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

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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”

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