FIFA16 settles in

I loved how this goal felt with my hands on the controller, guiding it to fruition.

As with any football game, you’ve got to give this one time. You’ve got to give it two long sessions, three, four sessions. Only then can you even begin to take the measure of its quality. I speak, of course, of FIFA16. The game that does now look as if it will occupy the bulk of my time between now and September.

Ultimate Team didn’t last much longer than Game 1 of the Starter Cup or whatever it’s called. I’ll be interested in Ultimate Team when they introduce a Master League-like, single-player, full-on campaign mode.

At the moment, Ultimate Team is froth. There’s nothing wrong with a bit of froth, but I like my football gaming to have more substance to it.

I’ve never got Ultimate Team. There have been some years when I’ve really given it a good go. One year — FIFA13, I think — I even had the trading app installed on my phone, and amused myself being an Ultimate Team tycoon while sitting on the bus, and that sort of thing.

I bet there are plenty of folk out there getting as much joy from Ultimate Team as I get from Master League, and this is all monstrously unfair of me. But this is how it is. Goodbye for another year, Ultimate Team.

I’m playing Career Mode.

FIFA16 season 1 after 10

I don’t like FIFA’s way of displaying league tables. The columns are much wider than they have any need to be. I don’t know about anyone else, but my eye doesn’t easily track horizontally along all that width. To check how many points any given team are on, I have to ‘anchor’ my view solidly on that team’s name, and then keep a mental finger on the screen whilst moving across to the points column. A rare example of a FIFA presentation misstep, in my view.

I’ve played 10 League matches now in my fledgling Coventry City FC Career Mode. I nearly walked away from this too. What snagged my attention was my discovery of the mode’s custom player development feature, something that’s been absent from PES for far too long.

FIFA16 player development

Every week you get training ‘sessions’ that you can choose to fill (or ignore if you like) with a player or players of your choosing, whom you then get to train in particular categories. Shooting, Passing, Defending, Goalkeeping, etc. If you like to do the training yourself, you get taken to a mini-game similar to the ones before the matches. Or you can choose to sim all training. I’m currently doing both as the mood takes me.

I’ve kept the difficulty on Professional. I believe I will get promotion to The Championship fairly straightforwardly, then I’ll move up to World Class. I think there’s time for 2-3 seasons of FIFA16 before we enter the holy month of September.


  1. No training on last-gen consoles 🙁

    It always annoyed me the way PES displayed league tables; I wondered if it was some crazy Japanese thing. I agree the tables are too wide, but at least there’s zebra striping.

    Still playing Don Bradman. My batting sucks, but I did get a four-for in a recent match.

  2. NG – I have always had an issue with how the league tables are presented in both games as I found the Tika Taka presentation much better. In general the presentation of things on that game such as fixture lists was much better than what Fifa has to offer. I do like the RPG element of player development as you can focus for example to target your youth players in line with your overall objectives, say you want to invest in youth.

    I have found myself commenting less as I just don’t have the stomach for footy games or much in the way of gaming at the moment, so rather than just sounding like a tired broken record I am limiting comments but do still lurk around. For his age the 4 year old is getting much better on Gran Turismo or Gran Tismo as he calls it.

  3. Nice goal that n-G. There is something rather satisfying about scoring in FIFA 16 but in a different way to that old PES feeling.

    Looks like you’ll romp to promotion at that rate – something that often leaves me fiddling with sliders and settings in FIFA. I think by sticking with manual passing I’ve created a level somewhere between Pro and World Class and its proving to be very addictive.

    I must check out that player development thingy. I’ve found so much to do in this FIFA that I forgot all about it.

  4. Chris99 — the screenshot in the post actually does the table display problem a favour, as you’ve got the shading to help with the eye-guideline thing. Looking at a full league table, if your team’s mid-table then it’s really hard to make sense of the uber-wide columns.

  5. Darryl — you’ll remember PES2011 of course, the last great Master League, inexplicably stripped out of the game almost immediately. The player dev in (next-gen) FIFA is like that. You really can guide players along pathways. I’d like position changing though. FIFA doesn’t have that from what I can see.

  6. Shed — I’m loving FIFA16 even more after this morning doing something I haven’t done for years with FIFA: I implemented a set of sliders. I’m still against all tinkering (I’d rather not play at all than be obsessively tinkering after every match). So I used the Operation Sports sliders, which are about as tried and tested as you can get. Too early to go mental with delight, but I am very, very, very pleasantly surprised at how they affect the game. Suddenly there’s a bit more individuality. Worth a look, and I say that as a determined anti-sliders player. I was tempted after randomly seeing an old comment on a FIFA forum to the effect of ‘if you think the vanilla game is good, try Operation Sports sliders’.

