With every new FIFA comes new expectations; some years we have seen a revolution while others have been more of an evolution. Judging by this first look at FIFA 13, the latest in the series is geared up to be the former. When I put it to gameplay producer Aaron McHardy that FIFA 13 seemed to be taking what was introduced in FIFA 12, applying it across the board and dialling it up to 11 he replied “You nailed it!” and accompanied this with a two finger point. So I think that’s pretty official.
What McHardy and the team at EA Canada are trying to do this time around is focus on the unpredictability of real world football and in doing so enhance the realism of FIFA
. Those were the words of EA Canada, but with what they have planned they don’t seem to have ambitions above their station.
An example of this is found in the changes to how players receive the ball. Previously, any player could bring a lofted through pass down with the greatest of ease, whether they’re a world class striker or lower league trainee. In FIFA 13
a player’s skill, as well as other factors such as the weather and the weight of the pass, will determine how he controls such balls, and in turn alter how fans play the game.
While fans can’t determine how a player brings a ball down (that’s down to the player’s stats and other conditions) they can affect how they approach the ball and improve their chance of maintaining possession, as McHardy explains: “It changes the way you think about play and in the way you construct your play.
"Now you’re thinking differently about the circumstances and how you approach the attack or defence. It’s analogous to how you think about taking a shot in our shooting system. We want that engaging experience of you working out how you construct your game.
“In terms of control, some balls come in at ways you can’t control at sprint, you think ‘maybe I should slow down and take it at a jog’. By creating walls we are actually opening up more opportunities.”
Last year’s introduction of Tactical Defending caused issues with some fans as they found the leap a bit too far. This time around McHardy doesn’t think similar changes will be so great, with FIFA 13
’s alternations balancing out the additions seen in FIFA 12
He explains: “I don’t think it will be as much of learning curve as what we did with Tactical Defending. We knew that would be a bit of a steep learning curve going in. I was OK with that risk because I knew the benefit we would get from it. There was a bit (of a) split when we put the game out, as it turns out over 93 percent of the people stuck with it; I think that’s good as people saw the benefits.
"The changes we’re making this year with the error system and with first touch won’t be so much of a learning curve as it’s things you would be expecting anyway. What made Tactical Defending such a challenge is that you weren’t getting those opportunities to win the ball, so now it’s more balanced.”
is looking to be the instalment that focuses most on a player’s intelligence. While intelligence has been a factor in FIFA
for some time, how players behave on the pitch is becoming much more lifelike.
Whereas FIFA 12
had players going on zig-zag runs as they continuously tried to evaluate new spaces to run into, FIFA 13
will see players make decisions as to where to run and stick with them, evaluating obstacles on the fly, moving around players and creating arching runs to get behind defenders.
But there’s also balance with the defence as defenders are able to read the play better, changing their runs and how they tackle – is it always best to lunge in with a leg or can the defender use their body instead? These are types of decisions the AI will be making.