of their powers. Balance is always key in features like this, so it was nice to see the training logic working in the way we'd expect. There are rating caps as well (based on potential growth) so at a point, certain players won't grow any more regardless of how much you train them.
An example of the training automation screen below...
As your players skills improve over time it also affects their transfer value and this is shown on the training screen as a percentage increase. We trained Courtois as well over the same 15 week period and the game listed a 10% increase in his value. That only represented an extra £3 million on top of his asking price, but it's nice to know that your time investment in player training is paying off in more ways than just improved stats.
As I mentioned previously, you only have five training slots per week, so you'll need to be very selective about who you want to focus your attention on. The game will remember your last training configuration too, enabling you to reload the same schedule from the previous week and run it again. That makes Player Training incredibly quick and easy to manage. Based on our time with it, to see genuine benefits you're going to need to train the same players consistently over a number of weeks, rather than chopping and changing all the time.
Will I ever play the training Skill Games myself manually?
I doubt it. But the fact that you can now control the development of your squad is absolutely huge for Career Mode. If you're a big club like Chelsea, focussing on improving youth players is probably a good way to go. But as a lower league club, focussing on making your existing star players even better, may be the preferred tactic. Perhaps, you have a great winger who can't cross for toffee. You might never turn him in to David Beckham, but you can at least target improvement in that part of his game. Or maybe you want to create the next La Masia, and bring through a new era of home grown success? It's all up to you as the manager, and it's that freedom I think I like best about Player Training.
Another very welcome, and very well integrated new feature.
GLOBAL TRANSFER NETWORK
The Global Transfer Network, seems on the surface at least identical to FIFA 15, but under the hood there are some neat changes. As you all know, EA decided to mask the player overall rating (OVR) in many of Career Mode's menus (which I like for the most part) but that tended to hinder rather than help you when it came to scouting players you knew little about.
Now, when you take the time to scout a player in detail you'll be rewarded with extra information, like their current transfer value, wages and the unmasking of their overall. These are small details, but they're incredibly useful when you need to make quick transfer decisions about players your own football knowledge perhaps doesn't cover. These new details are all displayed on the main GTN screen too meaning you don't need to click on the player and filter through all their stats to see it.
I'd love to see this go much further with scouts also providing an indication of a player's future potential (that is their job after all) but it seems I shall be waiting another year at least for that to come around. For me the Global Transfer Network still has lots of untapped potential, but at least this time there's actually a reason to use scouting, because you will at the very least get back the key information you need to make better transfer decisions.
CLUB TRANSFER BUDGETS
One of the biggest gripes with managing clubs in the lower leagues in Career Mode is that if you eventually make the Promised Land and gain promotion to the Premier League, you still only have a League One budget to work with. Due to the commercial revenue that comes with promotion these days that's just not right, so to try and tackle that, EA have made a few changes.
The first is around the balance of transfer budgets in general which have been tweaked somewhat across the board to provide more realistic starting positions. EA have analysed the amounts spent by clubs over the last few seasons in the real world, and have tried to match Career Mode to that benchmark. That change in conjunction with the chance to boost your transfer fund as part of Pre-season Tournaments, should leave you in a much better starting place than in previous years.
Another nice change too is that if you have money left in your transfer budget at the end of the season, a percentage of it will be carried across to your next campaign. How much you get back depends on your performance against board objectives, but it's much better than having £10 million wiped, just because you didn't spend it. So if the right player isn't available, you can hold on to your cash and attack the market again in the following season, providing you're doing well.
There was no way for us to see it in action, but EA have also added extra logic to boost promoted clubs transfer budgets as they move through the leagues. So if you do guide Yeovil to the Premier League, you should have a budget which at least gives you a chance to compete with the clubs around you. We'll need full retail code to prove it though.
STORY OF THE SEASON
EA have utilised their Player Stories engine in various guises over the last few Career Mode iterations,with fairly mixed success. Some of the stories are really interesting and engaging, and others not so. But combined with the some of the new audio technology EA are stepping up their game on that front yet again with their newly dubbed - Story of the Season.
Now as well as the general comments about your next opponent, you'll also get deeper routed discussion about big transfers happening in world football (even outside of your league at times), notable player or team performances and should you find yourself in a title or relegation scrap, they'll debate that in some depth too. Things have gone yet another level down in terms of depth essentially.
Some of that stuff we've perhaps seen or heard before, but normally it's in isolation or the odd comment here and there. Now Career Mode feels like it remembers, and plays more prominently on those key story lines as they develop and it does so almost seamlessly. Story of the Season also brings with it a suite of new overlays for transfer news to really enforce the things Tyler and Smith debate. This stuff is subtle, without doubt, but it's great to see EA continue to push the envelope in terms of overall immersion of the Career Mode experience.
BEST OF THE REST
As well as the headline grabbing stuff we also managed to obtain an additional list of foundational changes which EA won't be publicising as part of their main press release. I won't cover these in detail, but I know you'll find them interesting all the same.
- You can now sign free agents outside of the transfer window.
- After scouting a player, reports are available for an entire calendar year before they expire (previously they lasted 3 months).
- Short loans have increased from three to six months and there is now an option to issue two-year loans.
- While the transfer window is open, the number of ‘high-profile' moves by big players has been tuned to better match the number that typically happen in the real-world.
- EA have addressed values of players to better match the real-world transfer market.
- Transfer Improvements: When the user receives a scout report update, we will recommend him three players based on the weaknesses of the team.
- Global Transfer Network: We added a detailed tab to the GTN screen where the user can filter all the players that are fully scouted.
- Auto Transfer Budget: If you have enough money to buy a player the budget will automatically adjust instead of having the user go back to the budget screen and adjust the slider manually.
- Season Target: There were several complains of people being fired even if they performed well, we did some tuning to ensure this doesn't happen.
- Team Management: Adding extra info for the Formations. Right now we can have 3 different types of 4-5-1 formation without any distinction between them, we will add some extra info, such as Wide, False 9, etc to help differentiate them.