Most Popular FIFA Games Ever Created - Ranking the FIFA Franchise
By Alex Cabal | updated On Nov 30, 2023, 10:08 AM UTC
Ever since I can remember, video games have been a massive part of my life. But there's one particular franchise that stands out from the crowd in my affections - FIFA. The love affair began back in my childhood when I first laid my eager little hands on the game filled with splendid dribbling, precise passes, and stunning goals. This genuinely transformative experience had me hooked for life.
Through the years, I savored the thrill of winning, the pain of losing, the grandeur of scoring an absolute screamer from 30 yards out, and the intricate details embedded into each game. The FIFA franchise has consistently strived to improve gameplay, providing an immersive and engaging experience, whether you're playing a quick match, spending countless hours in career mode, or challenging thousands of players worldwide in Ultimate Team.
Are you ready to take a trip down memory lane, reliving some of the defining moments of FIFA gaming? Join me as I countdown and celebrate FIFA's top 10 shining stars. Which version will be crowned the undisputed champion? Let's find out!
10. A Classic Remastered: FIFA 98 Road to World Cup
Let's kick off this countdown with a trip down memory lane — to the iconic FIFA 98 Road to World Cup. This title might be two decades old, but it occupies a special place in the hearts of many FIFA fans, including yours truly.
What made this game stand out? Well, FIFA 98 could be the first FIFA game to capture the true essence of football. It offered intense, high-stakes action and a level of depth that we hadn't seen before in sports games. Rosters and teams were accurate and up-to-date for the time, with all 172 FIFA-registered national teams available, quite a feat for that era.
But what truly catches one's nostalgia is the introduction of fully-licensed World Cup format and its impressive soundtrack. Blur’s ‘Song 2’ still reverberates when you think of FIFA 98—doesn’t it?
FIFA 98 Tracks List
On the gameplay front, FIFA 98 pushed the boundaries with new features, like the introduction of the offside rule. And let's not forget about the referee making actual in-game appearances! A feature that is standard today, but back then, it was a genuine wow moment. Indirect free kicks for non-aggressive fouls brought further realism to the game.
This game truly represented another leap forward for the FIFA series, setting the standard for future installments. So, did you have the chance to play this classic? If not, you might find it worth your time to seek out this piece of digital football history.
9. An Unforgettable Journey: FIFA 17 The Journey
If you, like me, have ever wanted to live the life of a professional soccer player, FIFA 17 offered you exactly that in 'The Journey' mode. This mode was a game-changer as it was the first time EA Sports had delved into story mode in a FIFA game. It brought a touch of role-playing to the classic football simulation genre - a risk that certainly paid off.
The game puts you in the shoes of a rising football star, Alex Hunter, and presents you with a compelling narrative where your choices would affect his path to stardom. This feature offered you, the player, a more personal stake in your gaming experience, and gave new meaning to the phrase "more than just a game".
"The Journey: Hunter Returns" was the main reason why FIFA 17 is an unforgettable gem. The decisions you had to make, the gameplay mechanics, and the overall narrative of Alex Hunter's journey were so refreshingly relatable and immersive that it often felt like you were living his life."
The Journey, combined with FIFA's top-notch mechanics and graphics, made it such a memorable edition. Gameplay improvements such as added physicality features and intelligent AI elevated the overall gaming experience, but it is The Journey that truly set FIFA 17 apart—it changed the way story modes would be seen in football SIM games moving forward.
It wasn’t perfect, certainly. Having a singular, linear story in a sport that is rooted in diverse individual experiences was a somewhat limiting decision. However, the daring approach taken by EA Sports by launching The Journey is to be applauded. It gave emotional depth and narrative heft to a genre not normally associated with these features.
So, if you like your gaming experience to be supplemented with some storytelling elements, FIFA 17 is a game for you.
