For the last two years, I’ve been lucky enough to play FIFA a month before the worldwide release. Apparently you’ll get an invite to the closed beta if you play close to 500 online games. Receiving the FIFA 17 beta email invitation alone was exciting in itself. Yeah, I should probably do a little bit more with my life, but oh well.
I’ve been playing FIFA since I can remember, but really started dedicating serious amounts of time right around when FIFA 2007 was released. At the time, I had an Xbox 360. After two or three different consoles had the red light of death, I ended up going back to my first love, and the correct console of choice – the PlayStation 4. Another story for another time.
FIFA has evolved into one of the most widely played games in the world, with millions of players worldwide. For that reason alone, I’m pretty much hooked on a single type of game mode: online seasons. I know there’s a lot of people into the whole FUT thing, but I just haven’t ever been intrigued by the idea of building my own team. I know, probably missing out on something amazing, but I prefer straight-up, ranked competition with real-life, active teams and rosters. Not to mention, ranked seasons is amazing.
I’m still not 100% sure what to make of this game. As someone who loved the gameplay in FIFA 16, it’s a pretty noticeable change in terms of how players move around on the pitch. Right now if I had to say what the biggest change I noticed was: defense. No question about it.
Maybe it’s just me, but in FIFA 16, defense felt pretty easy. You could confidently hold the X (or A) button and close down attackers, and rip the ball away. In the FIFA 17 Beta, defense seemed to be much more of a precision art. Run too quickly (or recklessly) at an attacker.. and they blow right by you. Defense now requires a much smarter and more tactful approach. I’m not saying it’s night and day, but that was the first thing that crossed my mind. Take one midfield defensive player out of position at the wrong time. and you’re setting yourself up for failure. EA seems to be rewarding the more tactful approach to this game. After initially questioning it, I realized it’s beneficial. If you’re a better player, you have more of an opportunity to dribble skillfully around defenders.
Another thing that you could see right away was the “snappiness” of passes. I don’t know how else to describe it. Everything felt more crisp. Don’t get me wrong, passes felt crisp in 16, but they’ve somehow made everything more realistic yet again, as passes now seem to go where they’re supposed to nearly all the time. Of course, try passing upfield to a guy offscreen without being able to see him, and you’re generally just giving the ball back to the other team immediately. Just like defense, passing feels more precision based.
Crossing was another MAJOR change we saw in 17. Especially on corner kicks. There’s now an indicator in the middle of the box that the player passing can move around to pick exactly where you want the ball to land. Of course, it doesn’t always go exactly where you spot it – by design. Let’s assume the accuracy of those kicks are related to the crossing rating for the player delivering them. EA Sports is smart like that.
A few other things we noticed about FIFA 17 that stuck out, but don’t feel too significant in the grand scheme of things:
- It might actually be easier to score in 17 compared to 16, if you know what you’re doing.
- The indicator triangles above player heads seemed larger. This is a welcome change, especially if you’re playing with a friend.
- Graphics overall have improved – player faces are even more life-like. You’d expect that with a new release though, right?
- Celebrations feel intuitive, and slightly upgraded. Let’s assume (and hope) they’ve added some new ones as well.
- Someone else I talked to about the beta just kept repeating, “Headers are way too easy to score on. I feel like this is going to go down as the year of the corner kick for this game.” – I didn’t quite get the same read, but I do agree headers (and free kicks) are definitely different. Easier though? I’m not sure I’d go that far.
Unrelated, but something we’re also wondering about. After playing Madden 17, we were quickly pumped to see that the soundtrack is part of the weekly updates. Instead of hearing the same things on repeat during an online game, you might actually hear something about an amazing touchdown the receiver had in their real game the week before. Will FIFA 17 have the same feature? For fans of the BPL and other major soccer leagues, that would be refreshing to see. I’m guessing it’ll be there, but can’t say with certainty.
The UI of FIFA 17 is amazing. They’ve adopted a black and yellow theme, with an updated font. I personally thought the UI/menus in FIFA 16 were fantastic, but they’re even better this year. Everything is super crisp.
Definitely didn’t have the full playlist in the Beta, but the few songs in there were pretty good. One or two stuck out as a little random, but we’re sure the entirety of the FIFA soundtrack will be up their standard. FIFA soundtracks never seem to disappoint. The FIFA 17 Beta had about 6 total songs, but you can listen to the full soundtrack here.
EA clearly is delivering an amazing upgrade here, and a respectable addition to the FIFA franchise. It seems like everything futbol fans were hoping for. If you played a lot of 16, you might be taken aback at first at some of the changes to gameplay. At first, I wasn’t really sure what to make of it and was kind of questioning whether or not I’d be able to appreciate this game as much as I did the previous year’s title. But after about 3 or 4 games in, I realized how great it was and knew I was ready to embrace it. Of course the beta only lasted two weeks, and the full version doesn’t release (in the US at least) for another few weeks, so I’m stuck playing 16. If you haven’t already pre-ordered it, we recommend doing so. There’s nothing wrong with FIFA 17, and in fact, everything seems right. And all is right with the world.