FIFA 15 Hands On Preview and Info Blowout

Posted by: 8/2/2014

Recently I was able to go hands on with the most recent build of the upcoming FIFA 15, which was only in the alpha stage at the time but already impressed me greatly from what I played. EA Sports had made the leap to Next-Gen last year with FIFA 14 which was based on the new Ignite Engine – EA’s new platform for their sports games catalog.

The Ignite Engine allowed FIFA 14 to be a truly advanced version of the game and be well ahead of its PS3 and Xbox 360 counterparts in terms of presentation and animation. FIFA 15 looks to build on everything EA has learned from its first attempt of being a true next generation game on the PS4 and Xbox One.  For the first time in a long time, FIFA 15 will also make its way onto the PC and be a true match to its console counterparts.

During my hands on preview of FIFA 15 I was able to chat with the series producer Santiago Jaramillo, who was able to share some more information about this year’s game and also give some glimpses into the future for FIFA.

I played FIFA 15 on the PS4 and immediately felt at home on the sticks from the first moment I touched it. The first things I noticed with FIFA 15 was the improved presentation of on and off the pitch, even the game’s menus and pre-game graphics deliver the experience of a soccer match better than any of the recent games in the series. If I had to compare the visual presentation to a TV broadcast, it would compare well to a Champions League pre-match.

The most significant improvements however, were made on the pitch as well as its immediate surroundings. The players are now more lean and realistic looking than before – they truly represent the sort of athlete a soccer player is as opposed to a more generic looking player model we may have complained about in the past.

Facial scanning tech has been improved as well and players like Leo Messi or Clint Dempsey look more realistic than they have ever before in a FIFA game. Additional players have been scanned this year as well and while I wasn’t able to get specifics on this, Santiago mentioned that it may have been the most scans the studio has ever done and when I played the game it was clear that the impressive tech has reached new heights. The real life counterparts to Higuaín and Co are nearly indistinguishable from the game this year.

Santiago also explained that the lighting has been completely overhauled for FIFA 15. There is now more realistic lighting for all the different lighting conditions, which makes the grass look more realistic, and all the elements on the pitch and the crowd look better integrated into the environment. In non-tech speak, this means that the game looks more natural and authentic than ever before. EA Sports wants to make FIFA 15 represents the presentation of a soccer game better than ever before.

This concept of presentation does not only mean the players were overhauled along with the lighting but also reaches to the way the pitch and player jerseys behave. During a match the pitch will degrade over time and be impacted by things like foot steps, jumps and slide tackles in real time. As players play a match you will notice that the pitch becomes tracked over, carved up by slide tackles and more – all in real time. This really added to the experience when I played the game and I actively noticed how much the pitch changed as the match progressed. This is a highly impressive feature and really removes some of the need to suspend your disbelieve.

FIFA 15 Pitch Degradation

The same goes for player jerseys, they get muddy, dirty and wet during the game depending on the actions on the pitch and the conditions on match day. Both the pitch and jersey degradation have taken a lot of work says Santiago as the team had to not only take a lot of time to get the visuals right but also determine how and when for the degradation to happen. These features are some of the most impressive tech I have seen in a sports game and are vital to the making FIFA 15’s presentation second to none.

A couple of my favorite additions to the game this year for me were the newly animated movements of the crossbar shaking when a strike hits it or the net coming up after a shot rockets in the back of it. These things may be considered small changes but to the schooled eye, these are details that make the difference.

FIFA 15 Leo Messi

Player animations have also been improved on many levels. Your favorite stars now feature actual hair movements and visible breathing. Lots of new dribbling animations have been added and even take into account players like Messi who predominantly use their left foot. There are also new animations for players jostling for the ball, fouls and new celebrations like teammates burying the scorer of a winning goal in the last minute of a match. Player jerseys move more realistic as well and remind me a lot more of what it looks like on TV rather than a video game.

Santiago says that the team addressed lots of bugs with physics and have focused on making the game fun again. Dribbling is a lot more responsive and fluid, which I can attest to from my time with the alpha build. I tried to squeeze more information out of him but he was tight lipped on that. He said that EA will be announcing more gameplay features in the near future.

During hands on time with FIFA 15 I really noticed some of the subtle changes that were made compared to last year’s game. While none of the updates may feel like complete 180s or game changers, everything is more refined and just feels more fluid. The dribbling especially stands out as it is much more exciting and nimble than in past games. Cutting a player, doing a step over followed by a 360 Zidane turn gave me goose bumps. I also noticed a better passing game that feels less connected to players but more natural as the ball is a separate entity in terms of physics. It was fun to knock the ball around and play keep-away just before playing a lethal pass down the center.

FIFA 15 Tackle

FIFA 15 feels less mechanical than its predecessor and I wanted to steal the PS4 it was running on. Knocking the ball around is fun again and makes me excited for more. All of the other elements of a soccer match are there as well of course. Shooting gives you a real sense of how the ball came of a player’s laces. I could tell if a ball was mis-hit or if a player like Messi curled it into a corner to perfection. Crossing the ball also felt better as it balls appear more weighty than in the past which also goes for the passing game. Playing FIFA 15 shows that EA Sports has made the game more fun, fluid and dynamic. Defensively players can now do a better job of containing the attacker and even tackle the ball of a striker’s foot without poking it away but keeping it in the best Sergio Ramos manner.

If you thought all of this is impressive, as I did when playing the game, you haven’t heard about all of the new features yet. FIFA 15 made some huge leaps when it comes to Artificial Intelligence too. All 22 players are now connected throughout the match and will remember the various actions taken by teammates and opponents. If a striker misses a shot in the beginning of the game, teammates will cheer him on to keep it up. However, if this keeps happening throughout the game his colleagues will grow frustrated and express their emotions.

FIFA 15 Stadiums

The same goes for opponents. Attackers will remember how many times they have been pushed or fouled by a defender and get in their faces as the game progresses. The fact that players are remembering actions by they teammates and opponents adds a whole different feel to the game. There are less canned interactions and animations this year and the more customized behaviors make FIFA 15 feel like a real match at times. Even though players do not remember games and actions taken on the pitch over the time of the season yet, it is certainly something that is in the words over at EA Sports, says Santiago.

We know that on the pitch improvements are very important for a FIFA game but EA also made a lot of efforts to improve areas around the pitch. Fans are now doing more authentic chanting and celebrating on the stands depending on the team or region, all while the commentators react to them in a more distinct fashion than before as they talk us through the matches.

FIFA 15 has made some incredible strides. The game plays and feels better than ever before and when you couple that with the improved presentation, it is hard to deny that EA Sports has another winner on their hands. While I pried Santiago on more details on gameplay, audio, FIFA Ultimate Team, Career Mode and new leages and stadiums, he wasn’t able to share information on these things just yet. Stay tuned, more info to come very soon!

FIFA 15 Clint Dempsey

Images PC Playstation Previews Videos Xbox

5 responses to “FIFA 15 Hands On Preview and Info Blowout”

  1. Serialmania says:

    I hope the PS3 and 360 version is as good as the PS4 and One versions….

    • AndreasR21 says:

      The PS3/PS4 versions will be different games and likely be re-skinned versions of FIFA 14 for the same platforms. EA seems to be focusing on next – gen using the Ignite engine.

  2. Taft says:

    Passing, crossing, heading, shooting, through balls, runs, defending… Any comment? How much fifa have you played in the past?

    The looks of fifa are good for selling the game and for the first week or so with it, after that they mean very little if the gameplay stinks.

Leave a Reply