8. The Ultimate Team Experience: FIFA 13
Giving players the chance to build their very own team from scratch, FIFA 13 Ultimate Team stood out as a groundbreaking innovation in the fertile landscape of sports gaming. This feature became the cornerstone of the franchise, heralding the start of an immersive experience that you, as a player, could tailor to fit your gaming style and team preference.
One of the significant aspects of this edition was the introduction of the 'Team of the Week' feature. It gave you a set of challenges you could complete and earn rewards to boost your created team. This unique concept let you compete online with the best teams of the week, as voted by the players themselves, fostering a blend of real-world football updates meshing seamlessly with your virtual gaming experience.
Indeed, it was with FIFA 13 Ultimate Team that the franchise hit a sweet spot with its mix of tactical management and on-field gameplay, bringing novel depths to the gaming experience.
The 'Squad Building Challenges', another key feature, was introduced, encouraging you to intelligently utilize your player roster to fit specific player formation requirements. On completion, you'd be rewarded with unique player items or other rewards that could be used to improve your team's strength.
To build your team, and indeed your club, you had several player items at your disposal. These were available through packs that could be purchased using coins earned within the game or via purchases from the game store. This element of authenticity, allowing you to take control of your team's development while balancing the budget, made the FIFA 13 Ultimate Team an experience like no other.
It's important to remember that FIFA 13 Ultimate Team wasn't just about assembling your squad, it was also about managing it. And that's what made this iteration of the game stand out. The team chemistry system that was introduced provided an all-new layer of depth and strategy to the game, encouraging you to think tactically about the players you chose for your team and how they would interact with each other on the field.
FIFA 13 Ultimate Team places eighth on my list because of its innovative features that revolutionized the player’s perspective of football management games. It was this edition that raised the bar and set a new standard for other similar game modes in the franchise.
7. The Revolution of Controls: FIFA 16
As we move further up this astounding list, you'll find that FIFA 16 holds the seventh spot. Now, what made FIFA 16 unforgettable and exceptional? It was the incredible innovation in the realm of controls that set this edition apart. With FIFA 16, the game mechanics underwent a complete revolution, and for the better.
The dominant feature of FIFA 16 was the introduction of the No Touch Dribbling system, conceived by the trailblazer of football himself, Lionel Messi. No longer were players glued to the ball – they could finally move freely, creating more realistic and skillful plays. The gameplay transformed into something more strategic and complex, truly reflecting the beautiful game's dynamism on the pitch.
Would games be without the drama and intricacy that FIFA 16 brought to our screens?
In addition to the No Touch Dribbling, who could forget the revamped defensive mechanisms? Defensive Agility was introduced, providing a more balanced, enjoyable, and less rigid defensive experience. You'd once easily breeze past defenders in earlier versions, but in FIFA 16, players were given the ability to track skillful attackers better, making each match a test of strategy and skill.
Also, the game added some significant improvements to the Career Mode, such as the option of Player Training, which added a new level of engagement and longer playability.
FIFA 16 was a pivotal turning point for the franchise, pushing the boundaries of control and providing every player with an unprecedented level of autonomy on the pitch. EA football simulator was no longer just a game of scoring goals; it was now about maneuvering the ball with finesse and sophistication. This revolution in controls indeed made FIFA 16 a monumental classic in the franchise's history.
6. The Pinnacle of Realism: FIFA 19
Craving a dose of realism in your football simulations? Search no further, as FIFA 19 takes you as close to the actual pitch as a game could possibly do. The sixth spot on my list is reserved for this gem, a game that has left its indelible mark in the annals of football gaming.
FIFA 19 brought to the table what every avid gamer yearned for - a complete football experience. The game’s realism was unprecedented, with meticulous attention to detail that enhanced gameplay and kept players hooked for countless hours.
The use of the Frostbite 3 engine took the graphics to a new level, while player models, stadiums, and animations looked incredibly lifelike. Real Player Motion Technology allowed athletes to move and behave like their real-world counterparts, making gameplay more tactical than ever.
