Hey hey. I mainly play 15s on Hard using the side-angle camera and, if I'm doing just a one-off single match, I'll choose teams with comparable ratings. While I can manage to have an entertaining experience with this game nowadays, I find myself being frustrated a lot, too. I think the frustration stems from the difference between what I expect to happen and what actually ends up happening. Here's ten of the most frustration-inducing gameplay pain points, in no order, that could maybe aid you in reducing my and other players' frustrations:
1. Ball loss on kickoff
I receive the ball and I immediately lose the ball at the first ruck. Every time. The players around me look to be prioritizing trying to position themselves into their line rather than react to my bind commands on that first tackle, so I inevitably give up the ball. I've tried a quick+heavy bind immediately. I've tried only quick binds. I've tried only heavy binds. I've tried running to my nearest player. None of it works. Is there something I'm missing here? I have players around me. I expect them to bind to the ruck, but they sit there and stare for a few seconds and then react when it's too late.
2. Passing from ruck dive animation
For some reason the scrum-half gets a diving pass animation while passing from the ruck, even if I'm passing to my closest player. This happens a lot. Like a lot, a lot, and the time that it takes for that animation to play out is all the defense needs to get off the line and smash me. By all means have the scrum-half dive pass to the furthest out player, just not to someone right next to him.
3. Attack line shape and get-off
I think this is the biggest thing missing from the gameplay for me. Although the forwards now aren't caught flat-footed all the time (which is a definite plus), and they do set up as pods, there is a glaring lack of the attacking line moving forward in concert, at depth and speed, so that--barring defensive interruption or knock-on--you can move the ball from one side of the field to the other with every receiver able to run onto the ball at pace.
I've noted in a comment on a post somewhere that Rugby 20 did a really good job on attacking and defensive formations (about the only thing they did right). The real-world variety of configurations there are perfect. I can actually see those same formations on the pitch when I watch a match on tv.
That's not present here. You can't get a 1-3-3-1 or a real 2-4-2 where forwards are in the outside channels. You can't turn your 10 into a viable first receiver where they can then pass to a forward pod on the front-foot.
But I could live without that if only the forwards would be included in the line-depth commands so they can get some steam running onto the line, and if the backs would keep their shape as they run forward instead of readjusting to the ball-carrier running an angle so that the winger I thought I had put into space is now right up on my shoulder, in the wrong channel, and useless.
It seems like some of the logic, like for the support lines, is meant for the 7s game, and it totally works sometimes on line-breaks in 15s. But too often it repositions players out of the attack and everything stalls. If you look at Rugby 08, you'll see the backline on a straight up rod where they keep their shape and follow the ball-carrier.
When a team is on attack in rugby, the whole line is moving forward in whatever shape they've organized into. They're running onto the ball. They're running lines. They're keeping their shape. That's the optimum goal, at least, barring player discipline or stamina or other factors. That's momentum, and when you get some go-forward and start to get that quick ball and you get a line break, the attack gains speed because the team is now running forward onto the ball with all that power.
On a basic level, the problem I'm having with this game right now is that I'm not feeling this. There is no attack shape. Forwards are so close to the line they can't get up to speed. You pass it out to your flyhalf and he's standing still. Tackle animations predominately stop the ball-carrier in their tracks, so it feels like you're running into a brick wall (if it were only versus England, I'd get it, but not every defense in the game) regardless of who's tackling who. The wrap tackles, oh the wrap tackles. You feel stymied, no matter who you're playing.
So yeah, that was long winded.
4. Defensive ball-lock bubble
I'm not a fan of how defensive players lock onto the ball. You can tell the lock has a certain radius because when your player enters it they run sideways at hyper speed, or they get repulsed out of it and have to circle back into it. I don't feel in control of my player, and it's so frustrating when you have the correct pursuit angle, but instead of making the tackle, you get repulsed out of the way. It seems like this happens most when the ball changes hands and your defensive player has to readjust to the new ball-carrier.
This game needs a user-defined defensive jockey, or breakdown, or whatever you want to call it when a defender squares up with an opponent. Let me have the control and hold L2 to slow my guy down and get him in position to make the tackle.
5. Fullback (or backfield) pursuit angles
Although I wish I didn't have to, I've learned enough now to always make sure to set my fullback to Normal, so that's not what I'm going to gripe about here. There are two things that get me in trouble quite a lot that have to do with fullback pursuit angles. One, although I think the backfield has gotten better at fielding kicks (it could just be placebo), they do so by getting turned around. All the time. So instead of being able to run or assess where to kick, my player is too busy turning around and trying not to stumble over himself so that I get tackled before I can kick back more often than not. Second, if your fullback is on one side of the pitch, and your opponent makes a break on the opposite side, your fullback will parallel them all the way to the try line and (I imagine) wave to them from across the field.
6. Losing ball from forward pod
I pass to my forward pod. There are two forwards right there behind the ball-carrier ready to ruck. This is the purpose of the pod. I get tackled, I bind, and those two beefy, ruck-loving forwards have no idea what to do. They stand there. They look around. A forward from across the field will come in, and only then they'll go into the ruck. There's a logic breakdown somewhere. I do a quick+heavy bind, as recommended, which should in theory give me the nearest player and then the nearest player with the best rucking stats, right? My guys should be the first ones in the ruck to secure it. I'm losing the ball a lot because more often than not, my guys just stand there. I see a lot of people posting about this, and I think it comes down to what you're eyes are telling you (there are two forwards in the pod whose main purpose is to secure the ruck) and what actually happens (those dudes watch you lose the ball) when you're pressing the buttons that you've been told to press. Maybe it's user error, which means the Quick and Strong bind need to be explained better, or maybe that system just doesn't work well with pods. I've tried just quick-binding, theorizing that it'd draw those two forwards into the ruck first and secure the ball for me, but I lose out. Is there a bonus or something applied to Strong binds?
Using the side-camera, you can't see where you're box-kicking to if you're on the lower part of the field. It'd be cool if the camera could zoom out so I could see, or if the camera swung around behind the scrum-half. You also, for some reason, can't box-kick into touch from the ruck when you're past regulation time. That has killed me so many times.
8. Stamina and substitution accessibility
Stamina drain could be more taxing in this game, making substitutions absolutely necessary as they are in real-life, but my biggest gripe is that I have no idea how fatigued my players are on the field. There is no stamina indicator to tell me they are tired, and barring that, no animations to tell me what state they're in. I have to pause the game and go to the menu to find this out and make substitutions. The end result is that I just don't make them, and that's a shame.
9. Prepare kicker doesn't get enough depth
I can't tell you how many times I've prepared a kicker only to pass the ball to someone barely behind the forwards, so I get tackled mid-kick and it counts as a knock-on. This is especially frustrating when I'm backed up at my own try line and finally win back the ball, only for this to happen.
10. Can't choose where L1+R1 goes to
It's a guessing game sometimes where your L1+R1 pass is going to go to. Left or right? I don't know, let's find out, I guess? That's frustrating. Why not add button prompts over the playmakers when you hold down L1+R1 so you can choose which side of the ruck to go to, similar to holding L1 or R1?
I'll circle back here and add in videos for all of these points, but for now that's all. I'm sure some of these are caused by user error, so if you have any advice for how to solve these problems, please let me know!