As another edition of the all too popular FIFA rolls out this fall, a sort of ritualistic routine has evolved each fall. The new FIFA is hyped up until it’s released, you buy the game and then play until your fingers bleed and you break your console or disk out of frustration.
The gameplay and rosters receive a slight tweak each year until EA decide that a patch is released and proceeds to ruin the fun.
This year’s FIFA is different though. Coming off a frustrating last edition in gameplay in FIFA 16, FIFA 17 definitely hits the mark. A week after its release, I finally got my hands on the much anticipated release of this year’s copy of FIFA. Let’s take a look at why many are calling this FIFA’s best edition yet.
Each year, FIFA only receives a minor upgrade in terms of actual gameplay. A few tweaks here and there, with a new dribble mechanic, a few shooting upgrades etc. FIFA 16 felt bland and uninspired. Passing was maddeningly inconsistent, goalkeepers felt massively overpowered and dribbling was way out of sync.
This year, FIFA 17 feels the exact opposite. The gameplay itself is smooth and elegant yet direct to the point where it feels like you are lacing your boots up and powering home a volley from 30 yards away yourself.
The passing, the shooting, the dribbling all feel like a constructive and successful replications of the real thing. The new penalty and corner taking system is a welcome addition and improvement on a stale gameplay mechanic.
For those not familiar with the game too much, it won’t feel like a massive difference from previous installments. However, for those hardcore fans year in and year out, taking a penalty will put some grey hairs on your head as you send the ball skyrocketing further than Sergio Ramos in the Champions League.
The new Frostbite engine provides a much needed lift on graphics and appearance. Every blade of grass, each shirt ripple and player face is meticulously detailed and updated. Each stadium and player looks beautifully realistic and adds to the overall genuine quality of depth to the game.
The addition of player managers on the sideline is a welcome touch as well. The option to see Jose Mourinho or Pep Guardiola pump their fists in ecstasy as you score the winning goal is a nice little feature.
For all the aesthetic appeal and grandeur that comes with every installment of FIFA, the gameplay is genuinely enjoyable. Perhaps not perfect as you will still be pounding your head against the wall in frustration at some player intelligence and lack of attacking runs but the fluidity of the dribbling and improvement on passing makes up for any little setback here and there.
There are quite a number of new additions to the game as well.
The all too popular and revenue grossing Ultimate Team gets some fantastic additions.
Squad building challenges make the game more competitive and finally gives you something to do with all those thousands of players in your club taking up space. FIFA’s version of the Madden Collection Book. The addition of new “Ones To Watch” cards that you invest in for future upgrades spices up the market and trading mechanics and new animations for high rated players in packs builds the excitement even more.
Career mode makes its triumphant return with some new features. The ability to select your manager’s appearance is nice touch but it lacks the creative control gamers crave. Having to pick from a pre-selected list of old English men and the odd younger looking manager seems to detract from another addition that seems to come up short. It would be better if players could create their own lookalike version of a manger but it’s a step in the right direction.
The mechanics of career mode received a new addition as well. No longer are the goals and objectives of a manager to win just games and titles. The board places a huge emphasis on growing the club’s brand through shirt sales, brand exposure and youth development. It is a welcome addition for players looking to take on a more club director role and adds a new element to the game.
However, it seems rather fruitless for bigger clubs when they already have those key areas on cruise control. It seems that as long as you win with clubs like Real Madrid or Manchester United, that will be good enough to drive shirt sales and youth development, provided that you don’t tank the season playing against the computer.
For players looking for a massive career mode overhaul, then you will be sadly disappointed. While the new features add to the content, there are no real quality additions that a big career mode fan, such as myself, look for each year in a FIFA installment.
The transfers, the scouting and general linear structure are the same apart from a few aesthetic updates here and there.
The biggest new addition to FIFA is the inclusion of an all new gameplay mode called “The Journey”. This is FIFA’s biggest and most ambitious mode yet and is the closest shout to most of us will get at experience a young player’s rags to riches rise to fame story line.
Complete with cut-scenes, story elements and original characters, it adds an RPG element to FIFA by having Alex Hunter, the main character in “The Journey” choose different outcomes on dialogue based on the situation.
However, the end result seems the same regardless of the road travelled to get there. Whether you are fiery or cool in your responses, the end of the game is a rise to fame as Alex goes on to emulate football legends from across the world.
Overall, FIFA 17 is a massive improvement on previous installments. Maybe it’s not much to go on considering how poorly FIFA 16 was received but the gameplay and new game engine make the game fun to play. And it’s been a long time since I have really wanted to play FIFA for the sheer enjoyment of it.
Career mode has some nice additions but lacks genuine quality and depth to fulfill the mode’s real potential.
The Journey is by far, FIFA’s best addition in years apart from Ultimate Team. Both of which I will be playing for hours to come.
This year’s fall FIFA ritual feels a little different than before. It’s fun and full of excitement. A perfect way to emulate the start of the soccer season. It is EA’s most complete representation of the beautiful game yet.
