Welcome to our weekly FIFA 17 vs. PES 2017 debate. Over the course of a multi-part series, OS contributors Fraser Gilbert and Kevin Groves will be discussing the differences between each game in a variety of areas.
This week, we’re taking a look at career mode.
Fraser Gilbert’s Take:
There’s nothing overly wrong with either FIFA’s career mode or PES’ Master League, but we’ve become so spoiled with the immersive offerings of games like Football Manager that we’ve come to expect a certain level of detail from these series’ primary offline modes. Because of this, it’s often argued that neither game has quite managed to live up to expectations thus far. Last year, I felt an immersive shift in the way the FIFA series enhanced its career mode with an intuitive player training system and a host of authentic additions. For the first time in years, I invested my time in a multi-season save, and I had a lot of fun while doing it.
I can’t say the same about FIFA 17 at this point. This is not because it’s bad, but because it’s largely the same. Minor additions like team objectives change up the experience for the better, but it’s still the same basic formula, and the lack of innovation is a disappointment. Ultimately, it would appear this year’s primary development focus centered around the implementation of the Frostbite engine (and subsequently, The Journey), with career mode taking somewhat of a backseat.
PES 2017 represents the first time I’ve felt compelled to take on a fully fledged PES career in years, and that’s primarily due to the outstanding gameplay. Despite my lack of extensive time with the mode in recent iterations, I haven’t noticed too many substantial changes. True to Master League’s excellent reputation, there are plenty of neat features, particularly when it comes to the analysis of data surrounding your team and your playing style. The addition of brand-new cutscenes is a welcome one, and the ability to play with default Master League players is still one of the most enticing elements of the mode.
If there’s one area Master League still struggles with, it’s team development. Teams have a tendency to make bizarre transfer decisions throughout the course of a season, failing to upgrade their squads effectively in the process. Also, my biggest concern at this point relates to the game’s handling of regenerative players. Instead of implementing a Football Manager-style regen system, the game recycles old players, somewhat diminishing the authenticity of the mode in time.
I’m more invested with PES’ Master League mode this year due to the addictive and diverse gameplay of PES 2017. However, I feel FIFA 17‘s career mode is implemented slightly more effectively off the pitch at this point. There isn’t a clear winner between the two, so I’m calling it down the middle.
Kevin Groves’ Take:
Echoing Fraser’s sentiments, FIFA 17‘s career mode isn’t bad, it just lags behind what we’ve come to expect when compared to other sports offerings (Madden, NBA 2K). As I’m playing through a current save with Everton, I can’t help but feel a sense of “been there, done that.” Apart from a new performance goal system, which is a tad unrealistic, and new fiscal management options there isn’t a whole lot different this year.
Poor transfer logic is still present, clubs still oddly rotate their first-team players despite the first patch, and other annoyances have returned. All of this can only lead one to believe that career mode is an afterthought this season. Despite these flaws, I still find myself playing this as my primary mode, but the narrative seems to follow the same trajectory: initial struggles as you acclimate to your squad gives way to shooting up the table as you grind out results. With better results comes improved player form, which leads to top finishes. Top finishes increases transfer budgets, which in turn inevitably leads to better players and, when coupled with poor CPU roster management by other clubs, leads to domination. Knowing that this is/will be the script leads to house rules that sap the fun out of any mode.
PES 2017 isn’t without its faults. As Fraser alluded to, regenerated players are a huge downer as I have yet to find one PES fan who actually enjoys this nuance. I am a sucker for advanced stats and PES’ monthly reports scratch that itch, but overall the mode needs a makeover. At its core, PES 2017 is all about gameplay, and the gameplay during Master League is varied, albeit a bit too fast paced. Rivalry matches are always tense as the intensity is ratcheted up a notch, but the youth squads could benefit from some variety and realism as they’re comprised of enough kids from across the globe who would make a great ’80s Benetton commercial. Odd transfers, somewhat due to incomplete option files, can result in European players plying their trade in South America or on Bundesliga clubs as they look to fill out their squad.
While the gameplay within PES’ Master League is generally better, FIFA 17 still boasts a more complete package, even if the upgrades from FIFA 16 are minuscule. When coupled with an interactive presentation package that sets the stage for a league match, FIFA 17 wins this battle by the slimmest of margins.
Winner: FIFA 17