The Sports Desk – The FIFA 19 Wishlist
The World Cup is right around the corner, and no sooner will the dust settle on the tournament then the new league season will be upon us. Here at The Sports Desk we're already getting ready for next year with the FIFA 19 wishlist.
Here are some of the fixes, quality-of-life improvements, and feature suggestions (naturally we hope all the bugs are removed as well) across most of the game modes we'd like to see, and addressing some of these issues is going to be important if the series is going to continue to get better.
Have an idea we missed? Throw it in the comments section below.
THE PLAY ON THE PITCH
- Shots too often dribble off the foot and/or don't feel satisfying even when you expect to hammer the ball. This was addressed in a post-release patch last year, but it still needs work.
- Passes – particularly routine ones when nobody is pressuring you – should go where you intend them to. Too often they're unpredictable.
- Pre-determined possession of loose balls needs to be eliminated. Similarly, work needs to be done to prevent an animation from unnaturally canceling out another one, such as when you're in the middle of shooting and a defender steals the ball and the game doesn't even give you the chance of actually hitting the ball or letting you follow through on your strike.
- Animations for failed standing tackles or non-jostling contact needs to be shortened. Failed actions like these should have consequences, but they put you in an animation that takes seconds to play out and which gives you no realistic chance to recover.
- Teammates should be more effective in harassing the person on the ball when you call them over.
- Deflections need to fall more naturally and to different areas of the field, not just to set points and/or the opposition player.
- The A.I. needs more varied types of attack. This could also include more recognizable, team-specific play styles.
- Player switching could improve to give you access to better players in order to recover the ball and play defense.
- Penalties in the box are too often given for ridiculously light contact or for infractions away from the play.
- Collision detection and ball awareness for intercepting passes very close to you needs to be tightened so players can react better.
CAREER MODE: THE KEYS TO THE CLUB
- A.I. clubs need to manage themselves better – not overloading on a position in the transfer market or leaving their star players on the bench during simmed games. In general, the sim engine should be improved.
- Youth, fringe, and role players should not be lobbying for playing time when they have no realistic chance of making the gameday roster barring injury, squad fatigue, or a non-prioritized cup appearance. The mode's whole morale system needs to be more intelligent and nuanced. It also shouldn't be fooled so easily such as a discontented player being mollified by a single run out or sub appearance, and/or dropping their beef as soon as the season ends.
- Speaking of fatigue, FIFA 19 should require more squad rotation, especially considering many leagues' fixture and competition congestion.
- The number of players suggested by scouts in the transfer system still dry up too quickly in countries stocked with talent – even when your scout instructions are simple.
- Managers' playing style should be more important, influencing which players are good/bad fits, and managers should also influence players' mentality. Some managers should give their players a lift during games or in training. Similarly, some managers should be better at working with young players or veterans, others good at staving off relegation, etc.
- Similar to Madden's Connected Careers, FIFA needs to have an online career mode where you can jockey with friends in the transfer market, play the cup competition underdog, and battle it out for silverware.
- Club financials should feed directly into your transfer budget and wage scale and not just be a season objective. A form of Financial Fair Play could also be enacted.
- Manager interviews should have an impact such as boosting your players rather than just being a nuisance as you're simming through your week. Managers could also have a potentially negative effect if they're calling out well-liked players, depending on the personal relationship between the two.
MAKING THE JOURNEY WORTH IT
- The Journey story mode does a lot of things well, such as its story and the performances by its actors, but it needs to better bridge the gap between what happens to Alex Hunter in cutscenes and who he is on the pitch. It feels off being a football hero in the story and stud in training, and yet on the field Alex often shoots wide because it can take a while to grow his skills.
- The skill tree for Alex's progression needs to be more open, not making you purchase mundane skills you don't want just to get access to actually useful abilities.
- Match feedback and grades need to continue to get better, reflecting your actual performance and actions.
- The movements of A.I. players on and off the ball when you're player-locked as Hunter also need to keep improving.
- Managers and teammates can't continue to be mute – it's a big disconnect for a mode that otherwise thrives on the performances of its voice actors.
- Hunter needs to feel the context and excitement of the leagues and tournaments he's in, as well as get a better sense of his club's history and fans. In the past two years of the mode the clubs and leagues have felt like interchangable skins, not exciting environments. With Konami out of the Champions League license, this is an opportunity for EA to include it in The Journey and other modes in a meaningful way.