U.S. Soccer Federation Announces Search for First eNational Team
The United States Soccer Federation has announced that the search is underway for it’s first ever eNational Team to compete in the inaugural FIFA eNations Cup set to take place from April 13th to April 14th in London.
The upcoming tournament is looking to become the premier esports competition for FIFA members association and will see six esports teams from all six of FIFA’s regional confederations in action with each side competing for the bulk of a $100,000 prize pool ($75,000).
The first members of the United States national team will be selected via the 2019 eMLS Cup which takes place in PAX East on March 30th. The winner and the runner up will qualify for the team.
“The U.S. Soccer eNational Team will provide a unique platform for the best players in our country to represent the United States in a global competition” United States Soccer Chief Commercial and Strategy Officer Jay Berhalter said.
Argentina, Australia, China PR, Denmark, England, Finland, France, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, South Africa, Spain and Sweden will join the United States in the tournament, and will likely be broadcast on Twitch streams and potentially Mixer streams as well.
Major League Soccer, Twitch Ink One-Year Partnership
Starting in March, MLS will start streaming the second season of their eMLS Cup, their esports league in conjunction with EA Sports’ FIFA franchise.
“FIFA is one of the main generators of the fans that we have” MLS Digital Senior VP Chris Schlosser said, via an official statement. “If you look at it historically – radio built baseball, television built the NFL and NBA, and the internet is building soccer.”
The partnership between Twitch and MLS could also include content outside of the eMLS Cup, featuring highlights or media produced by MLS teams, or clips of MLS games moving forward.
“We are looking to do some esports events – this is something we are taking a hard look at” DC United Chief Executive and Managing General Owner Jason Levin said, via an official statement.
“All of esports is a dramatically growing industry. It’s an opportunity to engage our current fans and connect with some younger sports fans who don’t know as much about DC United. It’s an exciting opportunity for us to grow our fanbase more than anything.”
It’s an exciting time for streaming, particularly on Twitch, as live sports such as the NBA’s G League, and MLS are starting to develop Twitch streams to help tap into the streaming market, diversify their digital content, and get more involved with esports teams and esports organizations.
NBA G League Back on Twitch
The NBAGLeague’s official channel on Twitch, stated the following about their renewed partnership with the popular streaming platform:
“Thanks to a new partnership, you can now watch and co-stream any NBA G League game that is streamed on Twitch on your very own Twitch channel! So bring your hot takes, play-by-play, stat breakdowns, and fan rants because it’s your chance to put your unique spin on the broadcasts”
The news means even more attention will be put on the Twitch marketplace, and one would assume that there may be interest in the future in leveraging Mixer streams as well, if there isn’t already talk of that occurring.
The focus on co-streaming is particularly interesting as it brings a new level of interaction to NBA G League action, and a way for fans, and other Twitch streamers, to get in on the action like never before via a new co-streaming element.
Per an official press release: “Co-streaming is a feature unique to Twitch which allows a streamer to share another channel’s video feed, but with their own commentary and community. The result is a more personalized social experience. If you’re a streamer and want to give co-streaming a try, you can find a commentary-free broadcast to use on your co-stream”
This could be, potentially, a big tool for Twitch streams featuring NBA G League content to get incredible exposure, and a way for the NBA to market G League action on other Twitch channels, and via other niches, such as IRL streams.
Furthermore, it presents a great opportunity to shine the spotlight on female streamers who have a passion for broadcasting, or sports commentary.
On the surface, it seems like a win win for all involved.
Everything kicked off, officially, on February 8th, but here is the remaining schedule of games.:
UPCOMING TWITCH SCHEDULE (ALL TIMES ET)
Saturday, Feb. 9 — 8:30 PM — Memphis Hustle vs. Texas Legends
Friday, Feb. 22 — 8 PM — Agua Caliente Clippers vs. Wisconsin Herd
Saturday, Feb. 23 — 8:30 PM — Iowa Wolves vs. Texas Legends
Friday, March 1 — 8 PM — Fort Wayne Mad Ants vs. Wisconsin Herd
Saturday, March 2 — 2 PM — Capital City Go-Go vs. Raptors 905
Friday, March 8 — 8:30 PM — Raptors 905 vs. Austin Spurs
Saturday, March 9 — 7 PM — Windy City Bulls vs. Greensboro Swarm
Friday, March 15 — 8:30 PM — Agua Caliente Clippers vs. Texas Legends
Saturday, March 16 — 7 PM — Erie BayHawks vs. Canton Charge
Friday, March 22— 10 PM — Agua Caliente Clippers vs. Santa Cruz Warriors
Saturday, March 23 — 10 PM — Agua Caliente Clippers vs. Santa Cruz Warriors
Viewers can watch the original broadcast at on the NBA G League’s official Twitch channel, or they can choose to watch Twitch Partners and Affiliates who are planning on co-streaming the NBA G League this year.
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