The cliche saying is “Football is a game of two-halves”, but after watching the final qualifying event for the FIFA Interactive Club World Cup, I’d say it is now a game of two-consoles.
OL Rafsou, representing both Xbox and Olympique Lyon went head-to-head with ExpectSporting, who was representing PS4 and Brøndby IF. It wasn’t quite East vs West, Rocky vs Drago, or Red vs Blue, yet it caused emotions to stir that I’d not experienced whilst watching eSports for some time. Even though FIFA is a game about teams, the success and failings rest squarely upon the shoulders of the individual. In this case, after 24 players entered, 12 from Xbox and PlayStation both, it came down to the best of each console.
The success and failings were very present during the final, 13 times the ball hit the back of the net.
Time for another cliche “You couldn’t write this!”
The second game was over on the Xbox, with advantage landing with Rafsou. He had the 2 goal lead, his legends in play and the momentum of matches in his dugout. Click here for the goals from the second game, which ended up being a thunderous result of 6 goals to ExpectSporting to 1 goal for OL Rafsou. The final result after both games was 5-8, a shock by all accounts. PlayStation players had been the underdogs in previous tournaments, which Xbox having a much higher install-base in Ultimate Team. All that being said, congratulations to ExpectSporting! To say it was an emotional final is an understatement
Now to the Grand Final
Shortly after the final match, the draw took place for the Grand Final – due to take place August 16th to 18th. See below for the final draw.
As I sit in front of my assistant manager at Arsenal, he tells me how much they think of me, how much of a future I have ahead of me at the club. I smile and say how well I think I’m settling in…
“We’re sending you out on loan” he says
Such is life for a young footballer, big signings come in and down the ranks you. After a few substitute appearances for Arsenal, I found myself leading the line at Newcastle. That was just part of my journey, yours could be very different.
This year EA have given us their new career mode, The Journey. You play as Alex Hunter, who faces his final chance to make it big. Alongside his best friend you take part some exit trials, pass and you could get picked up. Fail and its back to ultimate team for you.
It’s an interesting mode, you have a mass effect style conversation wheel to engage in dialogue, which in turn affects your fans or manager. You take part in training sessions and play in matches, with objectives set by the boss to meet. Some are a bit unfair, you are a 17 year old kid expected to score two and set up one with 20 mins to go? Not likely. It is fun though and well put together and will no doubt have a tweaked version next year too.
I always find myself surprised at how much change there is with FIFA, sometimes it’s only subtle, but this year you’ll find lots has changed, for the better.
Unlike Pro Evolution Soccer 2017, FIFA feels weightier; Players are slower but move in a more realistic fashion, though there are of course all the hilarious glitches that have been reported. It was interesting to see players get in each other way more often which again leads to some calamitous defending. Goalkeepers seem to have improved again, most noticeably when it comes to saving parried attempts. The football doesn’t fizz round the pitch like in Pro Evo, spin is more noticeable, sometimes unpredictable and when you do score outside the box it feels more spectacular. Players are better at shielding the ball than ever before, their first touch is sometimes exquisite and can wrong foot a whole defence, it doesn’t mean you are guaranteed a goal as defending again has been improved.
Set pieces have had a revamp, a circle icon on the pitch helps you pinpoint where you want to put the ball, also giving you the option to drill or float a ball in. You can revert to the original system, but I quite like how the new system is integrated. Unfortunately the one set piece they have completely broken is penalties. Moving the right stick in a direction sets your player off on a run and before you know the ball is often dribbling towards a goalkeeper, that or hitting a corner flag. Penalty shootouts are a farce. Generally though matches are hard fought affairs, you’ll see lots of close matches and you’ll always feel like you have earned your win. This is of course helped by fantastic presentation. Realistic chants from the different teams you play against, the shouts from players on the pitch and the fantastic lightning can really draw you in to a game. With a huge amount of licenses available to FIFA there are very few teams you won’t be able to play as. The addition of the Frostbite has clearly made some difference to the game, players and this year, managers look even more realistic.
FIFA 17 is full of game modes you’ll be instantly familiar with, Pro Clubs returns, with the ability to create your own badge and kit this year. It’s limited but a nice touch, if you have an online pro from FIFA 16 you’ll be able to transfer that player over to 17. Seasons, Co-op seasons and online friendlies are all present, but the most fun is to be had in FIFA Ultimate Team.
To the uninitiated, FIFA Ultimate team or FUT is a card collection game, in which you earn or buy cards to build your ultimate team. Matching players from the same, club, league or nationality will help improve the team’s chemistry, enhancing your chances of winning. Winning matches earns coins which can be used to buy players in the transfer market or open packs of cards. It’s massively addictive and this year there have been lots of excellent changes.
Squad builder challenges are excellent, the aim is to meet the requirements of a certain squad. This may be ensuring the chemistry is above a certain level, or that a certain number of nationalities are in the squad. Meeting the requirements nets you some awesome prizes, from Gold card packs, to rare players. Winning the prizes means giving up every player in the squad you have created, so be warned. FUT Champions is also new to Ultimate Team. Each week, there is a chance to qualify for a weekend tournament that if you are good enough, could see you at the FIFA Interactive World Cup.
FIFA 17 is another great game in the series, you can see the effort EA have made to move the game on and although it suffers from some silly glitches it’s still great fun to play. The obvious question people will ask is whether it’s better than Pro Evolution. Having played both it’s hard to say as they both are great for different reasons, I’ll be playing more FIFA this year because I prefer the gameplay, but it’s worth giving both games a try.
FIFA 17 is getting a new game mode called Ultimate Team Champions.
