During a recent pre-season friendly between defending Italian champions AC Milan and German side (and GamesCom attendee favourites) FC Köln, the presenters tried something I don’t ever remember seeing on a football field before: they strapped cameras to some of the players, so that anyone watching from home could get as close to the action as possible.
Here’s what it looked like in action. There are first-person sections throughout this highlight clip, ranging from the pre-game handshakes to the match itself, but I’ve set the autoplay to the moment that poor Köln defender Timo Hübers is left stranded before getting a front-seat view to an exquisite little finish by Olivier Giroud:
Maybe I have simply played too much FIFA, but everything about that—especially the pumping arms—made me think, hey, this is surely something that we’ll see one day in FIFA, even if it’s just in a single-player game mode.
It wouldn’t be a radical departure for the series; the game’s ‘Pro’ camera settings have been around for years now, and were created to provide a more ‘realistic’ experience. You can see it below and compare it to the footage above (especially when the player sprints, drawing the camera angle in close), but note that controlling an entire team using the ‘Pro’ camera like this is madness. It’s most useful when you’re only controlling a single player at a time:
You may be thinking, how can you hope to play a sports game in first-person mode? Surely playing a video game on a 2D screen can’t possibly recreate the experience of playing a sport that makes full use of your peripheral vision and 360-degree hearing? And wouldn’t it indeed make playing the game much more difficult?
To that I would say, you’re right! You’d need all kinds of complex indicators to set up passes and crosses, and football has so much running and looking away from the ball that it would make positioning a nightmare. I would also say that I don’t care, because NFL 2K17 did it, and as hard (and even broken in parts!) as it was, it also a huge amount of fun, and one of the features fans remember most fondly about the series:
Sure, a first-person mode would make runs and a lot of defending almost impossible, and even make me slightly sick with all that head wobble and pumping arms, but if a FIFA game can ever add a first-person mode like that—dragging us away from its usual TV-presenter viewpoint and into the field itself—it would still rule, if only for the spectacle.