FIFA 14 Career Mode Preview

After a surprise early look at FIFA 14’s Career Mode redesign back in May, things then went awfully quiet on EA’s management simulation mode. So it was with great excitement that we headed to EA Guildford to spend the day with this year’s Career Mode offering.

Console – Xbox 360 | Build – Preview | Team Used – Man Utd

Info – Not all leagues were included in this build.

Career Mode User Interface

When EA released the first screens of Career Modes swish new look, the response from the community was one of unanimous joy. Compared to the tired greyscale of the last three years, the lighter, metro style UI was a breath of fresh air. I’m pleased to inform you then, that it navigates just as nicely as it looks.

Those of you that are familiar with FUT 13 will know all about EA’s new tiled structure but due to the plethora of options in Career Mode, it shines best here. There are just five main navigation bar items, Central, Squad, Transfers, Office and Season and under these headings everything you need to access is just a flick of the analogue stick away. Compared to the sub-menu, upon sub-menu, upon sub-menu that we’re used to in FIFA 13, the Career Mode redesign is pretty spectacular.

One area in particular that has benefited from the redesign is the email notification screen. As it’s affectively the heartbeat of the mode for your club, lasts year’s repetitive open/close routine irritated constantly. Now though, the left side of the screen shows your emails and the right is a reading pane. You just scroll downwards and the emails open and display automatically. You can delete unwanted spam and archive off important information too.           

Everything is just that little bit easier to do now and with the game no longer persistently interrupting your “Advance” through the weeks with trivial information, your unimportant emails simply queue up ready for you to peruse at your leisure. Simplicity is bliss.

Career Mode Options

Not much has changed with regards to FIFA 14 Career Mode’s pre-launch options, Manager and Player options are still there, transfer leniency and Europe First Season too. But a feature much requested by the community has been added “Disable First Summer Transfer Window”. For the hard-core Career Mode fans this is a huge addition because you can finally maintain the integrity of real world squads up until the January transfer window.

Obviously for the purposes of our preview we wanted to explore transfers straight away, but come September, we’ll be using this option for sure.

Global Transfer Network

By far FIFA 14 Career Mode’s biggest change is the introduction of the Global Transfer Network and EA’s blanket masking of the player OVR value (unless at your club) from the mode. The crutch that we all used to use to pluck the best young players is now gone, finally forcing research and scouting in to the Career Mode landscape.

With your three already hired scouts, you then setup your Scout Instructions of which you have six slots to customise. First you choose the position, then the age range and finally the number of years left on their contract (between 0-5). Once the basic requirements are set, you then choose up to six traits which best describe the type of player you want - box to box, dribbler, playmaker, etc. Your scouts will then use this data to begin searching the countries you’ve assigned them to.

I found that I needed to be a little bit careful when picking the traits though because the more options you pick the narrower your market becomes. Missing out on a great young player because the years left on their contract didn't match my criteria was something I really wanted to avoid, but with six Scout Instruction slots, you can afford to mix the specific with the more general. Finally being able to find players with just a year left on their contract is a godsend as well. 

The best thing about this system is that all scouts will search based on all the scout instructions you’ve setup and you can update them on the fly. So if you don’t find any players that meet your criteria in any given country, you simply adjust the instructions and the scouts will look again when you next advance the game. You can recall and relocate your scouts too, so it’s very easy to move them on should they end up in a scouting dead end.

What you’ll then get is some feedback. On the Career Mode Central page a tile is dedicated to the Global Transfer Network. As you advance, this tile updates in real time as new players are scouted. You then remove any players you’re not interested in or choose to do an in-depth scout on the ones you are. This is where the removal of the OVR is key, because until you scout a player you can’t see any of their stats, it’s a complete mystery.

Even the transfer value is hidden at this stage so you’ll either need to scout or enquire about the player, before making an offer. Of course you could choose to take a wild stab in the dark if you wish, but even the Chief Exec Comments on the transfer offer screen won’t help you unless you’ve done some form of groundwork first.

If you don’t want to use scouting the old Player Search option still exists as well, but all stat based search options have been removed. When you do search for players you only see their age now, nothing else. It’s a step change for Career Mode which has been so reliant on the OVR for decision making in the past, but it’s a welcome one and the mode has become much more interesting and engaging because of it.

Youth Academy

When EA announced the new Global Transfer Network, a lot of people asked how it would affect the Youth Scouting system. The good news is that youth scouting is still there and it’s still a separate entity. You can have three individual youth scouts just like before and the monthly reports come through in addition to anything the Global Transfer Network provides.

