Following E3 this year we’ve been given our first taste of the next instalment in the annual football franchise that is FIFA. Boasting an overhauled engine running on Frostbite, EA introduced us to the next step towards engaging players who have been yearning for something more than just a football sim.
Introducing the next massive legend
It’s been nearly 10 years since ‘Be A Pro’ was introduced to FIFA fans worldwide in 2007, bringing with it the ability to take control of a custom created player and take them out onto the field in a basic career mode. While it was a welcome and persistent addition to the franchise, it arguably fell short in being able to provide fans with a true career mode, failing to give compelling choices and an engaging story. It’s 2016 and now fans are finally getting a mode that will reportedly do just that, with the ability to go behind the scenes and experience the birth of an illustrious football career in FIFA 17’s The Journey.
In FIFA 17’s The Journey, players will fill the boots of 17-year-old Alex Hunter, a young London-born Academy prospect with a rich football background. Players shouldn’t expect to be taking their custom Pros into this story, as EA are choosing to keep the experience focused by giving fans a fleshed-out character to control rather than have players create their own.
Are you the hero we deserve?
Players will be able to choose from all 20 Premier League outfits in which to base their career, interacting with managers and players alike along their journey to the pinnacle of football stardom. These important figures will react to how the player performs on the pitch, and what they say off of it. Even social media plays a part as you’ll no doubt acquire a strong fan following, with the media watching your every move. There’ll be highs and lows, and it’s up to the player to determine where Alex Hunter’s footballing journey takes him.
EA’s choice to limit players to playing as Alex Hunter seems like a wise move, as it will focus the narrative and give players the chance to play their own rags-to-riches story. This comes complete with a surrounding cast of characters including family and friends, as well as being able to provide Alex with a detailed backstory that will resonate with audiences.
Tell us what you really think mate
The Journey also provides gamers with multiple dialogue trees inspired by Mass Effect to use in interviews and conversations. This will enable the player to feel like they’re in control of Alex’s destiny and help to define the character as their own as they make independent decisions that will form the course of their career. We can expect that there’ll be multiple benefits like this present in The Journey as the team has worked with the whole of EA’s studios in a collaborative effort to bring the best story they possibly could, using the Frostbite engine to deliver an authentic feel with higher character detail and production quality. While it is a shame we won’t see our own faces go from grassroots football to Champions League glory, we can assume this is just the first step in EA’s endeavour to bring greater storytelling to FIFA.
Only business for me now
In addition to this, EA has named an all-star consultant and motion capture team to aid in the telling of Hunter’s story, and fans of the world game will instantly recognise these names from this past season. These consultants include Marcus Rashford, Harry Kane, Anthony Martial, Reece Oxford and Dele Alli, just to name a few, and these players stories (in particular Marcus Rashford) will help to bring a level of authenticity we haven’t seen before in going behind the scenes of a footballing up-and-comer in the world of professional football. Also on the team is writer and EastEnders actor Tom Watt, ghost writer to David Beckham’s ‘My Side’, an autobiography which was nominated for the main prize at the British Book Awards in 2004. The esteemed writer’s input should introduce some depth to the narrative.
FIFA 17’s The Journey looks like a bold new addition to the franchise; drawing from the experience of other EA studios such as Bioware and with the input of players like Marcus Rashford, fans will finally get their chance to experience what it’s like to be a professional footballer, in one of the most unpredictable leagues in the world. No doubt fans of the franchise are eager to jump in and experience all the highs and lows that this new mode has to offer when FIFA 17 is released later this year.