The FIFA franchise has been a huge part of the video game industry for over three decades. It remains one of the most popular video game series in history and has entertained people year in and year out. However, FIFA has fallen off into redundancy in recent times.
The phrase, “if it is not broken do not fix it,” certainly applies, however, when it comes to games that are released every year, it is important to show progress. Each year when a new title is released, updates to the older title are stopped. This forces fans of the game to either spend their money on purchasing the same game with slightly improved graphics and an updated roster of players or remaining stuck with an old roster of players with outdated stats for teams and players. This is no way to maintain the massive player base that EA has managed to attract. While a few aspects of the game continue to get updates and there are some big additions to the game, namely VOLTA and Kick-Off Modes, changes in Career Mode are almost nonexistent.
Ultimate Team, FIFA’s multiplayer game mode, is still extremely popular and that is because that game relies on new Player Cards that FIFA introduces about every week. This gives gamers the opportunity to aim for a new player or pack whenever it is released, something that is popular in numerous online multiplayer games.
Yet, for FIFA, a large volume of their users come to enjoy the game mode that made the franchise popular in the first place, Career Mode.
Career Mode has fallen into a large pitfall. While we have gotten improvements to the features and gameplay in a match, nothing much else has changed. On top of this, FIFA has ensured that it would be harder to win games by giving the opposition A.I. what seems like an unfair and unrealistic boost whenever they are losing on higher difficulties. Tie this in with the fact that the penalty system is broken and the A.I. substitutions and formation decisions in Player Career are nonsensical, and we get a clear reason as to why FIFA cannot simply rely on improved gameplay mechanics.
So, there need to be several things added and changed for the next title to grasp the glory that the older titles had in this mammoth franchise. Firstly, and most importantly, there either needs to be an additional game mode added or significant changes to Career Mode itself. While EA has driven in new games modes like VOLTA, they simply do not hold the user’s attention like Career Mode or Ultimate Team does. This makes these game modes simply feel stale and are often ignored after a while. Honestly, street football has always succeeded for FIFA as a standalone game and incorporating it into the base FIFA game makes it feel incomplete. So, rather than focusing on adding new game modes, EA needs to focus on improving existing game modes.
The best thing in recent times for FIFA has been the addition of the various Kick-off modes, giving couch co-op a more diverse feel. This is exactly what needs to be done for Career Mode. There is a dire need of additional features in Career Mode. Yes, in FIFA 21 we got the old simulation back and we got the ability to jump into the game mid-simulation, but that is simply not enough. It is plain to see that there needs to be a more realistic approach to how Career Mode functions.
The addition of certain aspects that a Manager has to manage, such as hiring staff outside of scouts, is important. Another great feature to add would be a Career Mode where one can create a club and add them to the lowest league of the nation of their choice. This will be popular since we are seeing a legend of the game, David Beckham starting a new club, Inter Miami, in the United States. I believe this game mode will become extremely popular. There would be a generic team that is chosen, or the ability to create individual players and add them to the team. While this is not close to realism, it is a game mode that can really make a difference.
Another feature that could be added is a more extensive dive into Player Career. Firstly, the created or chosen player should be allowed to start on the bench and come onto the pitch mid-game. This would be possible now that EA introduced (or re-introduced) the new simulation-style for games. It is frustrating having to go quick sim game after game even when your player would be better used on the bench. This would allow for better growth and maybe a new trait, the super-sub. Speaking about traits, there need to be more that can be assigned to players. It would greatly help the customizability of the game and would allow users to craft a well-rounded player in whichever position. Furthermore, there should be slight improvements to the A.I. management decision making. To give you an example, while playing for Liverpool in Player Career, Robertson (who is the LB) constantly played as a CDM and Henderson was sent to the CB role. This was unusual, especially when some of the games had Virgil Van Dijk playing as a CDM as well.
While there are many other ways to make the game more accessible and enjoyable for users, EA needs to begin to consider adding something more concrete in the existing game modes. The old game modes have grown frustratingly bland and adding new game modes often does not do them justice, giving the impression of laziness or an uninspired creator.
FIFA has pulled me out of boredom for many years and was the one game that I fell back on whenever I grew tired of my gaming library. However, today, I am left with the sick feeling that I may not pick up the next FIFA copy, breaking a tradition that I have kept for over two decades.
FIFA allows players across the world to enjoy one of the best sports in the world, and for EA to do the sport justice, they need to show innovation and inspiration. The series is far from dead, and I hope, as I am sure many of the FIFA gamers also hope, that there are brighter things in store for future FIFA titles.