The battle for top dog of football games may very well be over before it’s started this year. The FIFA vs PES battle has been a bit of a dead rubber in recent times, and this year is shaping up to be no different. With PES sales already massively down on this time last year, and FIFA adding not only gameplay improvements, but Champions League football and new game modes, it was hard to see how this outcome was ever going to be different.
Today the FIFA 19 demo dropped and although i’m by no means a good FIFA player, I got down and dirty with EA’s cash cow and thoroughly enjoyed my time with it:
Firstly, let’s talk about what the demo has to offer this year. 7.4GB worth of download to start with, which can be downloaded from the Xbox and Playstation store as well as EA’s Origin.
This years demo showcases the new Champions League license that FIFA have taken away from PES, with games being played in the group stages of the competition. The playable teams for the demo include:
- Real Madrid
- Manchester United
- Manchester City
- Bayern Munich
- Atletico Madrid
- Borussia Dortmund
- Tottenham Hotspur
As usual, you’re restricted to 4-minute halves that can be played on any difficulty setting, in two stadiums: Estadio Metropolitano and Estadio Santiago Bernabeu. Team management, game settings and controller settings are all available to you, as well as detailed statistics from your games.
Matches start with the iconic Champions League theme music playing, giving players an instant taste of how games in the tournament will begin. The commentary pairing of Lee Dixon and Derek Rae, although not my favourite pairing ever, do a good job of adding to the new feel of FIFA 19 and the Champions League. Gameplay wise, EA has added a few new features to keep fans happy: The ‘Active Touch System’ changes the way you receive and strike the ball, and is designed to greater reflect player personalities and creativity. ‘50/50 Battles’ is another new feature, where user reaction and player attributes determine the outcome of winning loose balls. ‘Dynamic Tactics’ sees players having more options for in-match adjustments, as well as tools to set multiple tactical approaches. Finally and most notably, ‘Timed Finishing’ adds a new shooting system; double tapping shoot on a strike triggers a timed finish, putting users in control of accuracy.
All of this information can be found within the demos menu, alongside the option to pre order FIFA 19.
Also featured in the demo is a short snippet from the new chapter of Alex Hunters rise to stardom. The Journey Champions starts with Hunter watching the Champions League draw on TV; you’re then thrown in at the deep end, with Hunter being informed that all the new players must enter the circle, a mini game with Hunter in the middle attempting to steal the ball from his team mates. Once the fun and games are over, it’s on to the real thing, a 30 minute (FIFA gametime) cameo appearance where Hunter must break the deadlock and win the game for Madrid.
It’s a great teaser for the new chapter mode for The Journey. Cutscenes looked and played smoother here than in previous FIFA installments – hopefully the full game has the same amount of polish as the demo. In the past, some of these cutscenes have been a bit ropey.
Gameplay wise, the FIFA demo has everything that you would expect from a new FIFA game. Fantastic visuals and sound—especially in 4k—with a very impressive experience on the pitch. The new features add just enough to keep the die-hards happy, without complicating things too much for the casual. It seems EA has found a fantastic balance this year. From being firmly on the fence, I can pretty much confirm that—even as a filthy casual—i’ll be picking up FIFA again this year.