Exciting times, nerds. The release date for FIFA 16 draws ever closer, and details as to what exactly will be going on are starting to leak out. And just recently, we've been delivered of a massive pile of statistical goodness, straight from the makers themselves.
For those of you that are unfamiliar with EA Sports' world-devouring franchise, a quick intro. Set in a post-apocalyptic future where the world is ruled by bickering, privileged manchildren, the games runs on two levels, something like a mash-up of Rome: Total War and Just Dance. In the overarching strategic layer, you'll spend your economic resources on attracting notable dancers to your army. Yes, that says "dancers": actual combat has been forbidden in the FIFAverse, so by decree, armies of dancers take to packed amphitheatres and indulge in competitive calisthenics.
These dancers can be acquired in randomised packs (and if you'd sat a FIFA Ultimate Team player down ten years ago and explained to them that they'd grow up to spend their time playing a reskin of Magic: The Gathering, they'd have called you a nerd, stolen your lunch money and broken your glasses). And once you've got enough, once or twice every game week the focus switches, and you take control over your dancers as they go head to head with another army, drawn from either the UK or continental Europe.
But you don't just turn up and dance; oh no. To get the chance to perform for the crowd, you'll need to manufacture a powerful enough field position, as symbolised by a "ball" and its proximity to the "net". Manage that, and whichever of your generals is nearest to the ball will run to the crowd. At this point you need to pull off one of the game's complex button combinations: get it right, and the general will twist and somersault and jive, the crowd will cheer, and your army will be awarded one point. If your opponent manages it, however, then they get a shot at the dance, and you can expect a certain amount of manchild cackling into the bargain.
Whoever has the most points after 90 simulated minutes wins the bout and gets the points; whoever gets the most points over a campaign wins the favour of the manchildren and a shiny trophy. Simple.
As Manchester United are one of the featured armies, we thought we'd take a look at how United's default dancers have changed since last year's edition. EA Sports recently invited a few Youtube and Twitch personalities to play an early build of the forthcoming game, and in the process revealed a welter of new statistical information. Those of you over the age of 30 may like to take a moment at this point to shout into the uncaring ether:
"You can make a living playing computer games now?!"
Though we don't have all of United's information yet, the big winner of the sixteen we have seen is Matteo Darmian, whose Dance Power Rating has jumped a massive seven points from 74 to 81. Other notable movers include Chris Smalling (79 from 76), Memphis Depay (81 from 78) and, of course, the saintly David de Gea, whose smooth moves will not be gracing the Bernabeu this season.
In fact De Gea, with a rating of 86 (up from 83), is United's joint-best dancer this season, along with noted bogle specialist Bastian Schweinsteiger (down from 88) and Wayne Rooney, unchanged from last year, who does the Worm. Down at the bottom, meanwhile, is poor Adnan Januzaj, who is steady at 75. Perhaps a season in Germany will sort him out. That Marco Reus is a lovely little mover.
David de Gea: 86
Bastian Schweinsteiger: 86
Wayne Rooney: 86
Juan Mata: 84
Morgan Schneiderlin: 82
Marcos Rojo: 81
Memphis Depay: 81
Ander Herrera: 81
Phil Jones: 80
Daley Blind: 80
Antonio Valencia: 79
Chris Smalling: 79
Jonny Evans: 78
Marouane Fellaini: 78
Luke Shaw: 77
Adnan Januzaj: 75
(Numbers all taken from futhead.com, where you can dig into the stats in more detail, should you have nothing better to do with your day. Conceit nicked rather clumsily from here.)