The FIFA 17 fan wishlist
Outgoing Chelsea skipper John Terry New York bound (opens in new tab) if the bookies are to be believed isn't the only one making early plans for next season. Out in Vancouver, EA Canada is deep into the process of developing FIFA 17 (opens in new tab).
While the developers plans remain top secret, fans arent as shy when it comes to outlining exactly what theyd like to see added. From FIFA's official forums, Futhead and Twitter, these are your premier suggestions for the unannounced-but-inevitable 24th annual edition of EA's gazillion-selling football game
Unique team playing styles
Bloomin' heck have Leicester been exciting to watch this season. They play fast, direct, attacking football, leaning on Riyad Mahrezs incisive passing and Jamie Vardys pace. Its night and day from Man Utds defend-and-nick-a-goal mentality, or Spurs patient possession game, and that variety is one of the elements people love most about the Premier League. You'd never know that from offline games of FIFA, where the AI appears to adopt uniform tactics no matter the team it's controlling. (Where, for instance, are the long balls wanged towards target men in League Two?)
Futheads Ahnaf_D (opens in new tab) has a perfect solution: individual team playing styles. In FIFA 16, all the teams play the same way which is boring as f***. So EA should add traits to a team. For example, Chelsea [taking an] early lead and parking the bus, or Barcelonas Tiki Taka." Omnomcookies96 (opens in new tab) expands upon this idea beautifully. He proposes that a team's playing style would be tied to its manager, and therefore change over the course of a career mode. If Pep Guardiola ends up at Norwich I want them to keep the ball, but if Tony Pulis is there then its eyes to the sky for 90 minutes.
GR verdict: Even if the concept of styles being linked to a particular coach isn't possible for FIFA 17, a basic version of this would add both believability and challenge. A resounding 'yes please'.
Indoor six-a-side mode
EA loves an anniversary. Remember it abandoning Madden's once-sacrosanct chronological numbering conventions to mark the NFL series' 25th birthday (opens in new tab)? There can be no better way to commemorate the introduction of one of FIFA's most popular yet forgotten modes than restoring it in glorious HD. I refer, of course, to FIFA 97's wonderful six-versus-six option (opens in new tab).
This has regularly been mooted on the internet for instance by Reddit user HealthyBacteria (opens in new tab) but the main advocate is, well, me. Hey, I'm a FIFA fan. It totally counts. And makes sense: on PS2 and PS3 you could get your indoor kicks on FIFA Street, but there's no sign of that series ever coming to current-gen, leaving a local-sports-centre shaped void in our collective existences. Six-a-side would help to improve mediocre human players' trick-stick skills (lord knows I need that after regular online hosings), and could even be included in career mode as an additional training option. What's not to like?
GR verdict: Makes total sense. (Not that I'm biased.) The anniversary factor scratches EA's back-of-the-box itch, and the mode itself would freshen up the entire game. There's precedent too, in NHL '94 anniversary mode from NHL 14.
Long-term stat tracking
A major pull of Football Manager is its in-game stat tracking, where the Player History screen enables you to instantly reminisce upon a legendary striker's incredible goalscoring record, or admire how your coaching turned a fringe youth prospect into a 200-game, 40-assists winger by his 23rd birthday. Yet such delights aren't possible in FIFA, in which all career mode stats are instantly, irreversibly wiped at the end of each season. There's justifiable clamour to change that.
[We need] history of the players, clubs and competitions. Players with a number of games, goals and assists, writes Rominho 86 on Futhead (opens in new tab). Competitions with the last champions. Top scorers of [each] club. Be able to view the history of all leagues. Leonardordel92 (opens in new tab) takes this idea one step further: If I have a player in my team for 4-5 seasons, I'd like to see how many games he's played, how many goals he's scored etc overall. The player's price should depend upon his stats!
GR verdict: Player stats are a must. The price idea tallies nicely with reality, too what would the going rate for Odion Ighalo or Jamie Vardy be right now? Although EA would have to be careful not to over-prioritise stats in determining player value.
Set-piece and formation specifics
For as long as I've been playing FIFA (Mega Drive, Christmas present, 1993), a major bugbear has been the inability to choose who to send forward for corners. 23 years of waiting and it still isn't possible, despite PES adding the feature in the mid-2000s only to take it out again. It was while seeking a kindred spirit that I stumbled upon an incredible rant by FIFA fan DarkGondwanaz who not only wants the set-piece options I do, but also trumpets some astute (if furious) tactical revisions, largely centred on elements removed from past games.