  7. n-G -Yes, I saw those too and have nicked the injury settings.

    Are you playing them on Pro level? I also see the match length is suggested at 10/15 minutes per half!

  8. Shed — Operation Sports is focused on creating realistic sports games experiences, so it does indeed suggest Legendary and 10/15 min halves.

    I’ve imported every setting on the slider side, but not those recommendations. I haven’t got time for 10/15 min halves, and Legendary is a step too far for me at the moment. I’ve kept it on Professional/5-minute halves.

    I did play a ‘calibration’ match England-Scotland on Legendary with 10 minute halves, just to get a feel for how the sliders change the game. Imagine my pleased chagrin when Sterling was no longer a nimble ninja.

    It’d be interesting if Abbeyhill could play the slider-adjusted game and tell us if it’s more like the slow, cumbersome, sim-like version he played in Beta last year.

    What I’m seeing is… well, have a look. Here’s a representative minute from my third Career Mode with the settings, when I was still bedding down:

    The AI’s terrible First Touch at 0:06 that gives me a throw-in.

    This match ended with possession % at 54/46 in my favour.

    Look at my now-lumbering CB, Johnson, at 0:12 with a similar poor touch (he was a silky-smooth PES2016-style CB before the slider changes. Now look at him!).

    The lofted pass with Ricketts at 0:22 is one I felt forced into, as the slider changes (in Marking particularly) makes passing it out of defence very tricky with the opposition pressing, as it should be. I’d already been caught out with interceptions. Hence this lofted pass to a man in true space, rather than pinballing it around the AI players in the arcade-style action that we’ve come to think is the norm.

    Note the general caution I show in the middle of the park. NO sprinting. I soon learned to take my finger off that button.

    See the failed turn-and-blind-pass at around 0:38. That’s a move that works most of the time on vanilla, even with these players. Not now. Very happy with that. PES2014 modelled line of sight very well too.

    the AI’s bad touch at 0:45 again. I like having this method of winning the ball back sometimes, rather than bearing down on the pressure button and/or sliding. (Speaking of which, I love how lightweight and barely effective the slide tackle is in FIFA16.)

    The clip finishes with a neat through-ball (which are also altered — many will overshoot now) that ends in a shot dragged wide. I’ve been training that striker, Armstrong, up on long shooting, so his close and medium range shooting remains at a low level.

    All in all, this is well worth trying, but I think you’ve got to give it a session at least, as it’ll feel very strange, especially with you having skipped PES2014. Maybe after changing the sliders have a ‘calibrator’ match on Legendary between two Premier or International sides first.

  9. n-G – Will do. Interesting vid. The AI plays like I do on manual passing!

    Did you keep it on semi-assisted passing and shooting?

    (Sorry to everyone not playing FIFA 16 for what must be a very dull thread of conversation!)

  10. Shed — In my Legendary calibration match I was beaten 2-0 by Scotland, who played like proper players. I miss the days of there being a lot of difference between the levels of players, and these sliders seem to offer a way to get that back.

    I stayed on semi-assisted passing and shooting. I think I’ve only got crossing and lob-passes on manual.

  11. And I was sceptical about turning teammate and AI runs down to 1, but I like the effect. The game no longer has end-to-end attack/counter-attack rhythm all the time. Those spells still happen. Just not all the time (PES2016 take note). The little bits of text next to each slider setting on the OS forum give the rationale behind each one.

  12. n-G – I’ll give it a try over the weekend. Looks very promising.

  13. NG – when I did play Fifa 16 I did play with those sliders from OS and you can’t fault the work done on them. I still have a YouTube video somewhere with those sliders. Will have to dig it out.

  14. Darryl — to be fair yourself and others have often mentioned sliders in general and Operation Sports’ ones in particular, but seeing/hearing about them is one thing, while actually playing the game with the controller in your hand is another (which is why all the vids we see at this time of year of the next crop of games are always so uninspiring).

  15. NG – I usually have pass and shooting on semi but just can’t stand crossing on manual as you have to face the box at exactly the right angle, which is totally unrealistic.

  16. NG – have you given the Broadcast angle a try this year as it is so much better than previous years.

  17. Darryl – I will be trying a few other camera angles. Funny, but I have never been totally happy with any camera angle since the PS2 days.

