Having played FIFA titles since 1998, I’ve seen the franchise have its ups and downs, as EA attempt to steer the series forwards. This year’s title is under particular pressure from PES 2016, with Konami making some significant improvements to gameplay and creating a title which seriously competes with FIFA 16. So who takes this year’s football crown?

In terms of gameplay FIFA 16 has looked into building up attacks with a slower pace and more possessive play. You’ll need to break down teams more with direct passes, before going for that killer ball forward and even then you’ll have to take on defenders to get a shot on goal. Playing offline has a distinctive feel to online play, as the AI are very tuned in to defending and will constantly put you under pressure, whereas online games often give you a little more space due to the nature of another player controlling the other team.

FIFA 16 Chelsea
Teams will play a more passing game.

Shooting at goal this year will come naturally to you, with finding the net seeming more easy than usual. Even lower rated players will be able to execute tougher finishes like outside of the foot shots and steer them into the net. However, the biggest change comes to the goalkeeping with some spectacular saves and some absolute blunders. This new style of passing build up will often frustrate you, as the AI pass the ball in triangles around you and you won’t even get close to tackling. Instead, you’ve got to play a patient game and wait for the AI to misplace a pass or play one too close to one of your players to intercept. It feels more like real life football, as you rarely see players running the ball straight into an opponent.

You may remember pace being a large benefit in FIFA 15, well this is no longer the case. More often than not, pacey players will lose out to defenders, as there’s no space to run into. In some respects I can understand this, but it feels a bit underwhelming for players like Sanchez who have the pace to get around players in real life. Yet in FIFA 16, defenders often block you off from making this move.

FIFA 16 USA Women's Team
The women’s international sides are a much welcomed addition

For the most pat though, FIFA 16 is very similar to its predecessor, which isn’t good enough. PES has made massive enhancements coming over to next-gen and its pushing FIFA more than ever now. If EA don’t start to redefine their title more, then it risks falling behind PES. The only thing it really has over PES is licensing and Ultimate Team. And even then it doesn’t have the Brazilian league license and the only addition in terms of teams are the women’s international sides.

One of the biggest sources of income for EA is FIFA Ultimate Team and other than a few adjustments to how you can search players in the transfer market, the mode has received a addition called FUT Draft. One of the highlighted features in the launch trailer, Draft allows you to create a team from a selection of players presented before you. First you select a formation, then you start to fill each position from a choice of players. These will vary from Legends to the very lowest of gold players and it’s your job to pick the team which will work best together – considering chemistry is key here.

My favourite mode in FIFA for a long time has been Career and in terms of new additions this year, we see pre-season tournaments, which are great for an extra source of income. You’ll have a choice of tournaments varying in difficulty and the teams represented in them, which will give you some spare cash as you progress through the tournament. Another new feature are training sessions, which are great for keeping your players form in check. You can select five players or the same player to complete five sessions varying from defensive to attacking drills. Complete them successfully and receive a high grade and you’ll boost your attributes up, which in turn puts up your overall rating. It’s great for training up your youth players.

FIFA 16 Pre-season tournaments
Extra money comes from pre-season tournaments.

Career also feels more challenging, as playing the better teams will really push you and defeating the odds is pretty difficult. I’m currently playing as Newport County and had to play a Sheffield Wednesday in the FA Cup, which ended miserably with a 3-1 defeat. Getting hold of the ball and taking hold of the game is really difficult when you play teams with significantly better players than you, so you’re more likely to lose as you play better sides.

The mode which sees no change from last year however is Pro Clubs. The mode works exactly the same, but it uses the new gameplay features obviously. I find it more frustrating than ever though using the AI as any, as more often than not they make mistakes. They pass the ball around at the back a lot and invite pressure from the opposing team and sometimes they’ll pass the ball back to the keeper who will make a mishap.

FIFA 16 is lacking in outstanding new features and with PES making up a lot of ground on FIFA this year, I have to say PES 16 has won this battle. The only thing keeping FIFA 16 afloat is Ultimate Team and the licensing for teams they possess. Your move EA!

Pros

  • Football is always enjoyable
  • Training and pre-season tournaments for Career
  • FUT Draft is innovative for Ultimate Team

Cons

  • No real progression in mechanics
  • Time for a new engine?
  • AI frustrate with passing

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