For me, the pace seems just a shade more measured than last year. That doesn’t mean it’s sluggish, by any means – passing, for example, is as responsive as it was last year. But, together with the adjustments to defensive AI, I found myself having to be a little more patient and methodical in breaking down opponents. You can still play more quick and direct football, as long as you’re set up to do so, but by and large you have to work a little harder for your openings. I think it’s still a little too hard for pacey players to get clear of opponents they should be able to have on toast, but there is a tangible difference with the quickest of the quick – you’ll notice the difference when controlling the likes of Pierre Emerick Aubameyang or Leroy Sane. Further efforts have been made to distinguish individual players, and the playing styles of the game’s biggest stars are instantly recognisable, from Antoine Griezmann’s speed of thought and feet to the flashy technique of Neymar who can also remove his shirt in a unique goal celebration (for which he’ll rightly be booked).
Elsewhere, the recovery time after losing the ball seems to have been shortened; certainly, I found myself winning the ball back after conceding possession a little more often. Collisions, too, now feel more authentic – I no longer experienced that strange phenomenon whereby two players would occasionally come together and then both suddenly bounce off in opposite directions. You’ll still encounter the occasional bit of weirdness, but that’s true of almost any game with so many variables and moving parts, and such oddities are relatively scarce.