Football Manager veterans know that the series is all about evolution, not revolution. It has been evolving steadily for almost two decades now to become so vast and complex that it’s not really an entry-level game anymore. Even experienced players who have missed a few iterations are likely to find the sheer depth and number of options daunting. Everything is in here–from dealing with agents and mollycoddling egotistical star players to fending off scoop-hunting journalists–as you try to mold your team of virtual hit-and-hopers into a trophy-harvesting machine. This year’s introduction of a much-needed tutorial mode helps to steer newcomers through the labyrinthine options and is a great addition.
One area of improvement has to do with the transfer market, with the contract system being tweaked to streamline the process. There are so many elements to consider–duration of contract, win bonuses, appearance bonuses, goal bonuses, promotion bonuses, agent’s fees, relegation release clauses, non-promotion release clauses, minimum fee release clauses, promotion bonuses, loyalty bonuses, sell-on fees, and a whole metric boatload of other stuff–any or all of which might be demanded by the player. When contracts are offered, players make various counterdemands, and with so many variables, negotiations can get rather convoluted. This year, a padlock symbol appears next to each clause for the first time. Clicking it sets that element as nonnegotiable, saving time and making it easier to keep a cap on your spending.
Team talks include a new level of depth, thanks to the addition of different tones of voice. When you address the lads before matches, at half-time, and after the final whistle, you can be aggressive, passionate, calm, cautious, or reluctant in your manner, and each tone has its own associated set of comments. If you choose wisely, players will respond positively. If you choose poorly, they might lose motivation or maybe even go into a strop. The more you learn about your team, the more you come to understand how to coax a positive response from individual players. If that’s too long winded for you, you can always let your assistant manager take the team talk, which gets you into the match far quicker.