“Fifa: it’s the same game every year” 11/04/19

“It’s the same game every year”

I hear this often when I tell people I play FIFA. This is the first year I have literally no evidence to back that my fervent desire to defend the game. I am crushed, mortified, and at a loss. No, but seriously, they added a couple game modes that (at this point) are online only.

I mainly play career mode. I’m bad and I don’t want to embarrass myself online not to mention who doesn’t love making a dream team sans RNG? Career additions this year are minuscule with maybe two or three features actually impacting the experience. Player search adds a “release clause” filter, new training exercises for strength and sprint speed, and the board will now potentially grant funds based on your performance. Oh and don’t forget that sweet sweet Champions League….whoopty-do.

I’ve watched many Youtubers voice their opinions on the game both individual aspects and as a whole. ‘Chayton you can’t let other people dictate your opinion and your point of view,’ yes tiny voice I totally understand, however, an informed voice that can break down the game into its finer parts and even go into the history of the game further than my own time with it goes. I was stunned when I found out how much deeper the career mode used to be I found myself at a loss as to why these mechanics aren’t there anymore. The more in-depth scouting options, youth academy,  and overall more comprehensive managerial controls. Why remove these features? Can they really take up that much space on the disc? What is keeping them from expanding on the one aspect of the game that isn’t making them millions of…oh. Call me naive but I think with all the money FUT has made EA you think they could throw us poor fucks a bone in the form of deepening the offline game modes. I suppose that was what House Rules are for; but then they drop the ball by not allowing them online (I’m sure they’ll be patched in at some point).

The more advanced tactics are nice but…these could’ve been brought in years ago. All this is because EA has grown fat with success and there isn’t anyone that can hold a candle to the production value and licensing that FIFA has. That said, I think if Konami were to really nut up and bring some serious development time to PES it could challenge on sheer content and depth of mechanics. Nothing will come close to FUT but it could really take a bite out of EA’s consumer base. The few that would switch for an actual manager mode. The gameplay is strong if not a little rusty, that just means that with effort those kinks can be worked out. It’s better than what EA is doing, which is next to nothing; and any step they do make is nine-times-out-of-ten in the wrong direction.

These instances are online that take place in a game EA wants to push to as “competitive” and “esports ready” please enjoy.

FIFA has gotten to a point where even in my love for futbol, I literally cannot bring myself to purchase this game when nothing about it is being changed for the better, or worse, there are changes for the better but they are buried under an avalanche of both purposefully and accidentally terrible decisions. FIFA is worse than “being the same game every year”, it’s slowly falling down grace’s mountain and it’s hitting every ledge on the way down. I hate not getting FIFA this year but I legitimately cannot justify it’s purchase anymore, not until they steer this ship right and make changes that actually push the gameplay to that “simulation” and “esports” polish EA claims the game already has. I’d never fault a fan of the beautiful game for buying the marquee title video game if that’s what they want, I just can’t do it anymore.

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EA follow-up

A Youtuber by the name of DownwardThrust, someone I watch and follow, said something interesting in his latest video.

“I don’t think anyone wants EA’s games to fail, honestly because who would want that? Gamers play games so it’s in our best interests that they’re good games and- not shit.” and asks us to “cut the fairytale drama and look at the facts”.

He then goes on to explain that their profits last year were the highest they’ve ever been. Which is exactly why I would only feel bad for the employees should EA miraculously go under. My whole issue is: if EA were making games worth a damn I’m sure everyone would be able to stomach a little more of the bullshit they pull. As a matter of fact, since 2010 they have made maybe 4 or 5 decent games. On metacritic you’ll find the only games of the past eight years that scored decent to good (8.0+) are two FIFA games, Dead Space 2, Titanfall 2, and Mass Effect 2.

