Inside FIFA '17's New Story Mode and Gameplay Changes With EA Producer

EA Sports brought a surprise to E3 2016, even though they weren't on the showfloor, and didn't introduce a new game. Instead, they introduced a brand new full story mode for FIFA '17, with "The Journey."

You are Alex Hunter, a young up-and-comer fresh out of the exit trials. Ready to make your debut with Manchester United in the Premier League alongside your childhood best friend, you're all nerves, even though you'll start the game on the bench (your friend, meanwhile, is out on the pitch as a starter). Midway through the first half, he scores! You're ecstatic... with a hint of jealous. After an equalizer, though, you're called into play. Here, you, the player, take over, and control young Hunter and his team, trying to lead them to victory. The goal is for Hunter to get an assist and to win the game, though you'll get fan points and coach's respect for simply playing well in a general sense, too. The story diverges based on how you play in general, how Hunter plays, and the outcome of the game, and when it ends moves straight into a press conference. Here, you'll see EA borrow from one of their other studios, BioWare, with conversational choices that have an immediate impact on how the fans and your teammates view you.

After that hands-on demo and a teaser trailer that shows how Hunter's journey can go up and down, signing an agent, going bigtime with a highrise apartment, and having it all crash around him after a few bad mistakes on and off the field, it's easy to get excited about this new mode. The idea of a story mode for a sports game may seem foreign to many, though NBA 2K has broached the genre to varying degrees of success. Football, or more commonly Soccer here in the U.S., is uniquely suited to such a mode, however. spoke with Samuel Rivera, Gameplay Producer at EA Sports about the new story mode, and what makes FIFA '17 better than ever as the flagship series at EA continues to improve upon the world's favorite game. He said that the technology, using the Frostbite Engine, opened the door to this story mode.

"What's better than the story of someone that needs to fight to be a star?" Rivera said, opening the conversation. "The Journey" started about two or three years ago, he revealed, with the writer of a David Beckham biography crafting a basic script, then comparing it with multiple young stars. "They told us it was very close to their reality," he said, encouraging them to go further with the story.

Premier League was chosen as the central storyline for one simple reason: it's the most-watched and most-participated in league in the world, according to research both within and without from EA Sports.

(Photo: EA Sports)

Of course, as Gameplay Producer, Rivera was proud of "moving everything up," tweaking the "fundamental mechanics to make the game more fun." That means adding in things like holding L2 (or left trigger) for more complete control, something the game borrows from the NHL series, making your player hold position better. Animation, and how your players move on and off the ball, has been revolutionized, as well. "There's a big rewrite of our positioning system," Rivera explained, calling it the new "Player Intelligence System."

And that's just the beginning. Players, even AI can now recognize large openings in space, the creation of separation, more natural fakes, and general communication between your teammates.


But it all comes back to the brand-new mode, "The Journey," a unique look at the life of a Footballer from those who know the game best.

FIFA '17 will hit stores September 27, 2016.