Career mode: First peek.
Right, so i was lucky enough to spend a day last week having a little tinker with career mode. By little tinker i mean i spent a day in a room with a guy called Nick Cave who you may know from the EA forums and EVO WEB, an Xbox and some early ‘ish’ career mode code. To throw some perspective out there, I loved manager mode, bugs ‘n’ all (and i was fully aware of them, even if i didn’t experience them all first hand). Nick, is a die hard manager mode player, he has seen the dizzying heights of ten plus seasons and he means business. We sat down, and between the two of us we battered it. At the end of the day we had a chat with Marcel Kuhn to discuss the pros and cons of what we saw through the day. I’d like to say a huge thanks to him for taking the time to do that and to Phil Wride for setting it up.
Read more after the jump.
This article is written from the “what is in it” angle, so there may be things covered that you think “That was there last year”. It’s been built from the ground up so i wanted to cover the features that have been retained as well as the new additions, just to give everyone an idea of what to expect when they fire it up.
The first mode we looked at was Player. This years answer to BAP. In all honesty, much like previous BAP modes, it was a little thin. When you start, your options are, create a vp, create a player, and select an existing player.
A new development is the option to stick with the squads that come out of the box, or download the latest squads (much in the same way you would for a 1v1 online) and start with them. Seems trivial, but it means that if you start a new career in February once the window shuts, the leg work on those transfers is done for you.
Once you have sorted your player, you get to sign your contract. It’s one screen, but it lays out your objectives for the season and depending on which type of player you have chosen, your objectives will change. Pick someone in the starting eleven, and the board want you to stay there, if you pick a squad player, they will want you to break into the first team and won’t stand for you hanging around on the sidelines.
When you start as a player, you don’t have the backing to make any managerial choices, much like BAP from previous years, you need to earn that privilege. There are 7 levels that you can take your player through: Prospect, Reserve, Squad, Starting 11, Key Player, Captain and Legend. Once you start to grow towards being a captain,you can influence the starting line up, until then you’re a bit part. If you start a career as a player, you can still choose to take control of just that player (a’la BAP) or take control of the whole team, on a match by match basis.
I got the impression that rather than ending up with 15 odd MM saves (which i did last year) you are being steered towards just having one save, Start as a player, then grow into a player manager and then finally a manager. It’s structured so that you cant play more than 7 seasons as a player, then you get an additional 4 seasons as a player/manager and 4 more as a manager. You need to become a club legend within those initial 7 season to be able to move from player to player/manager.
Whilst you are playing as a player, you won’t be subbed off, but you aren’t guaranteed to be picked for every game. Clubs will come in and make an offer on you, based on your current overall and status.
After fiddling around as a player for about half a season, we moved on to a manager career. When you start a manager career, you get the option to turn “play as AI” on or off. Turning it on allows a friend to play with you, either on the same team or against you in each match. The downside to this is that it turns off achievements/trophies.
Overall, there have been huge improvements, with many of the community concerns and gripes being dealt with well. The biggest change for me was that games are now set up correctly, weekend games are played during the day, weekday games are played at night and although you can’t edit this, it adds that touch of authenticity that was missing from Manager Mode. League games can fall on any day, and although we didn’t see any instances of multiple games on the same day, we did see two games in two days being set up, this was raised as an issue at the end of the day. Sadly you can’t select who you play your pre-season games against.
I’ve broken the next part down to look at all of the components individually.
This is where you are going to spend a lot of your time. Completely different to what we are used to and a huge improvement. As has been mentioned before, CM works on a day to day calendar, so you work through each day even if there aren’t any matches, similar to the way Championship Manager works. You can sim to any date in the calendar and skip ahead to where ever you want with one click, this can be interrupted at any time. There are four icons on the calendar, Cup, friendly, Euro,League, fairly self explanatory. The Icons show up for each match so you can see at a glance where your league and cup games fall, the only downside is that there isn’t a distinction between the different types of cup, so you have to hover over that particular day to see it.
I’ve already covered the way simming works on the calendar, but there is a bit more to it than that. Simming a game now takes a little longer than before, but you get to see the main events (goals, cards) as they happen. Sadly you can’t interrupt the game to make changes, it’s automatic but the decisions it makes for you are good. Results from other matches are spot on, i don’t remember seeing any stupid results, although whilst playing as Leeds, we had a look at the premiership table and it was almost upside down with Liverpool rock bottom and Wolves sitting proudly at the top, this was concerning and raised as an issue.
Your correspondence with the outside world is done via email, which you recieve almost daily. You can expect to receive messages from your Chief exec, Coach, Assistant Coach, Other clubs, Medical Staff, Players and Magazines. These messages will notify you of injuries, the status of any transfers you are currently negotiating and other goings on.
