The lights are on
FIFA 14 iterates on the popular Seasons format by introducing co-op play, allowing you and a friend to pick a team and take on online opponents as you work you way up (and avoid sliding down) the mode's five divisions. Former Game Informer intern Louis Garcia and I played through the mode's first season of 10 games, and prove that claiming even the lowliest silverware is never easy.
As is the case in real soccer, teamwork is very important in Co-op Seasons. Choose a teammate whom you can communicate with and won't always be running offsides and/or slide tackling everything with two legs. It took Louis and I about four games to get into the swing of things – and we've played together in Pro Clubs before. We developed a handful of familiar terms to let each other know when we were going to go on a run, pass the ball back to the keeper, or even when our player was going to let a shot rip. It wasn't long, however, before we didn't even need those, and developed some good chemistry together.
Being on the same page is especially important since both players in the mode can freely switch players at any time (although only one can control the keeper), meaning it's easy to pull a player out of position if you're not careful. In general, I thought the game's player switching was roughly the same as in a non-co-op game – which means it could be frustrating.
Here are some of the highs and lows of our journey towards promotion out of the fifth division.
Liverpool v. Bayern Munich
After losing our first match of the campaign against Arsenal (and being reminded of that fact by the Match Day commentary), we're a little nervous taking on Bundesliga powerhouse Bayern – especially after conceding an early goal in the sixth minute. We were frequently down on the score sheet in our season, but like I told Louis: We're Americans, we don't give up at the first sign of adversity. Later on we level the game, but our comeback is cut short due to Louis' game unexpectedly freezing. Because of this the computer gives us a loss and we drop to 0-2.
Liverpool v. Italy
Going 0-3 is no way to start off a season, and it doesn't help when you put in a defensive performance like the one in the video below. FIFA 14's defense isn't as much of a cluster-you-know-what as some previous games, but this will happen. Then again, the second defensive video (featuring Manchester City and Real Madrid) shows the defense putting in an impressive stop.
Swansea City v. Marseille
We decide to switch from Liverpool – a four-and-a-half-star team – to a straight four-star team. Our reasoning? The game's ratings or matchmaking aren't perfect, and Liverpool isn't as strong of a four-and-a-half-star team as some of other clubs we were being pitted against. Swansea City is a four-star team, and Michu and Bony are good up front and Vorm is a solid keeper. Our choice breathes life into our season, giving us our first...draw.
Swansea City v. Columbia
Playing a game online always reveals some aspects that are stronger or weaker than in previous years. This year the chip – and goalies' inability to handle them – might be a way to score a lot of goals. Below you can see an instance where it's conceivable the keeper could have saved the ball.
Chelsea v. Manchester United
The Great Swansea City Experiment ends as almost as soon as it begins. After an ill-advised stint as Getafe and getting wiped by Eddie Johnson (w/ dye job) and the U.S. national squad, we decide to go for broke. Playing as five-star Chelsea invites the matchmaking to pit us against all the top-flight clubs, but at least we know we've got some quality players. After beating Man. U. 3-0 – including a great strike by Eto'o (below), we believe we've solved the lineup riddle that has stumped José Mourinho so far this season. This ends with a humiliating 0-5 loss to Tottenham that neither Louis nor I will talk about.
Manchester City v. Brazil
Stuck at four points, we need two wins in two games to get out of the Seasons mode basement and achieve promotion to the fourth division (still the basement, but at least it has windows). We're confident we can do this. We switch to Manchester City, who surprisingly don't have a lot of players with positive Match Day form, despite their recent thumping of Manchester United in real life.
A win versus Real Madrid has us flying, convinced that we can win our last match versus Brazil and gain promotion. Unfortunately, a rain-slogged match is a truly dismal affair. A pre-match substitution of Dźeko with Negredo (the results of which are literally striking) leads us to believe that Louis, who suggested the switch, is the greatest manager ever. But a late equalizer by Brazil leaves us wet and disappointed. Pro tip: Trying to play the offsides trap is great...if it works. That's my fault.
Despite our failure to gain promotion, Louis and I had a lot of fun, riding the hope and cursing the misfortunes that are so typical of any campaign. In the aftermath we've become convinced we would have won the disallowed Bayern match and been promoted...
Here's a montage of some other goals from our season
Email the author Matthew Kato, or follow on Twitter, and Game Informer.