Football gaming in a slow-motion Apocalypse like this one is a bit different, isn’t it?
It’s a bit more difficult to get into the zone of immersion required. Oh, you do get there, eventually, into that zone where you’re deep into the game, fully involved and avid for more – but then you remember that the Apocalypse is happening, and think, ah. Yes. Shit.
Maybe part of the strangeness is that there’s no real-life football to provide counterpoint to our virtual action.
So FIFA (or PES, or Football Manager, or any of the surprisingly many skeevy Steam knockoffs thereof) are likely to be our only new football content for some months until normality resumes. Which will be sometime in September if we’re lucky, it seems.
I’m aware of all the reruns of old football that are available from various sources. Nah. I’ll watch the odd highlight from yesteryear, but it’s more a light snack than the main course of new, weekly football.
It does strangely turn out to be the case that football gaming without real-life football is oddly robbed of a little bit of its authority. It’s probably similar to the summertime slump that we all experience in football gaming habits. Perhaps the summertime slump isn’t just about fatigue at the end of a long footy gaming year. It’s also to do with having no real-life counterpart to provide context and contrast.
I’ve played two more great sessions of FIFA20 since last time with huge enjoyment. I’ve won about the same amount of games as I’ve drawn and lost. Something like W4 D3 L4.
And after a very long time, it feels like, I have scored another goal with Hernandez worth posting. I could put together an impressive highlights reel of goals scored by this player alone.
This match was against Manchester United, at home. I took the lead with this goal but the opposition were just too strong. They stormed back to beat me 3-1. This goal beat De Gea but nothing else did.
FIFA20 in general gameplay terms is still, incredibly, holding steady at a constant 9/10 per session. It really is a phenomenon.
Granted I’m on the PC platform with plenty of lovely mods, so it’s not quite the same game as the out of the box version. But having played quite a bit of vanilla whilst waiting for mod updates at various times, it’s not so different that it’s completely different, if you know what I mean. In short: it’s good in its own right.
Deulofeu is continuing to be a great goal-scroer. None of his goals are special in and of themselves but his goal-scoring is absolutely vital. Up to 9 goals in 13 games now, which is a rate of return that almost certainly guarantees no relegation battle for me this season. I’m still hovering mid-table.
A little moan about FIFA20 right now would have to be about its most transparent method of scoreline management: hitting the post or bar. Woodwork is hit noticeably more often than you would reasonably expect.
Every football gamer is familiar with matches where you know pretty much straightaway that you’re not going to be allowed to score, or win.
In one match that I already felt instinctively I wasn’t going to be allowed to score a goal in, I hit the right post, the left post, and the bar at different points of the match. And finished without scoring at all. Two of those chances were certain goals, they had seemed.
If this kind of occurrence was a rarity then it wouldn’t be worth mentioning. hat’s football, etc. But FIFA20 does it too regularly for it to be anything other than this game’s method of scoreline management, i.e. preventing the human player from scoring too many or winning too many at different times, based on their overall status and progress in the game.
Every football game does this. And it has to do this – if I was the designer, I would do the same.
‘OK, people, if the player starts scoring more than a certain average, then we need to give him a game or two where he can’t score much, or at all. Can’t have anyone romping to the title in their first season after promotion. Come up with an algorithm that determines it relative to team strength, have him hit the post or bar or just miss completely, and put it in there.’
They had a conversation like that at EA and at Konami probably more than 20 years ago. We’ve experienced iterations on that algorithm in every single game since.