Apologize to your girl. Think up some creative excuses for your boss. Get the fridge stocked and your snacks by your side. It’s time to settle down into a game that can take you away from your club’s recent stumbles, put the reins in your hands to bring Messi to London, and give you the ability to makes passes/shots/flicks that half of us can’t ever dream of executing on Sunday. It’s FIFA time...let’s go!

A new FIFA loads up on the screen and it’s hard to not get lost in the same wonder that we’ve felt since the 90’s. A new canvas for us to right the “wrongs” that we perceive in the football world and craft our virtual pro to rub shoulders with CR7 and the rest of the world’s best. It’s a way to settle a debate, crush your mates, or become one of the greats...FIFA is working its way towards a Christmas for football fans (if it isn’t already).

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The big focus might be on the new mode added to the game: the Journey, and we’re big fans of this new addition, but we’ll be covering it in an article entirely dedicated to the mode. We’ll just state that this is going to be a big winner with players that aren’t drawn in by the online modes or the behemoth that Ultimate Team.

Once you get the game loaded up, you dive into whichever game mode your heart desires, and you immediately notice that Frostbite has taken this game to another level in terms of presentation. In fact, the presentation is going to be a high note in every person’s comments about this game. The stadiums feel more life-like, the chants feel more diverse, the grass wears in the right spots, the seasons don’t just make it snow or rain, and the players are incredibly realistic. The only thing that sometimes can get annoying is that the kits and hair can sometimes move a bit too much despite not really being acted on by an outside source, but that’s getting really ticky-tacky.  

As a boot nerd, the boots look painstakingly recreated from the upper down to the shape and color of the studs. Don’t have the money to get the newest boot from Nike or adidas? Spend some EA credits and slap it on any player that you’d like!

Once you step outside the looks (which we could wax lyrical about for hours and hours and hours), the gameplay has gotten some upgrades (both good, and bad). You’ll notice that those plays you see on Saturday and Sunday from the Prem where a player clashes with another player on the wing and the ball quickly shoots out of bounds occur quite frequently. You can walk a bit up and down the line to make your throw-in, and it finally feels like ricochets are at a fairly realistic level instead of blasts just dropping at a player’s feet. Expect some ping pong situations that, despite frustrating you at times, feel incredibly close to real situations.

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The simple pass button has been augmented, while we’re about to mention the positive there is a negative change we mention later, to take the player receiving the pass into account. While a moving player in FIFA16 that you tried to hit with a simple pass would see the ball played well behind them, FIFA17 will see the simple pass played to where they will be. The through-ball will still be effective to players trying to move the ball forward and thread a ball through the defense, but this FIFA will be for players that can K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simple, Stupid).

Shots and shooting situations continue to move closer and closer to realism. Screamers take advantage of being able to loop over outstretched keepers, finesse shots that sneak into the corner, and powering up a shot and tapping the shoot button again to keep the ball low feel natural and have the level of effectiveness that they should. The AI makes smarter defensive choices, it felt less likely that speed demons were being caught by slow defenders, and we like how players switch roles and positions when we’re in certain formations. We can’t wait for the AI to always make the right runs, but that doesn’t happen in real-life either...so, we aren’t going to be too tough on EA for that. We do find that keepers actually experience the occasional flap when they come out for the ball, mimicking real-life situations instead of always getting it right when they charge out for balls in the air.

One of the negatives of gameplay on the field is how often the new AI shields the ball. This gets compounded with how impossible it sometimes feels to get the ball off of these players, and we hope that EA can make this feel less like a guy stealing your ball and refusing to give it back. We also feel that, despite the game trying to sneak closer and closer to realism, too many passes aren’t on the money despite using highly leveled players and being properly positioned to make those passes.  Like we said, even Xavi in his prime wouldn’t sit the same ball down the same path every time, but pressing the simple pass button should be a fairly dependable action. Don’t even try and use the zipped pass button combination unless you are straight on to your target...it won’t go well.

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The new set-piece will be enjoyable for players wanting to execute pinpoint corners, and there’s a new system in place to allow you to aim at a particular spot and adjust the height of ball you send in with the amount of time you hold down the cross button.

Perhaps the biggest negative of gameplay has to be the new penalty system. We’ve been playing non-stop since we got our hands on the game, and we still aren’t very confident. While we like being able to change our run-up on the fly, tapping the movement stick to being running forward, then moving the stick in a direction for aiming while powering up (gone is the “get the bar to stop in the green” mini-game) never feels right. You’ll think you’ve conquered the set-up after a bit, but a rough patch of penalties will have you really questioning this change. It’s a good thing we never let it go to penalties ;)

With game modes, Ultimate Team has gotten some severe cosmetic upgrades to make every pack feel like a celebration. You can still spend hours crafting and perfecting your ultimate squad, and EA is very aware that this is where a large portion of us are going to spend our time.


Career mode has gotten more in depth for anyone wanting to take full control of their club. You can now design your manager’s look (do they all make the same seven moves? Yes...but, it’s still fun!), and go further in depth on the needs of your club.  Do they want more fans from Asia? You better sign yourself an Asian superstar to bring in that market. Your club wants to see more youth players promoted? Better upgrade your youth assets.  It will never be Football Manager, but it’s trying to find the blend between those of us more interested in playing between the whistles and those more interested in handling what happens after the whistle. Youth growth continues to feel improved, transfer prices continue to feel less inflated (still a bit inflated), and commentary feels better equipped to avoid being repetitive until you’re well into your second season.

Heading online sees some major changes to the Pro Clubs section. While this will change a bit once the masses start heading onto the game, we can now feel like the club is truly our own. You don’t have to feel like a surrogate piece of an already established club, or feel obligated to choose a club because of their kit choice. Craft your kit and finally feel proud of the club that you’re representing (maybe this will stop 75% of Pro Clubs using the Barcelona crest). We can’t really pass too much judgement as this mode and the other online moes won’t be fully functioning until the world is online, EA has made improvements despite the simple fact that FIFA17 would have still been seen as a success if they just upped the graphics. We’re glad that continued to push forward.

This game is so massive in terms of fandom from the world, and we’re sure that we’ve left some small aspects off to the side. However, the entire package of this game has us excited. The addition of the Journey feels like you get an upgraded FIFA16 with almost an entirely new game added! The PES debate will rage on, but there will be a very small portion of people able to fault what EA has given us this year.

FIFA17, it just keeps getting better.