Next-gen FIFA 14 - Change is Coming

With the furore of E3 2013 now starting to fade, the reality of what we saw has really began to sink in for me, especially the content related to the next-gen version of FIFA 14. I wrote this article, on the challenges EA face releasing FIFA 14 across two console generations side by side but after this week’s news, my worries have turned to resounding optimism.

Our first glimpse of next-gen FIFA 14 actually came at the Xbox Reveal a few weeks ago, but because details were sparse and EA openly admitted the assets weren’t “in-game” it was hard to digest as anything other than marketing rhetoric.

With this week’s next-gen screens, the first trailer and the live streams EA have been the polar opposite with their communications, almost fighting to convince people that these assets are pulled directly from gameplay, albeit not all shown from the gameplay camera. It’s always bemused me that EA don’t show us early footage of the game, as we see it day in day out from the tele camera because although the trailer looks flashy, you just can't get an idea of how things flow until you see them from a live gameplay perspective.

The argument that EA don't want to show open gameplay because of bugs and imbalance in early code doesn't hold much weight either, because in the E3 Live Stream they were prepared to show the Ignite engine zoomed in to the highest degree of detail, warts and all. If you're willing to let people dissect, on a frame by frame basis next-gen FIFA 14 that close up, why worry about the gameplay camera? All EA need to do is show an uninterrupted match from start to finish and the community would be in raptures, it's really that simple. 

Much of the next-gen FIFA 14 talk has been about the graphical enhancements but these alone don’t get me excited for next-gen and they never really have to be honest. What’s much more exciting for me are the noises EA have made, without really fleshing them out properly, around Artificial Intelligence. As someone who almost exclusively (aside from FUT) plays FIFA offline, the way I and many others experience FIFA could be about to take a much needed leap of faith.

The most exciting element is something EA have dubbed as “Pro Instincts” which injects all 22 players on the pitch with “human-like” awareness and the ability to instinctively react to the play happening around them. Drop out the buzz words and underneath you could have the answer to FIFA’s biggest offline issue, predictable CPU AI. FIFA 13’s CPU routines and behaviours are easily decipherable after mere hours of play time but with this system adding situational behaviour, in theory it should make every AI decision unique. The same way Precision Movement has dropped “canned” animations in favour of step by step analysis.

It’s of course speculation at this point but at least EA are focussing their attention on the areas that the community are demanding improvement from most. What’s absent from the Pro Instincts announcement is anything team based though, which is a worry. Whilst it’s pleasing that EA are pulling out all the stops in the pursuit of making players feel individual, their behaviour as an eleven man unit, is infinitely as important. If EA can make the same kind of impact with Pro Instincts that they have with Precision Movement, the variance we crave at team level should follow suit as a by-product of better individual player decisions but all the same, I’d still like EA to nail their colours to the mast on the topic of team styles once and for all.

There’s also a mundane side of playing FIFA which next-gen should remedy and it’s up there in importance with the likes of the fancy new graphics. Things like load times, which if you’ve ever played FIFA on PC you’ll know are almost instantaneous compared to consoles. No more laggy menu navigation, waiting to download squad files, all things which are somewhat unimportant, but waste valuable time that we could be spending on the pitch. The raw horsepower of next-gen consoles and their multi-tasking capabilities should eradicate these annoyances and the impact will be huge to everyday FIFA players, however unglamorous the actual changes are.

There is another thing which everyone seems to have forgotten amongst the next-gen console reveals and E3 madness, modes! We’ve heard nothing, aside from a few screens of a sexy new Career Mode UI, literally nothing on game modes. What will EA do with FUT, what Career Mode features will be added, how will FIFA Seasons evolve, will there be brand new modes all together? The next-gen version of FIFA 14 does need something extra special beyond graphics and AI to really sell it and I fancy the modes arena to be where that happens. Could EA evolve the World Tour and Expedition mode experiments from the Street and Euro games to soften the lacking Champions League licence perhaps? Will Lounge Mode come back as a fully-fledged online mode for you and your friends to create leagues and challenges? The possibilities are endless. 

I’ll be honest, I was very sceptical about a next-gen FIFA 14 which was releasing so close to its market dominant equivalent but now more than anything I’m just excited. Excited for what next-gen consoles can bring to FIFA. A breath of fresh air in to a genre which has stagnated somewhat over the last few years due to hardware slowly decaying alongside spiralling community expectations. Perhaps EA have wanted to improve FIFA’s AI for years, but just didn’t have the resources in our homes to do it with PS3 and Xbox 360? Now with the technical shackles off, and the resources that EA have at their disposal it’s frightening what they could do to football simulation as we know it over the next few years.

With new game engines and new hardware comes its own subset of problems of course and until we play final next-gen FIFA 14 code, how big that generational leap will be is unknown. But this year’s E3 has been one of dreams and forward thinking and as a community we need to follow suit by remaining as critical but constructive as ever. Change is coming whether we like it or not and if FIFA 14 on next-gen consoles ends up being the best game ever or the worst, it will be something different and boy am I ready for that. 

