Month: June 2019

Down to nerf

I have got to May in Season 1 of Career Mode, and am just a couple of matches from the end.

There won’t be a Season 2 – but this doesn’t mean what regular readers might think it means.

I’m ditching Career Mode in order to play FIFA19, not to bury it.

I just haven’t got time for the long grind of Career Mode. I am hungry to play FIFA19 with better players now, not in a few weeks (or months).

This maiden season was useful in so many ways. I wanted to see what Career Mode was like, and I have seen what it’s like. It is wonderful! Great transfer system (I love the restrictions on it via the Scouting system). Good training. Good development and Youth systems. Overall, a superb, slick environment that does credit to its designers.

But I can’t play through this summer (what there is of it) doing the whole ‘Master League-style progression’ thing, with poor players, slowly inching my way up the ladder. If I stuck to that, I would get to August, and the PES2020 demo, and have my head turned (and my head would be turned) –and then drop FIFA19 without ever really experiencing it. This scenario does not appeal to me.

I want to play FIFA19 with great players, now. The ‘Billionaire Takeover’ option in Career Mode is one I have considered, and might return to.

I will conclude this season of Career Mode, and then probably take to League Mode or even Ultimate Team (offline of course), purely to get a taster of what this game is like with top players.

Barcelona in La Liga? Tottenham in the Premier? Or a custom team of aces in Ultimate Team?

The grind of Career Mode is not for me, right now. I have no need of it. There is no itch left for it to scratch. 15 seasons of Master League was quite enough of that sort of thing for one footy game year.

The search for a camera in FIFA19 has led me back to the vanilla camera. Good width, good depth. I’m sticking with it.I love the gameplay, with reservations. The most serious one is the lack of fouls and free kicks. Every so often there’s a match with one or two fouls, but the majority of the time it’s one match after another with literally zero fouls.

The other issue, which is a work in progress, is long-range shooting. Nerfed or what!

When you play lots of football games a lot of the time, you get a good sense of when a game is doing the whole ‘scoreline management’ thing. You know when it is managing the flow of the game in certain conditions, and the outcome of certain things.

The nerf of long-range shooting in FIFA19 is palpable. I hit the post and crossbar FOUR times from range in one match recently. Ooh! Aaah! Exciting! Just imagine all the gasps and roars that such thrilling near-misses produce in multiplayer – while keeping the scorelines reasonable and competitive, of course.

Needless to say, one of the main interests I have in moving to another mode and playing with better players, is seeing whether I can start to knock the 30+ yarders in. I have enough muscle memory and understanding of how FIFA19 works now. PES2019 certainly nerfs long-range shooting too (for the same nefarious online-balancing reasons), but I did get a few in that game. I hope for the same in FIFA19.

Room 101b

Pre-match at a misty London Stadium. It was the last 16 of the FA Cup, and we faced West Ham. This one ended 0-0 (as a lot of FIFA19 matches tend to do), so it was all back to a replay at mine – Molton Road – a week later. On that occasion we were defeated 3-4 on penalties. Dammit. I had my eye on a trophy in Season 1, but now I suppose we can concentrate on the league.In the league, we’re well into March now. Yes, Career Mode is getting at least one complete season for the first time since FIFA15. Which already makes FIFA19 a hit, even if all ends now.

There’ll be no promotion in this maiden season, though. Here is the table after 36 matches:

The nearest playoff spot is 12 points away – Wolves on 58 points, just out of shot.

If this was PES I’d still think myself in with a chance of catching them. But FIFA table scripting is not as generous as in the other game, plus my form simply isn’t good enough, as the stats show. Only 25 goals scored says all that has to be said.

I do struggle to score goals in FIFA. It’s partly the hangover of PES muscle memory. In FIFA19 you just cannot move the ball upfield as quickly as in PES, or at least not often. I still find myself trying to bomb forward too much of the time, and losing the ball.

I’m also suffering because FIFA19 is designed to favour the methodical passing game that pulls teams apart, creates space, and aims to set forwards free in the area for close- and medium-range finishes. 21st Century Football 101.

I play that way too, most of the time, but give me a sight of goal from distance, and I’ll ignore every single one of my players lurking in the box, and I will joyfully let fly.

Long-range goals are my not-guilty pleasure in all football games. While nearly everyone else is trying to tippy-tappy the ball across the goal line from two inches out, I’m blasting away from 35 yards in an increasingly forlorn quest to see the ball fly into the net. FIFA19 is currently not the most long-range-friendly football game I have ever played, but I keep trying them.

I have got just one in recent sessions, and here it is – at around 25 yards it’s only just about a long-ranger, but it’s all I have so I’ll take it. The final (thumbnailed) angle gives the most delicious sight of the ball curving into the postage stamp corner of the net.

The tika taka of FIFA feet

And FIFA19, perhaps surprisingly to some (including me), is still continuing…

This is despite me now having a perfectly good installation of a modded PES2019 on PC.

