For many years, the FIFA series has stuck closely to its roots, making just minor changes (other than the inclusion of the story mode The Journey since 2017) that have worked well, but failed to really refresh the franchise in any huge capacity. This time round however with FIFA 19, the addition of silly but addictive new modes is something to be celebrated.
Survival Mode for example - in which every time a player scores, a member of their squad is removed from the game entirely - is an intense yet compelling affair. Then there's the Long Range mode, which offers two goals for every back of the net you can claim from outside the box. Headers and Volleys is exactly what it says on the tin, where goals scored via those maneuvers are the only ones that count (alongside penalties and free kicks). Each of these are exciting and fantastic additions to the series.
There’s also the arrival of Timed Finishing when it comes to claiming goals, which adds another layer of required skill for even the best-versed FIFA players. If you thought you could come back into this series without a challenge, then this is where you may come up a little short.
The Journey is the best it’s ever been. There are three characters with unique narratives - two men and one woman - and you can choose to go through all of their stories, or just a single one of them. If you do decide to go ahead with all three, they can feel a little disjointed as you hop between Kim Hunter, her brother Alex, and their friend Danny Williams, but if you’re willing to put in the effort to maintain an interest in each of their journeys, it’s a rewarding experience.
EA have of course seemed to spend the majority of their time polishing up their immensely popular FIFA Ultimate Team, which earns the company hundreds of millions of dollars each year. Minor tweaks have been made, but EA have taken the saying "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" to heart here. That should leave long-term fans with the biggest smile on their face, as they open up hundreds of loot box-esque card packs. Microtransactions are never going to earn the praise of the world, especially in a game that already has a high recommended retail price, but EA aren't lurking in the shadows with these. They're very upfront in the fact that the best FUT contenders will likely have to plough some serious money into the game mode.
There’s a reason football has been referred to as “the beautiful game” throughout history, and garnered millions of fans across the globe. It’s one of the most competitive yet simple sports there is, but encourages those who may not be able to show off their skill on the pitch to get involved by supporting from the stands, or shouting from their sofas at home.
FIFA 19 has managed to capture the raw emotion of football and bring it to gamers all over again. This isn’t a perfect experience, but it’s as close to one we’ve had so far.
FIFA 19 is available now on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PC, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and Nintendo Switch. A code for the game was provided to Female First on Xbox One in exchange for a fair and honest review.