In Focus: FIFA 19
The ever-iterating football series is Taking another leap forward, but This Time it’s more about player empowerment Than Technology
Kick-off upgrade 1
You’re either a Beatles person or an Elvis person, so Pulp Fiction told us. You can like both, but you have to be more one than the other. FIFA is kind of similar. You might be a FIFA player, but either you really like FIFA Ultimate Team or playing Career or The Journey, or just playing against friends in the friendly mode. Well, EA has been working those more involved modes for years, but what it calls Kick-off, the straightto-the-pitch, one-off friendly mode that you play locally with friends, not so much. That all changes this year, with a lot more customisation and variety on offer that will open up the mode to let you play it the way you want to.
House rules 2
Part of the expansion of Kick-off is about letting you play your way, and in some ways codifying things we were already doing and making them official. For instance, how often have you played against a friend and said you would play a best of three matches? Or maybe you’ve said the first to three goals is the overall winner? Perhaps you miss the days when you could turn off fouls, bookings and everything else and just create carnage on the pitch? Good, because now you can. Settings for matches and goals, as well as a no rules mode, are all available in The New Kick-off Mode so that you can structure your game time in a more interesting way.
3 Making Messabouts real
Now we get into the really cool stuff. We don’t know about you, but we have definitely done things like say that only goals from distance count, or headers and volleys only. Well, Kick-off Mode has those options now too, so when you square off against someone, or even the AI, you can set the game to only allow goals from outside the area, or only accept goals that are headers or volleys. That’s kind of crazy, right? FIFA is actually making that an official way to experience the game, breaking free of the strictures of being an officially licensed football game to make those quick, messabout games something real, and less reliant on an honour system among friends.
4 crazy new ideas
Perhaps our favourite addition to Kick-off Mode, though, is Survival mode. Chances are it is exactly what you think it is: score a goal, and one of your players has to leave the pitch. So for every goal you go down to ten, then nine, then eight players, and so on. The player you lose is random, so it could completely mess with your team's shape, and it will definitely open up opportunities for the other side. It’s an amazing leveller, and a way to create new tension between seasoned players. Plus, the tactical approach is fascinating. Do you try to hold on and score late? Or maybe let in a couple to get a player advantage and build momentum later? It’s a lot of fun.
5 advantage settings
If the concept of losing players one at a time doesn’t sound like it’s going to close the gap enough between you and your opponent then you'll be pleased to hear that Kick-off Mode also includes Advantage settings. Clicking in the right stick on the team selection screen brings up the option to change the AI intelligence on each team and allocate pre-match goals. So, say you’re playing against a younger player, you could give them a two-goal head start and set your AI to Semi-pro while they have Legendary players, and see if that makes the experience a little more even. Or you could just really challenge yourself against tougher opposition. It’s really up to you.
“You can now make Your friendly game into a cup final, semi final or group game in a competition like the champions league or europa league”
add some style 6
If you have been a player who only really plays FIFA through Kick-off Mode then that also means you’ve not ever had the pleasure of getting the full atmosphere and ceremony of a cup final or a game that means something in career mode or in competitions in Ultimate Team. As you might have guessed by now, this is no longer the case. You can now make your friendly game into a cup final, semi final or group game in a competition like the Champions League or Europa League, also newly added to FIFA, having grabbed the official licenses this year. There’s really nothing like that anthem before kick off to get the hairs on your arms standing up.
track your stats 7
The last important addition to The New Kickoff Mode is your Kick-off Name, a new ID tracking system that means every friendly contest you enter into, online or otherwise, is tracked. Your Kick-off ID is separate from your EA Account or your console login, but can be linked to EA’S network or to a PSN account. EA is still working on linking it to Gamertags on Xbox, but we don’t imagine it will be too big an issue. And your Kick-off account doesn’t just track your wins and losses; you can see what your possession stats look like for all games, what parts of the pitch you attack most often, and so much more.
active touch and better Movement 8
No FIFA game would be complete without a little technical enhancement and jargon, and that’s delivered nicely by Active Touch, which is what EA is calling its improved player animation and physics system. There’s far greater fluidity in the responses you’ll get from players when they attack the ball now, making far more effort with any part of their body to take control (within the laws of the game, of course). Players seem to understand their own physicality better than before, stretching for the ball when it comes near and diving to head the ball even in open play if it’s the only thing possible. You should find that the game is far more responsive to your commands and moves.
