FIFA 17 release date: September 27 (US), September 29 (rest of world)
Formats: PS4, PS3, Xbox One, Xbox 360, PC, Android, iOS
Developer: EA Canada
EA’s newest annual football game, FIFA 17, has been confirmed for a release date of 27/29 September, and this year it’s packing something the series has often lacked: an element of surprise. In addition to staples such as Ultimate Team, EA Canada is introducing a second type of career mode called The Journey. In it you play as an upcoming Premier League prospect, with cut-scenes that feel more like Mass Effect or Dragon Age than traditional FIFA. The FIFA 17 cover star is Borussia Dortmund and Germany midfielder Marco Reus, after winning a cover vote that also included Anthony Martial, James Rodriguez and Eden Hazard. Most tantalisingly, it’ll run on Battlefield 1’s Frostbite engine, rather than FIFA 16’s Ignite equivalent.
FIFA 17 cover vote contenders Reus, Martial, Rodriguez and Hazard all feature heavily in the trailer, which also gives glimpses of its improved set-pieces and upgraded physicality.
No concrete details exist yet of FIFA 17’s traditional career mode – instead, early information has mostly focussed on The Journey. In this footballing equivalent of the popular MyCareer modes found in 2K’s NBA and WWE games, you control a single player, and are able to sign for any of the 20 English Premier League clubs at the outset. This main protagonist is called Alex Hunter, and his interactions (and burgeoning rivalry) with best mate Gareth Walker form a major part of The Journey's storyline. EA Canada worked with Bioware to develop it, and so stories play out by you selecting dialogue options in conversations with coaches, team-mates and the media. There’s a chance it flops like Wilfried Bony at Manchester City – but you can’t say the dev hasn’t been bold in conceiving this.
Running on the Star Wars Battlefront Frostbite engine is a huge step forward for FIFA 17’s graphics – but it’s how it plays that will define its ultimate success. I covered this extensively in a June hands-on, with the most immediate improvements being better off-the-ball runs, more physical hold-up play, and (at long bloody last!) the ability to move up and down the touchline before taking a throw-in. Set-pieces have also been overhauled. You’re now able to adjust your run-up – and therefore delivery angle – to any free-kick or throw-in, and a new aiming reticule enables the delivery of even more accurate corners. At least in theory.
For now, details of FIFA 17’s most popular mode (if previous years are anything to go by) remain frustratingly scarce. One Ultimate Team feature recommended by fans in GR+’s FIFA 17 wishlist is the ability to change the position of players within the mode – there’s no word yet from EA as to whether this may be forthcoming. What is certain is that the Ultimate Team card designs have changed, thanks to Crystal Palace players leaking a dummy image of Wilfried Zaha while on a tour of developer EA Canada. Click here for a sneaky peek at their new look.
FIFA 17 pre orders come in a trio of flavours. Naturally, all revolve around the ubiquitous Ultimate Team.
Nab the Super Deluxe Edition for the game, 40 FUT Jumbo Premium Gold Packs, two three-match Team Of The Week loans for 20 weeks, an eight-match loan player selected from Hazard, Martial, Reus and Rodriguez, and custom FUT kits. Note, however, that this version is digital-only.
If you want to pre-order on disc, you have two choices. The Deluxe Edition is identical to the above Super Deluxe, except you get 20 FUT Jumbo Premium Gold Packs rather than 40. Or you can plump for the Standard Edition. This comprises FIFA 17, five draft tokens, custom kits, and (again) eight matches worth of either Hazard, Martial, Reus or Rodriguez.
More details on the official EA site.
Real grounds are a focal point of realism for many fans, so the news that FC Barcelona’s Camp Nou is exclusive to PES 2017 is a bitter blow. In its place, we should get Middlesbrough’s Riverside Stadium after the club’s promotion to the officially-licensed-in-FIFA-17 English Premier League, but that hardly seems a fair trade-off. One new location officially confirmed is Suita City Football Stadium, home to Gamba Osaka. Junichi Inamoto’s former club are one of 18 Japanese teams making their debuts in FIFA 17.
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