Let that sink in. It’s honestly pathetic to see a company rake in the money only to put out shit game after shit game. With controversy after controversy. Server issues upon server issues. Where the fuck is the money going? We obviously know where and that’s exactly why things aren’t changing. It’s not the financial success that’s pathetic, it’s the means they go about it. EA has multitudes more staff, budget, and technology than the likes of Santa Monica Studios, Naughty Dog, CDPR, and studios of that ilk. That’s all the more reason why I could give a fuck if EA’s building is standing or in ashes. The fact of the matter is that they aren’t making good games with more than enough tools and manpower to do just that. It’s hard to determine whether or not they’re even trying. Yes, I want my games to be good, but it’s painfully obvious they “good games” aren’t exactly EA’s concern. Who’s living in the fairytale now DT?

All I can say is, I’m glad EA is feeling a little sting. It’s about damn time. I don’t want Battlefield V to be bad. I don’t want FIFA 19 to actually become the joke everyone makes about it (post on that coming soon). I’m not making the damn games, I just play them. If it’s bad it’s trash and it will be treated as such, we as gamers can only respond to what’s put in front of us. To some extent, this even concerns things like promotional content and trailers. Yes, there are plenty of people that actively want things to go poorly; but a lot of us are just telling you what we’re seeing. From this angle, it looks like a trash fire to me.

Battlefield V preorders are low

data included here

I talked about it in an earlier post, but I do want to elaborate on what is going on from my outsider’s perspective. I don’t care about women in a WW2 game, video games are just that and hardly any sort of historical landmark that History and Discovery will be referencing in future years. That said, Battlefield is known for it’s close-to-reality look, feel, and gameplay. EA is to blame and politics doesn’t have anything to do with it. They took their realism focused design and traded it in for a Michael Bay WW2 game. Even worse, they didn’t tell anyone ahead of time they were making this little intsy-wintsy change to their flagship shooter.

I’ll go so far as to say this: if EA and Dice put out a blurb or tweet mentioning to expect new/bombastic things for this next step in Battlefield; that trailer doesn’t shock the viewer so hard does it? Maybe it’s just me but I was confused when the premier trailer played. Dude has a katana on his back, everyone has face paint, massive explosions, wildly dramatic setpieces, weak camera work, and worst of all the old ‘throw a HUD over this part to make it look like gameplay’. All that and I never mentioned our one-armed redhead at all. Nothing about this game is traditional or true-to-life and I genuinely believe that isn’t the problem. I do think, however, that so blindly putting out all the big changes after the more “historical” B1 title.

I’m not glad EA is suffering because “they conceded to the SJWs” and “forsook American history”. I’m glad they’re suffering because this is another lesson for EA to learn about going for money and making any changes necessary to get it. The left and right need to remember who they’re dealing with, they don’t care about anyone’s politics. They coming for ya money.

Also, fuck preorder culture in general. Unessesary “money me, money now” bullshit.

Watching the World Cup

I remembered that post I made about Fifa and EA as it pertained to what they would do with WC teams for Fifa18. I assumed the worst and would like to say personally that I was wrong, EA released the update for free. All the teams, the player updates. It was the best move for them to make especially considering what the simple act of good faith can do for a fanbase that deserves more than a little compensation for their patronage.

Some more Fifa 19 thots

19 looks like it’ll be pretty bland. UCL, Europa, Super Cup additions are great although I’m not quite sure what they’re gonna do with it exactly beyond a tournament mode. That said, the developer with EA did specifically say in an interview with Gamespot that it would be apart of all game modes. I hope it’s a little more than flash and frills, give us stakes, make it matter.

Timed finishing sounds like a fucking shit show, I’m interested to see how it’s implementation changes gameplay. I’m pretty good at placing shots, not so good at trick shots. The developer that spoke with Gamespot wasn’t very specific on which of those aspects of shooting it would effect. It’s totally optional, but taking advantage of it would be a useful tool I imagine. I’m trying to not be so damn cynical.

