FIFA 17 (Demo): Initial Thoughts

So, another September rolls around and fans of the FIFA franchise look ahead to the latest title in the series. However, there is something markedly different with this FIFA title – well two things actually. First there is the introduction of the ‘Journey’ mode (this is something I will cover in more depth in the following article) and the second is the franchise’s migration to the Frostbite engine. The use of the new engine has allowed for some very welcome improvements within the game and I’ve selected the (in my opinion) most important features I have noticed below.

Aesthetics

As I said, the Frostbite engine has allowed the new FIFA to break their record of graphical quality, with the engine allowing for a far more realistic models of players. Special attention should be made for the use of lighting with the players, a minor improvement but one that does underline the new levels of quality afforded to FIFA.

Hopefully this gives you an idea of the improved quality of graphics – the left id t he output on FIFA 16 and the right gives you some idea of the detail of FIFA 17.

A quick note on the commentary: it seems pretty much the exact same as last year. I was only playing an exhibition match so I hope that there have been modifications to the manager mode.

AI

Anyone who has been following the development of the latest FIFA title will be aware of how much has been made of both the friendly and oppositional AI in the game (of course FIFA does this each year) but I must admit that there is certainly an improvement in both AI types; the extent of how much is difficult to judge properly until we have the full version to play with. Though I will say this, the opposition in previous FIFA titles were somewhat polarised. With the overly-sensitised difficulties taking opposition teams from a drunk Sunday league team to a team of robot specifically designed to make you feel bad and cry. This has seemingly been fine-tuned; with the challenge being very much present in the opposition but not to the extent that the game becomes unbeatable.

Similarly, your teammates aren’t so ridiculously incompetent that they refuse to make a clear run towards goal. The demo emphasised the improved friendly AI, with teammates making runs ahead of you without having to pass whilst holding L1. The defensive mentality is also apparent, with AI running back to bolster the defensive presence. Whilst these defensive mechanics were in place in FIFA 16; I would make the point that AI was prone to be rather idle; what I have seen so far from the new FIFA is a far more animated and aware AI.

Set-Pieces

Now this is where things get a bit more interesting. FIFA have totally revamped each set piece (corners, free kicks, and penalties) and each has a very different approach. Corners now allow you to switch between the deliverer and receiver; with the kick taker letting the player balance a yellow dot in the position they wish to send the ball. Apparently; there is room for players to customise the movement of players in the box, though I have not tested this out too much yet.

FIFA 17 DEMO Kick Off 2-0 RMA V OSA, 1st Half
The new layout for corners 

Free kicks have been altered to allow the taker to change his or her position on approach to the ball and to manipulate the curve of the ball – something that I really enjoyed about FIFA 2004 but never saw again. The new system does take some getting used to but it should hopefully allow for more challenge and creativity in your play.

The penalties are by far the most interesting modification. Players can alter the position and length of run towards the ball using the right stick whilst the left stick controls the run towards and placement of the shot. It is certainly a welcome change to the timing system of the four previous FIFA titles and should add even more tension to the matches between you and your friends.

Precision

If there has been one thing I have always picked fault with in the FIFA titles, it is that the passing system has seemed overly mechanical. A cross field pass, or a first time through-ball or shot have always been met with perfect contact. Similarly, the speed a player is moving at seems to never alter the pace of the ball. This was the biggest change I noticed when playing the demo. Both players and the ball move far slower – not sluggish but heavier, and it means that you have to work to create a sense of momentum within the play; your chain of passes noticeably builds up the speed of movement and works to bring a sense of meaning back into the creation of intricate movement that you choreograph. Rather than getting Ronaldo on the ball and just running.

 

The signs look good for the upcoming release of FIFA 17; I will be interested to see the depth of these improvements when the game comes out at the end of September! As I said, I am going to send out a separate article that focuses on The Journey mode of the game!

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