Kelley asked me a while back to do a write-up on the differences between FIFA 15 and FIFA 16 Pro Clubs, or my interpretation..

After a minimum of at least 20 sub 3am finishes, literally hundreds of cans of lager drank, i’ve finally been able to complete this. It isn’t as easy as it sounds.

With Gamescom coming and then going again, it’s given me a little more insight into where the future lies with FIFA and the Pro Clubs system or mode, whichever you prefer to call it.

Back when me and Kelley went to the Producers day at EA HQ for FIFA 14, i had my eyes opened up to the big wide world that is gaming.

As much as that weekend was probably one of the best i’ve ever had on the drink and having a fantastic laugh coupled with a steep learning curve; in retrospect, it was also a sad occasion.

Looking back now, Nick Channon was happy to provide us with developments of how the game would play out, the fact that emotion was a big part of the game from pitch to crowd and that the new Ignite Engine provided the ability to create a “True Player Motion” as well as move on with the Impact Engine.

Then the bombshell hit when Kelley began asking him questions about Pro Clubs.

It was like there was no interest whatsoever in the mode. That’s been evident as we now move into our 3rd iteration on “Next Gen” and now, the SECOND new engine on Next Gen consoles.

Over the years, the biggest development in Pro Clubs was the move from 5v5 in BAP mode to 11v11 and the inclusion of Keepers as a position; but the biggest one was the fact that they moved your Pro online, and away from editing. All of this happened on PS3 / Xbox 360.

The latter was with the help and support of Community sites from the likes of FVPA and beyond. Since then, we’ve not had much to cheer about.

Clubs have remained the same for, i would say the last 5 years, most notably on next gen though; other than a facelift in terms of the dressing room skin / colour, we’ve not had anything to warrant us who support the Pro Clubs mode to shout from the rooftops about how great the game is.

In reality, the biggest change to Pro Clubs is the gameplay itself.

The gameplay has just never supported Pro Clubs; the true 11v11 especially on Next Gen.

When EA moved from promoting it to get more users involved in FUT and then dulling Clubs down to play against 2 man teams it was of a detriment to the mode. It’s clear that money speaks, with FUT dominating the game and the franchise and the change in the way the game played from 15 to 16 was a backwards step.

Attempting to play football on either was difficult, but more so in 16. The ball runs along a rail, the ball doesn’t go to the player you are controlling; the AI is as thick as mincemeat and are significantly rated lower than those who you come up against. The Keepers still spill the ball to an attacker and as a defender, turning is either like being stuck in the mud or being a 32 tonne lorry trying to get around a mini-roundabout. Either way, you’re knackered.

At least back in 15, i could say FIFA was more competitive online as a club, maybe that’s down to the fact i’ve not really played ‘16 until it was released on EA Access on Xbox One and even with my 10 hour trial, i had 6 hours of it left in April i believe, some 6 months down the line. ‘15 felt more intuitive, more responsive, fluid and was certainly more emotional than 16 is. EA lost emotion a while ago. Sort the gameplay to reflect “real football” and you’ll be onto a winner.

Now, moving it forward. How can the game improve? For me, these are the significant areas:

• Gameplay
• Customisation
• Community input

So, i’m now going to look at EA’s own public release from the 15th August 2016.

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Player Growth – I sincerely hope that this “match rating” works. My main concern is trying to be a “team player” and passing the ball about, only for an interception to shaft your rating, or being pezzled 7-0 by a team and finding that no matter how much of a team you are, you’re rating still takes a nosedive.

I still feel allowing us as players / Pro’s to control our attributes would have been a far greater improvement and genuinely allows us to be individuals. But, let’s wait and see.

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Traits – We’re still seeing the traits feature being used in the new game by the looks of things; yet we’re seeing “skill points” having to be spent to obtain them.

Why not get rid of the traits and just use this feature for Player Growth? I can tell you why….FUT. Pogba, Messi all having specific traits. It’s a no brainer really.

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Customisation – Well, finally! Only this should have been out, well…years ago. 24 Kit templates to “match your team’s personality.” Hmm…and badges;

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Yup, they look encouraging (well, not really); again not the ability to upload your own custom badge. Have they not seen some of the committed and skilled Photoshop users out there? I’d be pulling my hair out not to get my skills into the game; the ability to show off my editing skills in the process throughout the year.

Scrolling back to the top of the official statement, i quote :

“In addition, we’ve listened to your feedback and delivered customisable Custom Kits and Crests, which brings a new level of personalisation to your Pro Clubs Season.”

Overall, i’m pleased to see that they’ve “listened” (cough, cough) even though it’s only taken them at least 3 years that i was involved in clubs to get some of this stuff in. The people who they need to listen to, they don’t do it enough.

Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of people who think they know best and we all know that one complete twat who thinks he is the best at the game and that he can improve or tell anyone how to do something including those who make the game.

The biggest thing is for me though is going to be the gameplay and the use of the Frostbite engine.

Will it fall flat on its face and feel as lethargic as the BF franchise does to me? I sincerely hope not. I do hope that they have mastered it but in honesty, i’ve lost patience, hope and mostly loyalty. Gone are the days i’d not even blink about spending fifty quid on FIFA – as soon as there was info or a pre-order date, i’d be there. Not now.

So, they’ve at least hit one if not two of the areas i’d like them to focus upon; that being Gameplay in the Frostbite engine, the other in Customisation.

The third aspect is that they actually listen to the communities who are fundamental in the game; well who cares about the game – and that isn’t FUT, Career etc, but PRO CLUBS. Its the one part of the game that emits realism and is the ONLY way to properly see if the game is suited to playing football.

What annoys me more than anything is that they are happy to take feedback from YouTubers who, seemingly these days spread their preferences thinly across an array of football games or eSports competitors who play to compete, playing the game to death to master the flaws of the game yet it’s not from the millions of users who play the game; i jest, they probably do, don’t get me wrong but in snippets.

But from a “football” perspective or understanding (aka footballing brain) they lack or fail to grasp what it means to play the sport properly and thus are in my opinion, starting to fail the game.

Open up EA, get people who are genuinely involved in Pro Clubs and are committed like i was and there’s a vast amount out there in ALL corners of the world (iFVPA communities was a prime example) to come in, get involved and make a game that people will pay for.

Christ, i remember people saying that they’d buy a standalone game for Pro Clubs.

I’ve yet to play FIFA 17 and can’t see that happening until the demo is released and even then it’s probably going to be a token gesture at this stage unless it blows me away, which from reading the reviews for those who have played the game or broken the trailers down, i doubt. And these guys i take a lot of notice of.

I’m also going to comment on this nonsense with regards to licences and their “partnerships.” Both companies are doing it, to a detriment to each other to be fair. But there is a positive for FIFA fans.

Are EA saturating the market to the point that their rival has a minimal number of licensed teams?

For me it’s now more of “we’re panicking” and hoping that the licenses will keep their lead in the online sales charts.

That, i sincerely hope is the case.

It means they are worried; if they are worried then that means development, that means input and that means they’re going to open up to us. It can only be a good thing, especially for Pro Clubs.

I’m awaiting the demo; but if previous years are to go by, the build won’t be the one on release, but nonetheless – i’m intrigued to see how it plays.