Published on February 6th, 2013 | by David Bryant54
FIFA 14 Wish List
It’s only been a few months since the release of FIFA 13 but for EA (and us) getting early feedback on the next game is absolutely essential, which is why we’ve pulled together our Top 10 Wish List for FIFA 14.
The detail here is deliberately light, but if you wish to add more depth, more areas for improvement, or if you think the order is wrong? Hit the comments and help shape the next FIFA game, long before we hear the first official news about it.
1) Locomotion Physics
The last FIFA game to actually express an open interest in player biomechanics was FIFA 08, and it’s no surprise that it remains among the most loved games of this generation even if nostalgia helps to obscure a young FIFA engine’s early flaws. It’s clearly something on the agenda for EA as a whole though because Battlefield 3 and NHL 13 were both exuberant in bringing the realism of movement to forefront of their game design. With the latter’s “True Performance Skating” system perhaps the model for FIFA 14 to follow this year, as physics that govern sudden directional changes have always been an area of weakness when it comes to boot-to-turf behaviour in FIFA.
Another theory regularly dissected by the community is that FIFA 13’s transitions and turns are simply animated too quickly and that even a slowing visually of the way these movements are portrayed could solve the issue on its own? In reality this would only paper over the cracks, which is why it would be great for EA to take the locomotion problem and build a fully fledged feature around it to revolutionise the way players move and interact for those virtual 90 minutes.
2) Defensive AI
With FIFA 13, EA brought in a raft of much needed and mostly successful changes to improve FIFA’s attacking AI. The equally important area of defensive AI, however remained as neglected as ever, and now it sticks out like a sore thumb. FIFA 13’s defensive AI is reliably unreliable, and far too often the reason for an unavoidable goal. From the marking being far too loose, to the midfield seeming to have little interest in helping out, and the defenders too prone to suicidal decisions. Most importantly, it never really feels like they work as a team, nor that they work well with what you, the player is doing. FIFA 14 will be the eighth FIFA game since the ‘next-gen’ reboot, please can it also be the first to prioritise defensive AI.
Contain has been somewhat hit and miss too, with the tethered approach to jockeying in truth only masking locomotion deficiencies temporarily. Legacy defending was brutally simple, but if EA could perhaps add the timing element to tackles and build a more robust jockey mechanic, maybe a step backwards could be the best way forwards for defending and Contain in FIFA 14.
3) Team Management & Tactics
FIFA has endured the same Team Management system for as long as I can remember and if you go back even as far as FIFA 07 things are alarmingly similar compared to today’s game. It’s odd too, because FIFA in general since 07 has been on an incredible journey of innovation with almost no feature exempt from the wave of change. The fact that it’s visually bland and horrendous to use aren’t even the biggest Team Management issues either. It’s the stifling of managerial and tactical decision making which suffer the most at the hands of the existing system and a long overdue change quite simply has to come in FIFA 14.
Custom Tactics are of course very closely linked to this too but it’s effects could help to resolve one of FIFA’s other age old problems, the lack of variation in CPU team styles. For Career Mode especially it’s a huge problem and one which (regardless of what the CM team do) hampers the experience incredibly, especially when you head in to multi-season territory. FIFA 13’s AI plays one way and one way only, and after the volume of matches the average gamer gets through, it’s patterns, foibles and tendency to “cheat” its own systems are frustrations which too regularly bubble over.
This is where a revamp of Custom Tactics could help. When the system was originally brought in it was received enthusiastically by the community who thought they finally had an outlet to tailor differing team styles. Sadly some persistent bugs, limited options and no way to modify settings globally left quite a big void behind that early promise. Then, Gameplay Sliders came in which were again celebrated but largely delivered on their promise. What EA need to do is expand the individual team tactics options ensuring they have a genuine impact on the way teams play, and ideally bring everything (including sliders) under one Custom Tactics 2.0 roof where we can tinker until our hearts content. Perhaps a mechanism to import settings from other users or the ability to edit settings on a PC and then “push” them to consoles could be added too?
4) Player Individuality
Another one of FIFA’s age old problems not helped by the sheer volume of players the game accommodates. When your rating system is from 1-100 (0-30 is rarely used at all) and you have over 15,000 players to distinguish it’s obviously very likely that some players will share similar stats, so this isn’t an easy problem to resolve. But I still think EA can do more with stat distribution to try and make more players standout as individuals. For me player stats need to have more peaks and troughs, with good and bad attributes every so slightly extenuated from reality to make sure these abilities stand out when you pick up the pad.
The trait system could be better used too, especially through the lower leagues where the chances of even seeing a trait at all are slim. As always for EA it’s about scaling things properly and just because a player may only ever be a good Championship level striker, it doesn’t mean they can’t have powerful traits because if done correctly their deficiencies should even this out. Individuality is visual too of course and where PES 2013’s Player ID system excelled, FIFA’s two year old attempt “Personality Plus” looked sadly, even worse for wear.
This one is easy. Whether you play Career Mode, FUT, Seasons, Clubs or you’ve ever connected to EASFC you’ll know that FIFA 13 has once again been plagued with niggling bugs which in the case of FUT actually resulted in an unacceptable service outage. I’m sure EA have an SLA for server up-time, and if they do maybe they should share it with us in the name of transparency? I can’t tell EA how to fix these problems because I’m not one of their software engineers, but among the incredibly talented tech guys at EAC they simply have to come up with some solid solutions to these problems and fast, or risk causing potentially irreparable damage to their loyal community.