Comments

  • +1
    #16 futhead_pnuk23

    There are a few things I hope will be fixed. 1. THE GOALIES, GOALIES ARE VERY GOOD, HOW IS IT A SILVER PLAYER CAN SCORE A GOAL FROM 35 YARDS AWAY AGAINST NEUER. 2. I hope that teams that are very good and deserve to be 5 stars (e.g. Dortmund (only 4.5 stars and they almost won the champions league) and Arsenal (excellent overall team, most underrated team in England)) and some players get better ratings (e.g. Reus who is only 84, Alaba who is only 77, Neymar who is only 83, I swapped between ultimate team ratings and seasons ratings, sry, but it would give more spice to ultimate team if players' ratings changed in FUT as they do in Seasons) 3. Retard passing, it's been so often that I've been in the moment and I didn't even think, but I knew I wanted a pass so I just pressed x and I watched the ball go off into the distance, they have triangle be just to tap the ball in front of you to outrun defenders and x should be to ONLY pass it. 4. Idiotic team AI, yes the enemy AI is simple, but the team AI is not really adaptive, since the age old system only allows you control one player at a time, your team will run their routines, since you cannot make tactics in this game (my next point) you have to adapt to how your team plays (the best example of this is you cannot say where players should go during a throw, or another good one is that my defenders tend to automatically try and offside trap the opponents, even though I didn't tell them to). 4.1 Your players shouldn't ruin your plays (e.g. I pass the ball and a random player on my team runs in the way, and messes up my entire play) 5. Add a system where you can create tactics with your team, but your team is still adaptable, it should be more User Friendly than FM, if they don't want to do this this is a golden opportunity to make revolutionary AI, AI that adapts to how you play (if you haven't noticed I play football in a very peculiar manner, but my team went undefeated this past season)

  • +1
    #14 Josam27o7

    The guys here on the podcast said they played the 60% build. At E3 they have the 65% build. So they super-charged the game speed and player movements in that 5% advancement?

     

  • +2
    #15 Dave

    I doubt it very much, also remember that we played current-gen 60% where as the focus at E3 was on next-gen. Try not to get too hung up on build percentages because EA will be making hundreds of tweaks to the game on a daily basis right now, so there's a new "build" every hour at the studio. EA then wind down the number of changes as release gets closer.

    EA will already have something at the studio much further down the line than these builds for sure. 

  • +2
    #8 mfmaxpower

    I've been rather unimpressed with what we've seen from FIFA at E3. Though unlike many others elsewhere, I'm still optimistic regarding FIFA 14, but I just didn't see anything that impressed me.

    I really don't get why EA don't release some gameplay vids that highlight their big gameplay additions. Shaky cam vids show us nothing and lead to forums being flooded with comments like "looks the same." Show me some bloody vids of what Precision Movement looks like from the gameplay cam, as well as AI examples, etc.

    Also as an offline gamer, I agree about the AI, though good god Pro Instincts has the stink of marketing and I worry that it can only fail with such grand promises. "Human-like" awareness sounds WAY too good to be true. Again, show us examples dammit.

    It's really difficult to get an idea of what to expect at the moment since EA give us so little to go on, shaky cam vids show us little, and behind-closed-door impressions have been kinda all over the place - some say graphics are a huge upgrade, others say it's a minimal improvement; some say the leap between generations is substantial, others say it's disappointing. 

    Aside from gameplay examples, what I'm most excited to see now is what CM will be like. Unfortunately, from that (awesome) interview with Sebastian Enrique, it sounds like the two biggest changes to CM are the new transfer scouting system and UI changes, which really disappoints me if those are the biggest additions.

    Both would be good changes but more is needed, especially considering as a feature, a new transfer scouting system has nothing to do with managing your current squad, which should be the main focus of the mode. 

    Still, I think there's quite a lot to be excited about. It's going to be a huge year for football gaming, one way or another. Oh, and lets not forget that next year is a World Cup year... wonder what EA will do for that?

  • 0
    #3 prokillur

    So your entire basis for optimism for next-gen FIFA is a speculation that offline play might be improved by a feature we know hardly anything about? Talk about scraping the barrel.

    Everything we've seen of FIFA 14 at E3 has been an overwhelming disappointment to anyone even vaguely interested in a realistic football simulation, the core new features are barely noticeable and do not seem to have any kind of impact on the style of play based on the shaky cam videos we've seen. Even the official EA forums are almost entirely negative about what has been shown. I don't see any of this reflected in your article.

    The whole piece is basically scratching around for things that might be improved on next-gen consoles, because let's be honest the improvement in gameplay is so minimal you better damn hope there is something else to justify the hefty price tag.

    Next-gen FIFA 14: Change is coming. Except not really because most things are pretty much the same.

