Welcome to Next Season
Since spring, EA has pulled back the curtain on its many buffs and polishes to the foundation that FIFA 12 established. First, the team unveiled the five new gameplay features you can expect to see throughout FIFA 13. Then, at E3, we got hands-on with the game-in-progress and discovered more information about the teams plans for EA Sports Football Club beyond FIFA 12.
And now, weve witnessed the next steps for FIFA 13, some of which will be big news for certain platforms, and others which will affect the game across the board.
Your career, redefined
The biggest news? Big changes to game modes, especially in career mode. Producer Santiago Jaramillo who worked on gameplay refinements in FIFA 12is captaining game modes in FIFA 13. Whether you play as a manager, player, or player-manager, your international career will flow as seamlessly into your experience as your club career has for years.
If that doesnt sound like a big deal for those whove been playing through an international career as a player, youll likely be thrilled to find out that it doesnt just entail call-ups. Youll be able to play through an entire international career, complete with tournament qualifiers (both World Cup and continental), plus, if you win your continental tournament (UEFA European Championship, Copa America, etc), youll compete in the Confederations Cup. That also includes the presentation and international fanfare seen in content such as the recent Euro 2012 DLC pack for FIFA 12.
Working your way up the ladder
As a player, the integration of international caps will completely alter career mode. If youre playing as a virtual pro, the game will gauge your experience level, and based on the team you pick, you may go out on loan to gain more experience. Thats especially likely if youre a 19 year-old striker playing for Barcelona. Thanks to midseason job change implementation, you can build your way up to more playtime and eventually, first-team football.
If you decide to play as a real player instead, FIFA 13 will give you objectives to play for and a set of expectations for your club. For example, Jaramillo showed off Robin Van Persie and (unfortunately for Arsenal fans), his transfer request. Upon moving to a new club, hes provided with a number of goals to score and assists to make. These elements will be key to getting a call-up for Holland.
The Silly Season just got less silly... right?
All of these elements tie into a vast number of revamps to career mode and how the game processes the ins and outs of the business more realistically. The transfer logic has been totally rewritten. That is to say, Manchester City wont be selling David Silva at the drop of a hat right as Silly Season kicks off on July 1. The transfer market AI now recognizes the importance of specific players to the overall health of the starting XI and wont let them go without a fight. Or PSGs money.
True Market Value is another implemented feature that puts AI transfers and reactions much closer to the real-world response. How much is the player worth to the team hes playing for? Its a huge factor in regard to how tough itll be to put Ronaldo and Messi on the same team for laughs. The metagame of player market value plays more strongly, Jaramillo explains.
Don't just captain your country, manage it!
FIFA 13's international elements of career mode extend beyond simply players and their transfers. Win enough seasons with a club, and you'll have better offers on the table than just second division Scottish clubs (no offense to fans of said second division Scottish clubs, mind you). Now, you won't simply work your way through season upon season as a club journeyman. You'll have the opportunity to manage national teams, which will add a totally new dimension to Manager Mode.
Make your own virtual headlines
The fun of negotiation will be highlighted as FIFA 13 institutes counteroffers. As an example, Jaramillo demonstrated a bidding war between Manchester City and Napoli for the services of attacking midfielder Marek Hamsik. In this case, City wants to buy Hamsik for 25 million. Were not sure how closely EA followed the logic of Napolis middle-finger waving, scooter-hailing president Aurelio De Laurentiis, but Napoli wasnt having it for less than 42 million. The fun of one-upsmanship will be a huge factor in FIFA 13s manager mode.
And, if youre looking to cut corners and have some surplus, you can now negotiate players plus cash for transfers. If your squad is dying to sign Van Persie, you could throw in a young player with lots of potential alongside your projected cash bid to make the transfer happen. Plus, if youre inclined, you now have to option to promise the player a specific role on the team. If you want RVP in your Starting XI, you can select the option before making the bid. As of announcement time, it appears that you can designate starter, crucial, or bench players as options.
