FIFA is one of gaming longest running franchises, with new iterations each and every year for well over 20 years now (I still remember playing FIFA ’94 as a kid). As a result, it has some of the most loyal and keen fans of any series, many of whom rush out to buy the latest instalment on the day the game is released every year.
There’s no doubt that FIFA is the king of the football game (although last years iteration of Pro Evolution Soccer was incredibly good), but with a new version of a sport that rarely changes that is produced annually, EA Sports don’t always hit the mark with their changes and additions. Rarely is the game completely overhauled, but the continual tweaking, while occasionally annoying fans, has produced recent additions to the franchise that have elevated the brand to almost untouchable heights. So, as we’re quickly approaching the release of the newest game in the franchise, we take a look at what’s new in FIFA 17.
In recent years, FIFA has stayed away from making dramatic new additions or changes to the game. We’ve seen more stadiums, better kits, improved player likenesses and (marginally) better commentary, but nothing revolutionary has been added for quite a while. That’s all set to change this year however, with the introduction of a single-player story mode entitled ‘The Journey’. This is the first foray into a story-led mode for the FIFA franchise, but frankly I’ve been waiting for one ever since the excellent story mode in the EA Fight Night franchise. In The Journey you play Alex Hunter – a young, up and coming English footballer looking to sign for a Premier League team. You can control either the whole team or just Alex, and your personal journey will depend on your performance in the game, as well as the decisions you make both on and off the pitch. We’re a little light on details at this stage (such as how long The Journey will last, or how the story arc will play out), but it’s an interesting addition to a game that will also include the more traditional Career mode found in previous FIFA games.
New Graphics Engine
FIFA 17 will run on the Frostbite engine for the first time – the same engine that powers Battlefield 4 and Star Wars: Battlefront. According to Lead Gameplay Producer Aaron McHardy the team have been working towards moving FIFA onto the Frostbite engine for the last two years, and by all accounts the move will result in better lighting, more realistic gameplay and greatly improved player models and likenesses. Considering FIFA didn’t exactly looked bad or unrealistic in the 2015/16 version, I’m excited to see the impact of the new engine.
Improved Ball Control and Additional Gameplay Features
The new graphics engine has allowed the FIFA development team to add some major upgrades to the gameplay system in FIFA 17, making it a significant improvement on last year’s instalment. The new ‘pushback’ technology results in more realistic (and less frustrating) first touches and a new physical approach to the game as a whole. Players can now jostle and fight for position, as well as fighting for control in the air. As well as improvements to control and touch, the game is a major upgrade in terms of shielding (including an innovative air-shielding system) and footwork, with touches and movement now being far more intuitive and looking considerably more realistic.
More Intelligent AI
The AI (artificial intelligence) system has also be revamped with the addition of the Active Intelligence System. This results in much better player movement, understanding and use of space, and improved player runs off the ball.
Defending has never been easy in FIFA games – especially for beginners – but it can still be incredibly frustrating coming up against a solid and determined defence. FIFA 17 adds a lot more options and variety into the mix when it comes to breaking down stubborn defences, making each game feel different from the last and opening up the number of potential approaches you can take to putting the ball in the back of the net.
FIFA 17 will be released on Xbox One, PS4 and PC in September 2016.