The season of the yearly releases is almost upon us once again. As FIFA 19 is only a few weeks away now, EA have released a demo containing some of the newest mechanics and features.

The playable demo features 10 playable teams, The Journey: Champions, UEFA Champions League matches and many new in game changes. As a result, I have been playing the game for the past week to see what we can expect in the full release.

We’ll cover all the features on show within the demo and try give more information on how these are best used in game. It is important to note, however, that gameplay does tend to change from the demo to the final version.

Playable Teams

Kick Off, one of modes available on the demo, gives you access to a select number of teams. As it is just the demo, only some of the biggest teams from Europe are playable.

Here are the teams:

  • Premier League – Manchester City / Manchester United / Tottenham Hotspur
  • La Liga – Real Madrid / Atletico Madrid
  • Bundesliga – Bayern Munich / Borussia Dortmund
  • Serie A – Juventus / Roma
  • Ligue 1 – PSG

Kick Off Mode

The main core of the game mode is still intact but with a bunch of improvements and updates to make the game more arcadey and competitive. After all, in this game mode you’ll mainly play against mates with recognised teams, both locally and online.

The Champions League plays a big part in the demo, letting you play in the group stages. The competition looks, sounds and feels just like the real deal thanks to the official licensing. However, the commentary from Derek Rae and Lee Dixon does seem a bit strange, taking away from the authenticity.

In the full game you will be able to play in all stages of the Champions League as well as the Europa League.

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House Rules

Many sections of the Kick Off mode are cut out from the demo but will be available in the final version of the game. The new section such as House Rules lets you switch up the rules from any regular game of football. In matches with conditions such as:

  • No Rules lets you get rid of the referee completely, in a free-for-all type of football match.
  • Long Range gives precedence to scoring from outside the box, with these goals counting a two.
  • Headers and Volleys lets you only score legitimate goals with headers or volleys.
  • Survival sees you lose a player from the pitch every time you score a goal, with the first to five goals winning the match.
  • First to… lets you set a target of goals to reach in order to win the match.
  • Best of Series lets you set a target of games to win in order to win the series.
  • Home and Away lets you play two-legged matches, with Away Goals factoring in as a rule.

On top of all this, an added emphasis is now being placed on tracking statistics. Create a Kick Off name and use this to then track all the statistics against an opponent, regardless of where you’re playing – in other words word of mouth will no longer decide who the better player really is.

Here’s a list of the tracked statistics:

  • Wins / Losses / Draws / Win %
  • Goals Scored / Goals Conceded / Goal Difference
  • Shots / On Target / On Target %
  • Goals Scored from Inside the box / Goals Scored from Outside the box
  • Goal Net Heatmap
  • Fastest Goal Scored
  • Penalties / Free Kicks
  • Average Possession / Possession in Areas of the Pitch
  • Average Pass Completion
  • Past 5 match results
  • Most Two-Legged wins / Best of 3 wins / Best of 5 wins
  • Biggest Win

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The Journey: Champions

The demo gives you a taste of the finale to The Journey story mode. Alex Hunter finds himself making his Champions League debut playing for Real Madrid where he tries to become the world’s greatest footballer.

Added features such as ‘The Rondo’ training routine, that Pep Guardiola famously implements, is playable before matches.

The final version of the game also allows you to play The Journey through the eyes of Kim and Danny. All three characters’ stories will occur simultaneously, and switching between them will give a fresh perspective to the story.

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New Gameplay Mechanics

With a new FIFA comes the inclusion of gameplay changes with new gameplay mechanics. These tend to form the main changes from game to game, giving FIFA 19 a newer and refreshed feel. FIFA 19 introduces Timed Finishing, Active Touch System and more.

Timed Finishing

The new Timed Finishing mechanic combines the double tap shooting from previous FIFA titles, with accuracy to add an extra dimension to shooting.

You can still shoot in the normal way but double tapping the shoot button now gives you more manual control over shooting. A bar appears after tapping shoot to allow you to perfect the timing. The mechanic gives you feedback when performing the action, so you always know how to improve.

Timed Finishing is pretty much a risk and reward system for shooting; gamble for a higher chance to score. Hit the sweet spot to add a boost of power and accuracy to the shot. However, mistime it and the shot will be a lot worse. You’ll want to use this when you’re trying a more speculative shot as opposed to an easier one – perfect for scoring 40-yard screamers. After playing the demo, it seems to give more lee-way to higher rated players with better overall shooting statistics.

This is a welcome addition to FIFA 19, and a good use of the features explored in previous FIFA Street games.

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Active Touch System

The Active Touch System changes the way your first touch is made, giving you more control over the ball in tight situations. You can now move the ball into space with your first touch or use a fake touch to confuse players. This will give you an advantage over defenders when used correctly, even more so with quicker players.

With this comes a new and wider range of animations to showcase the Active Touch System as best as possible.

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50/50 Battles

50/50 Battles is a system that adds a sense of urgency when fighting for every ball. The system determines the outcome of every battle using player strength, player reaction and the distance between players. This improves the overall physicality between players, improving ball control and the physics involved contact. You’ll no longer see players sliding in a rather unnatural way or players dramatically falling over.

As a result, you’ll definitely want to look for the one-on-one 50/50s to contest for the ball, especially when higher up the pitch.

Dynamic Tactics

Dynamic Tactics are not an entirely a new feature but one that has been improved on from previous games in the series. It simplifies the display of tactical plays for easier accessibility, adding a new selection to pre-match preparation.

In FIFA 19 you can set pre-assigned tactics in advance, so your team knows how to approach the match beforehand. This was previously only available when within a match, meaning matches start without any tactical approach.

EA have made the overall feature more balanced, giving it a more of a chess-like vibe. Every tactical approach will now have a more accurate counter tactic. And so, identifying the correct approach to an opponent’s tactic will be crucial to winning.

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The demo is available to play right now with FIFA 19 releasing on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 on September 28th.

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