THE DREAM FOR ULTIMATE TEAM
- Get rid of contracts. They quickly become superfluous and act only as pack filler.
- Add more mid- and low-level Squad Building Challenges (SBCs). Some of the SBC rewards are not worth what you give up for their requirements.
- Last year's Squad Battles were fun and a good way to build up coins and items, but we'd also like FIFA 19 to add shorter FUT single-player challenges apart from the Daily Objectives, so you're not always playing in a regular 90-minute match.
- Ease up on the Weekend League requirements. Currently, 40 games are required on consoles.
- Allow Transfer Market users to search for Special player items by their specific program (like Team of the Week, Man of the Match, etc.) instead of lumping them all together. This points to an overall problem with the Transfer Market – there are simply too many cards and not enough filter/search options to get to the cards you're actually looking for.
- Similarly, we'd like the ability to filter item searches further through Newest or Lowest Buy Now sorting like in Madden so you don't have to tab through multiple pages to get to the newest and often cheapest items.
- Expired items on the Transfer Market should be taken down immediately so you don't click into a card that someone else already purchased.
- Letting players list multiple versions of the same item (like consumables) would be helpful.
- Developer EA Canada should give FUT users a more direct way to get rid of duplicate cards that doesn't involve the current trickery of using the companion app, etc. Perhaps a dupe SBC – even for a low-level pack reward – would be the way to go here.
THE GOLF CLUB 2019 GETS THE PGA TOUR LICENSE. SHOULD REAL GOLFERS BE NEXT?
The Golf Club series has grown a lot since its debut in 2014. It started out as a game centering around course creation, and with this year's title – and remember, HB Studios' original plan was not to be a yearly title – it's transitioned into a more well-rounded title with a big-time license. The first game's lack of licenses and DIY spirit made sense when it was going up against EA's golf game and its slate of tour, golfer, and course licenses, but now with EA out of the picture for the foreseeable future, the landscape has changed. This is not only due to EA's departure, but the success of The Golf Club in its own right. Now, in this new era with the PGA Tour license in tow, HB Studios and its franchise need to both preserve the series' identity as well as avoid licensing pitfalls.
I don't think this is hard to do; the series can live with the best of both worlds. Ongoing resource and feature investment in the areas of gameplay and creation tools is essential to both delivering what fans want and not being overly depending on licenses. In particular, I'd like the series to not chase licenses for individual golfers. Sure, they let you make a splash with a cover star and potentially draw in some more fans, but I'd argue that video game golf is not a sport that needs it. My hunch – I admit I'm not a hardcore golfer in real-life – is that your average golfer cares more about their own game than being enamored by the star power of licenses for individual golfers. In other words, a golf video game can be attractive when a gamer is able to enact their real-life skills, strategies, and mentality in the virtual space versus a video game sport like football which is more synonymous with the rarified, specific experience of the NFL and its star players.
There also exists a slippery slope argument with chasing licensing deals with individual golfers. How much does it cost? How many are not enough and how many is too much? Do you focus on just the top 10 currently in earnings? What if you miss out on that up-and-comer? Do you also sign pros from the women's tour? I think the benefits of having real golf stars in the game wear off quickly when trying to chase those licenses compared with maintaining more bedrock features like gameplay, online reliability, and mode depth. And fans have criticized the series on all these fronts so far, so it's not like the franchise, as good as it is, just needs a licensed cherry on top.
On the exciting bright side, I do think The Golf Club 2019 benefits greatly from the structure and trappings of the PGA Tour. Last year's golf societies were a good start at giving players more of an over-arching structure, and while societies need some more customization depth for clubhouses, folding in the PGA Tour instantly adds some extra motivation and context to the mode.
I expect to play the title at E3 next month, so stay tuned for more info and impressions soon.
A quick rundown of some of the sports news from the week
Stan Musial Added To MLB The Show 18's Pantheon Of Immortals
Requisite items to unlock Musial can only be earned in online Events and Ranked Seasons. The game has also added four new position programs.
Tennis World Tour PC/Switch Release Date Moved
The version on those systems is coming June 12. Until then, check out this video of Agassi and McEnroe from the Legends Edition.