"It’s like you are in the stadium, controlling every action on the pitch."
But it wasn’t just about graphics. The gameplay mechanics were honed too. The 'Active Touch System' gave you more control over the ball, and its refreshed Kick-Off mode made every match an enticing encounter. AI players showed better intelligence and decision-making abilities, thus enriching the solo playing experience.
No FIFA game would be complete without its tournaments, and FIFA 19 was no different. It finally introduced the UEFA Champions League, giving players the opportunities to compete on the grandest stage in club football.
So, did you find this balance of visuals and gameplay mechanics to your liking? If yes, then you probably agree with me that FIFA 19 stands tall as one of the best games in this iconic series.
5. A Blast from the Past: FIFA 07
As soon as you hear "FIFA 07", you must be hit with a wave of nostalgia, right? If not for the memorable soundtrack featuring hits, such as Muse's "Supermassive Black Hole", then surely for the game's beautifully smooth gameplay and engaging Manager mode. This edition genuinely pushed the franchise forward, paving the way for its successors.
One aspect that stood out in FIFA 07 was its ball physics and player movement that felt ultra-realistic for its time, adding another layer to the gameplay experience. The implementation of a sophisticated ball bend system was groundbreaking. The sensation of curling a free-kick into the top corner or bending a long-range strike around a defender, watching the ball swerve in mid-flight was something truly special. It gave us control like never before.
"FIFA 07 brought in the very soul of football: the unpredictability, the tension, and the sheer joy."
- Graphics: FIFA 07 gave a graphical jump from its predecessor. While not by today's standards, for 2006, the player models and stadiums were impressively detailed.
- Sound Design: Where this edition stood out was the fantastic sound design. The crowd chanting, player callouts, or the rustling sound of the ball hitting the net, everything was on point.
- Manager Mode: The Manager mode was overhauled and incredibly immersive, complete with transfer windows, and simulations of player morale and form, based on the team's performance.
Thinking about it, doesn't it make you want to revisit FIFA 07, just for the pure joy of the beautiful game brought to our living rooms? Yes, the franchise has come a long way since then. It has improved in numerous aspects - graphics, realism, AI, but FIFA 07 had something that just can't be replicated: that sense of wonderment, that sense of broaching new territories. So, take a moment, and let's reminisce about the good old days of FIFA 07.
4. The Birth of FIFA's Career Mode: FIFA 04
Transitioning into the top four of our ranking, we delve into a game that holds a special place in the heart of many FIFA fans – FIFA 04. You might be wondering why this particular edition stands out among the others. Well, let me take you back to 2003, to the journey of this classic edition.
The magic ingredient that separates FIFA 04 from the rest is straightforward - it marks the birth of the FIFA's Career Mode. This was the first time fans could control their favorite teams and players' destinies and consequently, the game became much more than just playing matches.
Implementing a managerial aspect to a football video game was an audacious endeavor. The EA sports team took the plunge, and the rest is history. Let's try and answer a key question here. Can you recall the surge of success and excitement when your underdog team scaled the football leagues, or when you signed that star striker you've been coveting for multiple seasons?
Before FIFA 04, the thrill and tension of off-pitch decisions were but a distant dream. Many players fondly recall their first foray as a manager, making strategic decisions, and taking their club to glory. There's no denying that the Career Mode enlivened FIFA's overall landscape. It's a concept that deeply resonated with fans and is still crucial to FIFA's identity as it stands today.
From a gameplay perspective, FIFA 04’s controls were smooth, and the game mechanics were superb. The graphics, though not as vivid or crisp as they are now, were a big leap for video gaming at the time. The commentary, as always, added that extra touch of authenticity, making you feel right in the middle of the action.
Another delightful addition to this edition was the Off the Ball Control, which revolutionized the way the game is played. You could control separate players off the ball, a novelty in terms of technical improvement. FIFA 04 was a watershed moment in the EA franchise, and it's amazing to see how its features are still central to the FIFA games we relish today.
