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Is FIFA 19 Better or Worse Since Launch?

FIFA 19

Is FIFA 19 Better or Worse Since Launch?

There are not many games that divide opinions quite like FIFA. The constant fight between offline and online players has to be a difficult path to navigate for EA. Further complicating things are frequent patches (we’re currently on Patch 1.07) that tend to affect gameplay, leaving many of us on the fence. With that in mind, it’s worth looking at how FIFA 19 stacks up at this point in its life cycle.

Capitalizing on Konami’s decision to part ways with the official UEFA license, EA decided to swoop in and reacquire the license to include it in the most popular modes (FUT and career mode). When combined with some new tactical enhancements and gameplay features, there were reasons to be optimistic regarding this year’s iteration. However, FIFA is still struggling to find its identity. Caught between being a sim and a fast-paced game, FIFA 19 is still struggling to find that balance.

What’s Changed

Defending – For years, AI-teammate defending was downright abysmal as you couldn’t rely on them for anything. Spamming the second player pressure button was your only option for your teammates to actually close down defenders. FIFA 19 out of the box was perhaps the best at replicating solid defensive principles when it comes to positioning. However, somewhere along the line the AI-teammate defending became too good, resulting in players overly relying on their teammates to play defense. There’s a fine balance that needs to be struck between human skill and relying on the AI, and for the most part FIFA 19 post-patch does a better job at finding this delicate balance.

50/50 Balls – 50/50 balls, a feature EA touted pre-release, were a mixed bag out of the box. While cleared balls no longer perfectly fall to the feet of the CPU, 50/50 balls occurring after a tackle often went right to the CPU. A few patches later and there is much more randomness to these outcomes.

Passing – Not all changes resulting from numerous patches have worked out. Passing, which was pretty well tuned at launch, has become much more assisted on default settings. Passing is probably the most fundamental aspect of soccer, and it seems now that the difference between supposed “elite” passers and your run of the mill League 2 player is far less pronounced. Tuning passing to more of a semi/manual assisted setting would go a long way to fixing some of the game’s other legacy problems, as well as make online a much less frustrating experience. 

What Has Not Changed

Fouls – One of the most frustrating areas of FIFA 19 is the lack of fouls. Sure, slowing the game down and using sliders will help, but there’s a real lack of aggression when it comes to defending. In an age where “Tactical Fouling” is constantly bemoaned, fouls play a huge role in breaking up attacks and punishing defenders for ill-timed challenges. Refereeing logic — usually suspect in footy games — is solid, but perhaps the ultra-responsive controls lead to players being able to quickly get rid of the ball without opposing defenders being able to close them down. What ensues are games where you can pass around, often “ping-ponging” opponents to death.

Ball Physics – Ball physics are still hit or miss in FIFA 19. On default sliders, the ball is pinged around with precision that would make Pep Guardiola smile from ear to ear. While it might feel very responsive, the insane ball speed on passes affects the game negatively in a variety of ways. First and foremost, it allows you to bypass a pressing defense and break the lines, meaning you can play it out of the back (starting with your goalkeeper working your way towards your opponent’s goal) with ease and generate attacks in a matter of seconds. While there are players who can accomplish this in the real life, it seems easy to replicate no matter what level of team you’re managing. Secondly, it makes opponents press the ball unrealistically, which opens up space resulting in end-to-end action that bypasses the midfield. Lastly, by circumventing the midfield the sheer amount of chances created resembles an onslaught only seen when top sides play relegation contenders.

Player Movement – Perhaps my biggest gripe with the FIFA franchise is player movement, and its lack of proper weight and physics. Sacrificing inertia and momentum in favor of responsiveness, FIFA 19 often feels like players are skating around the pitch. When you combine this with a lack of fouls — mostly due to the ability to get rid of the ball before a defender closes you down — the game looks visually suspect, especially on replays where unnatural movements are frequently on display. This issue isn’t specific to attacking either as defenders can jockey (R2 or RT) and swivel their hips in such a way that they can keep up with attackers dribbling at them in space. Imagine in real life if Liverpool’s Dejan Lovren was able to backtrack and keep up with Manchester’s City Leroy Sane. Slowing the game down via true foot-planting is very much needed moving forward for this franchise

Career Mode – Minor fixes here and there have been implemented in FIFA 19 since launch, but overall the career mode was largely untouched beyond the addition of the UEFA license. While not much was expected post-release in regards to career mode changes, it’s still a little upsetting that some of the same legacy shortcomings (lack of a reserve team, practice mode, etc.) keep getting neglected when it comes to resources. Hopefully, EA will dedicate some time to really fleshing out this mode and helping it reach its true potential.

