After playing both demos and wavering for the first time in years – impressed by the fluidity of Pro Evolution Soccer’s attacking play, by the ability to press as a team and tussle realistically for the ball, and by the individual flair with which the game manages to endow its superstars – in the end FIFA 16 emerged last September as my console football title of choice. A few issues spoiled my experience with the PES 2016 demo – through-balls and crosses felt too slickly animated and too easy to perform, the game’s menus were cumbersome as ever, and the prospect of having to edit unlicensed teams and players seemed like a chore – but FIFA 16 won through as much for the sake of familiarity as anything, although I was enticed by the first appearance of women’s national sides.
FIFA 16 shares some of the flaws of its predecessors. The modern version of the game can sometimes get bogged down in the midfield at higher difficulties, players tumble over each other at inopportune moments, and there are set ways to score goals, with cutbacks and diagonal strikes proving as favourable as before. The dynamics of long passing still feel wayward, as it is almost impossible to loft a pass over the top of a defence without the ball kicking off the turf and running out of play. In this iteration, offsides are perhaps overly strict, and sometimes poorly implemented when it comes to determining interference. Sometimes the game seems to pull an offside player towards a ball fully intended for an onrushing attacker.
On the other hand FIFA 16 rewards patient short passing and a combative presence in the midfield, while crossing is more consistent than it has been, resulting in a fair amount of headed goals without being an essential or overlooked part of the game. Some especially silly flaws – like the tendency in FIFA 15 for short corners taken by the CPU to result in crosses wildly sliced into the stands behind the goal – have been eradicated. And with a little tweaking, FIFA 16 can play a wonderful game of football, bringing together realism with a genuine sense of thrill and fun.
The following gameplay sliders are the result of almost six months with the game, and have shifted through the course of several patches released by EA Sports. They draw upon the sliders I arrived at for FIFA 15, and I have also noted the suggestions made by Futhead and the community at Operation Sports, although my sliders differ considerably from both.
I play with full Manual controller settings, with Auto Switching Move Assistance set to None and Passing Power Assistance switched Off. Analog Sprint is switched On, and I use Tactical rather than Legacy Defending. I typically play a Half Length of 6 minutes, at World Class difficulty level, and at a Game Speed of Slow. I use the Tele camera, with a Camera Height of 8 and a Camera Zoom of 14. You can bump the difficulty up to Legendary for a more challenging game without spoiling the impact of the sliders.
FIFA 16 Gameplay Customisation Sliders
|User Gameplay Customisation||CPU Gameplay Customisation|
|Positioning: Run Frequency||55||55|
|Positioning: Line Height||55||55|
|Positioning: Line Length||60||60|
|Positioning: Line Width||60||60|
|Positioning: Fullback Positioning||52||52|
|First Touch Control Error||53||56|
The sliders are focused in three directions: reducing the stopping capacity of the game’s grossly overpowered goalkeepers, balancing the attacking abilities of the CPU with your limitations as a manual user, and spreading the players more fully across the extent of the pitch.
For both the user and the CPU, Goalkeeper Ability is reduced from 50 to 35, producing goalkeepers who occasionally fumble crosses, fail to reach shots, or get one hand to the ball only for it still to find the back of the net. The user’s Pass Error and First Touch Control Error levels are increased, but the CPU’s Pass Error and First Touch Control Error levels are increased by a greater margin, and there is also a substantial increase in the CPU’s Shot Error level. Without balancing the game here in favour of the user, the CPU tends to pass the ball around with the crisp precision of a peak Barcelona, showing effortless control, and possessing clinical finishing to boot. This is especially true should the CPU secure a one-goal advantage. From my perspective, finishing is the hardest task a manual user faces in the FIFA series, and altering the sliders in this way prevents you spurning two or three chances before being ruthlessly punished from a half chance by the CPU.
The alterations to the Positioning sliders make the midfield less compact, allowing wide players to stay wide and encouraging full-backs to overlap. They also crucially alter the height of the defence and the position of strikers in relation to the opposition back-line. Without the changes made to Positioning: Line Height and Positioning: Line Length, it can be hard to get the ball into the feet of your strikers, or to play meaningful through-balls in behind, and the game generally gets condensed into the middle of the pitch, with few opportunities either way. It is worth noting that with these settings in addition to the Always Overlap instruction within Team Management, you might find that your full-backs start wandering too far out of position
Otherwise Sprint Speed and Acceleration remain as standard, and both user and CPU share relatively minor tweaks to Shot Speed and Pass Speed. I haven’t tampered with the sliders for Injury Frequency and Injury Severity, but the truth is that I shy away from long-term injuries to my players. With the sliders unchanged, players will suffer niggling injuries during matches, which might rule them out of action for a matter of weeks. But they rarely suffer long-term injuries, and for realism in this regard, it is worth increasing the level of both the Injury Frequency and Injury Severity sliders from 50 to around 65.