It's probably the case that the biggest updates to Football Manager every year, the ones that will make the biggest difference over the following months, are found in the interface. In such a complex simulation, with more data than a Next Generation marathon, it's important to have access to important information on a single screen, or at most a single click away. The video below shows the return of the sidebar, along with cleaner graphics for scouting, manager history and the like.
But, lets be honest, everyone is going to end up talking about the burger vans and moustaches.
The burger vans are part of the foliage that sprouts around a football ground on matchday and are represented in the series for the first time as part of the updated 3d engine, which also features advanced lighting and motion captured animations. I've been a believer in the 3d engine since its earliest appearances and while it's usually where most issues in the annual beta are apparent, it's also where some of the biggest improvements to the simulation can be seen.
More intriguing is the move toward a roleplaying experience. When I spoke to Sports Interactive director Miles Jacobson last year, I felt that this year's instalment would continue the trend toward simulating the human side of management. That certainly seems to be the case and I couldn't be happier.
It's exciting to see such a long-running series exploring different ways to interpret player input. And, yes, I'm genuinely excited about the video. I'll spend enough time with the game in the next twelve months that every little detail is important to me.
The old joke is that Football Manager is a game about spreadsheets and while that was never really the case (at least not anymore than many other games are about spreadsheets), the focus on personal relationships and player roles all seems intended to simulate the actual experience of management rather than the abstract form that we're accustomed to. On the grand strategy sectrum, FM15 is moving closer to the Crusader Kings II side.
You'll have stats, which begin when you create a character, choosing between two distinct classes - the tracksuit manager or the tactical manager. Hybrid classes are available.
You'll have relationships, with players, with the board, with club legends, with journalists (now divided into broadsheet and tabloid classes of their own), and with your own staff. Many will gripe at the extra focus on media interactions, including interviews in tunnel and at training grounds, but they're all part of the world's texture, and can presumably be automated.
And, of course, there will be relationships with other managers. I'm hoping for something along the lines of Shadow of Mordor's nemesis system.
There's loads more in the video, including the creation of the new player role 'Raumdeuter' ('space investigator'), which seems to have been invented purely because Thomas Müller exists. I can't wait.
Release is November 7th and if past years are any indication, there'll be a beta starting a couple of weeks before. Oh, and the moustaches are dynamically occurring, with various styles and stages of growth, and tie in to the Movember charity.