What it’s like playing FIFA online as a pro footballer

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“For my FIFA Ultimate Team I just get as many fast and attacking players on the pitch as possible,” James Maddison tells Radio 1 Newsbeat.

But the Leicester City and England midfielder knows the difference between fantasy and reality. “It wouldn’t keep any clean sheets,” he laughs.

Millions of people, like James, are getting stuck into the latest FIFA title at a time of real change in gaming – there’s a whole new generation of consoles on the way soon.

The 27-year-old FIFA franchise is undeniably one of the industry’s most popular.

For James it’s a way to relax after training, despite the extra little bit of attention he gets online: “I get hammered in the messages after every game I do.

“I think once people realise they’re playing against a footballer in the Premier League, they try that extra little bit harder.

“It’s all good fun, I enjoy that side of things so I take the rough with the smooth.”

For others it’s the closest they’ll get to emulating him and playing for England.

What you need to know about the new FIFA game

This year’s version isn’t reinventing the FIFA wheel but instead gives players more of the same.

Purists will argue that subtle gameplay changes to players’ movement and the collision graphics make a big difference to how the game plays, and they’re right.

Find out more about those here.

FIFA’s in-game purchases, despite being mentioned negatively in many reviews, are still in place, and there hasn’t been any real change to how FIFA packs in Ultimate Team work.

The mode that has become the game’s bread and butter will no doubt be just as popular this time around – but it’s also already frustrating some players.

With more and more attention being placed on loot boxes by politicians questions are being asked as to how long this system will be able to stay the same.

‘Scoring is really harsh’

But anyone can pick holes in a title this popular – even the professionals, like James.

He’s really disappointed by his personal rating in the game.

“I just want to say to the guy who made the ratings and stuff: why have I only got 76 shooting?” James asks.

“The others fair enough, but the shooting score is really harsh and I do invite him to the training ground to watch a session, and maybe I can change his mind!”

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French striker Kylian Mbappe is on the cover of this year’s FIFA

Despite the questions over this version of the franchise, FIFA is a game that crosses over into mainstream culture more than any other.

Few titles can get celebrities tweeting, inspire people to book time off work to play and dominate group chats like FIFA can.

If you’re going to be settling into this year’s release – James has a few tips for you: “Try and dedicate some time and space.

“Give yourself a window where you’re not going to be disturbed, because if you’ve got your mum and dad nagging you to do your homework or you’ve got your missus nagging to go out for a drink, then you won’t be in the right frame of mind.”

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