I have not been tempted to play it, or to go back to my 15-season Master League team on the PS4. This FIFA is holding up.

Career Mode is as great as they say. I understand that many on the FIFA side feel the mode has stagnated recently, but to me, coming from the ML side of things, it feels like a dizzying new playground.I have reached mid-season. I don’t think I have got this far on a FIFA since FIFA15.

I’ve dropped the Broadcast camera for now. It is gorgeous but I find it restricts my view of the pitch too much, which is costly in a number of ways.

I’ve settled on the Co-op camera and really like it. This is what it looks like in-game:Many a footy gamer would find this too far out. You do lose the luxurious feeling of the PS4 graphics, but everything is a trade-off. FIFA19 is a game I do need to learn how to play, not simply look at and admire. The danger of playing FIFA after so much PES is that I assume I should automatically be able to pick up and play it. Not so.

I got tired of giving the ball away all the time on Broadcast. When most of your players are out of sight and you have to rely on the radar… I was often recovering the ball and trying to play upfield, only to pass straight back to the AI. Which would then embark on a bout of uninterruptible tika-taka. It got frustrating. So Broadcast had to go. Now I can see where I’m passing.

I brought in three players on a Free. Brockie up front, Figuera at DMF, and Chancellor at CB.

I’m still getting to grips with FIFA19’s complex transfer system, which makes PES’s transfer system look like a pen-and-paper job by comparison. It’s deep. I’m still bungling lots of negotiations by trying to do them blind. I’m liking it. I’ve heard of the various workarounds involving third-party websites that contain all the information I haven’t Scouted – but I’m not (currently) interested in using them. There are still over 11 weeks to go to PES2020, and time for me to really sink my teeth into this football game.

Finally a short video with two goals – one of which I forgot to capture until it was almost too late. That was scored by my new New Zealand striker, Brockie, on his debut. The other goal (up first on the clip) is a rare example of me stitching a flowing move together. And finally in the clip, an amusing instance of Stoke – Stoke – playing in a one-touch fast tika-taka style that was SUPPOSED not to be a thing in FIFA19. Of course, this being a football game, every AI team has the capacity to play like this, and they do.

It wouldn’t be summer without a FIFA wobble

And… FIFA19 is continuing. Readers familiar with my summertime attempts to play FIFA who picked ‘less than 1 week’ in the sweep have lost their money.

Here is the current table in my Career Mode:That’s after 24 matches. Still just about in touch with the playoff places. I didn’t drop down to Professional difficulty in the end. FIFA19’s timid AI cannot threaten on anything lower than World Class.

The mid-season transfer window is just around the corner. I have NO incoming transfers lined up. In FIFA there’s a very strict scouting-and-negotiation mechanic that is considerably more advanced than Master League’s equivalent. In Master League, if I want to get a defender, say, I’ll pop the list open, pick one I like the look of (all stats immediately visible) and more often than not, finances willing, I’ll get him.

In FIFA19 it’s a huge faff just to see the stats and how much they’re getting paid a week. January 1st is about a week away in-game. I desperately need players better than the League 1 standard I currently have. And there are none lined up! I keep bungling the negotiations by offering too little (usually because I have no idea how much to offer, having done zero scouting beforehand).

I have the money. It’s a question of figuring out the Career Mode transfer mechanics. The largest component is simply patience. There are no quick signings, or so few that you can’t rely on them. It’s a bit of a shock after Master League’s straightforwardness in this regard – and I am loving it.

FIFA19’s weak spot is definitely the single-player AI. It really is too passive. It can come to life and terrorise you, in the way a certain ‘AI That We Need’ can in another game, but those periods of play are rare enough.

In other news… well, regular readers who picked 1-2 weeks in the ‘how long will he give FIFA this year’ sweep will be cheered up by this news:

I have taken the plunge with PES2019 on the PC. It dipped below £10 on the Steam key sites recently, and this weekend with a day off I just went ahead and got it.

Installing all the patches was a huge headache. Don’t worry, I got the latest PTE patch – picture just for illustration.

At this time of year many of the links haven’t been tended to for a while. Lots of dead ends were pursued. It took me most of a full day just to track down the files. Hours of clicking links, negotiating my way through captchas (does the square that shows the slightest edge of a traffic light casing count?), waiting for downloads, unpacking files, carefully lowering them into place… It’s not something I greatly appreciate, coming from the console side of things.

But in the end, it was worth it. I now have a fully functioning, fully patched PES2019 on PC, with the mods I want. Only two for now. Broadcast camera with no zoom, and a lovely game speed mod that makes it play at a wonderful pace.

Here is a short video showing the outcome. I haven’t installed any other mods as yet. The Broadcast camera mod comes in at around 1:00. The thumbnail shows it off well enough.

This is nice and all – but will I play it? What effect will this have on FIFA19? Time will tell. As of last night I was still on FIFA19 and not feeling any great urge to head back to PES either on console or PC. But it’s only been just over a week now.