Technology

First look: The Champions League and new gameplay in FIFA 19

The most popular football game around is back and now has official European club competitions.

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The new football season is fast approaching and for gamers that also means the next instalment in the hugely popular Fifa series is on the way too.

For Fifa 19 the game has made some major additions, none bigger than the introduction of fully licensed European club competitions the Champions League and Europa League to the game for the first time.

This is combined with the customary refining of on-field gameplay to try and create enough of an improvement of last year’s game to entice players to buy again.

So is Fifa 19 a worthy investment?

European football

(EA Sports)
(EA Sports)

In a major signing for the series, Fifa 19 has landed the licensing rights to the Champions League and Europa League for the first time, the two tournaments having been until now part of rival series Pro Evolution Soccer.

The move to Fifa, as you might imagine, comes with all the trimmings – the stadium decoration, the official shirt sleeve badges and of course the famous anthem.

The full pre-match pomp and ceremony is in place too, including the team walk out and centre circle decoration that comes with every European game.

Fifa has also added new commentators for European games in the form of Derek Rae and Lee Dixon, making Champions and Europa League games stand out in an audio sense as well.

Crucially, the two new tournaments have also been well woven into the Fifa ecosystem, so not only will players be able either as a standalone tournament, but both are incorporated into Career mode and story mode The Journey, adding an extra layer of authenticity to those areas of the game as well.

Gameplay

(EA Sports)
(EA Sports)

Developer EA Sports say the mantra for Fifa 19 is “control the pitch”. To do this, they’ve introduced new aspects to gameplay to help make matches flow more realistically, as well as hand players more control over how they move themselves and the ball.

The first of these is the new active touch system, which is changing how players move their bodies in order to receive the ball. It means gamers will see more of players altering their body shape to take a pass in their stride and stretching for the ball for example.

The system will also give players more control over what they do with the ball when it’s at a player’s feet – including the ability to take disguised first touches in order to fool defenders and buy extra time and space, as well as flick the ball up from a ground position in order execute volleys.

In a similar vein, a new timed finishing tool is also being introduced for players who want to take greater control of their scoring opportunities. Players can now double tap the shoot button to trigger a new timing mechanic, which once active gives players a small window to try and perfectly time their shot. The tool is optional, but timing a strike well greatly increases the probability of scoring, making the risk worth it in tight situations.

50-50 tackles have also been improved according to EA Sports, which says no longer will players automatically duck out of challenges in some situations. In general, players will go for the ball a lot more, they said.

(EA Sports)
(EA Sports)

Tactically, the game is also taking a big step forward this year as well. Players will now have the ability to more deeply edit the tactics of their team before a game starts, setting up multiple plans and editing the team’s mentality.

For example, players can preset when they would like their team to press high when not in possession, as well as several different formations they would like the option to switch to in-game if needed. The result is the ability to more fluidly change a style of play to suit the game situation.

Fifa 19 is out on September 28.

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