The big change to youth scouting is that it now costs you money from your transfer budget each time you do it, approximately 200k for three months. Previously of course, you could just spam the youth scouting system, hoovering up the best talent at will. But if you’re at a club with a small budget, you’ll now have to think more carefully about how and when you build your youth academy.

I also noticed a much larger proportion of youth players being snapped up by other clubs too. So if you are going to use youth scouting this year, you’re going to have to be more decisive as well. This means youth scouting is going to be more hit and miss overall but that’s a good thing as far as I’m concerned. Now when you do find a hidden gem, it’s going to feel special.

Transfers

On to transfers which now have a dedicated hub from the main Career Mode navigation bar. Many of the options within the Transfer Offer screens are the same as in FIFA 13 but one welcome new addition has made its way in - “Reject all offers/disallow future offers”. Choosing this means no more repeated offers will come in for players who you are not prepared to sell at any price. A simple addition, but yet another huge annoyance from FIFA 13 eradicated.

The transfer hub itself with the new UI is great for showing all the latest rumours and right at the start of Career Mode a number of real world transfers, Tevez to Juve, Cavani to PSG, etc are all listed as big stories. It’s an appreciated nod to the real world game and it gives those opening days of Career Mode a welcome dose of realism.

What we saw of transfers in general was much more stable in terms of the flow of big moves and all the major deals we did see were within the right price brackets and with the right clubs. A few examples we saw were Diego to Liverpool (14mil), Rooney to Real Madrid (38mil), Fabregas to Man Utd (36mil) and Ozil to Man City (43mil).

Player Growth

One of the major criticisms from Career Mode in FIFA 13 centred on player growth. Old players deteriorated far too quickly and too many average young players became world beaters, seeing huge gains in just a small number of matches. We got as far as the end of the January Transfer Window in our Career Mode Preview at which point we reviewed the player growth of our Man Utd squad.

Rio Ferdinand, Ryan Giggs and Patrice Evra our older players had all dropped by just -1 OVR. Danny Welbeck, Wilfred Zaha and Tom Cleverly were all up +1 OVR and the biggest jump we saw was a +2 for Adnan Janujaz. As you can see the gains and losses appear to be much more subtle in FIFA 14's Career Mode, although we’d obviously need to spend more time to see how this works out long term. All the same, it’s an encouraging sign.

Audio

EA made huge strides in the audio department in FIFA 13’s Career Mode and all the score updates, results rundowns and injury updates are back again. What EA have done with FIFA 14 Career Mode, especially in-game, is add yet another layer of depth to the discussions between Smith and Tyler.

In FIFA 13 the commentary team would regularly talk about recent games you’d won or lost, but it was very generic and because of that it always felt like smoke and mirrors. Now though, Smith and Tyler will reference results and events directly like “a great 3-1 win against Swansea last week” for example. And in the next game when I played Chelsea they talked at length about how Juan Mata had recently put in a transfer request and was looking to leave. At which point I leapt in to the transfer market, only to find he’d signed with Barcelona.

Another neat commentary tie-in came up with Leighton Baines (a 9mil signing) who’d been receiving a lot of praise in the press for his performances since joining Man Utd. When we came up against Fulham in November, Baines strode forward and powered a left foot drive in to the bottom right corner, to which Tyler mused “and that is a great goal from Leighton Baines, who is in wonderful form this season”.

It’s all subtle, but it’s incredibly immersive and FIFA 14's Career Mode is jam packed with these wonderful little audio snippets which we hope will reverberate around any club you decide to manage this year.

Conclusion

After last year’s sweeping changes, FIFA 14’s Career Mode is perhaps somewhat modest in its improvements this time around. But, it’s incredibly important not to underplay things like the user interface revamp which is a whole lot more than just cosmetic. Career Mode flows now like never before and instead of being constantly interrupted by bad design, I was able to just sit back and soak up all the stories and decisions the mode threw at me.

People have wanted a proper scouting system for years and the Global Transfer Network is certainly the answer. It also finally bridges the boredom gap between transfer windows because you actually have something to analyse and pursue in these previously dull game weeks. And because player ratings and form are forever changing, your scouts will always come up with one or two new players for you to assess. The one thing that’s missing is the ability to setup pre-transfer window agreements, which feels like a huge missed opportunity.

Many of Career Mode’s underlying fundamentals like player growth, fatigue, transfer realism and player stories have all been refined and now combine to make probably the most realistic version of the mode we’ve ever seen. These evolved elements and EA’s brave move to mask the OVR have edged Career Mode ever closer to the hardened management simulation we all want to see it become. There’s still a hint of fantasy in there as well, but it’s bound closely by EA’s new found management principles.

