Specifically, the game made headlines recently when it was announced that for the first time ever, it will include women's national teams among its playable options. According to FIFA.com, there will be 12 of these women's national teams. Among them we'll find the U.S., Canada, and many teams from countries well known for soccer passion, such as Brazil, Germany, and England. 2015 is the optimal time for this development, given that the game's release will come on the heels of the women's World Cup (which is currently taking place in Canada), though the inclusion of women's national teams also represents one of the boldest changes or advancements in a FIFA game in recent years.
But the announcement of women's rosters in FIFA 16 has also unofficially kicked off the speculation cycle as to what else we'll be seeing when the game hits the shelves in September. Although some critics argue that the FIFA games have reached a level somewhere near perfection, there are still changes that EA Sports could easily adopt and increasingly, other, lesser soccer video games are making it clear what these changes should, or could, be.
The chief area in which simpler soccer games have arguably surpassed the larger-than-life brilliance of the FIFA series is in controlling free kicks and penalty kick situations. For all of their precision and realistic controls, EA Sports' games tend to rely on a somewhat-crude point-and-click control system for set piece kicks, and even skilled, experienced players have to rely on somewhat random results. Meanwhile, some touchscreen soccer video games—there are dozens of them, now, available as mobile apps—have made the process of taking a free kick or penalty kick far more interesting and thrilling, by allowing players to control the path of a kick as it's in the air. Granted, this can result in somewhat unrealistic curves of the ball. Should FIFA 16 strike a balance between point-and-click randomness and increased player control, though, a significant aspect of the game could still be greatly improved. Pik Pok's Flick Kick football apps in particular serve as models for how much fun a more precise shooting system can be.
Outside of tweaks to in-game action, FIFA games could also stand to make a few small but significant improvements to its various versions of a season or franchise mode. In recent years, the games have made managing and customizing a team an incredibly fun experience, and FIFA 15's Ultimate Team mode may just be the best way to play FIFA we've seen yet. However, there are two realistic aspects of running a sports franchise that have been at least lightly explored in other soccer games, and which FIFA has yet to explore in depth: observing other franchises, and building a local atmosphere.
Observing other franchises could sound initially like a tedious measure for a video game. After all, you're not truly going to spend hours sitting and scouting opposing clubs, particularly when player scouting is already a part of the game. However, viewing quick simulations or staying informed on other clubs' actions could still make running a franchise significantly more realistic. The closest to this sort of simulation in popular soccer gaming is the Goooal! game hosted at Intercasino.com. It's an exceedingly simple game, in truth a twist on an online slot machine, and yet its foundation—betting on which of two simulated soccer teams will win a match—provides an interesting idea for larger soccer games to consider. Of course, it's based on chance, but after you pick a team you can observe scoring patterns and switch your pick in certain scenarios. This sort of in-game observation, while simplified for a slot arcade title, could bring a new dynamic to opponent scouting in a FIFA level game. Again, sitting to watch entire matches is unrealistic, but viewing quick simulations—seeing who scores, how, and who plays best in which situations—would introduce a very real dynamic.
As for building a local atmosphere, this is the most surprising area in which FIFA hasn't yet made significant improvements. Customizing a team is a fairly thorough process, but customizing that team's hometown, stadium, facilities, uniform, merchandise, etc. is still a very lightly explored process, and one that many players who love the creative process behind running a franchise would embrace. In this regard, the PES series, FIFA's main competitor, has already shown signs of taking things a bit further. The franchise's recently updated app, PES Club Manager, while not allowing extensive customization, at least makes a point of allowing players to make "improvements" to their club's stadium, practice grounds, youth academy, etc., which introduces the concept of a much more customizable club management experience.
The introduction of women's national teams has already turned FIFA 16 into one of the most unique games in the franchise in recent memory. But based on developments and features in the simpler soccer games mentioned above, these small but significant improvements could help to make it truly the best in the series.