Bottom Line

FIFA 19 is an up and down experience. While it’s still the most complete soccer game on the market today, I can’t help but feel that EA could do so much more to make the game a more realistic and enjoyable experience, both offline and online. While I commend EA’s passion when it comes to dedicating resources post-release to improve the game, it often feels as if the game changes a sizable amount from patch to patch, which leaves it without a true identity. With the majority of the major licenses locked down, perhaps it’s time for EA to pick a clear direction and stay on course. With its solid online infrastructure and competition that’s still living off its PS2 glory days, FIFA can and should be a much better game.

How are you enjoying FIFA 19 in all of its post-patch glory?

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  1. Worse. WAY worse. I mean, Career Mode is currently unplayable because of the -1 overall ratings bug that was introduced in the last patch. Only mode I play, so that pretty much killed everything for me.

    The constant fight between offline and online players has to be a difficult path to navigate for EA.

    I wish it were a difficult path for them. They made their choice years ago when UT pack microtransactions blew up.
    I cannot believe how bad Fifa has gotten. I bought Fifa on release day every year for over 10 years, and stopped in 2017. I bought 19 after Christmas cause it was half off. I have no interest playing a game that you cannot effectively play defense. I mainly play pro clubs with friends, and the AI defense is a joke. 3-4 times a game somebody is ripping shots from 30-40 yards and they go in every time. Passing is non existent, cause you can use controlled dribbles down the field and there is no way to stop it. No way to play defense, the game is just stupid.
    I'm on the pc, and kept backups of several versions of the game, including the launch version from September. I got to disagree with the article on a couple of points: on the evolution of the gameplay since launch and on defending positioning.
    For all the patching, the game is for the most part the same. If you liked it back then, you'll still like it, if you thought it was bad, it still is.
    If there's one patch that had the most impact I'd say it was the first one (or was it the second?). This sped up animations and passing a bit and fixed the sidefooted shots. The rest is tuning so slight you'll hardly notice, it affects your expectations more than it changes the game in any meaningful way IMHO. For example at some point they supposedly nerfed finesse shots when the ball is coming from an awkward angle. Plenty of these ridiculous shots are still flying in when they shouldn't. Maybe there're fewer of them but it doesn't really change the game, all exploits are still a thing, online and offline, perhaps dialled down a bit.
    Defending positioning? Full backs are terrible, never tracking runs on the wings. Pass, cross, header, repeat. Fouls are a problem but what kills the game completely for me (offline) is how the CPU will not even use the new tactical system! Is the cpu setup with constant pressure? That means there is zero midfield and you can go box to box with 1 pass. Is the cpu setup to drop back? If you're winning you can keep the ball forever, they'll never press you. It blows my mind that people don't notice/mind that, it's the first fifa game that can put me to sleep really.
    Anyway, all that is in the past now, uninstalled it and deleted the lot now. My journey started with fifa 13 but 19 will most likely be my last one. Game is designed for a very specific target group. Casuals who spend a lot on fut and need a pay to win game (elite teams are crap to play against) with exploits built in to help win a few and incentivize more spending. Even "pros" and content creators are ignored, never mind the offline crowd. They are useful for marketing the game online but the gameplay is never designed for anyone with half a clue.
    I've come to realize the expectation of the EA of producing a quality game is the days of the past. It surprise me that people continue to purchase their products and then complain about the gameplay.  None of their sports are nowhere close to being a true SIM game.
    FIFA 19 has two MAJOR problems that haven't been and probably won't be fixed by any patch, one unique to this game and another to every edition of the franchise.
    The first problem, unique to this year's game: Midfield marking is FAR too tight from box to box, especially when the human player is moving the ball from his end into the midfield. Watch a Premier League game -- no team routinely uses its midfield to apply that much pressure at the center of the pitch unless it's trailing in the final minutes of a game.
    The end result of that excessive pressure is an over-reliance on the insane passing speed featured in this game to advance into the opposing team's 18. It almost feels like the soccer video game equivalent of spamming.
    FIFA 18 didn't have this problem. That game featured an almost ideal amount of CPU defensive pressure through the midfield. CPU defending in PES 2019 is almost too loose through the midfield in normal game situations, but it's a hell of a lot more realistic than FIFA 19.
    The second problem, evident in every edition of FIFA, is horrific ball physics. The ball in FIFA lacks weight. It's an abstract sensation to describe, but if you've ever played soccer or even messed around on a field passing or shooting with friends, you know how the ball behaves and what kind of weight is "felt" when playing.
    FIFA doesn't re-create the "weight" of a soccer ball at all. The ball feels more like a beach ball or a ball half-filled with helium at times. EA never has addressed this problem, and it probably never will.
    The ball "weight" and "feel" in PES 2019 is excellent, streets better than FIFA.
    Please don't interpret my comparisons to PES 2019 as the rants of a PES fanboy. Hardly. PES 2019 has its share of flaws outside of the usual lousy licensing and terrible commentary. But excessively tight midfield marking and terrible ball "feel" and "weight" are the biggest problems of FIFA 19 that EA probably won't address with any patch because it might require a significant rewrite of the game engine code.
    Chrisx
    I'm on the pc, and kept backups of several versions of the game, including the launch version from September. I got to disagree with the article on a couple of points: on the evolution of the gameplay since launch and on defending positioning.
    For all the patching, the game is for the most part the same. If you liked it back then, you'll still like it, if you thought it was bad, it still is.
    If there's one patch that had the most impact I'd say it was the first one (or was it the second?). This sped up animations and passing a bit and fixed the sidefooted shots. The rest is tuning so slight you'll hardly notice, it affects your expectations more than it changes the game in any meaningful way IMHO. For example at some point they supposedly nerfed finesse shots when the ball is coming from an awkward angle. Plenty of these ridiculous shots are still flying in when they shouldn't. Maybe there're fewer of them but it doesn't really change the game, all exploits are still a thing, online and offline, perhaps dialled down a bit.
    Defending positioning? Full backs are terrible, never tracking runs on the wings. Pass, cross, header, repeat. Fouls are a problem but what kills the game completely for me (offline) is how the CPU will not even use the new tactical system! Is the cpu setup with constant pressure? That means there is zero midfield and you can go box to box with 1 pass. Is the cpu setup to drop back? If you're winning you can keep the ball forever, they'll never press you. It blows my mind that people don't notice/mind that, it's the first fifa game that can put me to sleep really.
    Anyway, all that is in the past now, uninstalled it and deleted the lot now. My journey started with fifa 13 but 19 will most likely be my last one. Game is designed for a very specific target group. Casuals who spend a lot on fut and need a pay to win game (elite teams are crap to play against) with exploits built in to help win a few and incentivize more spending. Even "pros" and content creators are ignored, never mind the offline crowd. They are useful for marketing the game online but the gameplay is never designed for anyone with half a clue.

