The most important day of the year passed Tuesday, and you likely didn’t realize it.
Once each fall, when the leaves begin to change, and Triangle football fans start to realize just how mediocre their teams are, something magical occurs. The wonderful people at EA, like Gods warping new worlds, unveil an escape. For $60 ($53 if you’re an EA Access member), you can purchase happiness. You can buy superstars, develop heroes, suffer heartbreak, and ascend to a throne lined with trophies.
To make a long story short: I haven’t slept at all in the past few days. I only leave my room for class, and for food. It’s not insane though. This madness is happening for good reason — this is the greatest game of all-time. That’s not hyperbole. It’s a scientific fact.
Fundamentally, each version of the soccer simulator is the same. You can take control of every player on nearly every team in the world, and watch them pass up and down the pitch, scoring acrobatic goals. The core concept never changes. Sure, sometimes major tweaks are made — like the addition of a player career mode in the mid-2000s that allowed gamers to pretend they laced up their cleats every week, and took on the best in the world — but more often than not, its the subtle things that change between editions.
EA earns somewhere between $1-1.5 billion each year from the game’s release — a figure that dwarfs similarly popular titles like Madden ($350-400 million), or NBA2K ($420 million). There isn’t an urgency to scrap the game each year and start from scratch. Consumers don’t want major overhauls. Each new iteration comes with minor additions that enhance the gameplay.
These small changes often mean altering goalkeeper physics (like in FIFA 15). This year’s model comes with an increased focus on defender mechanics. In past versions, a speedy winger like Chelsea’s Willian, or Arsenal’s Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (great name) could dominate, breezing past helpless fullbacks, and gaining position on bigger and tougher centerbacks. That’s no longer the case.
In an effort to mold a more realistic footballing experience, FIFA beefed up the back line. Brushing past Philip Lahm is a thing of the past. Strategy has shifted outside in, as the game forces you to make tiki-taka passes to find holes. On the whole, it’s more realistic, and after a week, I’ll probably say it’s more fun, too. Winning takes more patience — a virtue I do not have, and have been told repeatedly to acquire. This is, though, a minor change.
The biggest addition to the virtual footballing world is something most gamers have trouble with outside of it — girls. On the coattails of the USWNT’s surprising World Cup victory, players will now be able to compete as women’s teams. Fans can replay their favorite matches from this summer’s tournament, and will be pleased to hear that the ladies handle as well, if not better than their male counterparts. It’s somewhat frustrating that the game doesn’t allow for a battle of the sexes matchup, but it’s understandable, and frankly, I kind of like it. You don’t need to see Alex Morgan take on Lionel Messi. Watching her play Louisa Necib is good enough.
To say this game is worth the money is an understatement. Whether you’re a soccer fan or not, it builds drama in the best way, and ensures one party happiness, and another shame. It has replay value for months, if not years (I still play some older versions), and more than anything else, it’ll get you familiar with players outside of the worldbeaters.
Go buy FIFA 16. You’ll thank me later.
Happy FIFA day.