Month: February 2020

Thumping for joy

Fantastic to get to the Premier League and be welcomed by a gorgeous new colour scheme.The FIFA20(PC) gameplay continues to be some of the best I’ve ever known in a football game. Until I explicitly say otherwise, I am playing Vanilla gameplay. Same as on console. And with no slider adjustments.

I have got one mod in operation, a Broadcast camera mod. Arguably this is a gameplay mod, as it radically changes the field of view and the overall experience of how you play. But that’s not a game mechanic thing, it’s a subjective feel thing.

Still makes a great difference though, not least because every stadium can have its own unique look. E.g., I played at Molineux and found a wonderful low-slung angle that made the game feel alive and vibrant in a way it would not have with a standard video-game camera. So even though I’m not running a gameplay mod (for now), the camera mod is almost filling in for one.

I played in the pre-season tournament, got knocked out in the groups, but scored this 25-yarder that’s most notable for being the first longish range FIFA20 goal scored in the white kit:

I’ve been playing on Professional difficulty with Legacy defending until now. For my first match in the Premier League, away to Liverpool, I decided to sample what World Class difficulty played like.

This is what World Class played like:Okay. That’s good, actually. Life in the Premier League shouldn’t be easy. This is what I’ve got to look forward to on World Class!

For my second match in the Premier League, I returned to Professional difficulty. At home to Spurs. No problem, right? Blow on Spurs and they fall over, right?

Er…

WHAT. I double-checked the setting just to be sure. Professional it was. OK then. Right.

Next match, Wolves away, still on Professional.

I decided to switch to Tactical Defending.

This is FIFA’s own version of defending that all PESheads tend to turn off quickly. but after this one match, I think I’m a convert.

Not that it helped me here. I’ve got a video at the end of the post that shows some of the comical defending I was doing on Tactical. Here is the result of the match:You pissing wot, m8?

The possession stats alone here give away that I was using a new Defending control scheme.

3 matches played in the Premier League and I had received 3 proper thumpings, and had yet to score a goal.

My next match was away to lowly old Mansfield Town in the Carabao Cup. I wanted to persist with Tactical Defending, but I also wanted that little bit of extra space and time to get used to it.

So I switched to Semi-Pro difficulty. Away to Mansfield Town. Of League 1. In the Carabao Cup.

No problem.

At least I had many more shots, as would be expected, but none of them went in, or even very close. I had my keeper sent off early which didn’t help.

I am still treating this Leeds CM save as a warm-up for the ‘real thing’, but I am also getting identified with the players, inevitably, That’s just what happens. I currently plan to play another season or two with Leeds and really get acquainted with everything I need to know, before starting a League 2 Career Mode save, probably.

Whatever happens next, this is my longest spell on FIFA since FIFA15. I’m going to predict that it’ll turn out to be my longest spell on FIFA since the heady days of 08 and 09 – it might even outstrip them.

The move to the PC platform has gone much more smoothly than I expected. Modern-day Windows is a champ at entering and exiting Hibernate and Sleep modes without thinking about it for chess-grandmaster lengths of time, like Windows of yore used to. This means that it’s trivial to resume play from where I left off after having dinner or watching some TV, for example, or even left overnight. The wired PC gamepad has to be unplugged and plugged back in, but that’s the only wrinkle.

What of the PS4?

I have been a console football gamer for so long – 25 years – that I was expecting it to be a wrench to leave the console platform and change all the routines I have associated with it. I’ve been playing Death Stranding on my PS4 so it hasn’t exactly sat idle, but I don’t miss playing footy games on it at all.

Finally here are some clips from the thumpings pictured above – some comical defending and misses from me on show here. Also great play from the AI. Adama Traore ripped me a new one in the Wolves match. Tactical Defending errors really bring out the AI.

This is the Title

Season 1 of Career Mode in FIFA20 on PC has ended with a Championship title for Leeds. I played the entire season on Professional difficulty – FIFA’s middle difficulty – which was plenty challenging enough while I oriented myself to this new football gaming world.

