After 276 hours thus far into FM 19, it's with sadness that at this point I will likely be going back to FM 18 for the foreseeable future. While many improvements were made, for me the number of broken or diminished features outweigh the good. This is based purely on how I play the game and what I enjoy the most about the franchise; others who play the game differently may wholly disagree with my assessment.
Scout reports in the inbox. I love the new format of scout reports in the inbox. Includes more information I want, in a clean concise presentation.
New Tactics Format. After years of refining my tactics in prior versions, I was admittedly a little turned off by the new format. However, in time I came to enjoy it more and definitely value the added new touches/details. The categorization of actions (possession / transition / out of possession) is intuitive and realistic.
Coaching Focus. It works! In past FM's I've felt that when I set coaching focus on various attributes, those attributes would only very modestly outpace the rest (if at all) when increasing over time. The new coaching focus - as far as I can tell - appears to have both a quicker and more dramatic influence on the targeted attribute(s). Also, the new groupings of skill sets, rather than just picking one single attribute, is a nice and realistic addition.
Additional Player Dialogue. I absolutely love the additions that have been made to player conversation. Persuading players, and new triggers such as 'pre-concerns' and the potential dialogue from changing things like team status, are all welcome additions to game play.
More Balanced Newgens. In the last FM, after a few years the world was flooded with a budding crop of potentially world class newgen strikers. As far as I can tell, the number of 180+ PA strikers has dropped considerably, and thus the balance of positions and PA seems much more even.
Revamped Training System. This one is a mixed bag for me. On the one hand, I do appreciate the added detail and complexity that went into the new training system, as well as the addition of aspects like the Training Rating. However, this system can bog me down at times, and unless I set a coach or AM to deal with it, it often times requires more micro managing than I care to spend. At the end of the day, I just don't desire to spend that much of my FM game time managing training (a personal preference, to be sure), so much of the new detail is lost on me.
Random nuisances that carried over from FM 18. a) Did you ever notice that unless you're a top club in the world, you struggle to hire a zero reputation newgen Data Analyst from another country unless you offer them the role as Head Data Analyst? I believe the same thing often happens with Sports Scientists. Apparently moving to London or Los Angeles is just too much of an ask for a 19 year old Brazilian DA, such that he must be given the Head role to make it worthwhile. b) The inability to sign newgens on intake date. I can appreciate that this should have been dialed back from prior FMs (prior to FM 18 that is), but it went way too far. Unless you're at R. Madrid or Man City and you're trying to sign a player from the 3rd division of Colombia, you have no chance (and even then it's a toss up.). SI's desire to quash what they view as an 'exploit' instead creates absolute unrealism. "Really, you'd rather 'continue your training' at Reus instead of joining me at Barca on my youth squad? Despite that being the dream of every 15 year old in the world? Got it." c) The same, tired press conference answers. d) Will edit and add others as they come to mind...
Mentoring is a (Broken) Afterthought. I love to play teams with strong youth systems, where I can both generate extra income from player sales over time, as well as mold my stars of the future. Mentoring was one of the most important aspects to molding youth, and sadly in FM 19 it is just broken. The new concept of mentoring groups is fine enough, but it fails in two key respects.
1) The requirement to move all mentees to the senior squad is absurd. Why can't this be done elsewhere, such as in the Training Units section? SI feels that for a young player to be mentored, they need to be 'part of' the group mentoring them. I get that. However, in game play there must be a more elegant way then requiring my to put a 16 year old on the senior squad then set them for reserve on the youth team. Even the game itself doesn't understand it, as it often will tell you to transfer list or loan out said youth player if they are not registered for the senior competition. huh? First you tell me he has to be on the senior squad, then you suggest I sell the kid because he's not on my Champions Cup team. Lastly, if you want to mentor a player who is intended to play on your B/Reserve squad, in many cases you can forget about it. In Portugal, for instance, if your team is in the Premier League you cannot register a player for the Second League if they are on your senior squad. Even if you set them as Reserve for the B squad, they will not be registered/registerable and cannot play, thus making them impossible to both play on the B squad and also be mentored.
2) The system itself doesn't work. For those who care to see my posts elsewhere in the bugs forum, I highlight the failure of how relative influence is applied in the game. On more occasions than I can count, I have 16-17 yo newgens who are exerting the same influence on their mentoring group as a senior player with 4-5x the reputation and a higher squad status. There are several easy fixes to this to make it more realistic, and SI inexplicably seems to not want to fix it. Because FM forces you to move youth players to the senior squad, they will all get bundled together with the rest of the "Other Player" status senior players, thus giving the kids equal influence as a person a decade older. It's really just madness.
Oh, it Hurts! You may have read elsewhere, and it is true - injuries seem to have increased in this FM. I have a big squad that rotates nearly every match, with world class Physios, and somebody is getting hurt every week. Every. Week.
Happy Players Don't Want New Contracts. On multiple occasions, I've had otherwise happy players who will not sign new contracts. They say they are loving playing at the club, are not 'wanted' by anybody, but then when you try to offer them a contract they're either "waiting until they get closer to the end of contract" or "doesn't see playing here as part of their plans", or some variation. Supposedly this is under review and hopefully it gets addressed, but I've lost a couple of my most important players to this bug, so it can be somewhat of a game killer.
Player Non-Versatility. In the FM of years' past, there was a player trait called Versatility. It governed how easily and quickly a player could add or perfect new or otherwise less accomplished positions. Players in FM 19 still have this trait, except, it appears to be completely irrelevant. And that is because players seem much less able to add additional positional skill in FM 19, especially those players who already have a reasonable baseline proficiency in a position. For instance, if a player is already accomplished (15/20) in a position, I've noticed he can spend two years both playing and training in that role with zero increase. Not just "a little increase" - I mean zero. And that's true even for players with very high 'versatility' (quotes intended). I have seen plenty of players add skill to a position they otherwise had very little or none in, so it appears that the system isn't entirely broken. It's just that players seem to be capping out early and often, despite training and character traits. Perhaps this was an intentional cap that was put in the game? I have seen on the forums an argument that "even accomplished is good enough for a position" - but to me that's just a lame excuse if it's a broken function.
FM 19 certainly has some nice additions. I particularly enjoy the improved player dialogue system. However, as somebody who enjoys to play the game with a "build from youth" focus, the destruction of the Tutoring/Mentoring function saps much of the enjoyment. As I argued to SI elsewhere on this forum, developing youth personality is just as important (if not more) than other aspects such as training and competitive match time. Where I used to have control over molding all three of those aspects, I can now only effectively manage two of them. For me, that makes FM 19 less fun than FM 18.