Years ago, sports video games were meant for individuals or in-person multiplayer. They were about putting teams together, controlling professionals, or creating players, and then going through the motions of whatever sport happened to be the subject. Now, we tend to think of sports games largely as opportunities for larger-than-life online multiplayer.

EA Sports’ FIFA series helped lead the way in this regard. A pioneer in lifestyle and competition components for soccer gaming, the franchise got in on the online multiplayer action fairly early and has since grown to support a huge community of enthusiastic gamers.

But sometimes it’s still a lot of fun to just play a soccer video game on your own, passing between players, taking penalty kicks, etc. to see how you can do. True sports fans buy these games to focus on every little aspect of the game, and you can only fully enjoy that level of control if you’re doing it on your own. So here are five soccer video games, on a range of different platforms, that are great for single-player action.

FIFA 17

Okay, so we just spent a whole introduction discussing FIFA in a way that might suggest it’s not all that for single players. That’s hogwash. Sure, FIFA has become known for its multiplayer options and specifically the “Ultimate Team” (or FUT) mode. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t also the biggest and best soccer video game money can buy. PES has made a comeback in recent years, but if you want the best graphics, the best physics engine for soccer gameplay, and the largest selection of real players, venues, etc., you’re aiming for FIFA.

Technically speaking, FIFA 17 doesn’t exist yet. It’s coming later this month. But this series has reached such heights that there’s pretty much zero doubt the 2017 edition will be wonderful to play. Plus, a round-up of information about the game made note of a new feature called “The Journey” that sounds really promising for single-player action. Basically, you’ll control a young player and guide him through his career and (ideally) to stardom.

Goalkeeper Premier

This game doesn’t seem like much at a glance, and in the greater scheme of things it’s not. But give it a few minutes and you’ll almost certainly want to play it through to the end, which is about the best thing you can say about any single-player game. It topped a list of the best soccer games to play online for a reason.

Basically, this is a flash game in which you pick a club team for whom you’ll become the goalkeeper. You then control a pair of gloves with your mouse, directing them to block incoming shots from your competition. Each match consists of nine shots for you to stop, and each time you stop three in a row, your team scores a goal. You can also get a perfect stop (catching the ball rather than blocking it away), which counts for two saves in one go. It’s surprisingly addictive, with the goal being to win your way through a tournament without losing and having to start from the beginning.

Football Manager Mobile 2016

Billed specifically as a single-player experience at its site, this too is just the latest edition in a reliable series. You may know the series as Football Manager Handheld (its title up until 2016). Either way, the 2016 version is the best of the bunch and terrific for you soccer gamers who consider yourselves tacticians.

Basically, this game minimizes action gameplay in favor of team management. It’s not unique in doing so, but it might be the best mobile game of its kind. You choose a team (from a selection of clubs from 14 countries), sign players, choose tactics, and make management decisions. The gameplay is simple to execute but challenging to succeed in, because balancing your budget, player satisfaction, and club success quickly proves difficult.

Football Champions Cup

Here’s an online game that a lot of people might miss, simply because it’s situated among the creative slot arcades at an online lottery platform. It’s not your standard flash game or shootout, but it’s got its own type of excitement. It’s also a great way for those who favor single-player options to get a little bit competitive, given that it can be played for real money. That being said, the demo version is pretty fun as well.

Basically, this game is a soccer-themed slot reel that allows you to choose a national team to represent before spinning the wheel. You’re then hoping to match up different soccer symbols (gloves, trophies, players, etc.), and ideally land three “Bonus” icons that trigger a penalty shootout. At that point you’re playing for free perks by choosing one of four spots to dive for as a goalie or shoot for as a player (alternating shots against the CPU). It’s entirely based on chance, but it’s oddly thrilling.

Flick Kick Football Legends

One of many playful mobile sports games from PikPok, Flick Kick Football Legends will make yearn for a simpler time in sports. That’s only a half-joking statement. This is a game built on stereotypes about the old days of English soccer, with smoking managers, overweight players, crazy fan bases, etc. But that’s all pretty effective, because this is almost like half comic/half game.

The idea is to collect players as you improve, and use their talents to win games that last just a couple minutes each. The gameplay is simple: you flick your finger across your phone or tablet screen, curving as necessary to put the ball where you need it to go based on the situation presented. That might mean passing to a teammate or taking a shot on goal, and it all works very smoothly. Also, progression is slow but steady, and the interaction with various characters in between matches is amusing.

These should satisfy your soccer gaming cravings, whether you’re one for realistic match play, team management, or some kind of arcade that deals with a specific aspect of the game. They’re all fun single-player options, and they’re all pretty accessible.

Nick Calandra
OnlySP founder and former site owner.

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