FIFA 16 is the third game for the then new generation of consoles in the EA Sports FIFA football series with feature parity for the PC version, just like the year before. The most typical update is the actualized content for stadiums, teams (both national leagues and national teams), and players statistics. A first for the series, women's teams are included with twelve national teams. Those matches can be played in different game modes: offline and online friendly games, and a tournament mode based on the FIFA Women's World Cup. Mixed matches are not possible.
The main Career mode is updated with a new training mode. It is used to develop players and this is done through skill game, similar to how it was introduced in 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil. This is encouraged to raise a player's transfer value. Prior to a new season it is possible to play a European tournament to earn additional starting money. The familiar Ultimate Team mode is also updated, focused on building a team through different decks of cards further supported through optional microtransactions for real money. There are some changes to the interface and the filtering systems for the transfer market. The versions for the different platforms are largely identical. A number of Legends (legendary players) for this game mode are exclusive to the Xbox versions, with players such as Deco, Litmanen and Giggs. FUT Draft is a new element for this mode, as a simplified version of the main game mode, but based on a selection of five players, and where Team Chemistry is equally important.
For the gameplay there are changes to the defensive mechanisms, most apparent through the better positioning of the defenders to keep the open spaces as small as possible. This can be countered on the offensive side with a 'pass with purpose', a hard pass that can split the defense in many occasions, but is hard to control for strikers. There are new options for dribbling, for instance through faking a pose in a certain direction using the body to lure a defender in a certain direction.
Lionel Messi is the cover star in all variants. He is joined by Alex Morgan in the US cover, Christine Sinclair in the Canadian cover, and Steph Catley in the Australian one.
The game pays tribute to the late Creative Director of EA Sports, Simon Keith Humber through the inclusion of his favourite football arena and a set of flowers placed behind the goal. His name also appears in the end credits as EA dedicated the game to him.
FIFA 16 was the first game in the series and the first popular football simulation game to include women's football alongside men's. Twelve women's national teams were included: Germany, USA, France, Sweden, England, Brazil, Canada, Australia, Spain, China, Italy, Mexico.
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