Adventurous people love extreme weather, whether it’s scorching 40+ degree heat, a monsoon rainstorm, severe winds, or a winter-wonderland with huge snowflakes slowly falling. Even if you don’t like it, you must at least find it interesting.
Extreme weather makes us feel alive. It provides a break from the usual, and makes us renew our respect for nature. I think it puts us in our place a little… brings out our animal instincts and makes us respect our relationship with our planet a little more.
This past December, around Christmastime, a winter storm hit the UK hard, leaving a ton of snow in its wake. As a spectator, watching the Boxing Day matches from overseas, I found it an interesting subplot, and wondered why some of this couldn’t be better incorporated into EA’s game.
Now I realize FIFA isn’t SimCity or Bully. I’m not suggesting that the weather should be so prominent that it steals focus from the match, or that it should take away from the gameplay in any way. But football is played outdoors, and there’s always weather outdoors. I think with a little creativity, some more interesting weather could be incorporated into the gameplay, adding a little drama and realism, and interesting sub-plots. Real weather isn’t only “Clear”, “Overcast”, or “Rainy”. It’s diverse and dynamic.
The weather in FIFA should not be boring. It should be largely steady and consistent, but sometimes extreme. Extreme weather is annoying, but also very fun. Just ask anyone who’s played in it. Here are some more ideas on how various types of extreme weather could be incorporated into FIFA 14:
This should be broken into “Light Snow” and “Heavy Snow” like Madden 13 does it. Currently the “Snow” option in FIFA 13 is really light snow. There isn’t a full cover on the pitch, but snowflakes are seen in falling in the foreground. That’s fine most of the time, but sometimes it snows hard. Sometimes–like Christmas 2012 in England– it dumps snow and covers the pitch in white. This is when a nice red/orange ball looks great.
Orange footballs were originally used in Northern European countries to contrast against the white snow (just as white contrasts on green grass). The yellow and purple Nike BPL ball has grown on me a lot. It would appear they’re going for an aesthetic similar to a tennis ball on a grass court, and it looks fantastic in my opinion.
The biggest problem with this is that all of these ridiculous pink, red, black or green balls aren’t even seen in their intended place. There needs to be a space where these balls can be used and actually look good: on a white snow-covered pitch.
Fog is a great element that should be incorporated asap. Yes, it’s annoying to play through, because it obviously impairs visibility. But it’s a real element, and it affects both sides equally. How about a little light fog rolling in–and passing through–during a match? Just enough to make you notice and then go away again, because nobody wants to play through a whole match or a long chunk of foggy play.
Yes there’s “Rainy” weather in the game already, but I’m thinking a little heavier. Let the pitch be saturated (maybe not at the San Siro or Anfield, but if it’s in a smaller stadium or a developing country, it’s more likely to happen. Heck, it even happened not too long ago at the new National Stadium in Warsaw. We can’t control the weather in real life, so let’s see some torrential rain in the next release! With rain storms come random puddles, soggy spots and pitch wear (by the end of the match there are often puddles up the middle of the pitch and in the 6 yard boxes). Puddles suck, but they make the match interesting.
I’m not sure about thunder and lightning to go along with the Rainstorm. Although it could make for gorgeous cinematics, matches aren’t played in such conditions as they’re dangerous to players and fans alike.
Heat and Humidity
Sometimes on a hot, bright summer day, football matches are played in extreme heat and humidity. Right now there’s a “Clear” weather option, but what about “Hot/Sunny”. This would allow for some cool sub-plots in the gameplay and commentary. There would be cinematics of sweaty players grabbing water bottles at the touchlines before a throw-in or at a stoppage in play, and the announcers would make small talk about how “the heat is very physically demanding on these players today”.
Further, the players’ stamina would take an extra hit as the heat is fatiguing and the manager would need to think strategically about making earlier substitutions.
More ideas to ponder
- Changing or rotating weather. Yes, we’ve had the option of “Random” weather in the past, but why can’t we have “SunnyOvercast/Rainy” weather. Maybe the match starts off rainy but then stops. In some parts of the world, weather changes frequently and dramatically.
- Wind. Yes, it’s a factor in Madden (American football) and Tiger Woods (golf), so why not in FIFA? Especially when there’s stormy weather, and in smaller stadiums, wind is a factor.
- High altitude. Bogotá, Quito, Johannesburg, Mexico City, La Paz, Denver are all famous cities with extremely high elevation, which means the air is “thin”, or, there’s less oxygen. These are challenging places for athletes to compete at a high level. These places are not all in the game, but maybe one day more of them will be.
- Smoke from flares. It’s not weather, more like atmosphere, but it’s similar to fog. Does FIFA want to include smoke from flares (which is generally illegal in stadiums) at the risk of condoning bad/hooligan behaviour?
- Accentuating the seasons. Daylight angles and shadows are different at different times of the year. I find dusk lighting really gorgeous to look at. Seasonal variety is probably overkill, and would barely be noticeable, but hey, if you want to go ultra-realistic…
- Would different teams have an advantage/disadvantage in different conditions? Would a Central American or African team have a disadvantage playing in snowy Sweden? Would a Canadian team struggle against a Saudi team playing in extremely hot and humid weather? Since British teams more accustomed to playing in the rain, would they have a slight advantage on cold, wet pitches? Doesn’t Mexico have an advantage when they play against other teams at the Estadio Azteca?
Finally, I want to emphasize that my vision for extreme weather in FIFA is just to take it a little further than it is right now. I’m not envisioning arcade gameplay or drastically different physics etc. because of the weather. I like the way it is now. I’m suggesting making it even more realistic in a subtle way. I guess the problem with that is justifying the allocation of more resources (ie. time and money) to create and animate new weather for every pitch/stadium, especially when these new weather patterns will rarely be applied in gameplay. You never know, with powerful new Sony and Microsoft consoles coming out soon, maybe anything is possible…