Bring back man marking bring back custom formations bring back the options for defining players' positioning and work rate, he begins (opens in new tab). Dynamic fomations for kick-off, attacking and defending option for zonal marking custom music chants Preach on, brother! Let us create geometrical figures and shapes like triangles, lines (walls), diamonds, trapezia or squares/rectangles during both attack and defence in order to gain space or lessen opponent's space. My head hurts.
GR verdict: More set-piece, formation and marking options? Completely in agreement. The part where it all turned into an advanced trigonometry module? Pass.
Real managers and coaches
A purely cosmetic improvement, but one which would deepen every mode: real life managers appearing on the touchline. In Ultimate Team it'd provide an in-match representation of the gold Guardiola/Ancelotti/Klopp card you spent a fortnight saving for, while in career mode it'd mean creating yourself and lining up a few feet away from figures you love to hate, such as Sam Allardyce or Alan Pardew. Madden already does it brilliantly, and it's not a new concept for the FIFA series recent Euros and World Cup spin-off games have all featured actual bosses.
A wide selection of managers should be added, and doing this would change the game, writes EA forum user FullMaEstRo (opens in new tab). Having camera close ups of Arsene Wenger during a BPL game would be incredible. [You could also have] managers shouting and talking to officials. The issue is likely that there are 650 teams in the game, but only time to scan 30-40 bosses. No problem; as with starheads and stadia, do the most popular clubs for FIFA 17, then flesh out the database year-after-year.
GR verdict: Mid-season sackings are an issue, but in such instances few fans are going to be worried about a generic Francesco Guidolin or Remi Garde. This suggestion may not make FIFA 17, but feels like an inevitable long-term addition.
More Ultimate Team flexibility
After the farce of FIFA 15's mid-season mega-changes, Ultimate Team has found its feet once more. Generally players are content with the new FUT Draft and return of the web app, whereby you can make transfers and update your team in a secret browser window while 'working'. (Which reminds me, I've made a big bid for an in-form Bolasie and the auction's about to end. Brb.)
Sorry. But yes, a good year for Ultimate Team, although that hasn't stopped fans proposing tiny-yet-huge improvements. Position change cards, as suggested by an anonymous Futhead user (opens in new tab), are one such idea: Ronaldo plays as a left winger or striker these days. It [would] be shown in a players's traits that he is able to get that special position change card from left winger to striker. Even smarter is the idea of merging two popular FIFA modes into one. So: co-op seasons + FUT = co-op Ultimate Team. Imagine combined Ultimate Team with a friend, that both [of you] can manage whenever, says JaguarC (opens in new tab). It would work without being on the same console, and would not affect your personal Ultimate Team.
GR verdict: Both strong ideas. The changing position card reflects the flexibility of the modern footballer think Gareth Bale and more interaction with pals in Ultimate Team is always welcome.
I've always wanted to see some crowd momentum dynamic, says Lee Henaghan (opens in new tab), on Twitter. You equalise with 10 minutes to go, the place erupts and pushes for a win. It's something EA Canada has deliberately shied away from there are enough complaints about 'scripting' already but the reality is this does occur in real life. I was inside Selhurst when Palace equalised from 0-3 down to shatter Liverpool's title hopes in 2014, and there was no doubt the atmosphere played a key role in raising the home sides spirits and triggering Saurez-and-cos nine-minute collapse (opens in new tab).
How to implement it in-game though? Now-defunct Gridiron sim NCAA Football (above) used a clever system whereby the more noise the home crowd made, the harder it was for the away quarterback to see his receiver's routes. I loved that, but it's not something directly applicable to 'saaaccer'. PES 2014 tried a similar (and short-lived) concept with its 'heart' feature, but again there seemed little rhyme or reason behind its in-game application. Also, any feature of this type would have to be turned off for online play, where equality in match conditions is king.
GR verdict: A suggestion that makes total sense, and would add drama to career mode, but is unlikely to quell those claims that under the hood FIFA is scripted. Effectively, it's the best idea on this list that'll never happen.
