FIFA 19 Beta Thoughts
So, I have been lucky enough to be invited to the Beta for FIFA 19 and have played for a good while now. I usually play Ultimate Team as do the majority of online players, but I thought I would give the new Kick Off mode a try first. Previously this mode for me has basically been the tutorial, play a few games here to pick up the new mechanics each year then time to jump into a career or online mode. EA Sports have completely overhauled this and even gave it a competitive edge! There are now leader boards that link to your profile, you’re able to share these with your friends.
The main difference is the actual game types however. We all know the Champions League is back, and hearing that music play as your players come out of the tunnel is worth it on it’s own. But House Rules is where the fun really begins.
- Long Range – Any goal scored inside the box will count as one goal, but goals scored from outside the box count as two goals.
- Survival – Each time a user scores a goal, a random player from the scoring club is removed (excluding the goalkeeper) to create a challenge for the player with a score advantage.
- Headers & Volleys – You can only score in this match type with a header or a volley. Free kicks and penalties also count, but any other goal scored using your feet outside of a volley will be disallowed.
- First To . . . – This match type lets you set a custom win condition, whether it’s first to score (golden goal), first to three goals, etc. The match will still play to the clock and go through full time, as well as extra time and penalties, if you choose.
- No Rules – Anything goes in this match type, in which there are no offside calls, fouls, or bookings.
As you can see there are so many ways to now enjoy this mode, we have all had a FIFA night with our mates, even if it is just a couple of games/drinks before heading out to watch a real match. Imagine now playing with no rules in that scenario, a 3 on 3 where 2 footed lunges from behind are fair game?!
Now the gameplay itself feels familiar yet different, things feel a lot smoother and almost slowed down a little, but it is the same game series you’re playing. Physicality has had a massive overhaul; with larger, stronger players feeling the way they should and quicker, more nimble players darting through the gaps. I played on a few difficulties to get used to certain ways of playing and my biggest gripe at this stage is shooting. The ‘low-driven’ was the go to in FIFA 18, double tapping shoot and aiming for a corner was a goal 90% of the time, it still exists, but requires 3 buttons to be pressed, 3! On PS4 you have to hold L1+R1 while also aiming with the stick and using Circle for power. I know this technique was over used but Jeez.
The ‘low-driven’ buttons have been replaced by the all new ‘timed-finishing’ feature; some people will love this, others will loathe it(me). It requires you to shoot as normal but then tap shoot again just as your player is about to connect with the ball, this will deliver the ‘perfect strike’ and see the ball have more power and less room for error. However if you’re like me your muscle memory assigns this command to hitting it hard and low. If you get the timing wrong the ball will end up at the corner flag or in row Z.
This is where things go downhill(mostly) for me. Ultimate Team is back, the game mode loved by millions, especially EA’s accountant. Draft, Squad Battles and the Weekend League all make a return, and are joined by new Divisions Rivals, a mode which I am actually looking forward to. Divisions now gives weekly rewards just like the aforementioned modes. You will be ranked depending on your performance each week, and you will score a tier each time the points are totted up. Ultimate Team will now give you a choice of rewards which may include the new Champions Points, which once you have enough can be redeemed to enter the Weekend League.
Packs now have new animations and a new sorting system, EA are again messing with our muscle memories as R2 is now confirm, so you will feel like you are quick selling items when in fact you are storing them to the club. There are even player choices in certain rewards which appear on screen like a Draft selection. All these things are great and all, until we get to the online gameplay.
It is as if EA Sports have taken everything that was bad from FIFA 18 and multiplied it. I was hoping for a fresh feel with FIFA 19, fully customisable tactics, allowing a button press to completely change the shape of the team. You can choose when your players press, even how many go to the box for corners. This in theory should revolutionise the game and make it a tactical masterpiece, but no. Every game I have played online so far felt like I was back on FIFA 18 in the weekend league, wanting to smash my controller through the screen. Defensive, counter attack is still here. For those who don’t know this is the tactic used by players who can not defend, which is something that in a competitive game mode should be punished. However this ‘meta’ tactic is actually rewarded. If your opponent is using this method, you can either play an extremely frustrating game(if like me you want FIFA to be fun and attacking) against 8 defenders, you can get demolished by every counter attack they spring, or you can leave and hope the next person has the same opinion as you. Lastly and unfortunately the most popular choice is to match their tactics.
This last option leads to you having a battle of patience, the player in possession will get to their opponents box, to be greeted by all but 2/3 of their team surrounding it. The offensive player will then pass the ball around the outside of the box waiting for a gap, play the ball into a player and shoot. This will either be blocked by one of the many players now in the 6 yard box leading to pinball, or it will go in the bottom corner. This will be a back and forth exchange for the entire game, and people choose to play this way every game. To me this style of play is mind numbing and is the reason I have been playing FIFA less and less as the months have gone on.
In FIFA 19 it is no different, except players can now choose exactly how deep their defence is. I have encountered 15+ players online so far who clearly have their defence sitting on the deepest possible setting and having their attack set up for either a wide or narrow counter. This leads to all of the new mechanics such as the ‘Active Touch’ and all new dribbling and shooting techniques becoming redundant. Now I was planning on making a Road to Glory style series for our YouTube channel once FIFA 19 releases on 28th September, but this Beta has seriously put me off. Please EA, fix this issue.