“What do you want to be remembered for?” A question we all ask ourselves when we think about the legacy we wish to leave upon our families, friends, work, community, etc. But what if we were to extend that question to a video game in particular FIFA 17? What do you want to be remembered for? What do you think their response will be? And how do you think that will differ from our response?

I think FIFA 17 will want to be remembered for the creation of Weekend League and the rise of online competitive gaming. I say fuck that. Weekend League is a cancer that is going to ruin the FIFA series. It has taken a game that was once fun, but frustrating, and made it 100% unenjoyable. If you don’t “Keep up with the Kardashians” you cannot win in the Weekend League. Teams are continually getting better as gamers buy more packs, complete squad builder challenges or reap the rewards of prior weekend league finishes. You can’t remain status quo with your team. If you’re not upgrading, grinding for In-Forms cards then you’re going to be left behind. Even my team which I consider to be upper echelon is looking more pedestrian compared to these kids. Weekend League spreads this disease of feeling like your team is inadequate, it sends you to the dark side to buy packs. It’s evil.

People are sending messages at the start of matches “Please let me win, I need this victory”. The lobbying, the score a goal and park the bus tactic for 80 minutes is real. The hate and vitriol filled messages after the game is disgraceful. It’s a joke. All to increase your status in the weekend league to get better rewards. I don’t know why no one is seeing the end game here. Not all of us want to be that wanker Bateson, that annoying loud mouth ChuBoi or that fan boy Spencer.

Some of us want to build a team of our favorite players, dabble in the auction market and play someone else other than the computer. I don’t want to be an internet celebrity like the clowns above, I don’t want to enter prized tournaments. I want to play the game I once loved, be challenged and test my skills against someone else of comparable talent and a comparable team. So with that said, how will I remember FIFA 17? The game where EA Sports maximized greed and promoted the rise in eSports and competitive gaming ahead of the core gameplay which made this game great. 

I had high hopes for FIFA 17 coming off FIFA 16 which in my opinion was the worst game in the entire franchise history. In the beginning months of FIFA 17 I enthusiastically preached how much better the game was and how improved the gameplay was despite not really having enough exposure. I don’t think we can really make an accurate assessment on a game within the first few weeks, even a month seems premature. You need an extended period of time to fully see what a game is all about. Experience every situation, feel the highs and lows and see what happens over and over again. It’s been over three months and I think now I can really hindsight what is the good, the bad and the ugly about FIFA 17

The Good

Passing Continuity – My biggest issue with FIFA 16 was that every game felt like a ping-pong match in the midfield. One side would pass and turn it over, only for that next pass to be turned over and so forth. You couldn’t string together multiple passes if your life depended on it. And don’t even think about throwing a long ball out there, 0% completion. FIFA 17 has addressed that issue and passing is so much smoother (realistic) and easier to build up play. Sometimes at a fault because teams can (and will) park the bus when leading and they’ll control possession at a ridiculous rate. Overall the passing is very fluid and represents what soccer is all about.

Shooting Accuracy – For the most part shooting in FIFA is spot on. I honestly don’t have any complaints except for I wish I made more shots.  Shooting was fine last year too, I think they’ve really nailed this and any changes in the future would be disappointing. Players with high shooting abilities are snipers and those who have no business shooting perform as such.

Computer Difficulty – If you’re a fan of offline play then FIFA 17 is great for you. The computer is much more challenging this year which makes for fun in single player modes. Professional difficulty can be challenging and World Class is downright hard.

Slide Tackles – FIFA took off the reigns when it comes to slide tackling, you can really let loose and let ’em rip. I felt like in previous editions slide tackles were much more contained but in FIFA 17 it’s up to the users discretion when to unleash the beast. If you wanted to you can rack up red cards at a furious pace. I had the enjoyment of gathering four in one game. 

The Bad

Representation of Pace By far my number one complaint in FIFA continues to be the representation of pace between offensive players and defensive players. In years past the offensive player was 100x quicker than a defender and if you were to get the ball on the wing with Theo Walcott or another speedster it was game over. This year the balance appears backwards, defenders are quicker than ever before. Center Backs are chasing down strikers like Usain Bolt. Every game you see the same cast of characters at CB because they’re the fastest at their position: Chris Smalling, Laurent Koscielny, David Luiz, Winston Reid and Eric Bailly are essentially in every online game you’ll ever play. They consistently hunt down strikers like a cheetah in the Serengeti. It’s not just once or twice, it’s every single play, and it’s all game long.

Check out the video below where David Luiz gets spun around, is yards behind the ball and miraculously chases down the sprinting striker who just so happens to be 88 rated Team of the Group Stage Edinson Cavani with 80 pace. David Luiz has 73 pace. Ummm sure….(Maybe the pace rating on a card is scaled based on their position. Meaning an 80 pace on a CB card is proportional to a 90 pace on a ST card? And so not all numbers are created equal? Just a theory)

It would make sense on occasion and it completely depends on your positioning but not the frequency in which it does happen. I could comprehend it if you’re using Olivier Giroud or Mario Manduzkic at striker but not against Alexandre Lacazette, Edinson Cavani and Diego Costa. Even slower defenders like Leighton Baines or Bacary Sagna have ran down strikers with 10+ higher points in pace like LeBron James chasing down Andre Iguodala.