The Journey is finally coming to an end, I’m mad about the whole thing. I always found Manager/ Player career mode was a more than suitable “story mode” that let players determine their own fate based on their performance. It just seemed like Fifa the BBC drama. We were asked what team and position we wanted to play, just for them to put us on the team they want in the position they want. The writing was bland and the whole presentation just seemed cheap to me. They tried something new, gotta credit that. It was just a misstep in my eyes.

Show me what you got FIFA, every year I inch closer to becoming a PES player. Not long ago EA lost out to 2k on the hardwood and Live was quickly swept aside by the more true-to-life 2k. I often wonder if such another player migration is on the way should FIFA grow stale in the coming years.

Anthem must learn from Destiny and The Division (5/21/18)

Destiny 2 is not in ruins per say but it is well on its way. Between being hobbled by Eververse, the monotonous/unrewarding grind, ankle deep PvP and many other issues that frankly a sequel from such a big developer really shouldn’t face. The Division started as a trash fire, enemies absorbed bullets to the point where you would’ve thought they needed lead to sustain life. The map itself was immense but (classic Ubisoft) wasn’t really filled with anything worthwhile gameplay wise aside from some nice set pieces and a convoluted stat system. All that said, with some attention and care, it is by far less shit than it was. I bring up these games specifically because Anthem needs to look at the path these games walked and learn from them or it will die. I don’t want to lose Bioware as a studio but at this point, how much is even left. Anyway, let’s dive in:

– Tell me a story

There must be a compelling world if the story is going to suffer. This is a fine line Destiny is stumbling down currently that Anthem must heed. Anthem by no means has to be as lore-heavy as Destiny used to be, however, we as players must at least be given a challenge or opponent that makes us want to play. One of my peeves about this genre is that the story always has this “You’re our only hope” kind of vibe when we know that’s just not the case. Why shy away from the fact that it’s a mmo and other players by definition exist in the world. Acknowledge the fact that we are more than likely just a number in this mass of players; why not use that to drive our character in the story?  The Division semi addresses this in the base concept of each character being a sleeper agent. Again, it’s minor but I do believe in plays a part in the overall experience. Afterall, in the words of Syndrome: “If everyone is super, no one is”.

A real (RN)G

I know the point of RNG is it being random. That being said since everything runs on some kind of formula that doesn’t mean the system can’t be tweaked or fine-tuned. If this is going to be a “Destiny-killer” then it needs to manage that loot reward system very well. Somewhere between Destiny 1: “Holy shit this gun/armor might never drop for me,” and Destiny 2: “Oh look exotics are literally falling from the sky.” There needs to be that carrot that keeps gamers going. There’s nothing wrong with getting all the special guns and armor, but after that, the player needs situations to use those tools in. Activities and events that will prolong interactivity with both other players and the world. That’s arguably the hardest part in making these kinds of games; creating such a longlasting and engaging experience. If Bioware can get the reward system right, I do believe it will play a large part in the games overall reception. The Division offered a lot in the way of guns and specs, the customization options were deep as well. It didn’t, however, really have any guns that stood out or really changed your play/ thought process. Like I said it’s a hard line to walk between a meaningful loot and a rewarding grind.

“Many” doesn’t necessarily mean “meaningful”

Anthem, No Man’s Sky, Mass Effect, Destiny, and Monster Hunter World are all games that don’t have many things in common but have two things in particular: multiple environments/ worlds/ planetary bodies for players to visit. This is such a tricky thing to do that even Mass Effect, an amazing game that isn’t hindered by online play, struggled with its planets really being full and offering things to do beyond story missions. No Man’s Sky is notorious for many pointlessly numerous planets, a game that toted exploration had poorly designed/rendered worlds…REALLY? Destiny and Monster Hunter are the two that are the closest to Anthem’s potential format and the shine of MHW gives me hope for the worlds we’ll visit. Deep and breathing ecosystems that feel alive and a part of the game we’re playing. Destiny’s barren wastes of Mercury, Io, and others scare me as to the lows this game could reach. A balance is necessary in order to both keep play diverse but also meaningful and captivating. Don’t give us a galaxy to explore if there’s no reason for us to leave our ship. I don’t know what Anthem will hold but hopefully, it will be quality over quantity.

