Football. Fútbol. Soccer. Whatever you call it, FIFA has long been one of the best games to play to get your fix if you can’t hit the pitch yourself. FIFA ’19 is on its way out of the door, and it figures to be the biggest, most authentic entry in the series yet. Read ahead to learn everything you need to know.
What is FIFA ’19?
EA decided long ago that they wanted to challenge the kings of soccer video games (mostly Konami’s Pro Evolution Soccer) with a game of their own. That game was FIFA, and while it couldn’t hold a candle to some of the incumbent titles in its earlier years, it has grown into a series that produces some of the best soccer gameplay you’ll find.
It’s 2019, and the wheels keep on turning with FIFA ’19. The game will offer its usual core features, including an Ultimate Team mode that lets you collect stars to build a team and compete against other players, as well as a deep club management mode.
The Champions and Europa leagues are finally here
One of the big deals with FIFA ’19 is that they finally have access to the UEFA license. What this means is that they can now include teams and players from the Champions League, as well as those from the Europa league. Konami has infamously controlled that license for over a decade, but that deal has expired and the UEFA has decided to grace EA with the rights.
For the uninitiated, the Champions League is international soccer’s equivalent of a world championship. Think Super Bowl or the NBA Championship. It’s the most prestigious tournament in the sport, and one of the most prestigious titles in the world, period.
All Champions League teams and their logos, as well as the logo of the league itself, will be fully represented in FIFA ’19. They’re even going as far as including the full broadcast package, which will feature Derek Rae and Lee Dixon on the headset to call the action on the pitch. (Don’t worry, though: regular commentators Martin Tyler and Alan Smith will return for all the other modes.)
FIFA ’19 will include a special mode specifically for Champions League, with the ability to create and run tournaments just like they do in the real world on an annual basis. The Europa League — the lesser, yet still prestigious extension of the Champions League — will also have its full broadcast package represented.
EA is going all out for the occasion with a remixed Champions League anthem composed by music legends Hans Zimmer and Vince Staples. The theme offers familiarity while offering a unique vibe that’s perfect for getting the player hyped. You can already listen to the theme in the video embedded above.
Play like a pro
With a rock solid foundation that has been built over the years, FIFA ’19 is already one of the most authentic soccer games on the market. That doesn’t mean EA isn’t looking to bolster the gameplay with new tricks, though.
One of those tricks is the Sweet Spot mechanic, a new shot timing mechanic that increases your chances of hitting the top corner of the goal when taking your shot. You’ll have to tap the shot button just as your foot strikes the ball in order to get the bonus chance. If you miss, you risk shanking the kick altogether, but if you get it right then you’ll make life difficult for the goalkeeper.
On a more managerial level, you can now setup custom gameplans before a match, as well as choose to execute them on the fly. A gameplan can be set in motion automatically when certain conditions are met, such as if you go up or down by a score. And if you think you need to make adjustments at specific points in the match, you can use the directional pad to direct your players.
Alongside specific gameplans, you can make more generic adjustments such as changing the width and depth of your team. You can also set the tone on defense with new pressure schemes, including “pressure after possession loss,” “constant pressure,” “drop back,” “balanced,” and “pressure on heavy touch.” The minimap has been tweaked to make it easier to spot all the players on the pitch. One team will be circles and the other will be triangles. This is a big help for those who found it difficult to go based on color alone.
Of course, EA has tweaked their animation systems to make player movement and ball handling more realistic. A new active touch system changes the way players receive and strike the ball. It opens the path for advanced moves like feints and cuts. Stepover moves will look more realistic and will be easier to pull off, and 50/50 loose ball situations will have more varied outcomes thanks to the system taking into account more player variables.
Build the Ultimate Team
Ultimate Team mode returns for FIFA ’19. EA has a winning formula with this mode: buy packs, collect players, build your dream team, and compete for prizes. This year, however, we’re sure to see a wealth of new content themed around the Champions League and Europa League.
And for the first time ever, EA will be disclosing pack odds to players. This means the company will tell you not only what you’ll get in each pack, but also the odds that you’ll get specific content such as Elite-level players and items.
This move was made following backlash by gamers and an actual lawsuit in Belgium and The Netherlands that forced EA to disclose odds, as those countries consider opening video game loot boxes as acts of gambling. While it won’t do anything in terms of improving your odds — you’ll still need a world of luck to obtain the best players — at least you’ll have a better idea of what to expect.
Follow a soccer story in The Journey: Champions
The Journey is back. It’s FIFA ’19’s story mode featuring an up and coming soccer savant known as Alex Hunt. His story began in FIFA ’17 where you witnessed his journey to break onto a Premier League team. In FIFA ’18, Hunt moved to America to join Major League Soccer to play for the LA Galaxy as a way to rejuvenate his career, after which he went back to Europe.
Now that he’s back home, Alex Hunt has his eyes set on competing in the Champions League to gain the ultimate prize. The Journey isn’t likely to offer much more than a few hours of intriguing story and short pockets of gameplay, but it should offer a nice change of pace for those who need a break from hard competition, as well as those who are interested in seeing how the young fellow fares in the Champions League.
Where to pre-order FIFA ’19
There are three different versions of FIFA ’19 you can pre-order. The standard $59.99 version will get you up to five Jumbo Premium Gold Packs for FIFA Ultimate Team, as well as a loan of Cristiano Ronaldo item for seven days and Special Edition Ultimate Team kits.
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The $79.99 Champions Edition has 20 of those Jumbo Premium packs, plus you’ll get the game three days early, you’ll get a Neymar Jr item on loan for 7 days, your pick of one of five Champions League players rated from 80 to 83 OVR, as well as the other Ultimate Team rewards available in the standard edition.
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Finally, the $99.99 Ultimate Edition delivers 40 Jumbo Packs, plus all of the stuff available in the Champions and standard editions.
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When can you play it?
FIFA ’19 lands September 28th, 2018 for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC. Get the Champions Edition and you’ll be playing it three days early, on September 25th, 2018.