It’s something mentioned almost every year with the annual release of the world’s biggest football game, but FIFA really needs to concentrate on Career Mode this time out. With FIFA 19, EA Sports must take what they implemented in 18 (one of the only noticeable improvements from 17) and build upon it.
While EA may clearly invest most of their time into FUT as that’s where the money lies, the value of putting some effort into FIFA 19’s Career cannot be understated. As someone who would rather play Dino Dini’s Kick Off Revival than sit and watch as I unpack Yannick Bolasie, Lee Cattermole, and the spirit of Lee Bowyer, Career is where I spend most of my time with the FIFA franchise, and I’m not the only one.
With there only being so far they can realistically take simulated football without incorporating diving and game management (i.e., time-wasting), here’s what EA Sports need to do with FIFA 19’s Career to show they’re willing to give offline players a fair rub of the green.
1. More story elements
The Journey has shown that EA Sports are capable of producing a cheesy but fun narrative, so why not apply that to Career in some form? Full-fledged cinematics and voiceovers aren’t really necessary, but there should be some of deeper connection to your own little microcosm of digital football than eventually signing Lionel Messi after fiddling with your budget sliders for hours.
As manager, you should be able to establish rivalries with other managers to really give press conferences weight. In addition, PES has a small mechanic where it allows you to pick your favourite players — FIFA introducing something similar would make sense. You could develop a relationship with some players and have dialogue trees with them to discuss their form, tactics, and, if you’re managing Sporting Lisbon, send a squad of goons to beat them up if they underwhelm on the pitch.
2. Deeper transfers
FIFA 18 started things off on the right foot with a plodding but interesting approach to transfers. For 19, they need to streamline while also adding to the process to reflect the real thing, protracted warts and all.
You should still be able to sit down with other managers and then the players themselves to discuss transfers, but the game needs to feel less hit and miss with negotiations. Including things like sponsorships, where you want them to play, how they will fit into your system and more will be a solid way of beefing up negotiations. Likewise, there needs to be more of a fuss made when you sign players as it feels somewhat anticlimactic in 18.
3. Better futureproofing
FIFA’s Career modes are built to last the distance, albeit with creaking parts after a few seasons. Big clubs keep their talismans way past the point of relevancy, meaning that Messi and Ronaldo are still propping up Barcelona and Real Madrid respectively when they’re pushing fourty.
Young talent can come through in FIFA’s career mode, though they are almost overlooked by real names by the AI, meaning that you will almost always be playing the same teams with the same players for season after season. It becomes boring after a while, something that you don’t want in a mode that’s supposed to tide you over for the foreseeable future.
4. More realistic AI transfers
I think I’ve seem Robert Snodgrass move to a big club in every FIFA Career mode I’ve ever played. No offense to the thunder-footed Scot, but he’s not ever going to reach the zenith of football, no matter what FIFA says. The franchise seems to relish in wildcard transfers like these with each annual installment.
For FIFA 19, the AI should be making proactive, realistic transfers every window by sending a variety of players out and bringing a few in, just to keep things fresh. I’m not asking for Everton 17/18 levels of churn here, but clubs should be picking up realistic targets with the occasional shocker.
5. Easier youth integration
Unless you have the next Messi on your hands, it’s very difficult to dip into your Youth Academy and find someone worth chucking into your first-team in FIFA. They’re almost always laboured and unreliable on the ball when most real youngster debutants are giving 110% for their spot in the limelight.
Of course, this isn’t to mean that your players should be the finished articles on their first runout. They should be able to evidence their burgeoning qualities without FIFA “nerfing” their agility and ball control, so there has to be some kind of balance introduced to make them more worthwhile and easier to integrate.
6. Customisable managers
As you can see from the above, FIFA 18 was poor in terms of customisation for managers in Career. Apart from the most basic of detail changes, it was a case of choosing from some rather generic templates, which means that you couldn’t really connect to your manager as you should.
For FIFA 19, that needs to change. Allow the same amount of customisation as is found in creating a player and let us recreate peak nineties Keegan in all his beautiful and arrogant glory. At the very least, EA Sports should widen the net of templates. A neat twist would be also be to introduce specific personalities for managers; totally non-essential, sure, but an interesting quirk all the same.
FIFA 19 releases on September 22nd, 2018 for basically every platform.