FIFA 19 has finally been revealed. We know its release date, we know it's poached the Champions League license from rival football game PES, and we know it will feature the third and final chapter of Alex Hunter's story in The Journey. However, very little has been shared about how the game plays and feels.
Luckily, we got hands on with the new soccer game at EA Play. As you might expect, it feels very similar to FIFA 18, but it builds on its predecessor in a number of tiny ways. These are details that took us a while to notice, but they will end up making a huge difference over the course of the next dozens of hours that we all spend playing FIFA 19.
For more on FIFA 19, check out our other coverage below. Alternatively, read on for 19 amazing new details you might have missed in FIFA 19.
- E3 2018: FIFA 19 Takes Champions League License Away From Rival Konami's PES
- E3 2018: FIFA 19 Release Date Announced For PS4, Xbox One, Switch, And PC
- FIFA 19 Pre-Order / Release Date Guide (US)
- FIFA 19 - Official Reveal Trailer | E3 2018
Shot In The Dark
You can now attempt to hit a shot even sweeter than before by tapping Circle / B a second time, just as your foot hits the ball. Get the timing right, and there's a decent chance the ball will be flying into the top corner. Get it wrong, and it'll probably end up in row Z.
Secretive Goal Kicks
If you're the sort of FIFA player who likes to play out from the back, this one's for you. You know when you're playing next to a friend and you want to play it to your center-back or right-back from a goal kick, but if you move the stick, your mate will see the camera swing round and know where you're going to pass to? Now, moving the stick from a goal kick doesn't move the camera, so you can emulate Barcelona and Manchester City to your heart's content.
Second Player Markers
One of PES 2018's best small improvements was a grey marker above the currently selected second player when defending. This allows you to know which second man will press and which player you'll switch to should you press L1 / LB. EA has, smartly, taken the idea and put it into FIFA 19.
You can now tell your full-backs what kind of runs to make when on the attack. Go into the player instructions tab of team management and you'll see a new option to tell full-backs to overlap the winger or underlap into the center of the pitch.
Another new player instruction option is the ability to tell a central midfielder to cover the wing or the center of the park.
One team's players will now have triangular icons--as opposed to the standard circular ones--on the mini-map for quicker and easier identification between your teammates and opponents.
Game plans are a new feature in FIFA 19 that allow you to configure alternate tactical options before the match. This means you can now have separate game plans for when you're 1-0 down and need to go on the offensive--pushing full-backs up and having more players flood the box, for example--and for when you're 2-0 up and want to protect your lead. Once you've made your plans, you simply use the d-pad in-game to change to your other pre-meditated systems. Unfortunately, this means all-out attack and park the bus no longer exist as in-game options.
EA hasn't just got the Champions League logo; it's also got a new commentary team just for European nights under the lights. Derek Rae and Lee Dixon offer their expert commentary for the Champions League, so you'll have more than just the usual pair of Martin Tyler and Alan Smith for company.
This got a little lost in the excitement of getting the Champions League license, but the Europa League will also be in FIFA 19. Great news for all the Arsenal fans out there.
The Champions League will of course be seen in The Journey, Ultimate Team, and Career Mode, but it will also get its own standalone mode. Within that, you can set up a custom Champions League, and have it include any team you like. Great news for all the Arsenal fans out there.
You now have greater control over your team's defensive style. That means you can change the way your team attempt to reclaim the ball via the following settings: "pressure after possession loss," "constant pressure," "drop back," "balanced," and "pressure on heavy touch."
Scoring headers from corner kicks now feels far more satisfying, as your players appear to hang in the air a little longer when jumping. They also make more dynamic runs into the box.
As has become a common feature in football games, you can adjust your team's width and depth in FIFA 19. However, you can also adjust the number of players you send forward for corner kicks and tweak how many players will make forward runs in play.
Through On Goal
Passing in general feels a little better this year, but the biggest step forward has been seen in through passes, which feel much more natural. They feel way more powerful; too powerful, in fact, and we wouldn't be surprised to see them nerfed before launch.
A Touch Of Class
A new active touch system will allow better first touches with many different parts of the body, which both looks great and gives you greater control over the ball.
As part of active touch, you can now feint to go in one direction before receiving the ball while actually touching the ball in the opposite direction. Sucks to be a defender.
A Touch Of Class Part 2
This may seem minute, but stepovers appeared to be a little easier to trigger and a little more powerful. Also, a right-weighted stepover will now bring a slight touch to the left (and vice versa), which has the dual effect of looking more dynamic and of fooling your opponent.
EA says 50/50 battles over a loose ball will now take into account many more variables than they did last year, including player attributes and user reaction times.
One of the most annoying things about previous FIFA games is that it was never totally clear whether in-game tactical options--such as having your wingers swap sides or forcing your defense to play an offside trap--were activated. Once you clicked the button, you never knew whether it would be active permanently or if it was temporary and whether or not it was currently active. This year, there's a clear toggle, so you know when you're telling a center-back to join the attack. I mean, you should probably be able to tell from the 6ft 6in lump that's standing on the goal line, so you may want to get your eyes checked.