Football Club is more than just new shirts and boots
And, on the heels of EAs announcement of unlockables for high XP in EA Sports Football Club and the rollover of your FIFA 12, Euro 2012, and FIFA Street stats, youll have much more leeway with unlockables in career mode. Sure, you could buy legacy boots and kits for your team, as seen in this image, but why do only that when you can use XP points to buy your way past grinds and straight into career mode content, or more importantly, the ability to rematch after losing a crucial game?
Saturday night, spoken for before you saw it coming
Arguably less dramatic than the career mode overhauls, but still important, is the introduction of Skill Games into FIFA 13. After five years of kicking the ball around the arena as your favorite player and three years of practicing setpieces at your discretion (and, okay, two years of goalkeeper drills), theres a big change coming to the time you spend in between matches. Remember how you see your friends fastest goals in the arena? Its like that, magnified on a higher level.
Youll have challenges across eight disciplines (dribbling, shooting, advanced shooting, crosses, etc.) with four different difficulty rankings (from bronze medal to legendary difficulty), and theyll focus on helping players improve fundamental skills. One challenge we saw entailed passing in triangles with three teammates inside a restricted area with manual controls only.
You think its not a big deal now. Just you wait
If it doesnt seem like a big deal, trust us: its going to make you not only better about play and techniques, but its going to make you exceptionally competitive with your friends. Case in point: shooting. We did the basic shooting drill, which finds you aiming to hit a handful of bullseyes in the penalty box. Thats simple enough to hit the bronze. By the time we got to gold, we had to hit a multitude of very specific shots, and suddenly, we found that youll have to dig deep into your offensive repertoire and mix up chip shots, finesse shots, and power shots to hit all of your targets.
In crossing minigames, youll have to hit targets in the box. On bronze, those are huge bullseyes. But by the time you hit gold, youll have to land those crosses into tiny targets, or perfectly inside of trash cans lining the pitch. Its a lot tougher than it seems, and youll probably be obsessing over hitting gold more than you worry about loading up a friendly match.
Your body is the controller, but your mouth is something else
We also got some more rundown on platform specific features. Despite the fears of some regarding Kinect and cursing, dont worry: referee feedback wont get your players sent off. What it does mean is that if you curse up a storm and Kinect picks it up, commentators will respond with oh, it sounds like the manager isnt happy with that decision. In career mode, if you keep it up, youll be labeled as difficult in the press, and in the worst case scenarios, referees will be more strict with your players.
In Be a Pro, youll be able to call out on-pitch commands, such as to shoot or pass or go on a run. It sounds rather similar to a number of face button controls already at your disposal in the mode, for what its worth. It gets deeper for normal games, as you can use voice commands to change tactics (which means less time fiddling with the d-pad while youre trying to start a run or defend). You can also make substitutions. When we pressed EA further for how it will work, we found out that youll call up a sub by position, then youll have numerical options for which players to swap (ie: swap in number two) rather than proper names.
Because PC ought to always have that extra something
The PC version was among the most eye-catching. Starting with FIFA 12, the PC version is mechanically on par with the console games, so it shares the same features as the Xbox 360 and PS3 versions. It will allow keyboard and mouse support, but only for offline play, and within that, it will feature point-and-click teammate runs. Arguably the most impressive element of the PC version was a demo running on a very highly powered rig with two video cards outputting to three displays. In essence, the rare (and wealthy) PC gamer could run a full panoramic view of the pitch, from end to end. Its both awe-inspiring and a tad exhausting to play, all at once.
Thats not all, folks
We still dont know all of the details about EAs plans for online and FIFA 13. Weve got a great glimpse at its core gameplay, its career mode, and now, its skill games. Outside of simply getting a final build in our hands (with proper stats), the online announcements are the last piece of the puzzle. Stay tuned for more information on the game in the coming weeks from GamesCom, then keep an eye out for our review in late September!