I had an absolute blast in the six or so hours I spent with Career Mode and even though it's list of marketing tagline features is relatively short, under the hood much has changed. This feels like a version of Career Mode, designed for Career mode fans and because of that, and EA's continued pursuit of management realism, I can't wait to start for real in September.

If you have any questions, hit the comments. 

Comments

  • +1
    #65 futhead_hitmanhinton

    Does anyone know if when you sign someone on a pre-contract whether it takes away some of next seasons wage budget?

  • +1
    #66 niknak777

    it takes it from your current wage budget

  • +2
    #64 Herdsy

    The worst thing about career mode in my opinion, is at the start of a new season you don't get access to transfer funds you gain through the previous season.. It's frustrating especially when i want to sign Ronaldo or messi for example..

    I was Liverpool, at the end of my 4th season I had $170 million, started season 5 and was put back to $120 million... I couldn't ask for the $50 million back from the board, because it was too extravagant? The game and clubs wealth should update depending on how you go in the season!

  • +4
    #62 futhead_HaysamBRAZIL

    CAN YOU CHANGE YOUR SPONSOR AND KIT AFTER EVERY SEASON SO IT DOSENT LOOK QUITE BORING ALL OF THE TIME WEARING THE SAME KIT AGAIN AND AGAIN

  • +3
    #61 futhead_Korovilas

    If young players grow less, then it would be difficult to get teams promoted and compete in the higher divisions, should I even bother doing a rtg with Bristol Rovers?

  • +2
    #57 ZFarfan

    I doubt you will answer me but It sounds like it will be a pain if a kid that has a lot of promise only grows 2 or 3 a year, for example Hazard/Neymar and young players have 85 plus already how can we get a player like that if hes only growing +2 a season.? this will only make weaker teams weaker and stronger teams stronger.

    Also I hate the fact that my defenders act like complete idiots when defending, and that all teams play like barcelona, cmon now! i hope they change that. and also I can even shoot from outside of the box because they always, ALWAYS block. its absurd. I will be playing this for XBOX ONE so I hope things are different for it. Over all it looks like a nice upgrade from 13. would be cool if we could change players positions or add positions to their existing one.

     
  • +9
    #56 coys55

    I had a few questions/opinions about new features or 'should be' new features in career mode:

    1) Can you get players on a pre-contract agreement? I know you said you cant do transfers outside the window, but that is generally a rare occurence in real life aswell. However, what does often happen is that players who only have several months remaining on their contract are sign a contract with another club for the end of the season so that they move on a free once their current deal has expired. It was sofrustrating having to still pay a fee for a player with only 6 months remaining on his deal else risk him signing a new contract later on.

    2) Can free transfers finally be made outside the transfer window? It is such an obvious feature to add as its really one of the only advantages of a free transfer and it would surely only take EA a number of hours max to add. I don't know about the technological side of making a game but surely something like that is simpler than changing the layout every game, yet much more useful and  wanted by gamers?

    3) Is there now a separate loan window?

    4) Have they finally added a long overdue training mode to career? Like the one you can access in the arena? It is so frustrating having to plan custom set-pieces with different players to those in your career mode, as you may want a certain player to make a certain run but hes not on the same team by default as on career mode. A training mode could not only add another layer of enjoyment to career but also improve the tactical aspect of the game. Skill games could also play a part in career mode and thus, in player growth. For example, after completing all 3 passing skill games with Dembele (yes, I'm a spurs fan :D) he gains a +1 in his passing stat. This would add more reason to use the training mode and skill games while also adding yet more realism to the game. I mean, do players really only grow in talent in real life from playing matches?! No! Almost all players actually make improvements to their game by training. Look at Bale for instance. If he hadn't put in all those hours (and then extra hours) training, instead just playing matches for Spurs, he would almost certainly still be the flop he started as for Spurs. The same flop who was offered along with £15m for Stewart Downing. STEWART DOWNING. Imagine if that had happened? Instead he trained long and hard and is now on the verge on a world record move to one of the biggest clubs in the world in Real Madrid. Obviously, the training mode in career could not allow huge stat boosts, as otherwise gamers could simply play hours of it before their first game and have a super-team. However, if they were to cap the number of skill games allowed to be played in a week or the amount of time allowed to be spent training, aswell as placing a cap on the amount a certain stat can rise in a month or a season, then this training system could be realistic and effective without being a simple road to turning average/good players into world class ones.For example, a gamer may spend the majority of their training time on Danny Welbeck (while playing as United) leading to a large increase in his stats over the season. However, this would leave him with little time to spend on other players, meaning they do not rise as much, if, in some cases, at all. However,if, even though this gamer spent a large amount of time using Welbeck, he did poorly at the skill games/training activities, the Welbeck would not neccesserily rise much at all. Team exercises, such as games or 2 on 2s could also be done to improve chemistry, tactical awareness and player overalls, while tactics and playing styles is yet another subject that could be worked on.

