EA Sports have finally secured the rights to the Champions League, meaning that FIFA 19 will feature UEFA's premier club competition from 2018 on.
The Champions League had long been associated with EA Sports' rival title, Pro Evolution Soccer, which had featured the tournament since 2008, but EA Sports moved quickly following the expiration of Konami's deal with UEFA.
That means, from this year, the most popular football video game in the world will now be augmented by the most prestigious club competition in operation across the planet.
Ahead of the worldwide release in September, Goal takes a look at how the Champions League is incorporated into FIFA 19.
Champions League in FIFA 19
When the official teaser trailer for FIFA 19 was released in June, it was immediately clear that the Champions League would be one of the flagship features of the new game.
The unmistakeable sound of composer Hans Zimmer reverberates through the gameplay imagery in a remixed version of the famous Champions League Anthem as none other than 'Mr Champions League' himself, Cristiano Ronaldo, explains his childhood dream to become a champion in a voiceover.
Interspersed with clips showing the likes of Neymar, Paulo Dybala and Kevin De Bruyne in action, the trailer builds to a mighty crescendo that is capped by a rousing reimagination of the incredible bicycle kick scored by Ronaldo for Real Madrid against Juventus in the semi-final of the 2017-18 tournament. The tagline 'Champions Rise' follows.
Having secured the licence for the tournament after a decade of playing second fiddle to PES, it is no surprise to see that EA Sports have heavily entwined the Champions League throughout FIFA 19.
As the game's executive producer Aaron McCardy said, EA Sports did not want the Champions League to merely be "a coat of paint" for the FIFA series.
"For us the Champions League is so much more than a licence,” McHardy told Goal. "We’ve been working really hard to integrate the experience across the game in FIFA 19 and I don’t say that lightly.
"We didn’t want to just bring in the licence teams so you can play with them in the right context, we really wanted to go over and beyond and add Champions League elements to every place we could in FIFA 19.
"It’s been a whole lot of work and it’s not just a coat of paint. It’s really integrating meaningful features around the Champions League. We moved a lot of dirt bringing it to life."
It will feature in the following game modes on PlayStation 4, X-Box One, PC and Nintendo Switch:
- Champions League mode
- The Journey
- FIFA Ultimate Team
The new stand-alone Champions League mode will allows players to steer their club from the group stage to the summit of the European game, with the final taking place at the Wanda Metropolitano in Madrid. It will also form part of the narrative for the career mode of the game, which is aptly known as The Journey: Champions, as well as being a facet of Ultimate Team.
Kick-off mode will permit gamers to play Champions League games with customised rules and visuals.
As part of the Champions League experience in FIFA 19, a new commentary team of Derek Rae and Lee Dixon will narrate the action as it happens, giving an even more realistic feel to the gameplay.
FIFA 19 Ultimate Team Champions League features
For the first time ever, the Champions League will form a part of FIFA Ultimate Team, meaning that items related to the tournament will be available through the season.
The player picks for the Champions League will have their own unique card designs featuring official logos and licensed extras are expected to be included too.
Read more about the new Ultimate Team features here or watch the video above.
The Journey: Champions
FIFA 19 will see the third and final instalment of Alex Hunter's odyssey through the pitfall-ridden realm of football and the game mode is called 'The Journey: Champions'.
Hunter's journey in FIFA 17 and FIFA 18 took him from England across the Atlantic Ocean to Major League Soccer and back to Europe again.
As you may have guessed, the aim of the game now in FIFA 19 is to reach the pinnacle and win the Champions League – and FIFA have just announced that Mr Hunter has signed for Real Madrid in their 2019 iteration.
The striker, who started his rise in the Premier League, won the MLS Cup before returning to Europe, leading his club to a domestic league and cup double.
Now, with the Champions League licence featured in FIFA for the first time, Hunter has joined Real to seek European glory.
The move was announced on EA Sports' FIFA Twitter account, and also marked the launch of Real's red third kit.
New kit, new player. Welcome to @RealMadrid, @MrAlexHunter!#HalaMadrid | #Predator | @EASPORTSFIFA | @adidasfootball pic.twitter.com/VP9PUcy5ho — Real Madrid C.F. 🇬🇧🇺🇸 (@realmadriden) August 6, 2018
Is the Europa League in FIFA 19?
While the Champions League is the obvious draw for fans, the licence deal with UEFA also means that FIFA 19 features the Europa League and the Super Cup.
In 2018-19 the second tier competition will feature clubs such as Chelsea, AC Milan and Arsenal, while big clubs who are eliminated from the Champions League will also drop in.
FIFA 19 Champions edition
There are three different editions of FIFA 19 available to purchase and, in keeping with their Champions League theme, there is a 'Champions Edition', as well as the standard and 'Ultimate Edition'.
EA Sports are offering some incentives to encourage gamers to pre-order the Champions edition, which can be seen below.
- Up to 20 FIFA Ultimate Team Jumbo Premium Gold Packs.
- Play from September 25 with three days early access.
- UEFA Champions League Gold Player Pick.
- Cristiano Ronaldo and Neymar Jr. loan items for seven FUT matches
- Special Edition FUT kits designed by FIFA soundtrack artists
The Champions Edition will cost £79.99 ($79.99) on PlayStation 4 and X-Box One, or £69.99 ($79.99) on Nintendo Switch.