So, we managed to play FIFA at the EAPlay event (well, Mike from our team did!). He’s really positive about what he’s seen in the 6 games he’s played so far on what is believed to be a 60% build. Here are the various new features what he experienced on Sunday and his FIFA 17 first gameplay impressions.

FIFA 17 – gameplay changes:

Set-piece rewrite
Set pieces have had a huge overhaul for FIFA 17 and the ability to now customise your run up to free kicks as well as several other little features, is welcomed with open arms. You can now, through using the right analog stick alter your players position behind the ball, this allows more variety, spin and ball movement to your free kicks (as well as the usual after-touch you can add to the ball once kicked). We delivered a beautiful ball with the outside of the foot when we got our hands on the game at the EAPlay event. Really looks great.

Corners have changed fairly dramatically. You now no longer have the view of the player taking the corner. This is replaced with the view you would normally receive when you’re defending a corner (or after you had taken one in FIFA 16). You get a yellow dot that you control (which is very sensitive at the moment) and then this allows you to target an area to deliver the ball to. As with FIFA 16, you can still flick the right stick to change to control players in the box.

Penalty kicks now see you being able to approach the ball from different angles (using the right stick) but also, the speed in which you approach the ball can now be controlled (use of left analog). You can also chip to corners whereas before, it was just central or slightly to the side of centre.

Throw-ins now allow more control (these have always been a pet hate of ours @ FIFA Expert). You can walk down the sideline slightly to pinch a few vital yards and the addition of fake throws is just brilliant. Throws can now be fizzed in to the receiver with the use of a speed throw in which is another excellent addition.

Physical play overhaul
The battle for possession has been something that EA have been trying to get right for a few years now, particularly as engines and the change to next gen has come to fruition. For FIFA 17 they have split this into a few areas:

Pushback technique – the use of L2/LT is something that all players must have tried to get their head around, for FIFA 15 and 16, if they wanted to make any real progress within the game. Although we didn’t see a great change, really with the use of L2/LT we did notice a slight change to the accuracy of controlling the ball. We noticed that before the ball arrives at your player, using L2/LT before can help create a half yard of space or give you the advantage in aerial duels. Keep your eyes peeled for more tips on this when we play the full build of the game.
New physical interactions is something that always gets mentioned by EA at this time of year. They’re saying that more realistic collisions and player interactions has been reworked. The main thing behind this we need to see improved, are the ref decisions behind collisions: recognising when players play the ball first, recognising what is a foul and what is just good use of the body. Time will tell with this one as well as more and more games are played.

New attacking techniques
This is probably the one we’re most excited about. Scoring goals is, after all, one of the most fun things about the game!

Driven finish. Whether it’s a finesse, one vs one, or long shot you can now do driven shots which keeps the ball low.

Apparently, threaded through passes are now more accurate (something that is definitely needed) and are more suited to finding the space rather than the man (which is exactly what you want from a through ball).
Driven goal kicks is something that we’ve used all year on FIFA 16 so we can’t see any real difference with this one. They have added a driven throw from the GK’s though, which is a welcome addition. Just hold R1/RB whilst throwing the ball.

Right stick flick to control. They have slightly changed the animation behind this and this feels more effective on the build we played.

Downward headers is the one we’re most excited about and we really think that this could be a great addition to the attacking side of the game. To pull this off, at the moment, you have to power up the shot/header and then press the button just before it arrives to head the ball downwards.

New skill moves will be announced further on but a lovely one we saw is called the fake pass exit looks really sweet. 4* skill move we’ve heard.

Active intelligence system
A brand new system is in place for this and will improve players’ spatial awareness all around the pitch. Basically, players are smarter. We’re hoping to see significant progress here in how players react off the ball and to play developing around them once we get the 100% build.

Constant spatial awareness – players will analyse space around them more frequently and more effectively. Furthermore, when you’re in possession of the ball players will recognise more frequently, what they need to do to a) match your desired tactic and b) where to make runs to best support you.
New run types – We saw this with the new players being filmed in the trailer and first announcements. You now have the control to ‘talk’ to your teammates more with telling them to make runs, calling them short as well as stunt and fake runs to really make the game feel even more real.

All-in-all, we’re really pleased with what we’ve seen so far from FIFA 17. We’re really excited about the changes that Frostbite will bring and visually, it looks stunning. The true test of whether FIFA 17 will be a truly great game,, once again, is going to be in the gameplay. We hope they get it right!

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