Ay, must be the monay”

It’s EA, we know what this is about. We know what they are trying to achieve first and foremost. Funds over fun, it’s been repeated to us by the CEO himself the monetization model will continue. The good news, EA has seen what a fanbase can do. Yes, it was arguably the most passionate fanbase in all of entertainment, but it’s clear that one wrong move and people will speak up against it. Look at Destiny, a half decent game that made a wrong turn and with the push from the community is now making efforts to satisfy those playing. Though that means going back to the Destiny 1 model; fans got Activision and Bungie to completely turn around the impending shipwreck that Destiny 2 was and still is. The Division was a mess, now with free updates and constant effort, people enjoy the game and play regularly. Rainbow Six Siege was not the game it is today, but with tentative listening to its community; Ubisoft was able to turn it into the esports powerhouse it is today. Again, even if this game starts out a trash fire, nowadays games have a chance at getting a second life. Forgive me.

In conclusion

I understand that both of these games are in better places now, however, the gaming community might just tip if this game flounders for a year or two. Community desertions are more and more frequent these days and I’m glad it’s happening. Sometimes a massive group of people can be duped in the marketing campaigns of games, at that point we can’t really speak with our wallets. We can, however, speak with our controllers and leave the games that have deceived us, shifted sinisterly, or just not up to par. LawBreakers, another AAA game by a big name developer, at peak, had 7,000+ players. That’s low but it could’ve grown had it offered a bit more. I have a feeling the player counts will be high for Anthem but if it doesn’t ship in the right state (an event there really isn’t any excuse for) there needs to be the same response as Battlefront, Destiny 2, The Division, and LawBreakers. I hope Bioware figures out a way to make this game shine despite whatever demands EA have put on them for this title. Jade Empire, Mass Effect, KOTOR, and Dragon Age are blockbuster games that can stand in the pantheon of industry; I really hope Bioware has one more hit left in them.

Me and my roommates were talking FIFA

In the face of the announcement that FIFA World Cup would be coming as a free download for FIFA owners, I kind of clapped a little for the evil giant. Then I stopped because we started talking about it. This is a good step in the right direction, but it’s something that should’ve been coming for a while now. Every year FIFA comes out and every year it’s very very similar. Only recently in FIFA 17 did they add “The Journey”, a very sub-par and poorly constructed “story mode” that asks the player what they want to do as a player, where they want to play; and then says “Fuck you” and makes you play the position they want on the team they want. Demanding strangely high expectations of your performance despite lacking the play time to fulfill said expectations. The free addition of the World Cup, complete with new face models, stadiums, announcers, as well as teams that didn’t make the tournament really got me thinking what else EA could be doing to spice up the long stale FIFA formula.

PES has a lottery-esque game mode that lets you set the parameters and pick from a handful of players. Even incorporating a player stealing element to snag a last-minute edge if you aren’t happy with one or two players on your squad. Though this enjoyable concept is taken, do you know what kind of game mode could give us the same thing and even completely refresh the whole gameplay entirely? FIFA-fucking-street. Include FIFA Street in the annual release, drop the shitty and unnecessary Journey mode. The last game was 2012 EA don’t sit there and tell me FIFA is still selling the way it is but no one wants FIFA street.

FIFA Street a little too complicated to fit in with the core FIFA experience? GUESS WHAT I GOT MOAR IDEAS! Futsal anyone? Why wouldn’t the indoor game find a great home in the already very official setting of FIFA. Futbol is one of the of the few sports that exists in two worlds in a professional setting. The indoor/outdoor aspect would be so much fun to liven up the entire game. Tired of the open play of outdoor? Quicken the pace and tighten the spaces with a couple games of futsal and in time you’ll desire those longballs and shots from forty-five yards out. The online community would bolster, again, because you now have people discovering their talents for futsal where they may be falling short in the traditional competitive environments. Sure, it gives them a chance to re-exploit Ultimate Team but who knows… maybe they won’t?

