Even on beginner mode the AI is daunting. The only difference between it and world class difficulty is fallibility: when the lowliest team waltzes through your lines with the ease of 11 ballerina ghosts before slowing down when it realises it’s being too good – like Dash running a school sprint in The Incredible – you feel you’re being pandered to. Be warned: unless you’d like to give up 60% possession to a computer who’ll make you question mankind’s dominance on this planet, playing against the AI is a frustrating experience, and this seems to contradict FIFA Trainer’s entire purpose.
If you can stomach these psychic ball hogs (at least it feels good when you beat them), you’ll enjoy the career’s new features. There are pre-season tournaments that let you start your year with about £10 million extra spending money if you win, as well as give you a chance to trial players in matches with unlimited subs, and training that allows you to improve up to five players a week through skill games, whether playing them yourself or simming them, to raise attributes and market value. Though the effects of a 2+ pace increase on the pitch is negligible, it gives you worthwhile activities between matches besides reading emails from moaning benchwarmers, and makes you feel like you’re building towards something.
FIFA 16’s best mode by far is Ultimate Team Draft, in which you assemble a loan team out of a randomly generated assortment of rarities, then play four matches against either computer or human opponents, to win packs of Ultimate Team players based on your performance. Constructing your squad and shifting people around in the endless pursuit of perfect chemistry almost doesn’t need the ensuing matches – it could work as a self-contained puzzle mode. Since packs cost money, Draft has a £3/$3 entry fee, but the prize always matches this, if not surpasses it.
The only other new online options are regularly updated Live Tournaments, featuring rewards, but they’re only really worth entering if you’re literally the best FIFA player ever. Otherwise, stick to the returning ranked Seasons and co-op Seasons matches, create custom tournaments, and form Pro Teams with your virtual pro for up to 11 vs. 11 matches. Servers seem solid, lag is rare, and matchmaking’s fair.
Extra options in attack and defence enrich FIFA 16 without overburdening it. There’s no one winning tactic, so it’s up to you how you want to play, whether threading intricate passing patterns together, shooting from distance, or mastering original dribbling techniques. Oh, and Draft mode will make Ultimate Team fans’ faces melt. Although marginally slower then before, with a greater focus on build-up play, a slight loss of arcade appetite is a small price to pay for FIFA 16’s for fresh balance.