Gameplay is certainly king, but we sports gamers often place importance on a series’ modes because they make up the shell that keeps us coming back repeatedly even after we’ve played countless matches. A career mode perpetuates the veneer of realism via club management that most sports gamers crave, while a mode like Ultimate Team allows us to live fantasies rooted in the players we know and love. Thus, part of the key to keeping a series vital from year to year is keeping these modes fresh.
To offer a different experience, FIFA 16 introduces a quick-hit FIFA Ultimate Team (FUT) Draft feature. Similar to Madden’s Draft Champions, you build your squad by selecting players from multiple rounds of randomly selected players. Pick a superstar captain to anchor your squad, a formation, your players (bench players can be auto generated), and take them into a four-game, single-elimination tournament. These have entry fees of FUT coins or points, but even if you bow out after the first game you’ll at least recoup the fee. While building your dream team is still fun in FUT, this is a quick way to get a taste of the mode without playing with a roster filled with below-average players.
The changes to the career mode also look to inject some life – and hopefully youth. In previous years, loaning out your younger players didn’t always improve them much. Thus, it was hard for younger players to grow. This made it difficult to put them in the starting lineup of most clubs, making them angry and rendering youth scouting pointless. This year you can train five players (young or old) each week via 30 drills targeting different attributes. Thankfully this can be automated.
Career mode also comes with the option to participate in pre-season tournaments around the world. Reallife clubs do this for the extra cash and to blood young players as well as let new signings develop chemistry with their new teammates. Someone could get injured, but having to take that chance is another good move toward replicating the never-ending churn of modern soccer.
Other career mode improvements include more job security for managers, the chance to carry forward a percentage of your budget transfer (if you do well enough), the ability to sign free agents outside the transfer window, general fixes to the transfer network, two-year and six-month loans, and more.
Gameplay has not been neglected either this year. Changes for defense allow your backline to react better as a unit, individuals to track runs and tackle better, and more interceptions through the midfield. In the attacking half, developer EA Canada wants more variety in its crosses (and the movement of players onto them) as well as finishes. Finally, hard precision passes are a risk/reward proposition, and a new feint system lets you dance off the ball when you’re holding down the left bumper.
A big part of FIFA’s success – apart from gameplay – is its different modes. I often talk to people who only play one facet of a sports title, leaving the others untouched. Thankfully, FIFA 16 is bolstering its main modes as well as its gameplay so that players of all persua