E3 2016: FIFA 17 Preview

June 21, 2016

Out of the many titles showcased at EA’s separate EA Play Event, outside of E3, few were as popular as FIFA 17. With its own balcony overlooking LA Live, there were rows of consoles lined up for soccer fans to try out FIFA’s first venture into story-driven gameplay. And there was no shortage of players to lap it up. I managed to jump on a console for a brief look at FIFA’s new story mode ‘The Journey’, to see just what’s in store for the new series’ protagonist, Alex Hunter.

Alex Hunter is your vessel to experience the ins and outs of what a newly drafted soccer player goes through as they begin their career. You can apparently choose the team Hunter plays for in the main game, but in this demo he was at Liverpool, alongside another friend of his who makes an astonishing debut in his first game. While all eyes are on his mate, Hunter is benched and forced to watch from the sidelines. Up until this point, you’ve purely been watching cutscenes of the story unfold – although you are allowed a brief dialogue choice to give some encouraging words to your friend – ‘Kick one for me’ and so forth.


About halfway through the match, with the score tied, Alex is finally given the green light to step onto the field and join the game. It’s here where you’re finally allowed to dive into gameplay proper, although in another new twist on the formula, you’re given objectives that you may or may not complete. For instance, from the basic ‘Win the Match’ to ‘Score the Next Goal’ to the more challenging ‘Impress Your Boss’ and score 7 goals. No matter how well you do, the story will advance either way.

Honestly, my FIFA skills are a bit rubbish, especially when limited to a single player on the field. Unable to freely switch between other members on the team, you’re focused solely on controlling Alex – which is more realistic, but if you’re set in your ways from past titles, can take a lot of adjusting. Half the time my brain just couldn’t adapt to the fact that I wasn’t able to switch to a player close to the ball, when Alex was on the other side of the field. Consequently, we did not end up winning the match, but ended on a draw, which led to an awkward press conference cutscene at the end, where Alex was questioned on his decisions (and given dialogue options to respond). This may or may not play out with consequences later on in the story, and I suppose we’ll have to wait for the full product to find out.


The game boasts an impressive technology upgrade over past entries, including a new ‘Pushback Technology’ system, which is meant to more realistically simulate how players physically interact, allowing you to shield when in possession or trying to win the ball. The new ‘Active Intelligence System’ is also meant to better define and classify space for players, with several ‘New Run Types’ like fakes, direct and stunted runs.

FIFA 17 certainly looks the business, running on Frostbite, and using that tech and horsepower to deliver a new single player story is certainly the most interesting aspect of the game. If you’re a soccer fan waiting for what could be the most unique (or most hilarious) FIFA game yet, it’s out in Australia on 29 September for Origin for PC, Xbox One, PS3, 360 and PS3.