FUT Champions allows you to compete each week in order to qualify for the Weekend League and compete for in-game rewards. Consistently showcase your skill and climb the Monthly Leaderboards to earn in-game rewards and the opportunity to take your game to the world stage.
Winning a Daily Knockout tournament will earn you rewards and a spot in the Weekend League. Dynamic squad entry requirements and unique rewards keep the Daily Knockouts fresh.
if you are good enough to spend most of your time at the top of the FIFA Pyramid you’ll get consistent access to the Weekend League. Perform well there and you could see yourself at the FIFA Interactive World Cup.
Two FIFA 17 Xbox One S bundles will be released in September.
Both bundles will hit store shelves on 22 Sept and will retail for £249 GBP (for the 500GB model) and £299 GBP (for the 1TB model). With EA Access, you’ll get play FIFA 17 and live your story on and off the pitch in the brand-new game mode, The Journey, on September 22, five full days before it launches.
Each bundle includes a full-game download of FIFA 17, three Ultimate Team Loaned Legends, one month of EA Access and the most compact Xbox yet, the Xbox One S (the 1TB version also comes with a bonus Ultimate Team Rare Player Pack).
Marco Reus, the Bourissia Dortmund player will be the cover star of FIFA 17.
Fans were given a chance to vote between James Rodriguez of Real Madrid C.F., Anthony Martial of Manchester United, and Eden Hazard of Chelsea FC. There were over 3 million votes which is pretty impressive. FIFA senior producer Nick Channon said:
It is incredible to see how fans get behind their favourite player – Marco plays for a great club, is really fun to watch, and he is very popular in FIFA Ultimate Team, so it makes a lot of sense that the fans picked him.
While Reus added:
I’m honoured to join a very distinguished group of footballers to appear on the cover of FIFA. Most of all I am humbled that the fans have chosen me, and I will strive to make them proud with my performance on the pitch.
The last 12 months have been exciting for EA Access members with 20+ additions to the vault in their unlimited play section, several Play First Trials and the 10% on top savings on EA Digital titles on Xbox One. Well the next few months won’t dissappoint you either as EA have just announced the latest set of titles that will join this incredible deal.
Joining the EA Access Vault –
Need for Speed (July 12)– Tear up the streets of Ventura Bay as you go back to the underground in the latest game in the franchise.
Unravel (July 12) – Join Yarny on an adventure in this physics-based puzzle platformer. Using ingenuity and yarn strategy, you’ll traverse through 12 unique levels, aiding Yarny in a quest to mend a broken bond. If you want to know what we thought about this great game check out our review here.
Plants vs. Zombies Garden Warfare 2 (August 30) – Take the fight once again against the Zombies in the sequel to the fantastic Plants vs Zombies. Battle on 12 new maps from the Great White North to Moon Base Z in a game packed with fun, laughs and humor. Check out our review here to find out what we thought of the game.
Play First Trials –
EA SPORTS Madden 17 (August 18) – Are you ready to take your team all the way with the most balanced gameplay, deeper Franchise and an all new commentary team.
EA SPORTS NHL 17 (September 8) – Hit in the ice with all-new game modes, new and deeper experiences in fan-favorite modes, and the best on-ice gameplay ever to date. Live out your hockey fantasy in all-new Draft Champions and World Cup of Hockey game modes, own every zone with authentic goaltenders, new Net Battles on offense and defense, and bone-crushing Collision Physics.
EA SPORTS FIFA 17 (September 22) – Powered by Frostbite, FIFA 17 delivers authentic, true-to-life action, that takes players to new football worlds, and introduces fans to characters full of depth and emotion.
If that wasn’t enough to wet your appetite, EA Access members on Xbox One and Origin members on PC will also get a chance to play the epic Battlefield 1 via Play First Trials on October 13, ahead of its worldwide release on October 21.
For further information on how to join and a complete list of Vault games and Play First Trials, check out the official EA Access website.
Premier League managers will be included in FIFA 17.
Jose Mourinho, Arsene Wenger, new Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola and Liverpool’s Jurgen Klopp are all included. The managers will help create a believable Premier League in the new single player experience.
A new gameplay trailer was release also, some of the new features include:
SET PIECE REWRITE
From free kicks to penalties to corner kicks, inject personality and experience control from every dead ball situation.
PHYSICAL PLAY OVERHAUL
A transformation in the way players physically interact in all areas of the pitch. Control is now in your hands as you battle for space and possession.
ACTIVE INTELLIGENCE SYSTEM
A brand new system introduces constant spatial analysis, increases activity off the ball, and changes the way players move, read, and react
NEW ATTACKING TECHNIQUES
New options in attack give players more ways to create chances and finish in front of goal.
I got some time with the game last night and it’s fair to say I’m liking what I’ve seen so far!
It’s been revealed that FIFA 17 will run on the Frostbite Engine for the first time and will be released on September 29.
“Frostbite unlocks a whole new world of possibilities for the FIFA franchise and its fans,” said David Rutter, VP and Executive Producer. “We have never been as excited as we are today about the future of football and the experiences we are going to deliver in FIFA 17.”
FIFA 17 also introduced four new football ambassadors who have halped influenced complete innovation in the action on the pitch. James Rodriguez of Real Madrid C.F., Anthony Martial of Manchester United, Eden Hazard of Chelsea FC, and Marco Reus of Borussia Dortmund. They all worked with EA SPORTS to bring to life the gameplay innovation which will be revealed at EA Play. The ambassadors also appear in the FIFA 17 pre-order offer as loan players in FIFA 17 Ultimate Team.
Fans who pre-order FIFA 17 Super Deluxe Edition can get up to 40 FIFA Ultimate Team Jumbo Premium Gold Packs, Team of the Week loan players, and other FUT content. Click here to read about all the available pre-order offers.