Friday, we took a look at six features added to video game titles that were not only unnecessary, but also deemed as unwelcome by most gamers and ultimately by the developers themselves. Due to the fact that sports titles are released annually, it can be tough to consistently add new features to a game without disturbing the existing, successful formula. Sports titles rarely undergo major overhauls unless there's a jump to a next-generation console, or a franchise continues to be commercially unsuccessful. This can leave developer with quite a difficult task.
As we noted in our last list, sometimes new features don't end up adding a whole lot to the overall product, and can even detract from the experience, but other times they can be legitimately game changing. From control changes, to added game modes, here's our list of the top six features ever added to sports video games.
First Touch Control - FIFA 13
Before FIFA 13, every player in a soccer video game had the same first touch ability as Ronaldinho in his prime. No matter if a ball came in from a blistering pass or a 60 yard lob, players were able to control the ball like they had super glue on their shoes. The introduction of 'First Touch Control' changed that. Not only did the new feature make the game feel more realistic, it forced players to be a whole lot more thoughtful with their passes and runs.
Ultimate Team - FIFA 09/FIFA10
Back in 2009 EA Sports added a game mode that has ultimately (apologies on the pun) changed the entire landscape of sports game titles -- Ultimate Team. The game mode was initially introduced as a downloadable expansion for FIFA 09, but was added as a standard game mode for FIFA 10. Ultimate Team allowed gamers to create their own squads by trading and collecting player cards through a global marketplace, all before taking that team online to face off with other gamers in tournaments and leagues. Eight years later, the Ultimate Team mode has been added to nearly every sports title on the market, and is a major source of revenue for game developers. You would be hard pressed to find a game mode more addictive than Ultimate Team.
NHL Skill Stick - NHL 07
When EA Sports introduced the skill stick in NHL 07, it completely changed the way we play and think about hockey games. Passing, shooting, deking, hitting -- all of it done with the thumb sticks. The left stick is your skates, while the right stick is your hockey stick. Aside from the whole new set of on-ice options that the new control scheme afforded players, it just made sense. Intuitive, sharp, gamechanging. EA Sports' skill stick truly changed hockey games for the better. If anyone ever asks you where the NHL 2K series went, just think back to the days where you played sim hockey games using face buttons.
Road to the Show - MLB 07: The Show
Introduced back in 2007 in 'MLB The Show: 07, the Road to the Show mode has had a major impact on player specific career modes in the sports gaming genre. Much more than just a simple career mode, RTTS focused the action on an individual player, allowing them to play offense and defense. Rather than have gamers waiting on the field for the ball to come to them, or have them wait for their turn at the plate, RTTS fast forwarded to moments where the player was actually involved in the action. The past few iterations of MLB The Show have featured significant changes to RTTS, including a documentary style story, complete with dialogue options for the player to choose from, as well as the "Showtime" ability that really allows you to feel like you've inherited the clutch gene by giving you the power to slow down time. Never has the grueling climb from the minors to the show been so satisfying and addictive.
The Journey - FIFA 17
Pretty much everyone who plays sports video game titles has at one point had the dream of becoming a professional athlete. Very few people ever get the chance to realize that dream, but with EA Sports' brand new story mode, The Journey, fans at least got the chance to experience what it feels like to achieve fame and fortune in the realm of sports. Unlike standard Be-A-Pro modes, the Journey featured full cutscenes and provided the player with a number of choices throughout fictional soccer player Alex Hunter's first season in the English Premier League. The mode wasn't perfect by any means, and did lack customization options, but it's a fantastic builidng block for the future of Be-A-Pro modes. We can't wait to see what Hunter gets up to this season, and we're also stoked to see how EA Sports' story mode formula will translate to Madden's new mode "Longshot."
EASHL - NHL 09
Can't make it to the rink to play with all your pals? No problem, that's what EA Sports Hockey League is for. Taking created-player career modes even further, EA Sports introduced EASHL in NHL 09, finally allowing gamers to take part in a league online with their individual players. It was an incredibly ambitious move when you think about it. Every player on the ice is being controlled by an individual person, and they can all take part in leagues? Knowing just how cooperative gamers can be online, the idea could've totally flopped, but instead it became easily one of the best modes in the sports game genre. Back in 2015, EA Sports were victims of their own success, as the EASHL mode didn't make the next-gen jump to NHL 15, something gamers were very vocal about. The game mode was reintroduced in NHL 16, much to the delight of hockey fans across the globe who love playing puck online with their friends almost as much as they do in real life.