Maybe that’s why FIFA 17, a football game that checks all the usual boxes you’d expect of an already successful annual sports title–trimming, tidying, domination by iteration–also throws in a more glamorous and unexpected addition: The Journey.
The Journey is a new story-based mode centering on Alex Hunter, a young player breaking into professional football. It’s built from a mix of gameplay, dialogue, and cutscenes, which depict Alex’s evolving relationships with his family and teammates and, ultimately, whether his talent is enough to kickstart a dream career.
It is, in other words, a football Cinderella story–and, as such, it marks a pleasant change from the relentless capitalism of FIFA’s monstrously successful Ultimate Team. FIFA already contains at least three modes life-consuming enough to take up 12 months of your spare time, and aside from an annual release schedule that demands a constant supply of newness, recapturing some of the hope and romance of football seems the only logical reason for The Journey to exist.