These are some two ideas that I think could be done to revamp the FIFA experience without necessarily reinventing the wheel and starting from scrap. The Journey (to me) is a failure, an attempt, but a failure. EA should be bouncing back and trying to keep their most successful active franchise. I understand they see us as dollar signs or euro signs in some cases but we deserve the top of the line for the money paid and this annual release needs some new threads.

CoD and Battlefield thots 4/2/2018

Both CoD and Battlefield need a facelift and a new pair of titties. I believe this starts with the campaign. Multiplayer is essentially set no? I really feel there isn’t much more that can be done for either game. Yes another couple game modes here, maybe a multiplayer specific mechanic a la killstreaks. Outside of minor additions I struggle to find how these games can really shake up their gameplay, or if they even need to. One could argue CoD and Battlefield have been spearheading the PvP staple on consoles alongside games like Halo and Unreal Tournament. Since that time, these two are the only ones relevant to modern gaming hand over fist. Obviously, I’m not saying they can’t be refined and worked on, that’s what this whole post is about. What I’m saying is, I think they may have this aspect of the game handled, for the most part. It’s not like they aren’t two of the most popular FPSs in the world/ gaming history.

So with all that said I’d like to start with Battlefield because I feel like they actually tried to do something of the sort. Turning the campaign into a more episodic, if not bare bones (and that’s to be generous), experience. To me, this could be a step in the right direction. Allowing many perspectives and a more personal touch to every soldier you become in the harsh and sometimes incomprehensible circumstances of war. Where they obviously could’ve expanded upon was the depth. “Campaign” is a real stretch, had to put on my Reed Richards shirt just to type this. It needed more, the opening level where you are warped from person to person as you die is a great spin on death in the FPS. They do it a few more times and then drop it. The level itself was short as hell to start with and one of the more interesting concepts in the game is left in the corner. You probably couldn’t build a game around it but… maybe you could? These missions are semi-specialized and depending on your outlook, a glorified tutorial. Even a little depth or longevity would’ve given me more of a worthwhile experience instead of feeling like the video game equivalent of a bag of chips.

CoD is my focus because though it didn’t start out as such, Call of Duty for a long time has really depended on its campaign. Far more than Battlefield who at the time seemed to really lack any inspirational spark outside of the charming Bad Company series. Since the Call of Duty 3 days, there has been this focus on cinematic campaigns. Boisterous and bustling war stories that genuinely feel like they could be on the silver screen if they didn’t feel so damn good with a controller in your hands. To me, the Modern Warfare to Black Ops era is the peak of the single player quality. There are definitely gems sprinkled between the games but to me, they are few and far between. The latest rendition isn’t the star-studded line up of Infinite Warfare, regardless this one had its familiar faces. Call of Duty needs to expand upon their amazing set pieces. Not their IMDB page. Unfortunately, there isn’t much more beyond CoD and there hasn’t been for years. The use of period-appropriate tools of war has always been a nice touch of the series and this installment kept up that trend in relative fashion. Where the game falls short is where Call of Duty always falls short; I constantly feel like I should be watching, not playing. I’m not saying the game should go open world or anything, but something needs to be done to refresh the long tired gameplay. Will Black Ops IIII break the cycle and switch up the sometimes dry and predictable plot points; let alone the actual gameplay? I guess we shall see.

I mean should I even be giving a shit about CoD story when PvP is obviously the meat of the game. That being said, it’s really a small aspect unless you shell out for the map packs. That and there are only so many things they can do within the parameters of their franchise to really refresh the experience without it not being CoD anymore. What I’m saying is, these sixty dollar purchases need to be more substantial, and if Activision can afford these Hollywood actors to play roles actual voice actors can play; maybe they can focus on the growth of the actual game as a whole?