3. The Iconic FIFA World Cup Edition: FIFA 14 World Cup
Have you ever experienced a game that completely immerses you in the ecstasy of a world tournament, bringing the entire globe together in a symphony of football? If not, consider this your personal invitation to explore the wonder that is FIFA 14 World Cup. Released in 2014 by EA Sports, it is the official game of the FIFA World Cup Brazil. What makes this version truly unforgettable is the attention to detail and the sheer excitement of participating in the world's biggest football competition.
For starters, imagine playing with all 203 FIFA-affiliated national teams recognized at the time. Yup, even the teams which didn't make it to the final tournament - they're all there. This allows you to virtually play out the tournament any way you want, selecting your own dream team. You close your eyes - what nation are you leading to victory?
In the FIFA 14 World Cup edition, not only can you play the biggest tournament on Earth, but you can recreate its trajectory and outcome. Every decision rests in your hands.
The game also stands out for its stunning visuals. EA Sports really went all out with this one, employing unique design elements and high-resolution graphics to heighten the overall visual experience. For instance, the inclusion of all 12 stadiums, each astonishingly accurate to its real-world equivalent, is a testament to their painstaking efforts.
But what truly makes this edition iconic is its re-invention of gameplay. By implementing tweaks to improve the game's realism, FIFA 14 World Cup introduced an improved version of the 'Ignite' engine. This engine brings more responsive AI and a greater sense of control over individual players. Have you ever turned on the console and felt the surge of anticipation, knowing that you're about to craft incredible moments? That feeling is magnified tenfold with the Ignite engine. From slick passes to exhilarating goals, the feeling of controlling each movement makes you forget it's just a game.
The FIFA 14 World Cup edition holds its status as an iconic part of the FIFA franchise due to its detailed representation of the world tournament, stellar graphics, and innovative gameplay tweaks. It's the closest thing you'll get to stepping onto the pitch in Brazil, with thousands of passionate fans chanting in harmony. Isn't it time you kicked off your own World Cup journey?
2. A Game-Changing Breakthrough: FIFA 12
In the course of FIFA's history, there have been few games that truly shifted the paradigm of the genre, but FIFA 12 undeniably did just that. Do you remember the impact FIFA 12 had when it was released? It was nothing short of a cultural phenomenon in the gaming community, completely changing the dynamic of football video games.
The crowning jewel of FIFA 12 was the introduction of the Impact Engine. This new development resulted in a realistic interpretation of the physicality involved in football. Now, player collisions weren’t simple animations – they were dynamic events that took size, speed, and angle into account. It wasn’t just about the visuals either - the impact engine had significant effect on the gameplay, too.
"It's an incredible achievement," said a representative from EA Sports. "The Impact Engine changes every aspect of the game, from the way you take shots to the way you defend. It's a true game-changer."
FIFA 12 also marked the advent of the innovative defensive system known as 'Tactical Defending.' Rather than just running at the opponent and pressing a button to tackle, you needed to time your challenges beautifully and use positioning to close down spaces. It was challenging to learn, but once you got the hang of it, the game became far more rewarding.
Apart from these remarkable additions, FIFA 12 saw vast improvements in graphics, animations, and the overall player experience. Let's not forget the enhanced career mode, making it feel more like a football management sim than ever before. New features like youth development, player morale, and improved transfer negotiations took the managerial side of the game to a whole new level.
In short, FIFA 12 was a game of firsts in many ways. It was the first to introduce tactical defending and the precision dribbling system, significantly transforming the gameplay experience. This made it a standout title in the FIFA franchise.
1. The Undisputed Champion: FIFA 15
For me, without a shred of doubt, FIFA 15 reigns supreme as the most exquisite, immersive, and thrilling football video game of all time. Everything about this game, from its graphics to its gameplay quality, captured the essence of football in ways previously unimagined.