6) Assisted Passing
Making sure that the foundations a game is built on are solid, is key for any franchise but especially for sports simulation which aims by definition to mimic the real world equivalent. Which is why change to FIFA’s default passing setting must come under closer scrutiny for FIFA 14.
FIFA has a lot of options when it comes to pass assistance for all its pass types but they all have to be set explicitly by the user. That’s fine for those who are aware or those who want a more pure experience but against FIFA’s mass audience it can be a gameplay killer if you choose to defy the norm. I have no problem with Assisted Passing as an idea, none what so ever and of course FIFA has to be accessible to everyone but that doesn’t mean Assisted has to be as devoid from user input as it currently is.
As a first step moving the pass assistance somewhere between Semi and Assisted would be a good starting point because even a little more freedom in the system could change so much, maybe even improving FIFA for everyone that plays it? It’s a ballsy setting to change given FIFA’s recent commercial success but I honestly think EA underestimate peoples ability to adapt and I’d love a bold new future for FIFA’s default pass settings to become reality this year.
7) FUT Security
FUT has been exploited before, that in itself isn’t a new thing but with increasing social media coverage this year’s problems have been perhaps the most high profile to date, with even Peter Moore jumping in to address concerns. It’s not EA’s fault that idiots look to go outside of the games systems to farm coins for selling, or to simply disrupt the community but EA’s security systems can always be more robust. The balance of course is making FUT robust, without making it unnecessarily frustrating to access.
What I’d love to see EA implement is the “Security Key” system from Star Wars: The Old Republic which forces you to use a random code every time you log in. Anyone who uses an RSA token or any VPN infrastructure in their place of work I’m sure will be familiar with the practice. It’s less intrusive than you might think too because SWTOR had an app you could download for iOS or Android and you could purchase a physical token for a nominal fee too. It shouldn’t be made to be mandatory necessarily but EA should certainly push it and for anyone that’s ever lost players, coins or entire accounts to phishing I’m sure this extra safe guard would be welcomed with open arms.
8) Career Mode User Interface
Career Mode has made some quite incredible leaps since the disaster that was FIFA 10’s Manager Mode and under new stewardship that progress shows no sign of abating. But whilst my faith in EA to deliver core fundamentals and new features is high, my main worry is that Career Mode won’t advance visually. The current format is three years old now and whilst its always received a yearly coat of paint it’s starting to feel a bit tired now. FUT received a quite remarkable redesign for FIFA 13 and change on a similar level is probably what’s required for Career Mode in FIFA 14.
The usability needs work too, which will hopefully come in part with any new Team Management system but also in terms of general navigation. The layout of the Player Search screen has been a gripe of mine for years, as is the void in quality between older menus and the new ones like the Squad Report which actually feels rather out of place because of its ease of use. I really hope EA ditch the stock images which accompany news stories too because once you’ve seen them more than twice, or you see a generic one at all the illusion they try to portray is shattered. Career Mode looks at its best when EA create custom images by combining player faces with club crests to accompany transfer rumours and more ingenuity like that, is exactly what’s needed. I wonder how far away we are from a system which uses actual screenshots and highlights from the match you’ve just played to accompany the headlines it generated?
9) Aerial Challenges
This one might seem like a fairly small detail in the grand scheme of things, but just how many times have you fallen foul of FIFA 13’s aerial challenge lottery this last few months? A cross comes in, your towering center back is in a great position and yet some how the minuscule striker manages to leap across him powering home a header past a helpless goalkeeper. It’s actually an old technical problem which stems from the engines inability to get multiple players competing for the same aerial ball, so instead FIFA takes the two nearest players and rolls the dice.
The number of variables though that combine for aerial challenges are crazy when you think about them, the ball speed, ball trajectory, player positioning, are they standing still, are they on the move, what are their heading stats. It’s a technical minefield, but the way the game currently sorts this problem out is so simplistic that irrespective of these diverse variables, the outcome always feels too random. My hope is that recent advances in the Player Impact Engine will contribute towards sorting this out long term because something far more elegant than a 50\50 decision is needed. The volume of “freak” goals that come from aerial challenges are certainly enough to warrant the extra effort in my opinion.
10) Clubs Customisation
At times my favourite FIFA game mode is Clubs, and at other times it’s my most hated. I’m sure that’s a theme shared by a lot of people because as soon as you invite 20+ afro sporting imbeciles to join your experience, there’s bound to be trouble. However, if you can find yourself a settled club of friends and you join one of the many excellent community sites (FVPA) then you can have arguably the most authentic FIFA experience to be found. Much of Clubs success hinges on improvements to gameplay of course but there’s one area which has been sorely neglected since the modes radical beginnings – customisation.
What’s missing is identity, a sense that your club is unique and not one of the many Real Madrid kit wearing masses. The club names might be unique, the players too but without that visual stamp of “this is ours” I think Clubs popularity is set to remain exactly where it is, a hardcore pursuit of a few rather than “the” mode to own FIFA for. FIFA has plenty of player customisation options (some more appropriate than others) but a custom badge and kit editor really should be a bare minimum for Clubs in FIFA 14. What we could end up with of course is a wave of swastika sporting male genitalia, or alternatively we could have an exciting, vibrant and innovative Clubs scene, which is potentially the envy of every other game mode.
Hit the comments with your thoughts and your own wishes for FIFA 14.