As for the defensive wing backs don’t even get me started. Hector Bellerin, Kyle Walker and Jordi Alba are all gods in this game. There probably is a shrine to Bellerin at FIFA HQ in Vancouver. No matter who you have at winger your forwards don’t stand a chance.

Shoulder Blocking/Hip Check It’s one thing for defenders to be as quick as jack rabbits but how are they also as strong as a horse? The shoulder block/hip check move in FIFA 17 is literally a joke. I know soccer, I’ve watched it every weekend for the past 10 years and while it’s a physical game the shoulder block move in FIFA is the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever seen. Every single play, whether the ball is in space or the ball is at your feet, the defender can come up to you and shoulder block/hip check you without a foul. Time and time and time again this happens.

It ruins the game. You can juke a defender, get the ball into space and then the defender just comes up and bowls you over without a whistle. It’s absurd. You make the right offensive play and you’re penalized because this game awards defenders with magical super powers. This isn’t fun, why can’t there be balance? Why can’t you call more fouls?

The rule on a 50/50 ball is shoulder to shoulder but when the defender charges into to you and dips their shoulder to blatantly foul you that needs to be addressed. It’s even worse when you are dribbling and the defender does it. That is a foul, the offensive player has possession and the defender can’t just create excessive contact. That’s a foul.

The speedy wingers mentioned above are the worst. Again how can a skinny little guy like Hector Bellerin be that fast but also strong enough to shrug off Diego Costa every single play? That’s not what is going to happen in real life. I feel like FIFA 17 has an identity crisis: Are you trying to be SIM or are you trying to be ARCADE? I feel like they want to be both and in the process they are effectively neither.

Pressing Defenses/StaminaDefenders are lightning fast but they’ll get tired right? Wrong. Somehow no one ever gets tired in FIFA except for attackers. Opponents online play ultra aggressive, pressing defenses all game long. Players in the midfield sprint around all game chasing the ball like someone who is down a goal in stoppage time and they need to equalize or their season is over. How is that sustainable for 90 minutes? No one in the world can play that way. No team has ever played a pressure defense like that because it’s not possible. If you did you would be dog tired by halftime and if you did apply that kind of pressure you would be succeptible to the counter attack. But not in FIFA 17.

Sprint all game, attack all game and you’ll win. Make your defensive line high and push that aggression tactic all the way up to 100. What FIFA essentially has done is eliminate the need for any card in Ultimate Team that isn’t in the top 10% of that position’s speed clientele.

Speed Deity Cards in FIFA 17

Forwards: Daniel Sturridge, Ahmed Musa, Loic Remy, Sadio Mane, Dries Mertens, Eden Hazard, Anthony Martial, Willian, Douglas Costa, Theo Walcott, Raheem Sterling, Yannick Carrasco, Andre Schurrle, Kingsley Coman, Lorenzo Insigne, Lucas, Juan Cuadrado, Paulo Dybala, Marcus Rashford

Midfielders: Kevin De Bruyne, Paul Pogba, N’Golo Kante, Emre Can, Renato Sanches, Radja Nainggolan, Julian Draxler, Blaise Matuidi, Moussa Dembele, Fernandinho

Defenders: Chris Smalling, Laurent Koscielny, David Luiz, Hector Bellerin, Winston Reid, Kyle Walker, Dani Alves, Kostas Manolas, Sokratis, Miranda, Leonardo Bonucci, Giorgio Chiellini, Jordi Alba, Bruno Peres, Nathaniel Clyne, Omer Toprak

Speed Abstinent Cards in FIFA 17

  • Olivier Giroud
  • Toni Kroos
  • David Silva
  • Sergio Busquets
  • Granit Xhaka
  • Xabi Alonso
  • Bastian Schweinsteiger
  • Per Mertesacker
  • John Terry
  • Philipp Lahm
  • Pique
  • Ezequiel Garay
  • Javi Martinez

Winning Headers – Another huge frustration in FIFA 17 are headers off goal kicks. I feel like whenever you throw up a header the offensive player never wins it. The defender is right on their back and heads it back towards your goal starting an attack. Maybe I’m doing it wrong? (Even though I think you just press square…) And it’s not like I’m losing headers with 5’7 Alexis Sanchez, I’m getting dominated in the air with Edinson Cavani. I don’t get it, seems to be once again skewed towards the defense.

Short Corners – When is FIFA going to allow you to institute a defense to defend short corners properly? All these fuck boys online will run short corners to isolate you on the wing to make some bullshit move (that no professional would ever attempt in a competitive game) and either draw a penalty or get to the touch line to X pass to the middle. 9 times out of 10 teams in real life do not run short corners unless they are time wasting at the end of the game or they’re going to quick play an advantage but still end up crossing the ball into the box. The success rate of short corners is a joke.