Season 2 in the Premier League has already started as I type. Leeds was meant to be a test Career Mode. I picked them quite randomly. I think now that I will follow through and play at least a Season 2 with them before considering a lower-league start with another club. It’ll be nice to have a taste of the Premier League.

I completed the last leg of the Championship journey on vanilla gameplay in the end. The mods I had been using to this point were nuked last week by an official EA update.

Vanilla turned out to play similar enough to the modded gameplay to be more than acceptable as a stopgap. A hugely enjpoyable 6-match session saw us run out clear winners in the title race. The final table:

It went all the way to the final game, where I had to win or draw to ensure the title. Our goal difference was worse than Forest’s, who were then 3 points behind us. We won and they lost so it didn’t matter in the end.

Silverware!It really was touch and go. Professional has not been easy at all. Particularly during the bulk of the season whilst using modded gameplay.Thoughts about FIFA20? It’s got long-range goals and it’s got individuality and it’s got bags of atmosphere and class. I’m enjoying it more than I’ve enjoyed any football game since PES2019 last year. My current score for it would be an easy 9/10.

It’s a fantastic game of football that is missing just two things.

The most important thing is fouls. FIFA20 would be the actual perfect football game – a true ‘weapon to surpass Metal Gear’ – if it only had that extra layer to its game. I do get the odd match with ‘one or two fouls’, but the overhwelming majority of matches feature 0 (zero). As we all know, fouls and free kicks provide an important extra dimension that is needed at times, particularly in tight matches. There are modding options here that I am currently exploring.

The other thing FIFA20 is missing is less important, on the face of it, but still important to me – I mean the ability to have the player name displayed above the active player’s head.

Before you all write in to tell me that the option IS in the game – no, it is not in the game.

The option is there to have the name displayed for a fraction of a second before it fades out. I don’t want that. I want the name on for the whole time the player is active. Yes, just like in PES. (Sorry.)

Instead of telling, I’ll show you why this visual feature is important to me – and perhaps to you as well.

Look at the replay below. I’ve scored quite a few long-range goals in FIFA20 so far, all with the same player, Hernandez. Last night I got another long-range goal. Here it is:

Now, you probably noticed the name of the player during that replay, as I have cued you to notice it, but playing in real time, I didn’t notice the name of the player. And if you miss the fraction of a second when the player name is on display above his head, you have no idea who scored the goal until I tell you that it was Klich, another midfielder.

It’s a minor issue to be sure, and one that I am adjusting to – getting to know your players is part of it – but I would like to have the option in FIFA. Again, perhaps there are modding options here.

Neither of the above issues are threatening to spoil the party thus far.

Those who have been waiting with sardonic glee for me to up sticks and get back to PES might have to wait a good long while.

An assortment of goals and moments from my run-in, and also the scenes at the end of the season with the trophy presentation:

We interrupt this Broadcast

A slight bump today in the so-far smooth road of FIFA20(PC, modded). Nothing to do with the game as such – it’s the platform.

One of the inherent risks of using PC mods is that a title update from the developer can easily break those mods, leaving you stranded in place until an updated mod comes along.

The trick is to be quick enough to decline the developer-side update, so you can toddle merrily along as you have been doing, until the new mods are ready for you to use (if you even want to).

I wasn’t quick enough. Which is frustrating. I would have happily played my setup of a week ago indefinitely.

Normal business should be restored by Tuesday’s post, but for now I am stuck with vanilla or nothing.

I’ve got access to FIFA19 on PC, and all of that game’s entire year of updated mods… That one would be a long time setting up though, so I played a bit of vanilla FIFA20 using spare saves that I started (on vanilla) way back when.

One of the football gaming habits that is changing for me is my need to always play the same thing, all the time. Playing a few different modes, with different teams, is good. Again I would cite the democratising influence upon me of Football Manager 2019 (heading into Season 4 of my increasingly epic save there).