Improved goalkeepers (again)
Goalkeepers collectively remain the elephant in the room or, if you like, fumbling monstrosity on the pitch in both FIFA and PES. EA's are better than its rivals, but it can still be near-impossible to stomach a last minute defeat caused by your custodian letting a pea-roller evade his grasp and squirm into the onion bag. Trouble is, that is realistic. How, then, to balance authenticity with fun?
Olly Shaw an actual FIFA pro gamer outlines three areas where EA needs to focus on netminder AI. Some of their decisions when coming out and their ability to save a shot at the near post [are] frustrating, he tells Red Bull Gaming (opens in new tab). [Plus] I've seen shots go in from crazy angles that really should never trouble a goalkeeper. If EA can fix these fundamentals, fan attitudes to the occasional cock-up would surely improve.
GR verdict: A no-brainer, whether youre taking FIFA 17 or FIFA 35. The reality is that goalkeeper fallibility is a very real thing, and no video game is ever likely to strike the perfect balance between impenetrable and Rob frickin Green.
Season-on-season kit updates
Glowing review scores for NBA 2K and MLB The Show in recent years havent been earned solely for their lifelike mechanics, but also a phenomenal eye for detail at respective developers Visual Concepts and Sony San Diego. Im talking correct player tattoos and mascots in NBA, and material physics so accurate in MLB that you can see where the name and number has been stitched to a players shirt. FIFA is improving, but still not in the same league.
Fans echo this viewpoint, with particlar regard to strips. [We need] the ability to change the league logo after promotion or relegation to a new division. It's so irritating when I'm in the Premier League and have League Two logos on my kit, says Ahnaf_D on Futhead (opens in new tab). ConboHDGamer (opens in new tab) extends the same point: AI teams [need] the font on their shirts changed when they get promoted and [we need] the ability to change kits at the end of the season, and customise sponsors and stadium.
GR verdict: Completely agree. For a perfectionist, its a complete illusion-killer to get five years into a career mode and have half the Premier League stepping out in Football League numbers and shirt patches.
Proper goal net physics (er, really!)
The likelihood is that for all the hours poured into FIFA over the years, you've never once thought, what would really improve the game is better goal net physics." The good news is this makes you normal. The bad news is you'll feel otherwise permanently the instant you see the case made including on-point visual aids by FIFA 16 forumite comet213 (opens in new tab).
English isn't his first language, but his point is abundantly clear. EA always accentuate physics but goal net physics [are] bad. [A] bouncing ball at the goal net is very different [in FIFA] from real life. Although net tension is set tight, [the] net is not elastic. Has comparison videos prove the points succesful shots tend to be swallowed up by the net in FIFA, whereas real life sees balls ping around the goal or back out again in a manner that's joyous for reasons you can't quite define. Never really noticed this before, but it isn't realistic at all," writes SuPeRz (opens in new tab) in response. Lifting off the ground no matter the shot power is bad They should really look into this!.
GR verdict: The most obscure suggestion on this list, and obviously not a priority. But as I said on the previous slide: its exactly this kind of minute detail that has kept NBA 2K and MLB: The Show at the top of the sports tree.
Sort out Pro Clubs
Gathering with pals (or strangers) to form your own virtual side was once one of FIFAs biggest selling points whereas these days it attracts descriptions such as rotten, and has longstanding fans giving up on the game entirely (opens in new tab). The consensus isnt even that devoted players want it revamped; merely fixed to the point of being vaguely enjoyable again.
Twitter user James Creedy (opens in new tab) says its still his favourite game mode, or would be if EA took five minutes to iron out its flaws: Why do players frequently get dropped into a game controlling a pro that isnt theirs? Its been happening for years. Thats just the tip of the iceberg. The radar showing goal positions at half- and full-time is incorrect. One of my club members has his accomplishments deleted after every game. In drop-in games, the designated captain in the lobby isnt the captain [after the match starts], so nobody knows to pressure the ball using CPU defenders. I'm not a developer, but all of these issues sound reasonably simple to fix and that must happen in FIFA 17.
GR verdict: Pro Clubs have clearly been de-prioritised given the success of Ultimate Team and Career Mode, but that doesnt excuse the non-fixing of bugs that have existed over multiple seasons. The mode must be mended, or scrapped entirely.
Got a change or innovation for FIFA 17 you especially want to see? Tell us in the comments below.