The latest instalment from EA sports certainly feels like the most comprehensive football game out there, mainly due to the addition of the official brands of the Champions League and Europa League. The acquisition of the license for club football’s most prestigious competition feels long overdue, although its arrival does not disappoint. FIFA 19 also branches out with the Journey mode thanks to the addition of Kim Hunter, alongside Alex Hunter and Danny Williams. However, it’s in the kick off mode that FIFA 19 has the most innovations thanks to the debut of multiple house rules playing option, including disabling referees and gameplay where only specific goals are allowed. Despite the upgrades added to the game, some more valued than others, FIFA again falls short on reinvigorating its career mode, which appears untouched for successive years; the negligence of this facet of FIFA means repetition of challenges in this feature.
Before delving into the modifications of the Journey mode, an exploration of the incorporation of the Champions and Europa League is worthwhile. Both competitions are now interwoven into career mode and the Journey, as well as having a mode of their own. EA have maximised the addition of the licensing by bringing in new commentators for European games while also graphically bringing to life the unique atmosphere created by such occasions; after all, there are few such goosebump-inducing moments as the Champions League anthem and FIFA expertly recreates this effect in the game.
Three years ago, FIFA introduced a new dimension to the game, and since FIFA 17 it’s been expanding ever since. The Journey story began with Alex Hunter, a rising star seeking hard-to-come-by first team chances before attempting to consolidate his name on the team sheet as a regular. The story then followed as Hunter secured a high profile move abroad after impressing on his home turf. One of the highlights of the Journey is that you are able to transfer save data from FIFA 19’s predecessors so you can play with the Alex Hunter you’ve already been developing.
The Journey expansion has now collided with another recent emergence within FIFA; womens’ football. The story of Kim Hunter orientates around her ambition to represent her country in the womens’ world cup. The continuing growth and attention of womens’ football is explored in real life and now in a virtual reality. The options of using womens’ teams remain limited to only international teams but Kim’s introduction shows the evolution of FIFA; it’s now more likely that further growth for women’s football on the game will come much sooner than the wait for the official licensing of the European tournaments.
There are three stories to follow in the Journey with Kim, Danny and Alex all having their own objectives, which are achieved through the completion of training and having regular game time. New teams are available to sign to broaden opportunities for both home and abroad, particularly for Danny and Alex. For each character it’s important to balance your manager’s rating, influencing your first team claim, and your followers, with consequences if the equilibrium tilts too far to either side. Despite each player being at different stages of their career and experiencing the different tiers of football with their respective challenges, it is important in games to stick to your role and support the team as this also will impact your manager rating.
Overall, FIFA 19 satisfies the hunger for upgrades but also leaves us hoping for more next year.
By Henry Burgess.