We at Balls.ie were lucky enough to be invited out to Electronic Arts offices in Guildford, London recently for a chance to talk to the men who make one of the World's most popular games happen, and of course get our eager hands all over FIFA 16.
All in all we played about 12 full six minute half games of FIFA 16 from a nearly finished version of the game, and it was a version of the game with all modes and teams playable, so while we did get a good feel for what has changed and how the game has improved, there are still some tweaks to be made to the gameplay.
Thankfully there was a decent standard of opposition there for us to play some good games, and here are the five most significant changes to FIFA 16 that we noticed.
Dribbling is far less easy, and much more natural.
The days of one player taking the ball from kick-off and slaloming through your entire side are over, unless you're really crap at FIFA. Defending hasn't been made easier, but more sensible, and what I mean by that is that with the changes made to slide tackling and your ability to recover if you mistime it, you can cut off dribbling lanes and force the opponent into a different area.
You can still carry the ball long distances with players who are good at dribbling, but it will be harder to cut a defence open with it.
Interceptions are far more common, and passes must be safer.
The first thing you are going to notice when you play FIFA 16 is how many of your passes get picked off. This has been needed in FIFA for a long time, as passing has been far too easy, in particular first time passing which completely skips the midfield.
Now, you must look first and only play a pass if you have clear space, otherwise the defender will jump in front and take the ball. This is another improvement on the defensive side as you finally feel like your players have a brain when they don't have the ball.
If you rush your passes, you'll get stuck in a midfield dog-fight, so taking your time and knocking the ball about will take much more importance. Patience is key this year, that's almost unheard of for a FIFA game.
Crossing is different and far more realistic.
The way that players whip in a cross now is far more realistic to real life, as even if you are deeper than the 18 yard box, if you have someone in the middle your player will attempt to curve the ball around onto their head. When it comes off, it looks spectacular, and good crossers out wide will be vital.
While not every cross finds it's target, a slight concern of ours was that the game would turn into a crossing match like FIFA 14 with it's ridiculously overpowered headers, but we expect that won't be the case.
The FUT Draft game mode is a really, really fun addition.
You've probably seen Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher having a laugh while picking their FUT Draft lineup, and while the fun in that case was carefully scripted, the actual mode itself is an absolute blast. The best way to play the mode is to team up with a friend and pick your squad together, but what FUT mode brings, finally, is full accessibility to the mode for all players.
New and old Ultimate Team players will now finally be able to use the best players in the game, albeit a bit random, and will be forced to try out new formations. It's a great idea by EA Sports and it's been executed well. Give it a try when you pick up the game, and for more info check out our interview with the director of Ultimate Team here.
The lofted through-ball (LB/L1 + Y/Triangle) is dead. Finally.
Start spreading the news, the absolute worst thing about playing FIFA online in recent years has been properly addressed for FIFA 16. All FIFA games have problems that get abused by players online, and normally they are changed in the next version, but lofted through-balls being far too easy to pull off has been a problem for years now.
How many matches have you played where the opponent just launches chipped through-balls at your back four waiting for the inevitable mistake so Doumbia or some speedy little so and so can run through on goal? Too many times.
Now, defenders are much smarter when the ball is in the air, and the passing animation itself has changed which adds more of a "dink" to the ball and it's more floaty rather than a precision pass every time. You can still play someone in behind with a lofted through-ball, but only when it is 100% on. This made our day at Guildford.
Our time with FIFA 16 was really positive. The game is fun again, and we didn't want to leave. Having gone back and played FIFA 15 since, we really expect this year's game to prove a big hit with fans of the series.
Look forward to more FIFA 16 preview details, our final review, and of course the hints and tips you need to enjoy the game more in the weeks coming up to and following FIFA 16's release.