    I just caught up with the final episode of Upstart Crow tonight on iPlayer. I remarked off-handedly a few weeks ago that it’s Blackadder V in all but name. I was staggered to see an actual character from Blackadder II – a much-beloved character, played by the same actor – pop up and play a key role in the final episode. Now that’s what I call fan service. Both Upstart Crow and Blackadder II are set in the same timeframe – and in the same comic universe.

  18. n-G – Love Upstart Crow. One of the few comedies I won’t miss.

    On the sliders, they certainly provide an interesting alternative. Passing and movement is improved but I don’t think they work on Pro. The AI rarely gets a shot on target. I even managed a 0-0 away to Man Utd in the cup and should really have won.

    Now wondering whether to go back to my old settings, adjust these ones or jump up to World Class.

  19. Shed – after another session last night my ardour has cooled as well. i think the recommendation for 10/15-min halves and Legendary isn’t something to be overlooked. And I started seeing some preposterous first touches from both sides. Maybe if I had more time before September gets here (we’ll blink and it’ll be here) I’d be willing to give it the time it needs on Legendary, but I haven’t so I won’t. I was having a good time on vanilla settings and will be heading back there. No tinkering for me.

  20. I have been playing a lot of Gran Turismo of late and was googling around in a rare moment of serenity in our household. This table below gives a good example of how this generation of gaming has become the rip off generation. Just look at the new game coming out and how many/cars and tracks the game will have in comparison with it’s predecessors. I could do a whole list of games that have had missing modes and features since release on the next gen consoles. But time and time again we accept it.

    Gran Turismo Cars 140 Tracks 11
    Gran Turismo 2 650. 27
    Gran Turismo 3: 181 34
    Gran Turismo 4 722 51
    Gran Turismo 5 1,0861 733
    Gran Turismo 6 1,2262 1003
    Gran Turismo Sport (Nov 2016) 140 19

  21. I do often find the issue that shed highlights – the gulf between levels on both FIFA and pes. On pes I have only dropped from superstar as 2014 is so different to the norm, I’d expect to win at a canter in any other year on world class setting. My FIFA exploits have been fewer but I’ve struggled wth the gap between a hard grinding upper choice and a no shots against level below. I never even consider the highest setting for FIFA as it’s always seemed insane. The sliders have never equalised what has felt more of a scripting thing, the higher levels seeing much more of the slalom and straight from kick off nonsense.

    Reading the only Abercrombie I’d not read – best served cold – and getting a feeling for axes and poison I slipped the old skyrim disc in last night. Like a comfortable pair of shoes, a good two hours killing stuff. I’m thinking with the civil war underway it might be time to visit Riften, a place this character has never been. I don’t want to do all that…but I’d like mjoll by my side.

  22. Darryl – a very telling list indeed, and what bugs me the most is that the drastic dropoff of tracks and cars is actually counter to what we might intuitively assume would be the case. I.e. as multiplayer becomes more of a thing, you’d think there’d be more options and choices on offer.

    I don’t think it’s an accident that Master League started losing its features at the exact moment that Konami took PES in a multiplayer direction. Reduce options and funnel everyone into one big barn of microtransactions and bite-sized ‘fun’.

  23. Uncle Turf – surely now it’d be okay to hang on for Skyrim Special Edition? Werd is girding his loins (werding his loins) in anticipation.

    Re. FIFA and difficulties, it’s back to vanilla everything for me after an intriguing glimpse of what the sliders might be able to achieve, i.e. a football game experience that’s actually a bit too realistic for my taste.

    Most real-life football matches are fairly monotonous. Those 90-minute thrillers we all think of as the ideal football match are complete rarities. Monotony is the norm in real life. 95% of all professional football matches are 95% tedium and 5% interest. I refer you to the full minute-or-more that passes between the award of a free kick in shooting range, to the moment when the kick is actually taken, when the usual outcome is nothing at all happening. This is the kind of expectation/reward imbalance that real football is now infamous for – with me at least. No sporting occasion promises more but delivers less than a professional football match.

    Where was I, oh yes, back to vanilla FIFA16 settings for me.

  24. NG – I play legendary edition so for forty quid all I’d get is a hop onto the ps4 and some shiny graphics. It would be worth it if I didn’t have the dlc but as per darryls previous comment it seems like new games are being released with nowt excessive, presumably so they can hit you up for the 7.99 expansion pack.

    I read John motson’s euro verdict earlier – not a man I ever find myself agreeing with but for once we concurred. It’s been a tournament of great moments but not great matches. That feels like the norm for me with football. My boy has asked if I could take him to a match for his seventh birthday. A good age to experience it but I fear he will be bored stupid. I’m going to sit him down and make him watch the opening ten minutes of the euro final and if he is still tuned in after that then he might stand a chance. I’ll be amazed if he is once he realises it isn’t simply real life pes 2016.

