The Fifa 17 demo reveals The Journey mode, which allows you to follow the burgeoning career of a young player. Something to look forward to ahead of the Fifa 17 Coins release date next Tuesday!
In this year’s Fifa game, Fifa 17, the setup is a little different than previous games. There’s still the familiar structure of playing countless games of football with an entire roster of licensed teams and players, but in Fifa 17 EA Sports has added a story mode dubbed “The Journey”, in which you follow the career of an up-and-coming player called Alex Hunter.
Alex is a multiracial 17-year-old from Clapham, and has joined the Premier League under the guidance of his grandfather, Jim Hunter, who’s a former England star from the Sixties. It’s an interesting addition (“who thought a football game needed a role-playing story mode?”) but the setup is really solid, and one that sets the stage for some potentially great player-driven moments.
In the Fifa 17 demo, available now for download, you get a glimpse of how The Journey will play out. Starting in the Manchester United changing rooms on your debut with the club (the full game will allow you to select from over 20 Premier League clubs to play from), you’re thrust into a fully-fledged world of football, with well-directed cut-scenes and a dialogue wheel that’s reminiscent of BioWare’s work with the Mass Effect and Dragon Age series. It’s also familiar to Fifa’s own “Be A Pro” mode from years gone by.
It’s a surprisingly enjoyable way to play this year’s Fifa, and it’s better handled here than it is in other games which have attempted to flesh out the world around a particular sport – this year’s F1 2016 springs to mind as a game that tried its best, but still couldn’t quite hit the mark.
The fact that you can control Alex’s dialogue with teammates and the press allows you to shape him into your own character. Each conversation gives you multiple dialogue options, ranging from cool-headed chill to fiery ego-driven emotions, with a balanced option playing it steady in the middle. We’re interested to see exactly how that will drive Alex’s persona, and what consequences will arise as a result of Alex’s actions.
With each game you play, you have a series of targets to hit in order to further progress Alex’s standing in the team, and to boost his reputation in the wider world. There’s only one game of The Journey available to play in the demo, but it lets you either play as a wider team or by controlling only Alex. Whichever you do, you’ll have to use him – highlighted with an unmissable yellow circle above his head – to impress the coach and the crowd; scoring goals, pulling off impressive attacking manoeuvres, and dominating possession. There’s also a live rating box in the top right-hand corner of the screen, which gives you a real-time idea of how you’re performing – the commentators even talk about your actions and it gives a real sense that you’re there and exist on the field among some iconic names.
The Journey also gives the Frostbite engine the chance to shine. It doesn’t boast the visual bombast of EA’s Battlefield 1, but Fifa 17 is a looker; its finer details and more intricate flair come out in The Journey, where facial expressions and subtler animations are on show, up-close and personal. The voice acting itself is a little hammy here and there, though. EA Sports does its best to ramp up the tension, but it often comes off as a little over done and cheesy.
If anything, Fifa 17 just still isn’t as quite as fun as PES – the former’s control scheme is still a little cumbersome in the hands and PES, by comparison, thrives on its contextualisation of certain scenarios, thus enjoying a slimmer control scheme but one that makes incredibly memorable footballing feats achievable for even the most amateur of players. Still, Fifa rules the roost when it comes to thoughtful, tactical breakdowns of the beautiful game, and The Journey in particular looks like a story mode that may just be the best of its kind in the business.