Headlined by a new and unique feature titled “The Journey,” EA Sports’ newest edition of the FIFA franchise is a fun and revamped upgrade from the 2016 version, which always left me frustrated.

The newest game mode focuses on an up-and-coming English footballer named Alex Hunter, who’s working his way up the ranks in an attempt to make it in the big leagues.

Soon enough, Hunter (you) is given the option to sign with just about any one of the English Premier League clubs. Once you choose your club, the adventure really begins. From playing games, to post-game interviews, to social media activity and more, you are at the helm of every decision Hunter makes.

Beyond the game modes and into the actual gameplay, the improvements from last year are immediately noticeable upon entering an exhibition.

Graphically, everything from the goal celebrations to the action movements look sharper and more realistic.

Other facets of the game have also become more realistic, including the AI’s ability to defend.

Most of the time, when I’m playing FIFA ‘17, I’m using one of the online modes, specifically “Seasons.”

The “Seasons” mode is set up just about the same as the past few editions, where you start in Division 10 and try to work your way up to Division one by competing in online matches against random opponents from around the world. This game mode is where I’ve learned the most about the new, detailed gameplay in FIFA ‘17.

First and foremost, the difference in passing seems to be what most people are noticing during gameplay. When passing to a teammate, the amount of power used and the direction in which you’re passing have to be much more precise than in past editions of the game. A slight mistake could lead to a turnover.

Not only is passing a difference, but EA Sports seems to have done a complete overhaul of the offensive tactical system.

Shots on goal, much like passing, require a much more accurate and precise attempt in order to be a legitimate scoring threat, even though the goalkeeping seems to be much weaker in this year’s game.

Set pieces have a whole new look as well. Close-range free kicks give the gamer much more room for creativity in preparation for the kick including a starting point, which foot to use and more.

Corner kicks and long-range free kicks were also given a new system in this year’s edition.

EA took the view in which long-range free kicks are usually taken from and made it an alternate view, as these kicks will now be taken from the usual gameplay view.

With long-range free kicks and corner kicks, aiming is a whole new process as the gamer is given a target that can be moved around the field, which is roughly where the ball will land when struck.

The new system provides gamers with a chance to create better scoring opportunities and turns the game into a more exciting experience.

Overall, FIFA ‘17 is a huge step up from the 2016 edition. The numerous improvements make the game much more enjoyable and the inclusion of “The Journey” makes the game worth buying.

The new game mode was exactly what the franchise needed to make the jump from last year’s disappointing effort.

Crae Messer can be contacted at cmesser@kscequinox.com

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