How FIFA’s Gameplay Has Regressed Over The Past Few Years
EA’s current vision for FIFA’s gameplay appears to be geared towards an overcomplication of the game’s META – and this overcomplication has resulted in a below-par gameplay experience for both competitive and casual FIFA players.
You see, every year, EA makes an effort to “improve” FIFA’s gameplay, but that effort, to a large extent, has proven to be smoke-and-mirrors, as the gameplay has consistently regressed over the past few iterations of the game, to a point where expert use of the game’s most basic mechanics don’t constitute the META anymore.
Back in FIFA 18, the META was centered around some of the game’s most fundamental mechanics which were left stick dribbling, driven passes, manually triggered runs and the driven shot.
While the driven shot and driven passes were pretty overpowered, they facilitated crisp and fluid gameplay for players across all skill levels. Both casual and competitive players were able to create incredible attacking combinations all thanks to the way the FIFA 18 META was set up.
But objectively, things changed for the worse in FIFA 19, as EA sought to overcomplicate the META by doing six things;
- Altering the controls for the driven shot
- Making the driven shot less effective
- Introducing timed finishing
- Introducing goalkeeper movement
- Increasing the AI’s influence over your defence
- Reducing the effectiveness of left stick dribbling
The combination of these six things created a brand new META that relied almost exclusively on the use of advanced gameplay mechanics giving the game a very “arcadey” vibe.
Matches had an extremely robotic feel to them. There was a dearth of players who opted to inject creativity in their play as the vast majority of FIFA players simply utilized the META, which involved using timed finishing, El Tornados, La Croquetas and moving your goalkeeper.
There was tons of negative feedback from the FIFA community because of the state of FIFA 19s gameplay – hence, considering the furor centered around the gameplay, it was expected that EA would revert to the old gameplay set-up, where the game’s most basic mechanics constituted the META, but unfortunately that was not the case.
On one hand, EA heard the FIFA community’s cries and proceeded to nerf all the new complex mechanics they had introduced, but on the other hand, they made a few changes that made the game just as flawed as FIFA 19
Here’s a quick run-down of some of those changes;
- They Increased the effectiveness of “skill chaining” (which involves using multiple skill moves in a row).
- They increased the AIs involvement in the game by making press-based tactics such as team press and overload ball side ridiculously overpowered.
- They slowed down the general pace of the game.
The gameplay changes that occurred in FIFA 19 and FIFA 20 pretty much sucked all the creativity out of the game as there was little point in attempting to craft well-orchestrated attacking sequences.
The gameplay had been slowed down to a point where crafting well thought-out attacks had become relatively unviable – and amid this slow gameplay, the META became centered around chaining multiple skill moves in a row and retaining possession of the ball for long periods of time.
From FIFA 18 to FIFA 20, FIFA’s gameplay had evidently evolved backwards, and that backwards evolution continued into the current iteration of the game, FIFA 21.
As things stand, FIFA 21 is a “frankenstein” of FIFA 19 and 20.
It’s a slow and sloppy football simulation that revolves around spamming skill moves, retaining possession of the ball and utilizing press-based tactics.
There is barely any creativity or fluidity involved in attacking build-up play because there’s very little emphasis on the game’s basic mechanics.
Going into FIFA 22, EA needs to speed up the general pace of play.
And beyond that, they need to make the game’s fundamental mechanics matter again.
Basic gameplay mechanics such as passing, shooting and left-stick dribbling should be buffed to the point where you can dominate games by solely relying on them – without having to utilize spammy skill moves or hold on to possession of the ball for long periods.
Realistically, this would be the best way to reintroduce the concept of creativity to FIFA, however, it remains to be seen whether EA will go down this route, or whether they will continue to overcomplicate the game.