EA's made some subtle, but impressive changes to its crown jewel
This year's FIFA and the forthcoming Battlefield 1 have something in common: Frostbite. The engine behind some of the publishing giant's biggest titles has come to FIFA for the first time for 2017, marking a significant step forward.
It might be the engine, it might be some graphical polish, some small changes in key areas or a combination of all of the above, but one thing is immediately clear: FIFA 17 is set to be the best FIFA in some years.
The razzle dazzle of the world's biggest leagues has never been something that eluded FIFA. EA has had official licensing for an incredible amount of time and how it looks hasn't ever been much of an issue. But even so, this year's is definitely the best looking ever. The faces of some of the players you'll be taking command of are scarily realistic.
It's almost like the Anthony Martial is staring back at you.
Animations feel smoother, both in general gameplay and in the replay scenes that celebrate your exquisite 25 yard finish or your wild and reckless booking. FIFA 17 feels polished and fluid beyond any that have gone before it.
It also feels, well, fun again. Picking up a new FIFA in the last few years in particular has felt a little grinding to me in the early stages. Not enough that's new and engaging to pull me straight in. But the fluidity extends to the gameplay, much of which is built on the tried and tested. Pulling off little moves, like a neat little backheel, seems so much easier to pull off to perfection.
Set pieces have been given a going over, too, for the better. For example, corners now give you absolute control over where the ball will land. You're still presented with set piece tactics as you have before, but a yellow cursor is now how you'll decide where your corner goes. No more changing the angle and hope you get it right.
Gamescom only allows for a small glimpse at what's to come, and we haven't been able to check out the new career mode, or online play. But what the paying public here will see is a good step forward. It's something for FIFA fans to get excited for.