FIFA 17 introduces a fully-fledged career mode called The Journey. It’s been touted as the franchise’s most innovative addition in years, made possible by the Frostbite Engine. While Ultimate Team continues to be FIFA‘s most popular mode, The Journey will undoubtedly prove to be a legitimate contender in future iterations.
About The Journey
In FIFA 17‘s The Journey mode, you’ll play as 17-year-old Alex Hunter, a young footballer with stars in his eyes. He hopes to one day reach the successes of his grandfather, who was a legend on the Premier League pitch.
It’s your standard rags-to-riches tale, and if you approach the mode in the right way and have the patience to progress, you can guide Alex to ultimate glory, both on and off the pitch.
Anyone that’s played NBA 2K17‘s My Career mode will get the gist of how things play out in The Journey. Essentially, you’ll work to improve your game and build a strong fanbase by training and playing matches. The better you perform, the more interaction you’ll have with fans and people of interest, and you’ll be offered more flexibility to improve stats and skill sets.
As you play through The Journey, Alex will slowly improve. The more you play and train, the faster he can move up a level. With each new level, Alex is granted Skill Points, which can be used to improve certain individual Traits.
Certain Traits improve particular skills, while others grant Alex a specific skill.
While the marketing material for The Journey has been exclusively focused on Manchester United, you’ll actually have the ability to choose from any Premier League club. There’s also three Championship clubs: Aston Villa, Newcastle United, and Norwich City. Be prepared to be loaned out to them at some point during your career.
There’s no real “end game” to The Journey, as the entire experience is built around the balancing act between manager and fans: do you appease fans by talking out against a struggling manager, but risk playing time, or do you support the coach and lose fans in the process? If you can find that sweet spot, The Journey can last for a long time. Once Alex reaches a point where he can’t get a game, it’s game over.
The strange thing is that your decisions don’t really affect the story: it’s always going to head in the same direction, regardless of how well or poorly Alex is travelling. The key here is to have a good relationship with your Manager, to increase playing time, and have a good follower count, to improve sponsorship deals and the like. It’ll take you anywhere between 10-16 hours to finish the entire journey, possibly more if you play through every match and training session in full.
Alex’s journey can end before it even starts, however: fail at the trials, and Alex won’t make the top 11, at which point you’ll need to restart or load an earlier save.
Before you start The Journey, you’ll pick your favourite Premier League club. After a brief cutscene in which Alex will win a championship, he’ll be cut from a football academy along with his friend Gareth, and you’ll both need to succeed at trials to make it pro.
This mode has three objectives:
- Finish in the top 11 of players during a practice match
- Finish in the top 10 after training session
- Finish in the top 10 in the final practice match
- Choose the Centre Attacking Midfielder position, as it’s probably the best position to get involved in across the four potential positions.
- You need to stay active and involved, but you don’t want to force passes, over-call for a ball, or take bad shots.
- Play it safe in defense: kick back, get off a long kick, and do whatever is necessary to release the ball out of defense when the opposition is attacking.
- While your performance here doesn’t really affect how the story progresses once you make The Premier League, you don’t want to have to keep replaying the exit trials over and over again, which you’ll have to do if you fail one of the objectives.
- Play it safe, stick to what you do best, and try to play football as it’s meant to be played: as a team game. Get involved, help out your teammates, and protect the ball, and you should have no issues progressing.
Choosing A Club
This is a dilemma you’ll face early on.
Whichever club you choose, it’ll be the former club of your legendary grandfather, and Alex’s mate, Gareth (who you’ll meet in the opening cutscenes at the academy) will also choose to go there. It’s all a little convenient and scripted, but, eh, at least you have a chance to choose!
You can pick from 20 clubs, but there are a few things to keep in mind…
- The challenge in choosing a team is to determine what you’re willing to compromise. Big clubs of the Manchester United ilk will offer you more money and probably plenty of success, but you’ll play limited minutes. Choose a smaller club and you’ll play more but get less money and probably less exposure, which leads to fewer fans.