    Do you play with any PC mods or global editors?
    I feel like you could resolve some of these issues with mods tweaks but it would take globally editing something like FB positioning (a point I totally agree with as they tuck in way too much and are easily beat by the same 1-2s).
    Both games are def designed and catered towards casuals/FUT crowd, which makes sense from a business standpoint, but they need to figure out a way to monetize Career Mode which is the only way they'll throw considerable resources at it.
    pk500,
    Totally agree about physics and ball weight. EVERYTHING in FIFA feels floaty from the players to the ball. They've sacrificed so much to create responsive controls but it ends up making the game feel cartoon'ish IMO.
    I'm mixed on your assessment of midfield play between the two games. Now when a team is properly set up in PES (deep defensive line turned off, fluid formations bringing #'s back to defend, A/D levels turned to defensive, etc...) the game is exponentially improved, especially in the midfield, but when you play a team that's in....say a 4-3-3 and they're on red Attack level it's way too easy to bypass the midfield and get the ball to your ST with one ground pass from your CB. Then you have the ability to turn with the ball because the CBs are pushed back into the box with the CMs/CDMs dropping back to the edge of the box. It just makes the game way too predictable and easy.
    FIFA on the other hand, IMO, does a better job with the midfield play but the defensive pressure is nullified because the game is so responsive, the default view lets you see every possible option/outlet, and you can one-touch pass around the pressure. The physicality in PES is greater even if the shielding animation is contextual unlike FIFA where there's a specific command for it.
    Both games are a let down IMO.
    Great discussion though fellas.
    tonysnow45
    I've come to realize the expectation of the EA of producing a quality game is the days of the past. It surprise me that people continue to purchase their products and then complain about the gameplay.* None of their sports are nowhere close to being a true SIM game.

