FIFA 16 Review + Video Review

FIFA 16 

Developer : EA Canada

Publisher: EA Sports

Release Date: September 22, 2015

Platforms:  PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, Xbox One (reviewed), Xbox 360, Android, iOS, Microsoft Windows


Finally. The two northernmost countries in CONCACAF have world-class squads in a FIFA game. The inclusion of women’s national teams in FIFA 16 ranks so highly on the back-of-the-box-new-features bullet points that it’s actually on the cover.

This is a substantial addition that goes beyond swapping player models or skins. Female players were brought in for a completely new set of motion capture making it feel noticeably unique and positively different from the men’s game. It’s an impressive no-shortcuts approach that gives American and Canadian soccer fans a close-to-home reason to pick up this year’s entry.

The new features don’t end there but is it enough to warrant a purchase?


We’re in the game

For returning players, FIFA 16 recognizes your participation in previous games and welcomes you back with FIFA Ultimate Team credits. This is a nice little boost to hit the ground running but likely won’t be enough to keep you from feeling like you’ve lost significant progress from FIFA 15. Coins, Cards, EA Sports FC Catalogue Items, Match History, and Current Division do not carry over. It’s hard to believe but this is already the third FIFA game on now-gen consoles and I’m likely not alone in thinking that these games should tie into each other a little more progressively. With that said FIFA 16 recognizes your favorite team, controls, and difficulty letting you get nice and comfy from the start.

On the pitch, novice players can enable a live Trainer that prompts varying button inputs for a variety of moves, passes, and shot types. I’ve never completely memorized every command in FIFA; mostly because the controls change depending on position or possession. The Trainer even presents a visual representation of the direction you’re pushing on the thumbsticks, making one-touch plays much easier to understand. The cherry on top is that the Trainer is easily toggled off, just click R3. Unless you’re a lifelong FIFA player, check your ego at the door and try it out for a few matches, it’s simple, subtle, and you might be surprised by what tricks you’ve been missing.

Having played FIFA 15 quite recently, I noticed the passing has been improved and feels better than ever. Pressing RB (R1) + A (X) sends a pass with purpose and is particularly deadly within the six yard box. Also, if you’re tired of relying too heavily on the “through ball,” the normal pass seems to adapt to the situation and can even act like a through ball because that’s how the play is developing. While hardly box art bullet points, these small changes put more power in the hands of the player and you’ll find yourself blaming missed passes on the game less than last year.

It takes balance

Gameplay has been iterated upon but my biggest gripe with FIFA continues to be the play-by-play commentary. Some genuine excitement after the goals would be nice. Soccer is all about the drama and suspense that comes with palpable momentum swings and I wish FIFA conveyed this more strongly through its commentary. The best you can expect is when some casual banter is interrupted by “he takes a shot!” but then everything stops. Returning to what the pair of commentators were discussing just a moment before would make it feel much more natural and realistic.Understanding every line of voiceover has to be pre-recorded, I don’t think it’s too much to ask for a little more sophistication in this department.

“How would EA Sports come up with the capital to invest in these advancements,” you ask? Well, you can sink your annual salary into FIFA Ultimate Team (FUT) in even more ways this year. You know the deal here. You can earn in-game currency to purchase card packs and enhance your team with better players and upgrades. For most people, using the in-game currency is perfectly fine. Personally, I find Ultimate Team to be more rewarding than Career Mode (though the addition of Player Training is nice) and am happy to spend the majority of my time chipping away at my club.

Or, you can toss a few bucks (or pounds) to get those precious packs instantly. I’m not going to denounce this tradeoff, clearly there are plenty of players who see value in this. FIFA Ultimate Team is the best part of the game so it’s nice that players have the ability to invest as much or as little of themselves and their earnings as they like.

FIFA 16 Screen 1

What is disappointing is the new variant called FIFA Ultimate Team Draft – in the most conflicting way possible. The first taste is free and that’s all it’ll take to be hooked. This is a genuinely dynamic take on the Ultimate Team template. After determining your formation, you’ll draft each position from a limited selection of quality players. This is a notable shift from your first team in FIFA Ultimate Team. These are star players, all playing together, so the key is chemistry. The challenge is that each selection is permanent and you don’t know what players will be available for the adjacent positions. Will you trade chemistry for a highly rated player? I found success in se lecting Brazilian-born players mostly because the probability for a highly cohesive team was so high.

Hopefully when you’re done, you’ll have put together a top-tier team because you’ll be chasing a four-game winning streak to maximize your rewards. I actually said out loud to myself, “this is how I’ll be playing this year.” My first round was fairly successful as I went on to win three games in a row. Everything’s all well and good but this totally awesome and excellent new game mode is locked behind a subtle paywall. Before I could jump back in for redemption, I was confronted by a substantial cost to gain re-entry. The in-game currency required is 15,000 coins! Let’s put it this way, coins come only a little more easily than goals on Professional difficulty. So you can grind away at other game modes, or, you can toss a ton of bucks (or pounds) to chase the dragon again. I think there is something special with FIFA Ultimate Team Draft but because I will not be spending any extra cash on FIFA 16, it will sadly be a rare treat rather than regular indulgence.

Final Verdict

New passing mechanics, a fun twist on FIFA Ultimate Team, and the inclusion of women’s national teams are far from trivial additions. This means returning fans will appreciate EA Sports’ efforts to expand upon a winning formula; while new or lapsed players have plenty to dive into (pardon the soccer pun). You could easily spend the entirety of your time with FIFA 16 with one of the many game modes, including solid online play (within a few days before and after launch) and be completely satisfied. 

FIFA 16 addresses problems I didn’t know I had with 15 but sadly, my wishlist for presentation improvement remains unchecked. Plus, I’m left with a slightly bitter feeling because my new favorite mode, FIFA Ultimate Team Draft, and I have an on-again/off-again relationship. And I’m not proud of the things I have to do for just another taste.