Passing the ball is one of the biggest problems in the game. Do you agree?
FIFA 16 – What Has Happened to Passing?
The first week of FIFA 16’s global release is undoubtedly an exciting time for any fans of the franchise – a new game means you get to play with updated teams and players, try out the new features and experience the excitement of rebuilding your Ultimate Team from scratch (though for those of you who purchase coins or FIFA points that may be a little less relevant).
Unsurprisingly, there are complaints that arise early on in the game. FIFA 14 saw crossing and heading become a major component of attacking play, and the chip through ball combination the trusty aide of the average player. FIFA 15 was burdened with goals scored directly after the kick off and the farcical new goalkeeper engine frustrate many a player. And after seven days of playing FIFA 16, I believe I have found one of the biggest problems in the game for me – passing the ball.
With FIFA 16 generally being a game harder to attack in, it is no surprise that previously easy traits to look for in your team are pace and strength are no longer the standard way of measuring a player – they need to have some quality in their other stats too. This leaves stats like dribbling and passing as far more crucial to having a good group of players in the team. And as dribbling is much more tied in to the speed and strength of a player it leaves passing as the key element to have in the squads midfield, and to an extent the front line.
This is where my problem begins. Simply pressing the pass button no longer reliably delivers the ball to the recipient – often a pass will be miskicked by the passer and will veer off direction, or even not have the power to reach the player and be easily intercepted by the defending team. This makes ball retention increasing difficult in the middle of the pitch as when trying to move the play around your midfield; you will often find the odd misplaced pass breaks down your own play. Passing has to be given far more attention, with angles and balance of the players needing far greater consideration than last year – and when trying to make quick decisions in a game of football, especially one like FIFA in which every minute counts, this can hinder your team and your chance of winning the game. Often the ‘driven pass’ is the option you have to take to excel in the game, yet even that has difficulties and using it will see your players smash the ball at their teammates to a ludicrous level of power – resulting in a minimal chance in actually keeping the ball as you would have hoped.
The short passing problem is a massive issue when using wingers in a team like I prefer to do. My standard formation is a 4-4-2 standard, which I have made a team in since FIFA 13, and thus has the positions left and right midfielder in their starting line-up. Primarily this makes passing in the middle of the pitch with my centre midfielders – preferably the main playmakers in the starting line-up – harder, as the decrease in passing accuracy and ability in this FIFA in combination with the lack of options that you’ll generally find with two in the middle of the pitch increases the difficulty in moving the ball around the field. Problems continue when the ball is shifted out wide to my two wingers. Being on the sides of the pitch they only have the fullback and centre midfielders in suitable distance for a ground pass – and given the inaccuracy that has befallen passing this year wingers are not able to reliably deliver the ball to the nearby players. This leaves the only real options for a winger as crossing the ball into the box, or attempting to dribble further with it – fine on FIFA’s past, but with the relative weakness of such traits in this FIFA this is far harder to achieve.
Through Balls have taken a major hit between FIFAs as well, with many passes intended to be ‘through’ the defence and in front of the attacker being anything but. Many of the balls made by my players do not travel in front of where the player is at all – and if they are put in the right place the power will be off the mark, either intercepted before the ball has a chance to reach the space or pelted far beyond the reach of the receiving player. The dreaded chip through ball of FIFAs past is all but vanquished now too – no longer can you unlock a defence with a quick button combination and one fairly quick striker. This would be seen as a bit of a relief for many people, but when near all through balls have to be angled just right to prevent them from being skewered and over-hit I see an issue with the mechanism. Not only is it tiresome and frustrating trying to get the power balance and swerve of the ball correct, but now the added bonus of having some through balls go to the wrong person is put in place. Regardless of how blatant the intended recipient is, many a through ball will ignore them by playing it to another team mate – and ruining what would be a very good attacking move in many cases.
All of the new problems I have discussed are largely situated in attack, yet for me personally the passing has an even bigger impact in defence. Whenever I am trying to make an interception I generally avoid using the ‘lob kick’ and ‘clearance’ buttons (X and B for Xbox users like me) as the game’s computer will often be unpredictable in determining who has the ball and make my player tackle instead, and potentially give away a foul. Instead I use the passing options to try and deal with such interceptions, as it ensures that I do not give away a foul, and has a far greater chance in reaching my attacking players for a good counter attack. My tactics play a major role in why I would say I am able to defend so well in FIFA’s over the years. However if you thought passing was difficult with midfielders, defenders are there just to prove that the standards can be set even lower. Depending on how spaced out your defence is any form of pass over 20 yards is a massive risk and makes your team extremely vulnerable to counter attacks. All the horrors that have infected short passing resurface to an even larger degree here, as generally a misplaced pass puts the attacking team in a great position to score. The ‘through ball’ clearance is far less effective now and can often result in a defender chipping it to a nearby player rather than a ball across the field as it would have done in previous years. Passing the ball between defenders is no longer a safe option on this FIFA and thus defending has become harder without actually making the typically defensive traits harder.
Perhaps this has not been a major issue for other people as much as it has with me. For those of you who already consider themselves strong at the game you may have already sussed out the passing deficiencies seen across the pitch, or maybe your play style isn’t as dependent on passing and you thus don’t see much change between FIFA 15 and 16. However I know for a fact that there will be people like me who are still adjusting to the changes in the game, and people who have struggled to win games with the new way in which we attack. Perhaps worst of all are the current prices – you can’t even rectify the ineptitude of the passing by buying quality attackers as the decent passing players are all still extortionately priced. I hope that when prices come down and I can afford the likes of Cazorla, Ozil, Silva and De Bruyne for my Premier League team I will solve this problem – but for now, FIFA 16 is finding tough to adapt to.
The Author: Owen Macdonald
Owen Macdonald is a 25 year old from London, United Kingdom and supports Fulham FC. Whilst a relative newcomer to the Ultimate Team franchise, having created his first team in FUT 13, Owen’s passion and ever growing knowledge of the footballing world has led to a love for FUT.
His enthusiasm for the game is not matched by many, and if asked will gladly talk about FUT and football on the whole for hours. Away from football Owen is a keen writer and enjoys politics and cinema.