The king of football games is back and here's what's new
Fifa 19: All you need to know ahead of release
August is the big month of the year for football fans with the return of the Premier League, La Liga and Serie A. But for years now, the last week in September marks start of another season in the football calendar.
This is when the new console football games are released, so for those obsessed with the beautiful game, it will be straight home from the stadium for a night of Fifa on PC, the PlayStation or Xbox.
This year is no exception as gaming giant EA Sports prepares to launch Fifa 19 with its millions of followers already dizzy with excitement.
Here's what you need to know about this year's installment:
Key details - release date, formats etc
Fifa 19 is currently available for pre-order on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch and PC. Its general release date is September 28 but there are ways to get your hands on it earlier.
The earliest possible date it is available is September 20 via Origin Access Premier for PC users.
Subscribers to EA Access on Xbox One can play a 10-hour trial starting on September 20, then get 10 per cent off the full game after launch.
Anyone who pre-ordered the Champions Edition or Ultimate Edition on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, or PC can start playing the full game on September 25. Nintendo Switch users who pre-order the Champions Edition can also start playing on September 25.
Pricing for a PS4 download from the online store is as follows:
- Ultimate Edition - $99.99
- Champions Edition - $79.99
- Standard Edition - $59.99
As with previous versions, the Ultimate Edition comes with goodies, such as up to 40 Jumbo Premium Gold Ultimate Team (FUT) packs, one Uefa Champions League Gold Player Pick, Cristiano Ronaldo and Neymar Jr loan players for seven FUT matches, and Special Edition FUT kits designed by FIFA soundtrack artists.
The Champions Edition comes with slightly less, while you still get a few packs and a Ronaldo loan with the Standard Edition.
A taster is usually released a couple of weeks before the official week in the form of a demo - it was September 12 last year - but no date has been confirmed yet.
What's new this year?
The Fifa series, and most of EA's other sports titles, have stood accused of leaving gamers short-changed each year as new releases have often consisted of just a fresh coat of paint - that is updated team details and tweaked gameplay. In more recent times, Fifa has made decent strides with the action on the pitch notably different and new modes of play being added.
Here's the new key elements:
Champions League: This year, the game comes with the Champions League licence, meaning the full tournament is available to play with official match presentation, plus the Europa League and Super Cup.
Kick-off mode: This is where you can turn a normal match into one which is, well, anything but normal. It includes House Rules where you can customise your match by turning off fouls and offsides, rewarding long-range goals as double or use the playground classic Headers and Volleys. Then there's Survival Mode, whereby a player is removed from the scoring team each time they score. Note, goalkeepers are never removed.
The Journey: This mode is back for its third installment, and this time it comes with three stories. There's Alex Hunter who's now at Real Madrid, Danny Williams who is previewed in a Manchester United kit, and Kim Hunter who continues her journey to represent the United States at the Women's World Cup.
On the pitch: EA is making lots of noise about its new Active Touch System which it says changes the way you strike the ball and "increases player personality". Basically, it offers players new options when they receive the ball allowing them to do flick-up volleys or the Neymar Trap (which shouldn't involve him rolling around on the floor).
EA says players can now use their head, chest, knees and feet to flick the ball and change direction adding more realism to the action.
Its also making a fuss abut Dynamic Tactics, whereby you can switch between preset game plans during the action rather than having to pause the game and go into the menus.
A new layer has been added to shooting which could make the difference between finishing chances like Harry Kane does for Tottenham or blundering in front of goal as Raheem Sterling does for England. Basically it requires a second tap after pressing the shoot button and has to be timed perfectly or else it makes the shot worse.
Stadiums: Sixteen more have been added from Spain's Primera Liga, so if you crave a match at Malaga's Estadio La Rosaleda you're in luck. Tottenham's new stadium is also included, even though they haven't moved in yet.
This is where the real fun is at. The Fifa hardcore all play Ultimate Team (FUT) and for anyone who enjoyed opening packs of football stickers as a kid, you will understand why. You basically build your dream squad, earning packs of players to open (which should come with an addiction warning), and then face off against the world and your friends online. You start with a bunch of League 2 plodders so the more you play, the quicker you can improve your squad.
What also makes it such an alluring feast of football is that performances in the real world can affect player stats, plus the transfer market is effectively a real world economy driven by supply and demand and inflated by pocket money being splurged by kids the world over.
This year, there's a new mode called Division Rivals where EA says you take on players of a similar skill level and gain weekly rewards.
FUT Icons make a return, if you'd rather earn the original Brazilian Ronaldo ahead of the current one who has recently joined Juventus.
The Champions League and Europa League tournaments can also be accessed in FUT, while the best of the best can enter the Weekend League again.
For those who aren't familiar with it, make sure you download the Companion app on to your phone or desktop to make squad building that bit easier and to open packs on the go.
First UAE player in Fifa
Has there been an Emirati player in the Fifa series before? We think not, until now that is. The UAE's golden boy Omar Abdulrahman completed a move during the summer from Al Ain in the Arabian Gulf League to Al Hilal of the Saudi Professional League which is included in the game.
We can reveal that he has been given a rating of 76 on a gold card - making him the 13th highest rated player in the Saudi league.
Gaming, like the real version of the sport, has become big business with competitions around the world drawing thousands of competitors and viewers while big cash prizes are up for grabs.
Earlier this month, the two-legged Fifa eWorld Cup was won by Saudi Arabia's Mosaad Aldossary who walked away $250,000 richer. The 18-year-old also collected an invitation to the world body’s Best Fifa Football awards in September and a gleaming new trophy.
Regarded as one of the best defensive players, Aldossary also won the FUT Spring Cup in Manchester on his way to the 32-player finals.
Get practising everybody.