FIFA 19’s many problems have been well documented since its release. From poor sales to the bizarre bugs that plagued the game early on and the huge frustrations of kick-off goals and timed finishing, nothing went right for FIFA 19.
FIFA 20, which has a release date of 27 September, seems to have much more buzz around it thanks to the introduction of Volta Football – a new street football feature. At least, it did until PES stole the spotlight by locking up exclusive rights to Juventus.
But while FIFA is in the fight of its life with a resurgent Konami and PES 2020, fans and players a like only really want one thing from the giant EA franchise, and it is something we have never really had.
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Realistic football in FIFA
The annual cycle of sports games often leaves them in a struggle to promote a handful of new features while leaving a lot of last year’s game in place, because it is almost impossible to truly overhaul and create a fresh game when you have a yearly release. As a result the new features, year after year, take over and dictate how the game has to be played.
FIFA 19 was the peak of this with the OP back post crosses and timed finishes dominating every match. EA have never really got the balance of power between speed and strength right either. One year you can fly past people and having the fastest players available is key, then they soften the impact of it and suddenly strength is crucial and you can knock people off the ball with ease. When both are buffed? Well you can have some strangely OP players.
As a result it becomes impossible to play realistic football in FIFA. Wanna play a slow-build tiki-taka? Tough luck, you have to push the ball wide and whip the ball in. Want to try and hold a two-goal lead with 20 minutes left? No way, watch some worldies fly in from 30 yards away.
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It’s not just FIFA though…
It would be cruel not to mention that FIFA isn’t the only game that suffers from this. EA’s other headline franchise, Madden, has suffered from similar problems of prioritising flashy new visuals and one-and-done gimmicks over actual realistic gameplay. Even Codemasters’ F1 series is not free from OP setups and unrealistic aspects even as it lays claim to the most realistic sports sim around right now.
The blame lies partly on the explosion of quick news cycles and the need for internet hype. Stunning graphics are easier to show in trailers than tight and consistent gameplay, while new features fill headlines and capture minds than true realism.
The balance between fun and realism
There have always been games aimed at the more realistic side of sports. You only have to look at the popularity of Football Manager to see that there is a massive audience for a deeper football game that allows for a variety of styles and play.
The line between realism and fun has always been a tough one to tread. FIFA would be more realistic if there were more 0-0 games, but that would certainly be less entertaining. But that’s not really the point, the need is not necessarily for realistic results but realistic gameplay. Fans of non-Champions League clubs need to be able to successfully play a defensive style without having to rely on picking an elite defensive side like Juventus, sorry, Piemonte Calcio. You need to be able to score goals through normal build-up play and not rely on gimmicks or OP situations.
Normal football should be a successful strategy that spans across platforms and yearly titles. The ability to vary formation and play style, have reliable runs from the AI into space, and park the bus effectively may dull the fun for some but it would provide the realistic football game the world has been lacking for so long.
What do you want to see from the next generation of football games? Will we ever have a realistic football game? Let us know in the comments below!
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