Two rounds into another cycle of weekly squad battle tournament and I wanted to take the temperature of other players and their thoughts on the way forward with playing this game. I’ve finally pulled together what is, for me, the best FIFA 19 end game squad I can reasonably hope to achieve but its only served to increase the level of frustration that seems to perpetually challenge my enjoyment. Is there something at my end I can change to get past this?
We all know there are many things wrong with the game. And I can manage to be fairly zen (odd bursts of foul mouthed shouting at the TV aside) about most of them. Even the scenarios where fundamental laws of physics are so blatantly shredded that one has to question the quality of management oversight of the coders/developers. Those guys are always going to troll players if they can get away with it right!! If in doubt, have a look at Franken-Callejon during one of the in-game cut scenes if you get the chance. It pretty much made my season I laughed so hard. That poor [email protected][email protected]!!!! (mental note: buy him when I log on later so I can stick him on as a sub when I need a moment of indulgent comedy)
And I’m ok with my win/loss ratio. I know my game play is pretty average. I know that by choosing to set up my team to (try to) play football I’m going to concede goals and it will often cost me wins. I know that I habitually miss or force saves more often than I score down to my lack of quality with buttons and/or snatching at chances during shooting. I know I should work on skills moves to better out fox an opponents time and space jumping legs. And I know where the work needs to come from should I want that to change. The answer there comes from me and not from EA. Mea culpa on all of that.
Yet after two seasons with FIFA19, and despite finally moving up to an all TOTS squad thats worthy of being called end game quality (if albeit just for me), I am still left with the one, solitary question that pierces the bubble of this game to its core.
Just what is going on with individual player attributes when they step on to the pitch?
Why does Usain Bolt get outrun in a flat race by the skeleton of Rip Van Winkle? Why does Michael Jordan get out jumped by an escaped OompaLoompa? Why does frickin 80’s time travelling Arnold Schwarzenegger get pushed over on his a$$ by not just Sarah Connor but tiny, baby John Connor?
Not just once, but repeatedly and consistently expected outcomes between individual players in Squad Battles – based on available metrics relating to physical capability – are reversed with almost absolute certainty in favour of the AI.
And the focus purely on physical capability is important. It removes questions over game play and user competency from the “explanation” pile. Outcomes of purely physical tests in 1-v-1 situations should over the arc of a game be entirely predictable. Running fast for instance is pretty hard to mess up, and should see you reach your destination ahead of someone who cant run as fast. Being pushed over requires even less skill. I literally dont even need to push a button for that.
If this was an arcade game, or mariokart(tm) it would catalyse a different conversation. But its not. It’s an esports game that (apparently) prides itself on its realism. Worse however, its a game that requires the users to build teams using player cards under a range of constraints. This necessitates the evaluation of individual attributes on available cards. So we all know the details of our players and their strengths and weaknesses down to the last detail. I certainly know because I have spent hours going back and forth as to where I could compromise to do the most with my limited resources. I guess it’s the same for many inside the community.
What on earth then would possess a game developer to require its user base to carefully consider the individual attributes of a player as a core part of the game then have the outcomes of individual scenarios around the pitch fail to align with these attributes?
Why would team and individual chemistry be so heavily featured, and users invited to consider/purchase/evaluate modifications to players attributes based on these values via the purchasable chemistry styles cards only to then make actual game play that – based on all available evidence – seems to throw it all out of the window?
The hopium has been strong on this one for me. I had expected that a better squad would finally create the in game freedom to have fun with the players. The breathing room opened up by the significantly better stats would allow cool runs and balls to be zipped about without being mired in an endless physical battle around the pitch where the AI was always Goliath and you never quite have the right stone. Like Ancellotti’s great Milan team playing the local pubs team. You would need to keep your concentration of course, football is like that. But you would be easily playing within yourself. Free to enjoy yourself just a little knowing that you were quite a bit fitter/faster/stronger/better. Sure I would still mess up the chance at the end by kicking that ball into a defenders magically extending leg, or blasting it at the International Space Station; but the getting there on the pitch would be amazing fun. This football utopia was always been just a few more players cards away. Then the cards came and it must certainly be just behind the right chemistry styles and individual instructions. False 9 instructions confusing the player, that must be the problem.
But after a ton of testing/experimentation; the road has literally just ended. Theres nowhere left to drive and where I am looks a lot like the same parking lot I started in. Except its two years later, and things are a little more worn out. Even in the glow of a blue and gold striped squad.
The bigger question is, is there a solution to all of this?
Can settings or decisions be taken at my end locally to improve this situation and let my players actually be who the cards say? (Or have the opponents cards under AI control play to their actual values rather than as though they all rolled out from a PEDs experimentation programme. Is there a random testing option I need to activate?)
Would increasing difficulty improve things? Are my players being sandbagged even on Professional? Can this be done in any way that lets the game itself still roughly look like an actual game of football rather than ping pong?
Certainly reducing difficulty level below Professional only makes the situation worse – despite it seeming like a logical approach. Players are highly variable from one game to the next, and even from half to half. Game speed ebbs and flows as the AI clearly tries to wrestle the game – going from fast forward to slow motion and everything in between. The quality of refereeing is awful and the game is almost completely ruined by the amount of blatant shirt pulling/obstruction that is left uncalled, mixed with frequency of yellow cards for even the lightest touch on an opponent.
What the heck do I do?
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