FIFA19 Begins

For my summer project I will try to play a FIFA and love it for the first time since FIFA15.

FIFA19 is this year’s attempt. Seeing on ‘the forums’ and on ‘the YouTube’ that it’s said to be one of the most disliked in the series only encourages me. Any football game disliked by the new generation of football gamers is likely to be… an actual football game.

My warmup matches went very well indeed. I played a Custom Tournament with England and won it – starting out on Professional, and going up to World Class from the semis on.

The game feels wonderful. It looks superb and handles beautifully. At times I catch myself thinking ‘now this is a proper football sim’. The way the action unfolds, the way the players move.

PES muscle memory is a problem. I keep wanting to play the PES way. Sometimes it works, but most often it doesn’t. When my PES-conditioned muscle memory recedes and I start to play the way this game wants, it’s amazing.

Early misgivings are the extreme no-fouls environment. I haven’t kept a formal count but I’d estimate the average at 0.33 per match. i.e. 1 every 3 matches on average. The reasons for no fouls in modern football games are well-known, and of course they’re best known of all to the people who make football games today. They know the reasons best of all. It’s quite amusing how Konami and EA have a shared priestly code of silence around the whole issue. You can’t shut them up – especially EA – about every other aspect of their games, but when it comes to fouls (a prominent feature of the sport, that has a massive impact on things)… nothing.

The other slight wrinkle in FIFA19 is the AI, which chooses its moments to come to life. In all my Professional warmup matches, it was completely passive and did the proverbial eff-all. So I moved up to World Class difficulty. Note that I play with the current set of Operation Sports sliders, all assists on, and with Legacy Defending.

A bit better, but not much. In a few matches, notably my Career Mode pre-season European Tournament with top-tier opposition, the AI was pretty good, sometimes great, delivering that deadly threat. I lost in the semi-final there.

But here are the post-match stats for my first Career Mode match, on World Class, remember:Just 2 shots from the AI, neither of them on target. At least I got a foul. I’ve played a couple more matches since this and things have been much the same. I’ve conceded 1 goal.

At the moment I’m too preoccupied with settling into the game and learning its intricacies to be much bothered about the AI’s passivity.Yes, I have started a Career Mode, as Coventry City, despite saying I wouldn’t. My name in this one is John Manager. I moved the club into the Championship during the setup process using the ‘Swap Clubs’ option at the bottom of the screen. You can swap places with any club in any division.

My first First XI and formation:Career Mode is of course far more advanced than Master League in terms of features and things to do. There’s a lot to take in here, to say the least. The TL;DR version of my transfer policy at the start of Season 1: a few loanees have come in, but I want to take half a season to get to know these players in the Championship before having a clear-out. (And if that strangely passive AI continues to be a thing, who knows, this lot might get me up.)In my early months on a football game I like to rate how the sessions have felt and give the game a provisional running score out of 10. My FIFA19 sessions have all been strong 9/10 and 8/10 sessions. All were ended reluctantly, because of time pressure from other things in life. This is the best sign of a good football game and a good experience to come.A brief set of FIFA19 highlights. Three misses, and three goals. The point of the misses at the start is to show how PES muscle memory has conditioned me to expect certain outcomes in certain situations. I applaud FIFA19’s strict stats-and-context-based shooting system, needless to say.

And then, when I finally started to get the hang of things, there some goals. Each one of which caused me to grin and do a fist-pump and say ‘jolly good’.

Updated: 11th June 2019 — 11:56


  1. Hang on. It’s just sunk in after reading a few articles just now – the ‘eFootball PES2020′ thing isn’t a temporary marketing thing. IT’S THE SERIES’ NEW NAME.

    What the actual. I don’t even. Etc.

    I remember the switch from ISS to PES. I didn’t like that either, but it was a relatively harmless one. This one is laden with baggage. Lots of baggage. Where do you even start with PES having ‘eFootball’ in its name.


    Have I got this wrong? See here and tell me I’m misreading that, or the writer’s got it wrong.

  2. Skittle – yes, as in bowled out, usually for a smaller than expected total. ‘We skittled the dog and duck out for 50 the other night, uncle turf got a fivefor’ (go on, ask about that term as well…)

    NG – no, not that exciting, although I was at an event today with some of the Leicester city guys. I’ll never go for a turf management job as the hours are stupid – sleeping at the stadium is not unlikely for many, I’d only really consider golf again as you can do the work during play, every other sport it has to be before/after the action which makes for family destroying start and end times. Consultancy, etc though I’d be keen on. I’m doing some data analysis stuff, basically cleaning up a load of data to put into mapping software that my mate the data manager is sending to his surveyors. It’s for a very large organisation but I’m arms length as a contractor so it won’t be too long term, just a dust off of my rusty quantitative analysis chops while I look at what to do next. (He says knowing that ten years hence I may still be analysing data…)

    eFootball is indeed ‘the new name for PES!!’ That e carries so much menace. I imagine I’ll be starting back on 2018 just as you drop your 35quid.

  3. Chris – The Aussie totals had been much higher previously but have been improving all the time now with my bowling, so have got them for a couple of lower scores. Depends on the wicket though as Australia in the second innings of that game are currently 230-7 as the bowl has stopped swinging, so deploying different plans. If it does get a bit low scoring it doesn’t concern me as there are so many sliders and difficulty modifications for both bowling and batting. There are even Umpire sliders.

  4. nG – Yes. Re the rebranding, are they admitting that the game is no longer evolving? Can’t believe they made a new noun by sticking a lower case e at the beginning of a word and followed it with a capital letter. That kind of marketing was passe 15 years ago.

  5. I assume you’ve already registered Hosted by eNotGregZ

  6. abbeyhill – when you did your 2017 default road to glory, did you find the first year ridiculously hard? I’m in France 2 which I think was of a similar level to wherever you were? – also France 2, Serie B? In 9 games I’ve scored 4 goals, won one match (in the cup) and although I’ve kept it down to 0-1s recently I’ve never looked like even drawing. I wouldn’t keep any of the defaults on this showing, they are simply too slow to react to the extreme physicality of this edition.

  7. Uncle Turf – good luck with the job, mostly working from home I take it, so not too bad. Don’t let them get you in an office. I like and respect most of my office ‘family’, but sometimes I could happily take a flamethrower to them. I got that joke from Jo Brand.

    Chris99 — efootball PES 2020 is the series’ new name. Not only is the ‘eFootball’ eGregious, but they’re doubling down on the space between ‘PES’ and the year, which I have never acknowledged. I see that the only surviving PES forum has named its discussion thread ‘eFootball PES 2020’.

    On the upside the feeds of the single-player game from E3 last night were encouraging.

  8. Played another batch of games on FIFA last night and I’m somewhat concerned. Just 1 goal against me in 8 games is a stat I should be proud of, but it worries me that the AI appears so toothless at the moment. Manchester City and Tottenham were amongst the opponents – the latter scoring the only goal thanks to Son. The other stats saw an average of just over 6 shots against me and 1 foul per game. This simply isn’t good enough imho. Maybe bumping the difficulty up from World Class to Legendary might help?

    Things were compounded when I decided to take PES out for a run afterwards. I had left it near the end of a season, so figured I’d just play those games out. Five hours later I convinced myself that it really was the last match before bedtime.

    I’ve not given up on FIFA. I really want to like it more. I’m trying. Here’s hoping Legendary will make a difference.

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