While soccer has never really caught on in the United States like the rest of the world, EA’s FIFA series remains one of their most lucrative best-selling series. 2018 has been a big year for soccer with the World Cup, and EA plans on following that up with FIFA 19 on PC, PS4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch this September.
Last month, I had the chance to attend an EA Sports event where I got extensive hands-on time with FIFA 19. In addition to seeing the improved RPM animations and new Champions League content, I tried out the game’s completely reworked Kick-Off mode and came away impressed with the strides FIFA 19 seems to made from both a realism and content standpoint.
As I mentioned before, Kick-Off has been reworked heavily in FIFA 19. While the mode used to only be played once or twice by FIFA players, FIFA 19 makes it a hub for a ton of new content so players will constantly be returning there. The addition of the Champions League is also immediately noticeable. Every Champions League team was present, as was a unique commentary team for them. This adds a huge feeling of authenticity to FIFA 19 that the series didn’t have before, and can be felt through the entire game.
Kick-Off mode even lets players choose the licensed finals for these leagues, so players will be able to just jump in and see the best new part of this content. There are also a variety of other house rules and modes within Kick-Off to spice matches up. The most notable one is Survival, in which a random player is taken off the field each time you score. My personal favorite mode was No Rules, as it allowed me to have more fun and be a little rougher with my opponent. More hardcore modes are still there for serious players though, so they need not worry.
New smaller tactical improvements are also peppered throughout Kick Off. Before every match, you can see detailed stats for each player and choose your own team’s tactics before every game. The tactics have also been reworked in game, with a better menu showing mini animations and the pros and cons to each tactic.
Switching from offensive to defensive tactics is also much simpler in game. Handicaps can also be set before a match, so less experienced players can get a score or AI advantage. Your kick-off stats are also constantly tracked and can be saved to your PSN account, so you’ll have no problem bringing your account on a friend’s system if they have a copy of the game.
FIFA Ultimate Team has also seen its fair share of improvements as well. The biggest new edition is Division Rivals, where players compete in matches with similarly skilled players to win rewards, replacing Online Seasons. High divisions have better rewards, so the developers hope that will stop more skilled players from throwing the initial placement match to have an easier time. All other aspects of Ultimate Team feed into the Rivals Score for this mode, so Ultimate Team players will likely be spending a lot of time in Division Rivals.
All of these new additions to the long-running series are great, but the vastly improved animations are the biggest standout for me outside of the Champions League. While RPM tech was applied to FIFA last year, the developers are really trying to take advantage of it through multiple new systems this year. Dubbed the Active Touch System, fluid and dynamic animations now play every time players approach or touch the ball. This causes FIFA 19 to look more realistic and less janky than previous entries.
50/50 battles, which happen when two players go for the ball have also been improved, as they will fight over it with unique animations and respond accordingly. These looked really great any time they popped up during my matches, and really patch one of my long-running problems with EA Sports games, their odd and unrealistic animations.
As you can see, EA seems to be making several notable strides towards authenticity with FIFA 19. Animations are much better and nicer to look at, and the addition of the Champions and Europa League plug a long-open gap in accurate content. Kick-Off and Ultimate Team have also received several nice enhancements and should draw in more players than in the past. If you haven’t picked up FIFA in a few years, FIFA 19 seems like it will be a great place to jump back in due to all the improvements and clear dedication to realism and authenticity in both content and gameplay.
FIFA 19 releases for PC, PS4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch on September 19. The game can currently be pre-ordered on Amazon. For more FIFA 19-related content, you can check out our interview with Creative Director Matthew Prior and Gameplay Producer Kantcho Doskov.
This post contains affiliate links where DualShockers gets a small commission on sales. Any and all support helps keep DualShockers as a standalone, independent platform for less-mainstream opinions and news coverage.