E3: Fifa 17 story mode revealed at EA event

Fifa 17 Image copyright EA
Image caption Fifa 17 allows gamers to control a footballer's progress on and off the pitch

Fifa - the bestselling football video game franchise - is to get a story mode in its next release.

Its developer Electronic Arts announced the move at a press conference ahead of the start of the E3 video games expo.

The facility lets gamers develop a footballer's career on and off the pitch.

It marks a potentially risky move. A similar mode in rival 2K Games' basketball simulation NBA 2K16 was criticised in several reviews.

Last year's Fifa 16 was the UK's bestselling video game on both the PlayStation and Xbox platforms, according to market research firm GfK.

EA posted a $1.16bn (£815m) net profit for its last financial year, which ended in March.

That marked a 32% rise on the previous year thanks to the success of Fifa 16 and other games including Star Wars: Battlefront.

Behind the scenes

Fifa 17's story mode is called "the journey", and follows the story of a footballer called Alex Hunter.

A trailer shown at EA's event showed the character with his family; being approached by an agent; and clashing with another footballer.

Image copyright EA
Image caption EA said Fifa 17's story mode would offer an emotional experience

Hunter was also shown playing for Manchester United, but EA has said gamers can opt to play at other Premier League clubs.

Other innovations in the new title include:

  • The use of firm's Frostbite games engine, which should deliver higher quality graphics
  • The inclusion of four Premier League managers - Jose Mourinho, Pep Guardiola, Arsene Wenger and Jurgen Klopp - on the sidelines of relevant games
  • New attacking techniques, which should offer gamers added ways to score goals

EA faces a challenge each year in trying to convince consumers they need to buy a new version of Fifa.

Image copyright EA
Image caption Jose Mourinho is one of four real-world Premier League managers to appear in Fifa 17

Sales in recent years have been aided by the release of the Xbox One and PlayStation 4. But many of the series' fans will already own a copy of the game on a current-generation console by this point.

Its main competitor is Konami's Pro Evolution Soccer, whose developers are seeking to offer a more "realistic" experience.

"The Fifa team struggles to find something new to do every year because it has already made a very good simulation," commented Keza MacDonald, UK editor of games news site Kotaku.

"What they are trying to do here is offer some of the drama of sport and make it more of a human story.

"There's huge potential for it not to work. The standard of video game writing is not very high in general.

"But it could be great to contextualise what you are doing if they handle it right."

Analysis: Dave Lee, North America technology reporter

Image copyright EA

Pity the person at EA who must reinvent football each year. While other game genres allow developers to travel to new worlds, football, thank heavens, will always be just football.

To justify each yearly instalment for Fifa, EA has to keep adding new modes. Ultimate Team, where players build up a squad by winning and making transfers with other real people online, was a big success in the last few titles.

The Journey is a big gamble.

I'm not sure the story mode elements will be enjoyable enough to stop you from wanting to skip through.

And if you're controlling just one player in a game - well, previous attempts have that have been novel but without lasting appeal.

Image copyright EA
Image caption Titanfall 2 will be available for the PlayStation 4, unlike the first game, as well as the Xbox One and PC

Other announcements by EA included confirmation that its sci-fi shooter Titanfall 2 will include a first-person mode, unlike the original game, which solely focused on multiplayer battles.

This will pose a challenge to Activision's Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare - another futuristic first-person shooter that will go on sale at roughly the same time later this year.

Gamers were given an early look at Mass Effect: Andromeda - a return to the space adventure role-playing game franchise that created controversy in 2012 when many players objected to the way the original trilogy ended.

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Media captionWATCH: Mass Effect - Andromeda and E3's other big new games in 120 seconds

There was also a brief tease of a Star Wars game being worked on by the studio Visceral Games, which previously developed the acclaimed Dead Space series.

EA also announced a $1m fund to reward e-sports champions who played its titles as part of a wider effort to support competitive games tournaments.

Orlando shootings

Although EA held a games showcase to coincide with E3, it is has decided not to pay for a booth at the event this year.

Image caption Flags were flown at half mast outside the LA Convention Center after the Orlando shootings

It will, however, continue to hold private meetings behind the scenes.

The show formally begins on Tuesday, but typically attracts most attention the day before when Sony and Microsoft host their own presentations.

Flags outside the Los Angeles Convention Center, where E3 takes place, are being flown at half mast following the mass shooting in Orlando, in which at least 50 people were killed.

EA made no mention of the attack at its event.

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Media captionDave Lee previews 2016's E3 video games expo

But E3's organiser, the Entertainment Software Association, and others involved in the expo have posted tweets and issued statements to pay their respects.

Although there is no suggestion that gaming was in any way involved in the gay nightclub killings, some parts of the media have noted the deaths could cause an issue for companies seeking to market first-person shooters and other violent titles.

Image copyright Twitter
Image caption The Orlando shootings are on the mind of many games industry-watchers as E3 begins

"I wouldn't be surprised if some trailers were pulled if they seem disrespectful and in bad taste," said Rob Crossley, UK editor of Gamespot.

"I think the games industry is going to try and handle this with respect and dignity."

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