With such a short development cycle, there are always going to be questions about just how different the new FIFA is from the last version. That’s where we come in. Here are the headline changes that have been introduced in this new game, so you can decide whether you should buy FIFA 19.
FIFA 19 Changes:
- Champions League and Europa League licences:
This is a big one for fans of Career and Kick Off modes. FIFA 19 now has both the Champions League and Europa League licences. Which means you can take the realism of your games to the next level and boot the “Champions Cup” and “Euro League” into the long grass. Matches played in each competition come with a full TV package and things like themed advertising hoardings. This isn’t going to do much for pure gameplay, but in terms of immersion and cosmetic fun-factor it’s a welcome addition.
- House Rules:
It’s not quite the indoor five-a-side mode that’d been mooted online, but House Rules mode brings something genuinely new and exciting to FIFA. A few years ago you used to be able to play training matches with no fouls in the arena, and House Rules is a bit like that.
This new mode lets you add or remove rules from basic Kick Off matches. For instance, you can turn off fouls and have a right old village green slugfest, make it so only goals from distance count, or mirror the schoolyard favourite of Headers and Volleys, where you can only – as the name suggests – score with your noggin or without letting the ball bounce.
Survival mode is a fun addition too. In this mode a player leaves the field every time you score, and once one team is all off the pitch they win. It looks set to be a couch-play favourite.
- Kick Off stat tracking:
Perhaps less exciting that the last two changes, Kick Off stat tracking lets you keep a record of your wins, draws, and losses across multiple play sessions. You can also sync it to your Online ID and keep adding to it if you log in somewhere else. Pure bragging rights, and a minimal change, but a nice touch nonetheless.
- Active Touch system:
Now onto the gameplay changes in FIFA 19. EA Sports say that the new Active Touch system “fundamentally changes the way you recieve and strike the ball”, allowing for “closer control”, “improved fluidity”, “creativity”, and “increased player personality”.
Basically, this is an update to the ball physics that make it behave more like an actual inflated rubber sphere than previous FIFAs. In game, the ball definitely feels greasier than in FIFA 18 – more likely to squirm away as you jink past the last defender, or trickle over the toe of your player thanks to a misplaced pass.
It’s a really solid change to how FIFA simulates real football. You’ll see fewer robo-touches from journeyman pros in the lower leagues in FIFA 19 – but as per usual, mishaps seem to affect your players a lot more often than the AI on harder difficulties.
- 50/50 Battles:
As a result of the new ball physics, 50/50s are much more common and unpredictable in FIFA 19. Strength and Positioning stats play a larger role now thanks to improved AI on both your team and your opponents’.
Even still in FIFA 18, there were frustrating moments where your player would just let themselves be dispossessed because their AI had decided they were going to lose the ball. In FIFA 19, you can chase down lost causes and try to win everything. Sometimes hard work will be rewarded, but it also introduces a greater tactical element into the game – knowing when to ease off and regroup for a better chance at taking possession of the ball.
- Dynamic Tactics:
Move tactical variety is something hardcore players have been crying out for, especially as more overt sims like Football Manager become more and more popular.
FIFA 19 has changed so that you have more control over the broad tactics that your team employs. In previous games, they were a bit of a mush that didn’t seem to do much. But now EA says that each one has more pronounced strengths and weaknesses, meaning you can more accurately replicate things like Jurgen Klopp’s Gegenpress or how Guardiola teams actively pursue the ball when they lose possession for a few seconds before dropping off.
The ultra-attacking/ ultra-defensive sliders do more in FIFA 19 too. You can now set custom tactics and formations to switch to on-the-fly using those options. So when you’re down you can go ultra-attacking and switch to a more offensive shape.
This is a really welcome change and, again, enhances the tactical depth of FIFA beyond pure mechanical skill.
- Timed Finishing:
Speaking of mechanical skill, FIFA 19 introduces a new feature that increases the skill-cap of the core game massively: Timed Finishing.
You can now double tap the shoot button to try a Timed Finish, which if done correctly gives your shoot a huge boost in power and accuracy.
It’s difficult to pull off in a proper game, but if you catch it right you can score absolute belters – think Di Maria against France in the 2018 World Cup.
This will be huge factor in competitive FIFA of all levels, and we’ll have to see whether it turns out to be massively OP or not.
- The Journey: Champions:
On top of the regular football modes, The Journey returns for its third season. It looks like Danny Williams and Kim Hunter make a bigger appearance this time around, so hopefully there’ll be a bit more variety this year.
It’s still hammy as ever, and seeing Alex in awe of Fabio Coentrao and Dani Ceballos’ shirts in the Real dressing room is very silly – but it’s definitely still something you’re not getting anywhere else.
- New commentary team:
In a bit of a shakeup, there’s a new team in the commentary box: Derek Rae and Lee Dixon. Whether you can stand particular pundits is down to personal preference, but both do a serviceable job based on what’s been released so far.
FIFA 19 also has a brand-new soundtrack featuring an eclectic mix of artists ranging from Childish Gambino and Young Fathers to Gorillaz and Death Cab for Cutie.
If you’re into Ultimate Team, tons more legendary players have been added to the mix there too. We have a full list of the FIFA 19 new Icons for you peruse at your own leisure.