FIFA 19 Preview - E3 2018
We kick around in the latest FIFA game
Year after year, the FIFA franchise from the EA Sports stable of titles continues to lead the way not only for the company, but also for the genre. The solid gameplay, combined with largely worthwhile innovations, great presentation, and overall high quality production has helped the series take the leading role in soccer simulations. But one piece of authenticity was missing – the long running agreement between rival Konami and the UEFA organization has prevented the prestigious competition from appearing in the FIFA series. With FIFA 19, that changes, as EA has swooped in to grab the rights, and their E3 2018 demo was focused on providing a glimpse to that new experience.
This year’s game will feature the UEFA Champions League, Europa League and Super Cup. The game will include a standalone UEFA Champions League mode to play the famous tournament from the group stage to the final at The Wanda Metropolitano Stadium in Madrid. It will also be integrated into Kick Off and Career Mode, as well as of course FIFA 19 Ultimate Team.
We had a chance to play a couple of demo matches at the EA Play event, first as Manchester City vs Bayern Munich, and later as Dortmund vs Juventus. Both matches yielded different results through the combination of smart AI play and learning to adapt to the refreshed mechanics. The most immediately notable feature was of course the new official UEFA presentation, complete with overlays and graphics from the competition. It’s not drastically different from what PES did. There is also the new commentary duo of Derek Rae and Lee Dixon, which also injects some freshness into the proceedings.
On the field of play, FIFA 19 touts new features such as the Active Touch system which should make the ball control feel more precise, but it wasn’t really apparent during the demo. What was more notable is the new 50/50 Battles system, as the battle for each contested loose ball is physical and can go either way. This was certainly demonstrated and many player collisions felt more physical and less animated/scripted. Players would grab on, tumble over each other, and collide in a fight for possession. And new Dynamic Tactics system lets you adjust more of the tactical settings on the fly without digging through menus.
Some other new gameplay features worth mentioning include the new Timed Finishing, which prompts you hit the shoot button a second time as the player makes contact with the ball, in order to perform a better and more precise shot. Players also seemed to scramble more and perform new animations as they desperately headed or shot the ball. A new UI element shows what player you’ll switch to next when defending, so you no longer have to guess. Goalies also had a tendency to drop some of the powerful shots, and weren’t immediately locked into a save animations with perfect control of the ball.
FIFA 19 will also feature the finale of Alex Hunter's journey in the single player story mode. Players will follow Alex to the next stage of his career, as he enters the UEFA Champions League stage.
Getting the UEFA license was obviously a big win for the EA Sports team, as FIFA 19 arguably looks like it could become the most realistic soccer simulation to date, and certainly the most authentic. Building on an already very strong foundation, the new gameplay alterations may not seem groundbreaking based on our time with the demo, but they work to continue and improve the experience for the new year.
FIFA 19 is set to launch on September 28th for PS4, Xbox One, PC, and Switch.