While EA’s latest game garnered positive reviews post launch in Sep'18, it has turned out to be a disappointment five months down the line.

Short Gaming Reviews FIFA 19 is a big letdown with gameplay bugs rushed fixes
Atom Gaming Thursday, February 21, 2019 - 12:49

When EA launched FIFA 19 in Sep'18, as part of its regular yearly launch cycle, I was super-excited. FIFA 18, the previous title, was an incredible game with updated Journey mode and gameplay changes. 2018 being a world cup year, I was surprised and happy when EA gave away the world cup update free to all players. All previous world cup editions had been sold separately and so this was a welcome move. All this got me very optimistic about FIFA 19. In fact, this made me pre-order the ultimate edition for $99 (around Rs 7000) and after playing the game for five months since launch, I can definitely say this has been one of my worst FIFA experiences ever!

When the game was reviewed post launch in Sep'18, it had garnered positive reviews from almost all critics. But what mainstream critics fail to understand is that a game like FIFA 19 which has regular updates over time can't really be reviewed just after launch.

If you are familiar with FIFA series, you would know the game comprises of three main gameplay modes - The Journey, Career mode and Ultimate team. To be honest, most players buy the game to be part of the Ultimate team experience. EA knows this very well and moreover its shareholders as well highlighted this in the quarterly earnings report released on Feb 5. This is the main reason why Ultimate team mode has praise-worthy visual changes and the other two modes offer nothing different from the previous editions of the game.

Numerous gameplay bugs exist in the game since launch and even after its seventh update on Jan 22, EA is nowhere close to fixing them. One major addition to the gameplay this year was "Timed Finishing". This looked great in the demos and but players found quickly after launch that all you need to do is get into the edge of the penalty box and shoot at the top corner to guarantee a goal.

Auto defending is also a disaster in the game. If you defend with a CDM player rather than using a CB directly to stop the attacker, it is very unlikely you will concede. Players also found that controlling the keeper manually almost guarantees save and this is easy to master. But when the keeper is in auto mode, even highly rated keepers fail to stop relatively simple shots.  Goalkeeper performance in the penalties is also a disgrace.

Over the last few years, FIFA has been pushed as a major e-sports title. In fact, all major football clubs have their own e-sports team to compete in the official e-sport leagues (Sadly, India isn't part of this as Indian football leagues are yet to be added into the game). But FIFA isn't an e-sports ready game yet. It releases bug fixes almost every month and all these are major fixes that alter the gameplay to a large extent. I personally feel this is due to the rigorous yearly launch cycle and very limited development time.

Loot-boxes inside the ultimate team mode don't help the game either. In fact, countries are slowly beginning to realise how AAA companies are exploiting players with loot-boxes as its more of a gambling than skill-based reward. Belgium already banned FIFA points (in-game currency) this month on gambling grounds and by the look of things, more countries will follow soon.

FIFA 18 took major steps in making the game more of a simulation than arcade. Unfortunately, FIFA 19 is very bad right now and the game is neither a realistic simulation nor a fun arcade. At this point, I have no plans to buy the next title by end of this year. I guess it is time for me to go back to PES for some realistic in-game simulation even though the team names will read as Man Blue vs Man Red when I play the Manchester derby.

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