Each time E3 rolls around, longstanding franchises like FIFA are challenged to innovate on an annual basis. It's a tough challenge for any developer, and last year's huge graphical and AI improvements will be a hard act to follow. EA's David Rutter took to the stage at this year's EA Press Conference to talk about FIFA 16 gameplay details for the first time, and he was quickly joined by football legend Pelé, whom voices the trailer for the game.
After a somewhat awkward period of Pelé talking about the sport in general, as opposed to videogames, EA's David Rutter got down to the details for FIFA 16 and specified three areas of focus for the next iteration of the series: innovation across the pitch, increased competition, and finding new ways to play.
Rutter confirmed artificial intelligence received a strong focus for improvement, which will hopefully decrease the amount of silly goalkeeper mistakes that plagued FIFA 15. This year, defenders will now receive drastically improved defensive agility, which allows them to more easily track skill players. This sounds like a direct response to last year's complaints of overpowered acceleration players, whom could easily run past most defenders without challenge. In addition to this, formations will have a more efficient time closing down the pitch while on defense, and will have a better transition into counter-attacking positions.
FIFA 16 will also introduce a new game mode called FIFA Trainer, which allows players to learn the game via on-screen hints and instructions. As players on the pitch receive the ball, controller buttons appear above them, indicating that the game is recommending different shot types, passes and directions be attempted. The idea is that if players follow the on-screen ques, they'll be practicing plenty of techniques which will improve their overall game. Practice modes certainly aren't new to the series as a whole, but this is a neat way to get players to try new strategies and shot types they otherwise would've have thought of.
One of the biggest changes is the introduction of off-the-ball movement, an aspect which the FIFA franchise has always tread lightly on. Body feints, separations and false movements are a huge part of the beautiful game, and it's great to see that they will now be incorporated into FIFA 16 - though it hasn't been revealed how these actions will fit into the controller scheme yet. There will also be more skill moves implemented into the game, as well as improved crossing attacks where AI-controlled attackers will try harder to find space in the air.
Rutter also reiterated how proud he was that international Women's Teams will feature in FIFA for the first time ever, a move that ties in well with the 2015 Women's World Cup which is currently underway in Canada. As the presentation closed, he announced current FIFA Ultimate Team Players on FIFA 15 would receive a free gift, which appears to be a golden Pelé, an extremely valuable card in FUT (that is, until everyone has it).
FIFA 16 is schedule for a September 25th, 2015 release on Xbox One, Xbox 360, PS4, PS3 and PC, having skipped over Nintendo consoles this year.