FIFA 16: Gaining Equity

Being the best at football — or soccer depending where you’re from — often requires having eyes on the back of your head.

The same can be said for football video games.

See, when you find yourself at the top of the world for a long time, it can be easy to lose sight of the competition as they suddenly sneak up on you and steal the ball from behind. It happened to FIFA video game competitor Pro Evolution Soccer, which relinquished its lead from the Playstation 2 says and essentially got relegated to the sidelines during the previous console generation. After many years spent at the top of the “futbol” mountain and a new console generation in tow, it’s the FIFA video game series’ turn to make sure it doesn’t fall victim to the same move, especially given the impressive charge that its competitor mounted last year.

For its part, EA Sports attempts to fine tune its football formula in FIFA 16 with some notable changes. The most obvious one is the addition of international women’s soccer teams, with U.S. women’s team forward Alex Morgan sharing prime real estate with Argentine and FC Barcelona forward Lionel Messi on the Fifa 16 account. It’s a move that more jaded fans of the series might decry as they contend that the time invested in the move would have been better served on improving the core gameplay. Personally, however, I applaud the decision to add women’s soccer to the mix as I’m a fan of the Women’s World Cup. Based on the ratings generated by this year’s championship game in the once not-so-soccer-crazy United States, it looks like I’m not the only one.

At the very least, it’s one of the definitive advantages that FIFA 16 has over the suddenly game Pro Evolution Soccer 2016. It’s also a refreshing change of pace as the women’s side plays and feels differently from the men’s game. My only gripe is that it doesn’t include the Japanese women, although stalwarts such as the U.S. and Germany are at least represented among the 12 teams. Given all the negativity surrounding the FIFA organization’s scandals, having one of the positive stories of the sport included is a big plus in my book.

FIFA 16

Another change I noticed is that the defense has been tightened up a bit. It’s something that’s especially noticeable in higher difficulties, though it still isn’t quite as suffocating as PES 2016. For the most part, I had an easier time weaving through the defense with the sprint button pressed and moving around in this game than I did with its rival. Depending on your preferences, that’s either good or bad, but it’s one point of distinction from its competitor. Passing also was made a bit more challenging so you can’t just spam the pass button. It’s improved over last year though still not quite as smooth as PES 2016. I recommend trying out different passing settings to find the one that works best for you.

For newcomers, I found FIFA 16 to be more beginner friendly as it’s easier to pick up compared to the more technical controls of PES 2016. Graphically, I prefer the character models of the latter though FIFA gets the nod when it comes to the stadiums as well as overall production values. Commentary is also better overall in FIFA 16 and it retains the advantage with licenses as well as its Ultimate Team mode.

What isn’t as easy to answer, however, is which offers better action on the pitch. Both games certainly offer solid gameplay but they definitely feel different so this is one of those things that boils down to personal choice. Admittedly, I find PES 2016’s gameplay to be a bit more engaging as I have to work harder to get through the defense and one-on-one confrontations feel like mini battles of their own. Some folks, however, might prefer FIFA’s more arcadey style on the pitch and I won’t fault them for that either.