The Journey: Hunter Returns was pretty decent, but there was still plenty of room for improvement.
We go through what we’d like to see happen in Season 3 – and the tweaks it’ll need to make it even better come FIFA 19.
For those of you yet to play through The Journey or the second season, don’t worry – there are no spoilers here.
Customising your Hunter
One of the best features about last year’s game was the ability to customise various aspects of Hunter.
Depending on how ‘Fiery’ or ‘Cool’ your Hunter was, different hairstyles and tattoos would be unlocked – making the whole experience feel more personal than before.
There were different clothes, too – which was a nice touch.
Still, as The Journey moves closer and closer to RPG territory, the level of customisation should reflect this.
Binding the gamer to just one player’s appearance seems a tad archaic, so we’d like to see the option of creating your own character.
Obviously, just like in the Mass Effect series, EA would still keep the base Hunter available for those to carry on the story – but there’s simply no good reason why we shouldn’t have a more detailed character creation tool this year.
Having your own crib and world to explore
NBA 2K18 does things The Journey can only dream of.
Developers 2K have always been pioneers in the ‘Career’ mode – after their successful link-up with film giant Spike Lee in 2016 – but they went even further last year.
They called it “The Neighborhood” and it was absolutely incredible.
The basic idea is, rather than being stuck in a menu system, picking and choosing what hair style you want, what shoes you wear, what threads you throw on and what games you play, you instead live in “The Neighborhood”.
In a style echoing the stunning GTA V, you are free to walk around the world, visiting barbershops to get the coolest trim, the tattoo parlour to update that sleeve and even basketball courts for a bit of 1v1, 3v3 or even a dunk-off competition court.
You’ve even got your own penthouse in the dripping-with-cool town. And that’s only scratching the surface.
After all, there’s a ton to explore in ‘The Neighborhood’, from a custom T-Shirt kiosk, an NBA Store – based on the New York flagship branch – and even a team training facility and a separate gym.
It’s all part of the new ‘Road to 99’ model – which sees you define your own career as you bid to get your player that all-important 99-rating… having started as a lowly 60-rated rookie.
Add to the mix movie-like cut-scenes that truly define who you are, and choices that affect how others react to you, and you’ve got a winning recipe.
Take that, EA Sports.
Multiple endings and true player choice
Whilst EA should be praised for their RPG style dialogue wheel – there needs to be more player choice.
Far too often the “fiery” or “cool” response wasn’t extreme enough – made worse by lacklustre responses from NPCs.
We’d expect to see this built on in FIFA 19 – with extreme reactions and consequences stemming from ill-managed conversations.
We want to Hunter to storm out of a press conference if he lets questions get to him.
Or be revered by the media if he shifts praise on to the team, rather than himself after a man-of-the-match performance.
For those looking for a more ‘adult’ and ‘darker’ experience, that wont be on the cards on this year.
Speaking to Dream Team Gaming last year, EA’s Creative Director Matt Prior, said: “Everyone wants to smash Gareth Walker but we’ve got a lot of limitations in terms of what we can and can’t do.
“In terms of smacking someone, it’s something we just cannot do because instantly our ESRB rating or PEGI rating would go above and beyond ‘3’.
“So, it’s one of these things that people think we we have a blank canvas in which to work but there are a lot of restrictions we have to deal with.”
An older Hunter
This is a given but obviously we want Hunter to age.
He started the game as a promising youngster and was a more complete player in season two. Season three could see the star begin to hit his peak – or experience a serious dip in form. Maybe he’s struggling to make the team after setting the world on fire – and has to dig deep to rediscover his form?
The return of Gareth Walker
Need we say more?
The relationship between Hunter and Walker was one of the best things about The Journey – so we’re fully expecting this to continue in FIFA 19.
We want Walker to be even more nasty and conniving.
We really hope so.