These caused some speculation when the first CM screens got released, people weren’t too sure what they would be for. They are the front end for all the news and stats from across the leagues. Sky sports is used for the lower leagues and Talksport for the premiership, other than the branding, they work in exactly the same way. There is also Fussball.de and others for the international leagues. Once inside, you are presented with a list of the cups and leagues from the country you are managing in, selecting one takes you to the stats for that league/cup,so you can see the league tables, fixtures/results and team stats. It’s a nice interface and laid out well, the only criticism we had was that the relegation/promotion identifiers weren’t very clear, but again we made Marcel aware of this.
The injury model is quite forgiving. It created what was possibly the biggest talking point of the day. In the Manager career we started as Man Utd, we saw the following injuries:
Training – 9 Days, Training – 123 Days, Training – 3 Days
As you can see, that’s not many, even though we didn’t make it through a whole season. The general feeling was that there is still some work to be done on this side of things, they just weren’t frequent or varied enough to make you use your squad properly.
The injuries are broken down into categories based on severity. The worst type of injuries are aptly named severe. They range from 30-140 days out and we were told you could expect to see one or two of these per season. Lower league teams are slightly more injury prone.
We sadly didn’t see (even though we tried to force it) any injuries that came from actually game play, they were all from training or simmed games. Marcel assured us that they were in the game, but we just didn’t manage to see them.
There are a few additional options in the pre game settings, on top of the previous options you can now change net shape (Rectangle,Triangle, Square, Default) and tension (Loose, Tight, Regular, Default). You can also choose the weather.
The pre-match screen now has a lot more detail on it, showing both starting line-ups, date, kick off time and referee.
Big changes here. A brilliant one being the removal of the “likelihood of transfer” bar that allowed you to just mess around with the transfer details until you had made the deal a dead cert. Frequent activity with a single player is now bunched up as one on-going negotiation which keeps things tidier. When viewing a player you get to see their current contract as well as current appearances and goals.
There are new options when searching for players, you can now search based on attributes, status, wage, specialties, nationality, max value, league, team or any combination of them. Additionally you can search by scout picks if you are undecided on your options, which will show you players that are affordable and will strengthen your weakest points. Finally you can search by specialties such as poacher, clinical, speedster, dribbler.
The two tier negotiations are excellent. Some clubs will decline your offer but invite you to make a higher bid, some will flat out refuse to let the player go. Once you have agreed a fee for someone with their current club, you are granted permission to start talking to the player, so you can make an offer on contract length, weekly wage and any goal bonuses you want to offer. You might get lucky and find that they agree straight away, they might come back with their own terms that they want you to meet or they might just flat out refuse to move. Once negotiations are complete, you get the final say on whether to press on and complete the transfer.
Excellent development on the loans front. Firstly, current loans are in place, so when you start you will see players in your squad that are already out on loan. You can recall those players for a fee and if you have a loaned player, you can send them back to their original club in a similar way.
On the selling side, you can list players as available under the following conditions, For Sale, short loan (3 months), season loan, and release. If you want to release a player, you will be charged a fee based on their remaining contract.
You can reallocate your wage to transfer budget ratio three times a year, so you might use it to free up a little more money for a transfer you want to complete, or you might want to pour some cash from the transfer budget back into wages to keep the board happy.
You will see transfer activity from other clubs in the news screens, in the time we had, we didn’t see any weird transfers, which is a big plus and the Transfer budgets for clubs seem to be pretty much spot on. Sadly there is still no player trade or player plus cash option.
I think it’s been confirmed elsewhere, but they are in. We simmed a season up to the cup final, won it and then got to watch the team celebrate, with the trophy. Unfortunately, we only got to see one, so I don’t know what the variety will be like. The one we did see was good, very much along the same lines as the ones from the world cup game. I would hope that there are plenty more in there, but the fact that there are at least some is a move in the right direction.
Other General Bits
Match highlights work really well. At the end of the game, you get ten highlights from the game, with the option to save them to your hard drive. You don’t get any say in what highlights are selected, but each time we checked it, it had pulled the relevant bits of the match out, goals, missed chances etc. It is a huge improvement on the way highlights worked in Fifa10 and being able to save to your HD is a dream come true for budding video creators, or just to be able to prove to your mates that you did score that rasping 40 yard drive.
The atmosphere in games was hugely improved, it really felt like the crowd would get behind the home side and they reacted much more organically to what was happening on the pitch.
All in all I was extremely impressed with what I saw. Considering it’s been knocked down and started again, I was expecting to see some features sacrificed, moving back to move forward and all that, but it didn’t seem to be the case. The changes that have been made are a nice reflection on how the community has a lot of input towards what happens with the final product. There are still an awful lot of features and touches missing, so we need to get playing and get those missing elements raised to EA.
I’ll be discussing the day in more detail with Mr Bryant on this weeks podcast. Be sure to check that out on FSB Friday.