So I've fired back the game up for the first time since giving up on the match engine before Christmas. IMO, it's certainly less terrible but I'm still unconvinced it isn't still just really bad.
One thing I don't think I see people mention is how teams defend in the match engine. I.e. defensive players only seem to know where an attacking player is if he's on the ball. It makes pressing incredibly unrealistic (at the max press you end up with multiple players crowding the ball carrier not, as should be the case, cutting off the passing lanes).
In your final third this is even worse - defenders are slow to react to situations, in my view, because they don't seem to know where a player is until the ME decides that player is about to receive the ball. I think it's at both ends of the pitch (although it's *a lot more annoying if your team happens to be defending) - but it's one of the contributory factors as to why the ME often plays out so poorly.
My other feedback is similar to the rest. Some bits have certainly improved - there's fewer long balls, 1v1s have gone in, sometimes in my experience. But it still feels like the same old FM nonsense of this game and last, namely:
- Banging long goals
- User teams consistently dominating the number of shots with no correlation in the goal-scoring charts.
- Certain types of attack being far more common/wide players poor decision making
and, most of all
- I feel like the minutiae of the tactics have no effect on the overall team. Granted, I was doing a lower league team here, but you tell them to pass as short as possible and they're still overlooking simple passes just to absolutely belt the ball up the field.
The engine for this game feels very similar to 2019 in the sense that you feel like the MO of the match engine is to create a result regardless of what's actually being put-in tactically. Like - I feel like in FM, as a true sandbox, it should actually be capable to create tactics that cause weird things to happen. I should be able to create an ultra short passing tactic that doesn't go anywhere, I should be able to create a tactic that just lobs a ball up to the target man every time the defender gets the ball. Yet the approach for realism seems to end up with a ME that only vaguely listens to inputted instructions. A player instruction like "short passing" should see them mostly play short, controlled passes yet the ME seems to override this and have them playing a mix of passes - but if that's the case, what's the point of the longer passing options?
If anything, my complaint with the ME in part is that I can't break it. I can't come up with gegenpressing systems that absolutely sapp the energy of my players, or a tactic that tells a player to shoot from literally anywhere in the oppositions half. I feel like even if you could hack the tactics creator and max out some of these options they'd go into the ME and just get... diluted into an attempt at realism. In my view, as odd as this sounds, I feel like this is a big issue.