I recently had the opportunity play FIFA 15 at a showcase hosted EA in New York City. Below are a few of the takeaways I had from playing the game. Note that I wasn't able to get any information on adjustments that will be made in terms of online or local game modes, this preview is strictly related to gameplay.
On the whole, the graphics look just a little bit cleaner. Perhaps the most noticeable improvement over previous generations aesthetically is the realistic field that accumulates wear and tear over the course of the match.
These improvements are definitely apparent during the course of play, but don't really seem like a giant leap for the series.
This is probably the biggest improvement in the game, from my perspective. FIFA 14 is very fun, but dribbling in the game was near impossible as players were constantly prone to poor touches that allowed defenders to easily swoop in. FIFA 15 gives the world's best soccer players a little more credit when it comes to ball handling, and the result is a much less choppy gameplay experience. This isn't to say that defenders are now handcuffed, but those who rely heavily on the B/O button while playing defense will no longer be as dominant. It's a subtle, but much needed change. EA also touted players now reacting more aptly to specific game situations (for example, a player who's fouled hard by an opponent might start a confrontation) but this adjustment wasn't abundantly noticeable when I played the game.
As a somewhat interesting side note, Messi was named the cover athlete for the third FIFA game in a row, but as producer Santiago Jaramillo notes, his otherworldly abilities pose a unique challenge for the game's designers. "Ronaldo's a little bit easier because he's a little more physical and our game is good at reflecting physicality," Jaramillo noted. "But Messi being so small makes things interesting because despite his size, his real strength is that he just doesn't go down. You tackle him and it's like he's made of rubber, and that's a really difficult skill to replicate."
So there you have it: Messi is so good at soccer even video game designers have trouble recreating him.
It seems like every EA game revamped its crowd-appearance for the next generation and FIFA is no different. Fans of different teams can now be heard engaging in specific chants and in general seem to be more reactionary to the action unfolding on the field. The crowd and player responses to goals are much improved, in large part because of cameramen placed on the sidelines who film the celebrations.
It's by most measures the same game
Because it ain't broke. FIFA 14 is a very fun soccer game that is played by hardcore fans in addition to those who have never followed the sport. When a game is already good (or as IGN described '14 "Amazing") the challenge for game designers is to improve upon it enough to make people want to buy it without fundamentally changing what made the previous game great in the first place. In terms of gameplay, FIFA 14 and 15 are quite similar, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. Whether it's worth forking over $60 for is probably dependent on your dedication to this franchise. Frequent players will notice the subtle differences, but those just hoping to pick up a good soccer game to round out their sports collection might want to browse the used game section.