    Absolutely true. But the problem is not that they are not making a simulation, the problem is that they are making bad (arcade, but still bad) video games. I'd play a good one, and we've seen quite a few in the past.
    Then again people are watching other people open packs nowadays, not playing a football match, so maybe the slot machine gameplay is really good and all that really matters.
    KG
    Do you play with any PC mods or global editors?
    I feel like you could resolve some of these issues with mods tweaks but it would take globally editing something like FB positioning (a point I totally agree with as they tuck in way too much and are easily beat by the same 1-2s).

    Tried an edited database a few months back, can't recall much now, but it felt mostly *different* rather than an obvious improvement. People usually try to reduce certain stats which could help humanise top players/teams but positioning is a much tougher problem to crack I think.
    You could move players around but their programmed behaviour.. it is what it is. They are simply programmed to go after the man with ball, not the man making the overlapping run. Likewise the defensive line is programmed to stay back when attacking (and opposition forwards don't come back either) which creates a big space between the lines so that play can transition faster. You could increase the line height but then there's always a CB programmed to follow a run instead of keeping to his line... You just can't beat the intended design, lol.
    Both games are a let down i agree with KG.
    Around the pitch Fifa is really good, on the pitch its really bad, the animations have gotten worse not better, the way the players move now is so jerky and unnatural now it even feels that way with control.
    Don't get me started on 19"s one time hurried shots by the AI, the way the player physic defyingly warps /contorts into the shot , its so obviously forced.
    I love what Matt does with the game but every time i fire it up i see that mind boggling animation and im gone and fire up Pes only to be disappointed yet again in other areas.
    Sigh, I give up to be honest, its sad.
    JimmyDeicide
    Both games are a let down i agree with KG.
    Around the pitch Fifa is really good, on the pitch its really bad, the animations have gotten worse not better, the way the players move now is so jerky and unnatural now it even feels that way with control.
    Don't get me started on 19"s one time hurried shots by the AI, the way the player physic defyingly warps /contorts into the shot , its so obviously forced.
    I love what Matt does with the game but every time i fire it up i see that mind boggling animation and im gone and fire up Pes only to be disappointed yet again in other areas.
    Sigh, I give up to be honest, its sad.

    There’s one animation like that of which you described that drives me crazy.
    When the striker is making a run into the box and you pass it to him and he hits it first time without even turning his head or just as importantly, let’s the ball actually roll in front of him.
    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    KG
    There’s one animation like that of which you described that drives me crazy.
    When the striker is making a run into the box and you pass it to him and he hits it first time without even turning his head or just as importantly, let’s the ball actually roll in front of him.
    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    Oh yeah, and the foot sliding/skating involved to get his back foot planted in the right spot is always fun. That's a clear example of EA choosing arcade over sim, because you know competitive online players would complain if their player couldn't do that.
    KG
    There’s one animation like that of which you described that drives me crazy.
    When the striker is making a run into the box and you pass it to him and he hits it first time without even turning his head or just as importantly, let’s the ball actually roll in front of him.
    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

    Yes thats the one, the player is shooting 5 seconds before the ball arrives its already been computed, no matter what angle or what direction the pass came from no look no nothing.
    Goes back to the demo when the players legs would even go past his standing leg
    " my left leg is now my right leg" boom rocket shot on target lol.
    It's really annoying In my opinion ...my mates and I mostly play offline but it seems that speed beats every other stat in this game ...and compensated for every other pass in this game .
    I have friends who will abuse every arcade mechanism the game allows .
    You try to switch with the right stick ...no dice .
    Intercept a pass by lining up your defender to block a pass the ball still manages to get to the player the pass was intended for or some one else in a potent position .
    Atlanta the Italian club shouldn't be able to play tiki taka football consistently but it is very possible just tap x , then L1 and x some more .
    For someone like me who likes to play realistically it's annoying .
    So I have to choose a team with fast players to enjoy the game ? Well maybe I'm biased but this game is too fast . The ping pong football is just crazy .
    I'm really not happy with this game . Honestly .
    Sent from my Infinix X604 using Operation Sports mobile app
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