EA Sports has decided to change engine for their latest football title, FIFA 17, with this year's entry in the ongoing series switching to the Frostbite engine (previously it was built in Ignite).
The engine is used throughout other EA games, such as Dragon Age and Star Wars: Battlefront. This was one of the deciding factors when making the switch, explained FIFA 17 Producer Nick Channon.
"We can have great collaboration within the teams within EA that are already on that engine. The Battlefield team, the Dragon Age team, and we've been working closely with them obviously, Dragon Age in particular around narrative and story.
"And also Battlefield; learning how they use their lighting and some of the things that they do within their game that we can now, not only talk about and get ideas from, but now we can look at how they're actually doing it, because we're in the same technology base."
Early trailers have focused heavily around this engine and how it changes the way the game plays; "football has changed", boasted the first trailer for the game (you'll see footage from that trailer within the interviews attached herein).
The switch to Frostbite has opened up a lot of opportunities for the FIFA team and they are now introducing The Journey mode into their newest title. This is essentially story mode where players will follow the life of young footballer Alex Hunter and his rise up through the Premier League. By using the Frostbite engine the team has managed to create a world outside the pitch with parts of the narrative taking the player away from the matches.
Channon said: "Our players told us they wanted to see beyond the pitch, they wanted to see behind the scenes, to really try and feel what it's like to be a professional footballer and I think that's really what we try to do with the journey of a young player coming through trying to establish himself in a premier league team and some of the things that go on behind that. That's really what we've tried to do with that mode, make it sort of feel that you're acting out that journey and I think it's a great addition to the game."
The question that fans have been asking revolves around whether this game will be more balanced than its predecessor. There were some issues with the balancing between the attack and defence during games that many players were not happy with in previous instalments, and so fans have some cause for concern with this release.
Aaron McHardy, the Line Producer of FIFA 17 and someone who has been with team for a number of years and has been instrumental in turning around the fortunes of the series since 2008-9, spoke about the new active intelligence system that 17 has in place:
"This system has revolutionised our positioning technology and has allowed us to make specific runs, a lot more plentiful runs without introducing poor runs. And when I talk about building the foundations on gameplay the active intelligence system is just that. It gives us a lot of diversity in how we can break down the opposition."
This is a system that will hopefully bring balance to attack and defence, allowing for easier gameplay against some of the strong teams. The stats on players is something that has also been addressed. McHardy said: "We feel like last year the way that the systems worked together lost a little bit of that edge. We're not trying to make it overpowered, but to make a difference. You really feel the impact of these players when you get them in your team."
With the introduction of The Journey mode thanks to the new Frostbite engine, and with gameplay issues being addressed, it seems that EA have got their collective head around what the players want out of the next instalment in this huge football franchise. Things only look positive for FIFA, then, with graphical improvements and an exclusive deal with La Liga only adding to the confidence around the release of FIFA 17.
We recently went hands-on with this year's entry, and you can read about our initial impressions by hittin this link, and if you want to hear more from the FIFA team, head this way for a very informative interview with creative director Matt Prior.