The experience of playing FIFA 16 Ultimate Team feels much like it did last year

When the generally super-positive reviews of Pro Evolution Soccer 2016 started hitting the net, it was hard to see – given the relatively limited list of improvements that EA were touting – quite how Buy FIFA 16 Coins had any real chance of defeating Konami’s franchise this time around. Despite impressing in some areas though, PES contained some pretty large flaws – our review can be seen here – and for our money, that’s left the door ajar somewhat for FIFA to try to stay ahead. Surprisingly for EA though, they haven’t really made a great deal of noise about the biggest improvements that this year’s game contains. They’ve shouted from the rooftops about the limited and somewhat disappointing Draft Mode in Ultimate Team and they’ve caused a million misogynists to gnash their teeth and throw inexcusable insults (although it doesn’t take much with idiots like that) by including a limited selection of women’s teams.

They’ve also mentioned changes to the way things work when you’re on the back foot and defending your goal, but they’ve only really talked about “confidence in defending” as an afterthought. Offline from the AI particularly the game plays extremely nicely at times. It is not faster, fits flow and assaulting needs a lot more believed to open up a defence, rather than a mindless lofted through ball. FIFA 16 feels positionally sound, more considered and more balanced. AI covering and marking has been a string weakness, so to find it working so easily with only a years is quite satisfying. Defensemen they intercept mark space, plus they monitor back much more rapid when possession turns over.

“How would EA Sports come up with the capital to invest in these advancements,” you ask? Well, you can sink your annual salary into FIFA Ultimate Team (FUT) in even more ways this year. You know the deal here. You can earn in-game currency to purchase card packs and enhance your team with better players and upgrades. For most people, using the in-game currency is perfectly fine. Personally, I find Ultimate Team to be more rewarding than Career Mode (though the addition of Player Training is nice) and am happy to spend the majority of my time chipping away at my club. Or, you can toss a few bucks (or pounds) to get those precious packs instantly. I’m not going to denounce this tradeoff, clearly there are plenty of players who see value in this. FIFA Ultimate Team is the best part of the game so it’s nice that players have the ability to invest as much or as little of themselves and their earnings as they like.

The 12 women’s national teams are a big addition to the game. EA Sports has been a pioneer on this front, as they also featured women in EA Sports UFC. You can play with your women’s team of choice online or offline, but you can’t take one of them into career mode. That would have been interesting. Still, the ability to play with female teams in FIFA 16 is unprecedented in terms of team selection. The other huge addition to this year’s game is FIFA Ultimate Team Draft (FUT Draft). Much like Madden 16’s Draft Champions mode, FUT Draft adds another layer to the game’s options and features. Unlike Madden, FIFA already had a boatload of options to choose from. FUT Draft just makes the game an even deeper experience.

Overall, though, the experience of playing soccer in FIFA 16 Ultimate Team feels much like it did last year. The addition of online seasons is also guaranteed to be a popular one, and the head-to-head matches are smooth, presuming you have enough of a stable internet connection to handle them. Some people have griped about the new Player Exchange system, where you can swap unwanted players or items for the chance at better ones in the kind of gambling that is so popular in all kinds of mobile games right now, but since the auction house is still around, I don’t see an issue with it.

The inclusion of women’s soccer is a defining achievement for FIFA 16. And we should celebrate it. But, I don’t understand how EA thinks a half-baked Trainer mechanic, no-touch dribbling, some Ultimate Team additions, fog (yes, fog), German Bundesliga graphics, and a few other gameplay tweaks are enough to counter what Konami is doing. Without a doubt, FIFA 16 provides countless hours of fun football. Any soccer fan will find tons to enjoy here. After all, this game is your mom’s mac and cheese. It’s familiar. It’s comfortable.