Quick flicks 9
Thanks to the Active Touch system, players are far more reactive than they used to be, and that means they can handle the ball coming at them in all sorts of new ways. By extension, this means new tricks are possible, one of the most exciting of which is being able to flick the ball up by clicking in the right stick. You can press it before receiving the ball to lift the ball a little as you get it, or flick it on the run. And from the lofted position you can keep the tricks going by turning or hitting the ball on the volley. With a player with high-level skills, this little addition can be used to pull off some stunning new tricks that will result in really incredible goals.
dynamic tactics 10
Having more control over your players goes beyond them just reacting to your controller inputs more frequently. FIFA 19 introduces greater control over your tactical play with customised on-the-fly tactics. So rather than just pressing left and right on the D-pad to go to more attacking or defensive variations on what you’re already doing, you can actually create custom presets for each setting to define what you need. Maybe defensive for you means playing possession football and sitting back behind the ball with no press, or perhaps ultra defensive is long ball, but only two players attacking the box. And attacking might mean pushing players wider, or a higher press or more crosses. You get to decide how your team interprets those commands.
“getting the chance to watch the very best players from the weekend league battle it out should sound like an inviting prospect”
50/50 battles 11
So, this is a little peeve we had with FIFA in the past, and it’s one that EA was apparently getting annoyed about too; players not really challenging for the ball and dodging out of the way. You see, the system before had a tendency to decide that one player had the ball over another, but a new 50/50 system means that if you want to, loose balls can be fought for. Ultimately, it will be the players’ stats in strength, speed, balance and tackling than will determine the outcome, along with your own timing. Now those loose balls can be contested the way you want them to be, and not just allowed to run away from you.
timed finishing 12
This is a big one, and for particularly experienced and skilled players it could make a massive difference to your performance, as Timed Finishing allows for a risk-versus-reward gamble that could turn a pot shot into a screamer or a acrobatic bit of wishful thinking into a wonder goal. It works a little like active reload in Gears Of War where you have the chance to press shoot twice, and if you time it right you can add more power, accuracy or swerve (depending on what’s needed) to the effort. You don’t need to use it; pressing shoot once will work as normal, but it can be very effective. And the trainer shows a meter for learning this technique if you want.
fut division rivals 13
Being able to control your experience of FIFA 19 extends rather nicely into FIFA Ultimate Team this year too. As well as having Champions League and Europa League packs and all of the trappings of those competitions, you will also have the Division Rivals system, a new kind of ranked online multiplayer through which you earn Champions Points. There are ten divisions of similarly skilled players, and your placement within these divisions will be decided by weekly competitions (after some qualifying games that determine where you start). Points can be banked, and you can earn your way into the Weekend League, the big FUT competition.
watch the champs 14
Whether you’ve been playing FUT for years or are just starting out in FIFA 19, getting the chance to watch the very best players from the Weekend League battle it out should sound like an inviting prospect. But what if you could see more than just the way they play, but how they do it too? FIFA 19 will introduce the ability to see a mock-up of the gamepad on screen, so you can watch exactly what button inputs are being used to pull of the moves and tricks players are using. It should prove to be an amazing learning tool, not least for mastering some of the game’s new features.
player pick packs 15
Wrapping up how FUT is more clearly tailored to your skill level and needs, Player Pick Packs will allow you to pick from one of five Gold players in the pack. So, with these special packs (one of which you can get as a FIFA 19 preorder, and is Champions League themed) you can choose the Gold player who best suits your system, the chemistry of your side or any other metric you want to use. That should mean much better value from your investment, making sure that you really get something worth your while for the FUT pack purchase. It will be interesting to see how else packs might be innovated on to keep them fair and enticing as the loot box debate rages on.
“You have the chance to press shoot twice, and if You time it right You can add more power, accuracy or swerve (depending on what’s needed) to the effort”