FIFA World Cup 2014 - Wish List

Today our Wish List series moves on to Brazil, and the soon to be officially announced World Cup 2014 game which EA confirmed was in development some months ago. These are the things we'd like to see hopefully "in the box" this time around.

A Disk Release

FIFA has only ventured properly in to the DLC arena on one occasion and whilst Euro 2012 was perhaps a worthwhile experiment, it proved to be a rather disappointing one. The content was light, the gameplay was identical (albeit slower) and the implementation with the core FIFA 12 infrastructure caused issues a plenty. Even at the reduced £20 price point, people still viewed it as “too much” just as they did previously with disk releases.

It’s a case of be careful what you wish for really because we all (myself included) harped on about a downloadable Euro 2012 and how it could revolutionise FIFA as a constantly evolving product, but in that state it simply failed to deliver. That’s why my first wish for World Cup 2014 is for it to be a full price, disk based release. As World Cup 2010 and Euro 2008 proved, sometimes good things are worth paying for.  

- Put the game inside a box

World Cup Qualification

One of Euro 2012’s major bug-bears was the removal of the qualification phase. EA’s telemetry may have well shown that fewer people played qualification games in World Cup 2010 than expected, but the decision to cut it, removed part of what makes these tournaments special. It’s about the journey and being able to fire up Euro 2012 and drop any nation in to the final tournament just felt wrong. I’ve got no problem with people using that shortcut if they wish, but for everyone else it harmed the experience greatly.

Whether qualification was removed due to restrictions associated with Euro 2012 being DLC, or whether it was a conscious design decision I don’t know. But for a tournament as big, as exciting and as diverse as the World Cup, the qualification phase must come back for World Cup 2014 and offer an equally polished production as the tournament finals themselves in Brazil.

- World Cup Qualifications phases for all territories  

H2H Seasons - One Nation

World Cup 2010 gave birth to the “Seasons” concept which is now a staple of pretty much all major online game modes in FIFA. But if you’re new to the FIFA scene, you may not be aware of how watered down the experience has become since it transitioned to the main series.

For your 10 game season in World Cup 2010 you had to choose one nation to play those games with and you were locked to that choice until the season ended. What that added to Seasons was an element of tactics because you then had to manage player fatigue, injuries and suspensions, all of which were persistent across those 10 games. So when you got down to your final Seasons matches with a fatigued squad, needing 3 points for promotion you had a big choice to make. Do you rest players for the first game and then go all-out for the final Seasons match? Or, do you try to scrape a win with a tired set of players? What it added was another dimension, something else for us to think about and I was a massive fan of that original Seasons design.

With all the club teams FIFA now offers I can understand why EA no longer lock you in to a single choice for a 10 game stretch but with a smaller set of International teams, and national allegiance being a little more defined, I’d love to see the original FIFA Seasons concept back and better than ever for World Cup 2014.

- Single Nation play for the whole FIFA Season

- Form, fatigue, injuries and suspensions all to be managed during that season 

Expedition Mode

Euro 2012’s most interesting offering was without doubt Expedition Mode, which saw your team of nobodies embark on a tour of Europe, grabbing new players as you beat other nations along the way. The problem though was that it was based on a grind and luck model which offered little control over the way you upgraded your team. Having to beat each nation three times was bad enough, but then having a random player (who you probably didn’t want) thrust upon you only compounded the misery.

I wrote a big article for FSB on “How to make Expedition Mode great” over a year ago, so by all means have a look at that for more detail, but ultimately what I’d love is to see is Expedition Mode back for World Cup 2014 only with more choice, less grind and some of the team building essence EA have deployed so successfully in Ultimate Team.

It’s a wonderful concept, now we just need the implementation to match.

- Less mandatory Expedition Mode matches and simplified progression around the world map

- The ability to choose a position or role you want to fill before receiving a player from the beaten nation

Next-gen Atmosphere

The Ignite engine and next-gen consoles have finally enabled EA to upgrade FIFA’s cardboard cut-out crowds and the games atmosphere as a whole is now richer than it’s ever been before. But if you cast your mind back, you’ll remember that it was actually World Cup 2010 which started EA’s quest for proper 3D crowds, even if it was only cut scenes and close-ups at the time.

From its menu styling, to the wail of the vuvuzela World Cup 2010 was a complete and importantly consistent representation of South Africa and the grandeur of the World Cup. It’s therefore kind of exciting to think about what might be possible with the power of next-gen consoles combined with the samba surroundings of Brazil. If EA do want to rival the NBA 2K series in terms of visual opulence, they must continue to innovate their "Living Worlds" feature set and what better opportunity than a World Cup hosted in South America.

EA have clearly put a lot of focus on to recreating the real-world football experience as shown with their launch on next-gen consoles, and World Cup 2014 may just be the ideal proving ground for EA to showcase their latest and greatest crowd tech. I certainly hope that’s the case.

- 3D crowds which capture the atmosphere of the World Cup in Brazil

- Stadium exterior fly-overs for all World Cup stadia

FIFA 14.5 Gameplay

Along with “paying for two £40 FIFA’s in 6 months” the other main criticism thrown at World Cup games is that the gameplay is only FIFA XX.5, merely a patch, or tweak on a formula which is already known. But why is that such a problem?

World Cup 2010 or “FIFA 10.5” had loads of extra refinement, balance and some new, albeit minor gameplay additions and it’s quite widely regarded as one of the best FIFA gameplay experiences of the last ten years. Euro 2012 or “FIFA 12.5”, didn’t have any gameplay tweaks, ran on exactly the same engine and is regarded as one of the worst.

EA very rarely get the time to balance and refine gameplay to the extent they’d like because the focus post launch is always to fix bugs and above all, not break anything else. So they’re quite rightly cautious in their approach. But with a World Cup game they get the luxury of a few extra months to build on those laid foundations and crucially to make changes based on our feedback.

Just like a World Cup or European Championship these opportunities for FIFA only come around every two years, so probably my biggest wish for World Cup 2014 is that EA do expand on the gameplay to make it “FIFA 14.5” because not only will it undoubtedly offer a better on the pitch experience, it will act as the perfect springboard for FIFA 15.

- A host of gameplay balance and refinement tweaks

- A few brand new gameplay mechanics

What would you like to see from World Cup 2014? Share your thoughts in the comments.       

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