FIFA 18 provided the basis for many of the top FIFA esports tournaments of the past year, including the FIFA eWorld Cup, which was won by Saudi Arabian player Mosaad Aldossary. However, since then, the annual update to the game has been completed and released. FIFA 19 has divided players, particularly in the esports community.
Nowhere is that more evident than on the Twit Longer feed of VfL Wolfsburg FIFA esports player Benedikt “SaLz0r” Saltzer. The respected professional, one of a couple of esports professionals contracted to the Bundesliga team, has issued a statement criticizing many elements of 2019 update. Salzor’s complaints about FIFA 19 include:
A ‘devastating bug’
This concerns the tactical side of the game. Players assigned to one position in the tactics section of the game actually then play a different position. SaLz0r’s example is when top striker Gabriel Jesus is played as CDM (despite being placed in attack in the tactics), with top CDM Fabinho playing in place of Jesus as the striker. The inference is that the different skills each player possesses individually make him ill-suited to the roles. (Fabinho is not strong as a finisher or striker; Jesus is not strong as a defensive midfielder.)
While SaLz0r appreciates that this additional level of skill and complexity adds a great deal to the game, rather than having players finish strongly all the time, he reckons its effectiveness is diminished by the “way to [sic] strong” AI that players can use when defending. His argument is that when a player executes a perfectly timed shot, the AI is so over-powered that it can block the shot and render it effectively useless.
SaLz0r also complains that when a player elects to move a goalkeeper there are glitches that switch control to a different player. This often leaves the goalkeeper out of position and unresponsive to attacks.
Hitting the woodwork
When players create chances against the AI and the error-prone goalkeeper, even if a shot is perfectly timed, the ball seems to hit the bar and post far more frequently in FIFA 19 than in real life or previous incarnations of the game.
A game for the viewer rather than the player
SaLz0r also feels more spectacular types of goals, such as long-distance volleys, tornado kicks, and bicycle kicks — are over-powering the game. In effect, he is saying it is easier to score one of the most difficult and spectacular goals than a run-of-the-mill goal.
FIFA Online Qualifier Cup
Finally, SaLz0r complained about the organisation of this event. He sees numerous problems, including players who had earned the requisite 27 wins not receiving their email to compete.
What’s the upshot?
That’s a laundry list that still leaves further critiques on the table of his original post. SaLz0r even issued a fix-list for the game he hopes EA Sports will act upon for future updates.
It is generally rare for a high-profile esports player to come out and criticize a new game, especially one as universally popular as the FIFA franchise. While all games have bugs or glitches that can be resolved through patches and updates, Salzor seems to think that some of the issues with FIFA 19 stem from EA’s desire to turn the game into a viewing spectacle more than a playable game.
In EA’s defense, making a game that satisfies the whole FIFA community is an impossible task. There will always be some aspect of the game on which players have conflicting opinions.
Does SaLz0r have a point?
Having played FIFA 19 for a while myself, although not at the level of a top esports professional, I do feel some of the issues SaLz0r raised have credence.
The AI is outsizing the games. Even slick passing moves and incisive attacks will often be ended by an AI overpowering your striker or outpacing your attacker who should have far greater speed. It is also true that the ball does seem to hit the bar and post more frequently. That said, this has been true of many recent incarnations of FIFA.
The timed finishing aspect does work well at lower levels of the game, but as the AI or opposition improves, luck does seem to play a greater factor in its success than skill. It can be frustrating to execute a perfectly timed finish at the beginner level to score a goal only to try it at a higher level or against a better opponent and see the same shot, with a supposedly better player, hit the woodwork, be blocked, or go wide or over the bar.
Those fancy kicks
Where SaLz0r really does have a great point is in the frequency of goals scored by volleys, overhead kicks, and tornado kicks.
In real football, these goals are rarities. But in FIFA, you can almost bank on scoring one implausible goal per game. While this does make the game appealing (especially if you are the beneficiary of that goal), it is not realistic in the slightest. That can be frustrating if you are dominating your opponent only to lose on a volley from 40 yards away.
Since SaLz0r’s post, EA has issued two related patches. It will be interesting to see how the FIFA community reacts to these and whether they truly address the issues outlined here.
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