- If you’re new to the game, a big club is probably ideal, because you’ll be able to slowly build up and earn fans by being part of a bandwagon. There’s less room for error and it can be a good way to play among football’s best players.
- If you’re a more experienced FIFA player, there’s more of a challenge at the smaller clubs. You’ll get more minutes, but you’ll have to work harder to earn the respect of fans and sponsors. If you’ve got the skills, this shouldn’t be too hard, but you’ll probably get more enjoyment out of dragging an insignificant club out of obscurity.
Once you pick your club, you’ll have to hit the track. This is where you can work to improve your relationship with teammates, and earn your spot on the pitch at the start of a match.
- Regardless of how well you train, you’ll start on the bench at a big club. Don’t let this deter you: training well does wonders to improve your relationship with teammates and the manager. Any bad blood between you and the manager can be repaired by training hard.
- If you’re at a lower club, training is that little bit more important, as it really dictates your place in the team. You have more power and ability to break into the squad, and so not being able to making the starting team in a minnow club will make it considerably harder for you to work back.
Your first few matches will probably see you starting on the bench, although at a lower club you’ll see more minutes and early subs. Once you play the first game for the season, you’ll replace Gareth half-way through the second half with the scores tied 1-1.
This moment really determines what sort of player you’re going to be, and it seems as though the way the manager sees you after this match sets the tone for a few hours: complete the objectives set by the manager, and you’ll be starting matches in no time.
- You’ll be given three objectives, each of which are broken into a rating out of 10, which is your target. Two of these will be based around your individual performance, so focus on these as much as possible. They’ll most likely be related to scoring in some way, be it in the way of actually scoring or giving off a score assist. Your team will need to win to get a perfect 10 in the team-based objective.
Relegated to The Championship
Once Alex is inevitably relegated to The Championship, you’ll need to grind it out in an effort to climb back into the majors.
- Complete all drills three times, and train well!
- Don’t simulate any matches or training sessions: use these opportunities to prove your worth.
- This section of the game is actually a really useful time to improve your attributes and earn skill points. Use them wisely, and take advantage of the opportunity. It’s a bit of a “time out” period for you to refocus and build Alex up for an exciting return to the Premier League.
- You’ll need an A rating in pretty much everything you do in order to get a recall.
Other Tips To Help You Thrives
Once you make your way back to the Premier League, the story kind of explodes, with Gareth stupidly taking it out on Alex, going to his rival, and challenging you in the FA Cup. Sponsorship deals will flow in, and, pending you play well enough, your team will probably win the Premier League trophy. It’s all a little scripted, and it’s clear that the difficulty of opposing teams has been dropped significantly (although there are plenty of tough matches), but those earlier stages can really make or break Alex’s career, and it’s surprisingly easy to fail before it even gets started. Once he gets there, though, everything’s almost constantly on the up.
Here are some more tips to help you on your way:
- The game ultimately wants you to balance your relationships. Getting worked up during an interview will earn you more followers, more sponsors and more money, but will anger your manager and reduce your playing time. Reduce your playing time and you have less influence, which leads to fewer interviews, fewer fans, no sponsorship deals and, you guessed it, no money! If possible, try to keep all parties happy during interviews, and focus all of your attention on matches and training. This is where you get the best possible response from all important parties.
- While it’s a tough balancing act, Alex’s relationship with the manager is the most important. The more you play, the more your player will learn, and the more flexibility you have to improve. Get on the manager’s good side, and eventually the sponsorship deals and fans will come.
- Play as Alex and only Alex during matches. The AI simply isn’t good enough to dictate his positioning. It’s much easier to get a good match and managing rating when playing exclusively as Alex as opposed to controlling the whole team.
- Improving Alex’s skills is another balancing act. Focus on things like passing, stamina and specific skill moves before anything else, as these are the areas that have the most influence during matches.
Got any tips for FIFA 17’s The Journey mode? Sound off in the comments below!