Fifa ’17: the best version ever, but is it good enough for esports? [Review]

By YP cadet Jason Lai
By YP cadet Jason Lai |

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Fifa 17 is great, but not good enough for 2022.

Just this week it was announced that esports will be a medal event in 2022 Asian Games. Fifa ’17, produced by EA Sports, is officially confirmed to be one of the game that will be competing. The game has seen a lot of patches since its launch late last September, and while there is no doubt that this is the best Fifa game so far, it is yet to be perfect – and esports-ready.

This year, EA introduced Frostbite, a new gaming engine for their Fifa series. It is the same gaming engine used in other huge games, such as Battlefield 1, which has sold approximately 15 million copies since it was launched last October. Frostbite improved Fifa’s graphics immensely, giving us more realistic player faces. It also makes possible new features such as the cinematic story mode The Journey, which includes movies.

Fifa developers have spent a lot of effort developing Ultimate Team, Fifa’s most successful game mode ever. This game mode alone gives EA a net revenue of US$800 million each year. In the past, players complained that Fifa does not reward them enough for playing the game. So this year they introduced two new features: “Squad Building Challenges” and “FUT Champions”, which reward players for spending time playing the game.

“FUT champs” is the competitive game mode for Fifa, where you are ranked on the 40 playable games in a weekend. Depending on your rank, you will get different rewards. By encouraging more people to play the game, it adds more depth to the game.

But despite the attention given to the new modes, the actual football part of the game has lots of problems. First, there are often delays between the time you press a button to the player in the game actually moving. This massively affects the smoothness of the game. Imagine getting a crucial scoring opportunity, but because of the input delay, your player cannot shoot on time.

Secondly, there is a major issue with defence. You control one player, while the AI controls your 10 teammates. The problem is that the AI is really good at defence – too good, in fact. And as people realise this, they’ve stopped even trying to defend manually, and just let the AI do it for them. If the game is going to be competitive and professional, this is not acceptable.

EA has put a lot of effort in adding depth to the game with new features and better graphics. But the most important part of the game – its playability – is not well developed, and surely not good enough to be worth an Asian Games medal. Let’s hope we will see better improvements in next year’s version.