Wednesday, July 16, 2014
FIFA 15 Announced — New Direction Incoming, Trailer Released

FIFA 15 Announced — New Direction Incoming, Trailer Released

EA wants you to “feel the game”, said game being FIFA 15. Below, find a preview of the game courtesy IGN, giving more details on things to come.

Rather than a spurious marketing message, this latest slogan for the long running series is backed up by a clutch of additions and amendments concerned with enhancing the realism of the action on the pitch and improving the presentation elements off it.

Unlike FIFA 14, the PC version of the latest instalment will be on par with the PS4 and Xbox One versions, with all three harnessing the power of their respective platforms to deliver a 1080P, 60fps experience. As you’d expect, a number of the improvements that this extra power and memory affords are aesthetic.

Players have a more athletic build and hair physics(!), while pitch deformation tracks where they run, tackle and slide to provide an accurate representation of wear and tear on the turf – as well as showing the grass and mud stains on player kits that must be murder to get out in the wash. Collisions with corner flags, working LED hoardings, improved highlight reels and manic 10-player goal celebrations further enhance realism, while a reworking of crowd technology intensifies atmosphere and recreates the wall of sound experienced at the world’s biggest grounds.

Playing a couple of games between Real Madrid and Barcelona highlights how these small, incidental changes combine to make the game feel that bit more alive. However, all of these enhancements are cosmetic additions laid atop FIFA’s framework and there are other, more interesting concepts being added that affect moment to moment gameplay in a more meaningful way, as long-standing series producer, Nick Channon, highlights in a post-match interview.

“We’re leveraging the extra power and memory of Gen-4 machines [PS4, Xbox One, PC] for additional animations that allow us to do things that we’ve not been able to do in the past. We’re also using the extra power to aid with the complex processing of player emotion and the improvement of AI at a much deeper level.”


These two factors – player emotion and improved AI – combine in a number of ways. AI players now have different mood states that affect how they react after heavy tackles, missed shots or glaring errors of judgement. So, if it’s early on in match and you leather a shot over the bar instead of passing you might receive encouragement in the form of a brief cutaway to teammates applauding your attacking spirit.

However, try a similarly greedy play late in the game when you’re 1-0 down and have a player open in the box and those same teammates will be far less impressed and may be pictured giving you a verbal dressing down or a disgusted shake of the head. While this is restricted to animations and won’t affect how the AI actually plays it does highlight a more important but subtle improvement in the form of the AI’s understanding of context. This not only happens at match level but also in the grander scheme of how you’re doing in the league or cup competition.

This is feeds into other areas too, with each individual AI player having short, medium and long-term goals based on whether you’re winning or losing. Where the teammate AI is currently concerned with keeping possession, in FIFA 15 it will attempt to beat a defender or look for a telling pass and if you’re winning it’ll even hang back with the ball to snatch a few seconds through time-wasting.

Staple components like dribbling, tackling and ball physics have also been improved and benefit from genuine point-of-contact calculations that ensure the ball maintains its momentum and spin in all situations. New ball control methods, including head and chest knock-ons along with improved ball trapping takes account of the news physics simulations. This allows for new Possession Tackling, that’s inspired by EA’s continued research of the real world game that suggests that around 80% of successful tackles result in the tackling team gaining possession of the ball. This translates to decent defenders being able to slide in, win the ball, get to their feet and make a play in one fluid motion, rather than just knocking the ball out of play.

The new point-of-contact system, combined with an increased focus on player agility, is also allowing for one of those FIFA additions that you don’t realise has been missing until it’s put in front of you: players that heavily favour their right or left foot. Now, the likes of Messrs Messi and Bale won’t just look different when dribbling left-footed but will also feel slightly different as the ball responds to their touch.

What all means in practice is that the ball behaves more realistically and the AI does a better job of working with you as you attempt to rescue seemingly hopeless situations or defend a precious lead as the clock ticks down. After just a couple of games the improvements are quite evident; what’s less clear though is how many of these additions will be present in the FIFA 15 that launches on older platforms. With so many features seemingly going hand-in-hand with the additional power afforded by PC and the new consoles, how many of them can we expect to see on PS3, 360 and the like?

“Our priority is how we take advantage of Gen-4 in the time limit that we have,” explains Channon. “We don’t want to limit ourselves and say that just because we can’t do it on Gen-3 that we can’t or won’t do it on Gen-4, it’s about making the best game we can. However, while we’re not going into detail right now about exactly what is in each version, a number of the features we’ve talked about today are in both.”

Discussion about game modes, in particular the phenomenally successful FIFA Ultimate Team, is similarly off the table for now. However, the raft of improvements on show, along with a number of others, like being able to take control of a receiving player for a corner and call for the ball or wrong-foot an opponent with a fake-shot-to-pass, give us a great deal to consider and suggest that EA’s behemoth franchise is going from strength to strength by enhancing realism without overcomplicating matters for casual players. As Channon sums-up, “It’s all about making sure that we have a simulation of football but the game is still fun.” We’ll find out later this year if EA has succeeded and, crucially, how many of these improvements trickle down from the top.

About Ernice Gilbert

Ernice Gilbert here. Founder and Editor-In-Chief of Gamesthirst. Thanks for stopping by, make yourself at home!