Sports games come in many shapes and sizes. Football Manager and Rocket League have almost nothing in common, but they’re both undeniably sports games. Meanwhile Fifa has added a story driven campaign, and Pyre is a fantasy RPG that plays like a sport. To try and help, I’ve broken this list down into four broad categories. Sports Simulations, which attempt to realistically depict a sport, Sports Management games (self explanatory), Arcade Sports, which depict a stylised version of a real sport, and Fantasy Sports, which are wholly invented. There’s obviously a lot of crossover, since even Rocket League is loosely based on football, but hopefully this will help you tell your QWOPs from your Fifas.
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SPORTS SIMS Fifa 2018 Developer: EA Sports Release Date: Sep 2017 Link: Official site EA’s annual football series is on a high right now, with the addition of a surprisingly compelling single player story mode. Unlike PES, Fifa’s strength is in a Xavi-esque short, quick passing game. If you’re looking to play online, Fifa will be your football sim of choice, as a strong and healthy online community ensures it’s always easy to find a game. PES 2018 Developer: Konami Release Date: Sep 2017 Link: Official site While Fifa will draw in those interested in the single player story or online multiplayer, PES is my preference for local multiplayer, or when I want to sink into the signature Master League. The two games also play slightly differently, with PES leaning more towards long passes and lofted through balls for a faster paced, more frenetic game. MANAGEMENT GAMES Football Manager 2018 Developer: Sports Interactive Release Date: Nov 2017 Link: Official site It’s hard to overrstate the enormity of Football Manager. It is consistently one of the most popular games on Steam, its scouting network rivals real life clubs and once a player received an international call up from the wrong country because of it. It’s also incredibly absorbing and fun, even more so since they added the streamlined variant Football Manager Touch. Play it with care: it is all-consuming. Out of the Park Baseball 18 Developer: Out of the Park Developments Release Date: Mar 2017 Link: Official site It’s strange how few other sports have a Football Manager equivalent, but understandable that the highly stat-driven baseball is one of those that does. Out of the Park Baseball doesn’t seem to change that much from year to year, but the underlying game remains an engrossing way to live out your Moneyball fantasies.