Vanilla FIFA20 is a still a good game – 8/10, easy. But my Leeds modded Career Mode is what I was playing and loving on a consistent 9/10 basis, and that is unavailable to me for now. And perhaps forever! The mod creator, Fifer, is currently producing a Version 2.0 of both the Career Mode mod and the gampelay mod that supported it. Everything is promised/threatened to be different. This makes me nervous. I can’t help wondering if I’ve unknowingly departed a Promised Land that I will not see again. But we shall see.

Here is a brief 45-second clip of me messing about and doing things in vanilla FIFA20. The goal at the end is a very unusual type – downward header into the turf that realistically bounces up and over a flailing keeper – that I don’t recall ever seeing in a footy game before. FIFA20 modded might be better than vanilla, but vanilla still has something special.

As can be seen, the Broadcast camera mod at least does still work, as it was unaffected by the EA update.

Above you first see me playing a group match as Spurs in the Champions League. If the camera angle I settle upon there seems strange and unnatural, let me assure you that you very quickly get used to having the ability to sling the camera that low and that far out, and the gameplay that results feels very special indeed.

Hopefully Tuesday will see a return to Hernandez & co. I am on the list of eagerly waiting subscribers for the mod.

The Sixth Sense

Today’s post is the 6th in a row on the topic of FIFA20 (on PC, and modded, but it’s still FIFA) and about how much I love it. Six posts and six ringing endorsements. 9-9-9-9-9-9 would be my scores within each post for FIFA20. I’d chuck a few 10s into the mix but they’d leave me nowhere else to go.

Traditionally by now in all my FIFA escapades in recent years, the cracks are starting to show. But I have to look very hard for cracks at the moment. There are a couple of things, I suppose. The woodwork is incredibly often the AI’s last line of defence – much more so than would reasonably be expected. And there’s the low fouls count.

But cracks that widen into chasms, with me standing on one side and FIFA on the other, and PES rising like a torrent in the middle to claim me back?

Not happening it seems. Not this year. Not this FIFA.I switched to the new formation seen above prior to a match away at Middlesbrough, which I expected to be tough and it was (1-1 it ended). While I’m playing on Professional I want to make the most of the chances created, hence the two strikers and the advanced position for Hernandez.

Interestingly, since this shakeup of the formation, Hernandez hasn’t even got close to a long-ranger. And it’s not for want of trying. I have experienced an agreeable feeling of session variance on FIFA20 in recent days. My most recent session of 6 matches featured zero long-rangers, and it felt as if the game was actively working to prevent me even attempting them. I welcome this, needless to say, as the value of long-rangers lies in relative scarcity.

The table with 5 matches of Season 1 left to play:Professional difficulty continues to give me really good games. The top sides of the division are tough as nails to play against. I mean the likes of Huddersfield and Blackburn and all the teams on my coattails.

How is Career Mode holding up? Very well indeed. I actually keep forgetting to do all the things in it that I can do if I want to – a good sign, really, as it shows that I’m allowed to just motor along from match to match (a la Master League) if that’s what I want to do. But there’s training, press conferences, scouting, Youths to regularly check in on, and a whole load of email chatter with disgruntled players and other interested parties. It feels like a living breathing world.

Sod it, I’m giving FIFA20 a fat 10/10 for this post. Not intended as a final score by any means. Just an indicator of the stylish, swashbuckling entry it has made into my footy gaming life.

Here are three little cliplets from my most recent session. No fantabulous goals in this one.

The 1st clip is what can happen at some stadia when the Broadcast mod settings need to be changed.

2nd clip is the only goal my long-range king, Hernandez, has scored in the last two sessions.

3rd clip is what can happen in FIFA20 when you get your button-timings all wrong. Yes, I know PES often punished it in the same kind of way – but not often enough for my refashioned tastes.

As I put this post to bed I am starting to poke around with the RDBM (Revolution Database Manager). It’s essentially a toolset that permits the modification of any value within the game – including referee strictness. This might be a more straightforward avenue to explore the fouls issue with than the more forbidding Frosty Editor. Expect thoughts on Friday.