The Ugly

Scripting I know within the first 90 seconds of a match if I have a chance to win or not. The game just has a certain feel. You can tell if your passes are heavy or light. You can see if your players are moving into open space or picking their nose and standing still. You can see if your defenders are moving as a unit or someone is drifting off into La-La land. You can see if your opponent is “one of those guys” who presses, unnecessarily skill dribbles and sprints to the touchline for an X-pass back into the middle for a rocket strike ala FIFA 12. All of that can be assessed in the first 90 seconds. I truly know within the first few minutes if I’m going to get blown out, going to blow someone else out or it’ll be a competitive coin flip.

I do believe in scripting and anyone that denies scripting seems to be in bed with EA Sports or has a vested interest to promote the game positively. IE: YouTubers, the Ultimate Team sites, etc. This past weekend proved that to me more than anything.

In this week’s installment of the Weekend League, I started off 8-4 on Saturday afternoon. I was cruising, I lost a couple of heart breaking games but for the most part I was very competitive, I scored goals and my defense was solid. The next day everything fell apart. I was using the exact same team with the exact same tactics (I changed my uniforms and maybe that’s part of the voodoo magic?) and everything was 180 degrees the other way. I regressed and went 5-13 to pull to an 13-17 record overall. Did I just forget to play overnight? I don’t think so. Was the opposition just better on Sunday? Possibly but the squads were pretty comparable day over day.

I was getting crushed in games, I was allowing goals early and every time I scored the opponent would score on the following kick off. Why is it that in a game which is 0-0 in the 60th minute and you finally broke through to go up 1-0 does your opponent ALWAYS score on the ensuing kick off without being touched? Why does that happen more times than it doesn’t? Why is it that when you’re leading in a game and move your team to a more defensive mindset they are more likely to allow a goal? How is it that every fucking game a goal is magically scored in the 45th or 90th minute when that same build up or shot never materialized the rest of the half.

So how do you explain it?

Here’s one theory: If you forfeit or rage quit you get penalized. Scripting kicks in and your team is penalized somehow whether it’s lowering morale, lower on field chemistry or you get match paired against a team far better than yours. On Sunday, after losing a couple of nonsense games I definitely felt the rage and I quit. I quit multiple times and threw my controller like I was Roger Clemens and each time my team got worse and worse on the field. Was my anger affecting my play? Maybe but not to the extent I was getting beat. You don’t go from being very successful to straight up noob in less than 24 hours.

Something else is at play. We’ll never know the answer but you can’t convince me that there isn’t modifiers, whether random or not, or momentum that alter whether a team is going to win a game or not. Too often than not a team who is dominating possession with 15+ shots and no goals gets beat but a team that just happens to score on the one shot they take. Not bloody likely.

Penalty Kick MeterThe worst feature in a sports video game since the Madden passing cone. The penalty kick functionality is clunky and awkward. FIFA will surely revamp this going into FIFA 18 and they’ll hail it as an added feature but it’s righting a wrong that is a terrible wrong. Even during the PK tutorial the meter is atrocious, let alone in a match where the PK meter/arrow doesn’t even appear most of the time.

Frostbite GraphicsI’ve said it since Day 1 and I’ll say it again, Frostbite Engine is garbage. This game looks terrible in every screenshot that is NOT a cut scene. Sure the players look great when they are walking out on the field, during the game induced replays and during The Journey storyline but when you pause the game, go to replay and zoom in for a screenshot the game is ugly. Images in the foreground are fine but the background is atrocious. At the core level of the game the aesthetics are amateur hour. I’m hoping they really ramp up the visuals in FIFA 18 because for a next gen game, especially as we approach 4K, that touts a new engine the overall appearance is disappointing.

Some other things that are annoying in FIFA 17 that I can’t believe they haven’t addressed:

* When you’re mashing buttons to clear a header or slide tackle before you get possession of the ball and then when you get the ball the game assumes you want that control to be done and you accidentally pass the ball to no one or the goalie punts the ball before you’re ready. Come on really? Be better FIFA.

* Defender can still halo the goalkeeper and block the kick as the goalie is going for a drop kick. This it not allowed in real soccer. It’s been happening for a decade. The video below is a combination of both points from above. Fix this.

* The new shielding feature is good but tends to be abused. It’s a bit ridiculous that someone can spin around 360 degrees while continuing to shield you without giving up the ball. Yes more physical players like Diego Costa or Romelu Lukaku should initially be able to shield you off the ball longer but anything more than a second or two is dumb. You can’t sit there and shield, shield, shield. Soccer players feet are too quick and they’ll poke the ball loose. Not in FIFA, you either need to send a second defender or get the rage and slide tackle right through em which will be a guaranteed yellow card at minimum.

FIFA 17: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly
Passing FluidityShooting AccuracyThe JourneyCPU DifficultySlide Tackles
Offense/Defense PaceScripting (Alleged)Shoulder Block Maneuver Pressing D InvincibilityShort CornersPenalty KicksFrostbite Graphics
7.5Overall Score