       This, in my opinion, has been missing from Fifa for years. I even seem to remember there being a mode such as this back on PES 2005! So why it has taken EA so long is beyond me. It is a mode I have been hoping to see announced each year the career mode details have been released, so, as you can probably tell from how much I just spoke of it, I really want to see it introduced! If it was all Fifa really introduced as a main feature this year or whenever it may be, I would still be happy as I feel it would be so revolutionary to career and not only change the way it's played, but actually give gamers something else to do (not transfer related) between games outside of the transfer window, while also making the game more realistic.

    5) Can we finally say more or even something of actually revelance during a pre match press-conference? At the choice between a number of quotes, rather than just 'Player-Praise' or 'Manager-Unnerve'. I mean does it even do anything?! It's just pointless...Also can we have a similar system for post match interviews? Rather than just seeing a news story writing that I apparently said 'A draw was the fair result' when I had 16 shots and they had 1!!!

    6) Can the AI actually offer US players and cash deals, rather than it being only us who can. Also, can counter offers be made in which a player is asked for, e.g. I am offered £10m for Baines from Arsenal, but I counter offer by asking for £2m and Oxlade-Chamberlain.

    7) Can we actually interact more with players and the board, e.g. more email on progress being made/current performance levels and if a player has asked to leave you can try to persuade them through talking to them. Also, when a player asks to play in the next game you can actually give them an answer. I hate playing a silent character (in terms of you cant even choose what option to say)

    8) One of my biggest frustrations with Fifa. Can we actually NEGOTIATE a contract with a player? This doesn't mean simply having the choice whether to offer them one or not but actually being able to negotiate over their wages. We can do it for transfer fees so why not for wages? Even if I offer a player who, wants £60k a week, £59k a week, he won't take it. Even if I then offer 20% bonuses, still no. This makes no sense. Now, I may not be an agent or a football manager, but Im pretty sure that not every single player in the history of football has successfully negotiated every single contract to get exactly what they wanted the second they began negotiations! You should be able to have prolonged negotiations over wages with players to bring down their first demand. EA could also add more incentives you can add to their contract, e.g. 20k bonus if they score 15 goals in the season.

    9) More tactics, or at least make them seem more relevant. It is a football MANAGEMENT mode after all. Also certain tactics should be stronger versus other, e.g. playing a counterattacking style works well against a team who plays a high defensive line.

    10) Last of all, please EA, please please PLEASE, make sure there are no bugs in career for once. Or (if that's too hard for you...) at least no significant game damaging ones. 3 of the last 4 Fifa's have had career mode ending bugs and that is just not acceptable. Do EA even check the game before sending it out?! What is even less acceptable though is their complete disregard to these bugs. Several months earlier this year, I encountered a bug which prevents me from starting my second season as Spurs manager causing my console to freeze every time I try to do so. Not only is there no way around this (trust me, I've tried, alot), not only did EA not reply to the many messages I sent them and not only does it still not work several months later, but, worst of all, they have STILL not fixed it as I encountered it only a week ago on another career of mine, rendering all time I spent on it useless. It is just unacceptable.

     

    It is a shame as career is a game mode with such potential. It could be great. All it needs is for EA to invest some serious time into it, rather than spending as little as possible and just 'refining' it, and to listen to their many fans. Hopefully, soon it will realise its potential. Maybe the Next-Gen consoles will help, but hopefully, until then, EA can sort out and erase the many bugs that plague career. This, at least, will be a step foward...

     

    Blimey, I can rant...

     

  • +1
    #60 ChilledGamerLad

    brilliant :)

  • +2
    #63 futhead_edvard41298

    I also think that they almost HAVE to introduce some kind of reserve team or youth team that actually Plays games, so that players that may not exactly be ready or good enough for first-team experience still can play game and gain match Fitness. it can't be THAT hard to add in, can it?

  • +1
    #53 QuotedTurnip

    A few questions spring to mind (some of which won't immediately be answerable):

    1. Do individual clubs have their own way of playing now, e.g. Aston Villa play reasonably direct but at a high tempo, Swansea a short passing style from the goalkeeper out, etc.? Obviously this is a more fundamental question to almost every mode of FIFA itself where the lack of AI team-specific individuality could often make prolonged sessions on Career Mode feel like pitting yourself against the same side with differently coloured shirts, almost regardless of their overall strength; ramping up the difficulty isn't a solution in itself to this problem.