    Last edited by prokillur: 6/14/2013 3:08:26 PM
  • +3
    #4 Dave

    Sorry, did I miss the bit where you'd played next-gen FIFA 14? It just sounds like you have that's all. 

    Or did you just read the forums and take that opinion as gospel?

  • +1
    #5 kmfrob

    I take his point though... The footage (in as much info you can garner from such things) was a little underwhelming. Anyway the demo will be out before long so we can all make our mind up then!

     

  • +3
    #6 MrMThornton

    Those "shaky cam videos" you said you have seen are for current gen consoles - this is not what Dave was referring to in his review.

    prokillur - Have you actually seen videos of next gen gameplay from the "tele" camera angle? Thought not.

    Last edited by MrMThornton: 6/14/2013 4:12:07 PM
  • +2
    #7 MikeAstuto

    The official EA forums are always almost completely negative no matter what EA do with FIFA so wtf are you talking about? To say that FIFA 14 current-gen or next-gen isn't worlds better than FIFA 10 is bs. And the game sales reflect such. Is it a mindblowing difference? No, its not. But what yearly video game release does blow your mind every single year. There aren't any. If its been such an overwhelming dissapointment to you why don't you share a well thought out plan on how to help the development process instead of spewing some garbage how the gameplay improvment is so minimal we'd all better hope there is something else to justify the price tag. Oh and let me get your gamertag so I can own you in FIFA 14 when you inevitable purchase it because its the best football game on the market. 

  • +2
    #9 mfmaxpower

     

    Quote from prokillur »

    Everything we've seen of FIFA 14 at E3 has been an overwhelming disappointment to anyone even vaguely interested in a realistic football simulation, the core new features are barely noticeable and do not seem to have any kind of impact on the style of play based on the shaky cam videos we've seen. 

    When have shaky cam videos ever been a good representation of the game? 

    Every year it's exactly the same: people condemn the game based on these horrible vids only for EA to release a top quality football game.

    Last edited by mfmaxpower: 6/14/2013 5:30:42 PM
  • 0
    #10 prokillur

    The shaky cam videos convey enough about the game to conclude that the main back-of-the-box features for FIFA 14 are a complete disappointment, and totally at odds with the earlier playest impressions. The game speed is still clearly too fast, even taking into account the video compression and other considerations, the introduction of foot-planting apparently hasn't eradicated the hideous ice-skating movement, and the supposedly revolutionary new precision movement feature seems to have had zero impact on the way people play the game.

    In short, I don't think it could have been any more of a let down. Perhaps the guys here should just not bother doing playtest impressions any more because the same thing seems to happen every year.

    And every year it is exactly the same, yes, because every year the same fundamental flaws rear their ugly heads within a few seconds of gameplay footage. As in the Matrix, we've done this so many times now, and we've become exceedingly efficient at it. 

    Last edited by prokillur: 6/14/2013 7:18:35 PM
  • 0
    #11 prokillur

    Oh and I forgot to add, yes it's true we have not seen gameplay footage of NG FIFA 14, but we can infer certain things based on the fact that much of the supposed innovations for FIFA 14 are shared between both versions, so if "precision movement" is a washout on CG it's very likely going to be the same on NG. There is no reason to think that they will completely change their philosophy on the new consoles, especially given that it's very apparent EA are still catering to the KSIs and Wepeelers of the world.

  • +1
    #12 mfmaxpower

    Calling new features - of a game that is only 60 percent complete - complete disappointments and washouts based solely on poor quality video samples is premature. These types of videos never have been flattering to the game. And it completely disregards the fact that people who have had hands-on experiences with the build say these features do make substantial changes.

    Yeah, the new additions likely won't be as great as we'd like them to be - when are they ever? - but it's jumping the gun to condemn the game at this early stage. 

  • 0
    #13 prokillur

    I don't think it's premature at all. It's too late if anything! The "60% build" excuse gets trotted out every year. Sorry mate but you won't fool me with that one, I've been around too long.

    Also, by contrast, the same features in even the worst PES 2014 shaky cam vids are eminently noticeable and very clearly govern every aspect of gameplay. There is no room for ambiguity on the subject of player movement, players either move correctly or they don't. Both the shaky cam videos and the next-gen replays showed a game which still hasn't got the fundamentals anywhere near right.

    Last edited by prokillur: 6/14/2013 8:15:00 PM
  • +2
    #2 kmfrob

    I think given that the next-gen consoles won't be out until at least a couple of months after the release of FIFA14, I'd imagine EA will probably hold off on the wow inducing until next year when the console uptake is higher. Most FIFA fans will probably buy the game within the first 2 weeks of release, and other than the real hardcore who will buy both current and next-gen versions, I imagine next year will be when the crowds flock.

     

    Either way i hope this current gen versions aren't an afterthought for EA...

  • +1
    #1 Tom

    first.

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