The core gameplay in FIFA 15 focused heavily on dynamic realism, breathing life into every moment on the imaginary pitch. Most notably, this was the edition where EA Sports introduced the Emotional Intelligence feature, where each player exhibited a range of over 600 reaction types based on the ongoing match. Things got personal, heated, and intense, just like a real football match!
"In FIFA 15, the beautiful game sprang to life – there was a clear difference between the world's top footballers' movements and those of lesser players, reflecting their unique styles."
I also fell in love with the improved commentary that gave this edition a hyperrealistic feel. Bringing in commentators Martin Tyler and Alan Smith, the game played out as though the action unfolded right in front of your eyes, live at your favorite stadium.
Unrivalled Realism in FIFA 15
The complex controls were simplified, engaging both casual gamers and serious FIFA fans. Ever had the experience of shooting at the goal and hitting the bar, only to get stuck gobsmacked at the physics and realism? That’s FIFA 15 for you!
- Authentic Game Physics: The ball obeyed genuine laws of physics, imitating the unpredictability of a live football match. Believe me, it's a game you could lose yourself in for hours!
- Graphics and Visuals: Each stadium was given a unique feel with specific crowd chants and behaviors, making the atmosphere loud, energetic, and incredibly real.
- The Ultimate Team: This was possibly the best Ultimate Team until that date. Though the function essentially remained the same as FIFA 14, the smoother gameplay and realistic physics provided an elevated experience.
This is why FIFA 15 tops my list as the undisputed champion of all FIFA video games. It remains a remarkable piece of football simulation that set the standard for subsequent releases in the FIFA franchise. As much as the newer versions excel in certain aspects, they all owe a certain debt to the prowess and groundbreaking achievements of FIFA 15.
If you love football and have yet to experience FIFA 15, I wholeheartedly recommend diving into this masterpiece.
Lets Recap the Best FIFA Games of All Time
The FIFA series has been delivering consistently high quality football simulations for almost three decades.
|1||FIFA 15||With FIFA 15, players got the opportunity to manage their own teams in a much more personalized way. It was an immersive experience which won millions of hearts.|
|2||FIFA 12||This installment from EA sports introduced new tactical defending system and precision dribbling which started a new era in the FIFA series.|
|3||FIFA 14: World Cup||FIFA 14 World Cup is not just a game, it's an immersion into the greatest sporting event on earth. The accuracy of the national teams, the stadiums, and even the crowds give you an authentic World Cup Experience|
|4||FIFA 04||FIFA 04 marked the introduction of an amazingly engaging Career Mode, which has remained a staple feature to this day.|
|5||FIFA 07||What set FIFA 07 apart was its groundbreaking gameplay and the introduction of next-gen graphics. It was the turning point for the entire FIFA franchise.|
|6||FIFA 19||FIFA 19 was super engaging with the introduction of UEFA Champions League and offered a satisfying conclusion to the story mode 'The Journey'.|
|7||FIFA 16||FIFA 16 saw the introduction of women's teams for the first time ever, a significant landmark in the franchise. The gameplay was balanced and engaging.|
|8||FIFA 13||FIFA 13 holds its place firmly at number 8 as it redefined the Ultimate Team Experience, marking a significant advancement in the series. Its impression is still felt today in the world of FIFA gaming.|
|9||FIFA 17||FIFA 17 was the first in the series to use the powerful Frostbite 3 engine, which significantly levelled-up the cinematic and graphics aspect.|
|10||FIFA 98||FIFA 98 Road to World Cup is a nostalgic gem from the FIFA series. With an impeccable soundtrack and a comprehensive list of teams, FIFA 98 held a charm that was hard to resist.|
At the end of the day, the FIFA that tops your list is likely the one you've had the most fun playing - the one that probably stole countless hours of your life you'll never get back! Regardless of the generation, every FIFA game has provided players with a thrilling mix of emotion, rivalry and, above all, enjoyment. So, go out there, play your hearts out, and may the best team (in the virtual world, at least) win!