  25. Uncle Turf – ah, I didn’t know you had all the expansions. I’ve been saying for years that I vastly prefer the triad of PES-FIFA-Football Manager to football itself. Say 90 minutes of real football has roughly 10 minutes of interesting content, spread thickly or thinly. That’s the 10 minutes we get to play in PES. And if you are awarded a free kick in shooting range, it doesn’t take two bloody minutes for everyone to settle down before you blast the ball into the wall or over.

  26. Turf – my lad was 8 when I took him to his first match, Bournemouth vs Sunderland. Like you I wondered if it would hold his attention, but he loved every minute. He recognised some of the players that had been to his school, and knew the names of others on both sides. The only downside was the chanting when Adam Johnson came on as a substitute, but thankfully he didn’t ask what any of the words meant.

  27. Turf – funny enough I was thinking this morning about the Wimbledon final and how I have yet to watch a match in full and it will be the same with the final as I will watch a bit, clean the rabbit out, watch a few more games, run the little one a bath and then see the end. The days of watching cricket all day long have well gone. I remember a friend telling me at the time Titanic was on in the pictures that him and his brother went to watch it. They got annoyed by two teenage girls who never stopped talking all the way through the movie. He could not believe it when they started blubbering at the end. I suppose that is what we have become now.

  28. Darryl – How could you have not watched Wales vs Belgium? I’ve got it on the Sky box to watch again.

  29. Also back to default setting on FIFA 16. This comedy moment by the AI left no doubt that messing too much with sliders produces as many issues as solutions…

    That was in a cup game vs Stoke which I went on to win 2-1 in what felt like a very hollow victory. The snowy pitch does my head in by the way but it’s nice to have some proper variable weather in a footy game.

  30. Agreed Darryl. They are banging on today about a huge day of sport – Wimbledon, British Grand Prix, euro final. I can’t imagine sitting down to watch all of any of them, it will be dipping in and out as the prospective entertainment rises.

    Chris99 – yeah, I was about 7 when I first went, Bolton w v Middlesbrough – a 0-0 borefest I was told. My next match was Sunderland v Liverpool – a 0-0….. I was maybe 10 before I actually saw a goal! However, going to the match with a grown up was excitement itself, if I pick the right one it may be perfect but I think we’ll avoid Newcastle-Leeds or boro-Sunderland, his vocabulary is not that rich yet.

  31. At least at Bournemouth we have two advantages.
    1) No one can really believe that Premiership teams are playing us, so every match is a fun day out.
    2) We’re geographically remote, and our nearest potential rivals direct all their bile towards Portsmouth.

  32. Chris – I was on about the tennis but thinking about it I haven’t watched any of the Euros in full either. The Wales v Belgium game was the most I have watched as I only missed ten minutes of the second half to walk down and collect the pizza that we had ordered.

    Turf – with so much sport on now it is impossible not to do butterfly viewing. Saying all that I have just cleaned the rabbit out and am ahead of schedule and may give the little one his bath now and watch the tennis in full. Although Tennis does have many dull parts as well and the sets only start to get interesting after the first six games. On a different topic I saw a picture of the female presenter of The One Show playing tennis without any underwear on, whilst I was in passing the newspapers. I have always been against the notion that female tennis players should get the same prize money as their male counterparts. I only say this because they play less sets but if they were to wear no underwear it would address the balance.

  33. Purely on a research basis I checked those pictures out. Not exactly Athena poster quality. Apparently she had a thong on too.

    Mens’ single tennis pretty much died when Borg and McEnroe retired. The last player I probably enjoyed was Becker. Nowadays the rackets are too big and made from the wrong material.

  34. Well I enjoyed the moth, and one or two moments in extra time, but once again the idea of the match and the occasion was greater than the actual event taking place. 51 matches in the tournament and perhaps 2 of them were what we fondly imagine they’re almost all going to be like before things get underway. You know what my solution is: blanket-enforce the existing rules that forbid all hands-on player-to-player contact of any kind whatsoever, wherever it occurs. Foul and a free kick/penalty every time, everywhere. Yellow and red cards for protests. Abandoned matches and severe fines. That’d quickly make the game football again.

    Shed – I saw a few similar moments on Slidered FIFA16, a few too many for me to want to give it the time needed. Back to vanilla for me. It’s only weeks to PES2017 and I want to have a buffer of a week or two before, so I’ve got about 6 weeks to play FIFA16 in.

