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FIFA 18: Seven things EA can do to make The Journey Season 2 even better

The Journey was one of the highlights of FIFA 17 – adding a compelling narrative to the series.

While EA has a lot to be praised for, Alex Hunter’s debut season wasn’t without its flaws.

We go through what we’d like to see in Season 2 – and the tweaks it’ll need to make it even better.

Let’s kick things off.


Being able to use your own character

While playing as Hunter was fun, the entire experience could be made to feel more personal if you could create your own character.

Just like in EA’s flagship sci-fi epic, Mass Effect – it’s relatively simple to create a custom-looking character model, but keep the same name.

In Mass Effect, players take control of a character called Commander Shepherd.

Shepherd can be completely customised – all the way down to what sex you want them to be. However, the last name must be ‘Shepherd’.

That’s because all NPCs (non-playable characters) refer to the character by surname.

It’s a simple and clever trick – but very, very effective.


Having your own crib

This would be an amazing addition – and welcomed by the community.

Giving Hunter his own ‘house’ – complete with five-a-side pitch, cars and Tvs could be a fun way of reinforcing the fact he has a life outside of football.

Little quirks such as adding a gym that you can use to improve certain feats – such as fitness or strength – would act as a real incentive.

Taking it one step further, inviting friends round to your crib via online matchmaking and playing them at five-a-side would be genius.

We doubt that last bit will ever happen, though.


The national team (Spoilers)

At the end of FIFA 17’s The Journey, Hunter is called up by the national team.

As a result, expect the narrative in FIFA 18 to focus on his international career – as Hunter manages conflicts between club and country.

We’d hope, just like in real life, it’s full of ups and downs.

Building on the player-choice system shown in the previous season– we’d expect to see key moments in time that potentially affect Hunter’s fate if reacted to a certain way.

For example, Hunter could be pressurised into going on a night out before a match. Choose not to go and he may go on to get man of the match. Give in to temptation and he could be caught boozing and dropped.

We’d also expect more press conferences and dialogue choices to allow players to better shape how Hunter is perceived by the global media.


Transfers to clubs

Another feature we’d expect to see is to add more freedom around club transfers.

For example, if Hunter feels his time at a club is coming to an end, he could put in a transfer request.

This, again, would help players feel more responsible for Hunter’s future – as well as addressing one of the most talked-about aspects of the game.

Little features, such as media and fans vilifying him if he joined a rival club – would be the icing on the cake.

Perhaps moving to a new club could result in a separate story line – rather than in the last game where every experience was the same, regardless of what club Hunter played for.

A recent update allowed Hunter to speak different languages (for those playing the game where English isn’t the first language).

This could, in theory, allow him to go to overseas clubs.


Graphics and animation

The Frostbite engine was put to good use in FIFA 17, but is capable of so much more.

Lip-syncing was sometimes off, while Hunter’s movement – particularly during cut scenes, was slightly robotic.

Rather than chopping and changing (as has been the case in many FIFA game engines), EA will stick with Frostbite in FIFA 18.

While we shouldn’t expect a vast improvement, character models and realism will get a big boost.

Expect better 4K support and a bigger difference between PS4 and PS4 Pro versions.

VR support would also be welcome – likely manifested in a ‘crowd camera’ that makes gamers feel like they’re watching from the stands.


The dialogue wheel and consequences 

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 18 – 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.

Mass Effect introduced an “interrupt” feature during conversations – which could work wonders for character exchanges.


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 18.

We want Walker to be even more nasty and conniving.

Perhaps he tempts Hunter into doing something bad – putting the emphasis on the player to resist.

We really do hope so.