    2. Related to #1, is there a greater emphasis on the AI switching tactics depending on the context of the game, e.g. needing to nick an away goal on the counter in a cup game to go through on aggregate or sitting on a one-goal advantage to take the sting out of the game? I think this goes beyond the occasional substitution of a striker on for a defensive player.

    3. Sort of related to #1, do teams actually change formation over the span of CM now? I know you could argue certain clubs like Man Utd have a 'playing philosophy' but even under Ferguson, they didn't play 4-4-2 in every game, particularly in the latter years of his tenure. You could get 10 seasons into a save in FIFA 13 and see sides still playing with the exact same shape.

    4. Has the bug been sorted where games could be rearranged to have you playing two on consecutive days?

    5. Is it possible to loan players in/out outside the seasonal transfer windows as it is in certain periods in real life?

    6. Is there much difference now with where you send your scouts for youth players in terms of number of players found and ability? Obviously, a good player could be from anywhere in the world but I would posit that there are more coming through the ranks in Spain than, say, Algeria. I found little difference in 13 between the more established high ranking nations with extensive real-life youth systems and the ones a little bereft of investment. I accept that there is a limit in how this can be portrayed in any FIFA game (as well as to keep it fun).

    7. Is it possible now to set youth players' squad roles when you sign them on professional terms from the academy? I'd often have some of them moaning about not being in the first team only several games after signing at 16, which doesn't seem too realistic, even for the most talented of any such crop.

    8. Are there likely to be (m)any more international teams in FIFA 14? Playing as a nation in the CONCACAF or Asia regions often exposed the lack of depth in areas outside of Europe and South America. With the end of the season marking the next World Cup, is there any hope of having some more included?

     

  • +3
    #51 mfmaxpower

    Well I'm sorta pleased and sorta disappointed. 

    Pleased because the new scouting system sounds intriguing, the new interface will be welcome, and the adjustments to player growth will hopefully make things a little more realistic. 

    Disappointed though that little has been done to give more depth to squad management and the job that managers mainly do - managing their squad, preparing for matches, tactics, chemistry, etc.

    It's best described by your own quote: "It also finally bridges the boredom gap between transfer windows because you actually have something to analyse and pursue in these previously dull game weeks."

    This boredom shouldn't be filled by scouting new players but focusing on the present, the current squad, the next match, etc. Basically what you're saying is that instead, they've bridged the gap between transfer windows by making scouting/player acquisition a focus of the game not only during the transfer window but throughout the season.

    The new scouting network sounds like a great addition, but it's unfortunate that player acquisition is being given such a huge role when there's so much more that ought to be included first that focuses on your current squad and adding variety to actually playing matches over the long seasons.

  • +2
    #52 Placebo_PRS

    I'm with you 100% Max, very disappointed, just hope this is CG only and NG has the real CM improvements!

  • +2
    #54 mfmaxpower

    Yeah, I'm pumped for FIFA NG (though I'm a sucker and will still end up getting FIFA 14 CG too) and if it's got any CM improvements that'd just be icing on the cake. I think it's a long shot though...

  • +1
    #55 Placebo_PRS

    Well I have season ticket so I'll play the early release for a few days, won't be buying it though absolutely refuse to buy it twice!

  • +2
    #58 Henners

    I very much doubt that there will be any significant differences between CG and NG in Fifa 14. Maybe 15 or 16 but definitely not 14.

  • +1
    #59 Placebo_PRS

    Yeah I agree, sadly :(

  • +2
    #50 thanvar

    I have a bunch of important questions that you should know the answer to if you spent 6 whole hours with the CM of FIFA 14:

    *What about pre-match press talks (praises/unnerves) like in FIFA 13? Are there still in the game? Any changes there?

    *If a player is dissatisfied with something can you interact with him?

    *What about the youth players? Can you change (or even add) their position of choice? Do they get a generated face where the photo should be or are they still empty-faced?

    *When you scout for players in the GSN can you choose the preferred foot or even the height of the player you want?

    Thank you in advance! :)

  • +3
    #49 futhead_Griffo1412

    Will the hidden overall thing not be kind of redundant because of sites like sofifa?

  • +1
    #48 Markus

    Can I play my season to the end before I change to a new club?
    It was very annoying to change the club before the season is over..

  • +1
    #44 Jesus2r

    I have a question, Is it only Scout Reports players who do not show their OVR?

    Last edited by Jesus2r: 8/26/2013 8:41:43 PM
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