  35. Yeah, the moths made that game last night. The one on blubbing Ronaldo’s face was excellent. Other than that, what a dreadful match. France were dreadful – Portugal resilient and nothing more.

    Back to mostly default FIFA 16 sliders last night (I kept the line height/width and have player runs as 40 plus injuries at 80 and 60) and it felt good.

    Ended a nasty little run of no goals in four with a 2-1 win at Blackpool which was clinched with a proper DMF long-ranger. In off the post too.

    Manual passing is making even Pro level proper tough but in a good way.

  36. I didn’t watch it, I haven’t been impressed with France, in any other year they wouldn’t have got their late goals and Portugal are a throwback to catenaccio. Without Wales and republic v Italy I’d struggle to point to anything that got me interested.

    I have hit the point in skyrim where I can’t advance the civil war without doing something I hoped to avoid till the end. Hmm, I think I’ll sort out some other stuff in the meantime. One noteworthy aspect of this character is how I’ve never developed any kind of relationship. I’ve had three sidekicks, one a mercenary I hired for a particularly tough dungeon (he died), one who was with me briefly then had to leave as a part of the story needed it and the other I got when I did a quest, he’s also worm food. I didn’t really care, not like the time I lost fair….oh it’s too painful even now…. So I’m wondering about marrying and getting a more permanent helper, I don’t want the two to be the same, so question is who, when I’ve been such a loner? Maybe I should try soulmates or get myself on love island or whatever it is that solstheim is…

  37. Professional football is too professional, that is the problem. Mutual nullification is the norm now. Both sides are allowed to get away with almost anything in the penalty box. Instead of stopping the corner coming in to break up melees, refs should let the corners come in and just give penalties. ‘Oh, but then you’d have to give all of them and it’d be ridiculous’ is a bullshit argument. 20 per match. 50 per match, if that’s what it takes. Yellow and red cards. Abandoned games and massive fines. 10 point deductions. Etc. We’d soon have a proper sport again. For various reasons, this will never happen and we will continue to have two-hour grinds like last night. Put your money now on Man Utd 0-0 Man City. PES and FIFA are whole magnitudes greater than the sport on which they’re based.

  38. Uncle Turf — your Skyrim life sounds like my real life.

    Shed — FIFA16 is as good as FIFA15. Both great games. But those peculiar goalless runs are a touch worrying. My slider experiment did give me a glimpse of Legendary, so maybe that’s where the AI aggression is.

  39. n-G: Sorry, I muddled that, by goalless run I meant MY goalless run. The AI was quite happily scoring in that spell.

    I am very aware that my often laughable attempts to keep possession with manual passing means they get more opportunity to score against my sorry lot than they perhaps otherwise would.

  40. Hang on nG. You’ve had three companions, two of whom have been murdered, and now you’re thinking of getting married?

  41. Turf, if you have the legendary edition on PC the upgrade to special(?) Is free on steam I think… 99% sure.

    I totally agree re the idea of football being better than the actual thing, I religiously watch match of the day and read BBC sport to keep up on the underlying story but don’t have any real inclination to watch it live on TV.

    I think the euros were hamstrung by the top 3 going through in 4 of the 6 groups, it lead to such negative football

  42. Pete – no, I’m a PS3 player. I love the idea of some of the mods but I just don’t enjoy those type of games on a laptop. Spreadsheety or click map type ones I like, civilisation and FM being great examples but anything with action has to be console.

    The game continues to amaze me with the ‘how the f*** did I miss this’ turns. A place I had been turned out to have a back door which led to an enormous series of chambers I never knew existed.

  43. Pete – I didn’t like the idea of three teams qualifying either. There is a danger that people can over play the achievements of the likes of Wales and Ireland as with 24 teams now in the tournament stage it means that you are going to see more of the lesser teams in there as the likes of Albania and Iceland would have stood no chance before. On top of that with the possibility that you can get through after coming third in the group,this means that these teams will be appearing in the knockout stages more often.

  44. Chris99 – I know, it’s eerie isn’t it?

    Uncle Turf/Pete – I’ve got the PC Legendary version of Skyrim that I played about 20 hours of a year ago and abandoned when the quest markers were bristling a bit too much. I’ve just checked and Special Edition is indeed a free upgrade for me. Whoo-hoo, I think. I’ll never get time to play it in OCTOBER, with my PES2017 ML probably well up and running by then and Civ VI coming out, but it’s one to put in the bank for next year maybe.

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