How to get the most out of The Journey in FIFA 17
The glittering showpiece in FIFA this year is new single player mode The Journey.
Heavily inspired by Marcus Rashford's meteoric rise, The Journey allows you to control 17-year-old Alex Hunter, guiding his options on and off the field.
It's a fun little romp that takes around 16 hours to finish. We've completed the mode three times now at JOE Towers and can confidently say that while The Journey has a few flaws, it's a mode where you get out what you put it.
So, without further ado, here's how you turn your Alex Hunter into the next great world-beater in football.
*This guide contains low level spoilers for The Journey. Nothing too serious, but some things discussed here are more than what's included in the trailers. You have been warned.*
Play as a striker or a 10
When the FIFA 17 demo first came out, many gamers were led to believe that Alex Hunter was going to be fixed as an out and out striker.
That's proved to be not quite true, as during a moment in the exit trials, you're asked if you want Alex Hunter to be a forward, an attacking midfielder or a winger.
You want to play as a 9 or 10 in The Journey.
From the outset, Alex Hunter will be tasked with pulling off a number of things during games. Score a goal, bag an assist, keep your player rating above 7 out of 10. Every single task is improved by you playing centrally. We prefer to play as a 10 normally, as Hunter will often get turned into an emergency forward if you need a goal, but it's important you play as a striker or a CAM in your mode. You need touches of the ball if you want to get anywhere. Which brings us to...
Pick a Top Six team
Sorry West Ham and Stoke fans....
While you can play for any Premier League club when you get picked up from the exit trials, The Journey is clearly built with a top six club in mind. Early in your playthrough an injury to a key player in your squad happens, which means a big name player gets brought in. The sight of Harry Kane moving to Southampton doesn't make quite as much sense as him going to Manchester United.
Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool, Spurs, The Manchester Clubs. All six teams have inbuilt intrigue and enough IRL rivalries for The Journey's odd "Football by way of Hollyoaks" storytelling to make sense.
This works twofold, as surrounding yourself with elite players at Top Six clubs will allow you to make your in-game objectives easier. You have to think pragmatically here.
Don't be too worried about going on loan
Banging them in left, right and centre during your early run of The Journey? Still can't make the first team?
It can be a little frustrating, but you're supposed to be locked out of the First XI as the game has to send you out on loan. You will spend around about 13 games on loan during your playthrough of The Journey and while you would think you need to play out of your skin to get recalled back to your home club, it's not that difficult. Use your time on loan to focus on training and building stats for Hunter, rather than helping Newcastle/Villa/Norwich get back to the Premier League.
Be fiery, or be chill. Don't half-arse it
Not only do you control Hunter on the pitch, you control him off it as well. At multiple points in the game you will be given dialogue options where you can control how Hunter reacts to things.
You have a fiery response, which makes you a bit Diego Costa and turns you into a fan favourite, opening up endorsement deals.
A chill one, which makes you similar to Dat Friendly Guy Welbz and makes you a managerial favourite.
And you have a balanced one, which makes you a bit... well, a bit... Shane Long.
Like many RPGs that offer you a character alignment, there's no benefit to sitting on the fence with your responses. Be an aggressive prick, or be a happy go lucky guy. But it's important you pick one. Do, or do not. There is no try.
Remember Alex is right-footed
While Alex eventually upgrades himself to a very sweet five star weak foot rating, it pays to bear in mind that he's originally right-footed. If you're playing games just controlling Hunter, time your shots, go for power rather than placement and you should be bagging braces regularly.
(If you're playing just as Hunter, jockey rather that outwardly tackle opposing players, and be sure to man mark when your team is out of possession. If you defend properly, you can average 15+ touches of the ball every game)
As an added tip, if you ever pick up the ball out wide, whip in a low cross by tapping the cross button three times. You'll send the ball through the box at pace, making for easier assists for player AI.
Take your training seriously
You don't become a great on the pitch by shirking the work off it. Training directly affects Hunter's in-game stats and the chances of him making the first team, so we advise you don't simulate too many training sessions.
As a rule, do the stuff you're normally quite good at in the skill rooms, and then on top of that, practise the new set pieces manually (especially penalties, you need to get to grips with FIFA 17's new system).
In addition to training boosts, eventually Hunter can earn skill points to top certain stats. This is especially important because once you complete The Journey *big spoiler incoming*, you earn a FUT version of Alex Hunter that you can continue using in FIFA Ultimate Team.
Invest wisely in stats you want to increase; we recommend you top up his speed and stamina stats first. Many of the goals you'll bag with Hunter will be because of his pace, and if you top up his lungs, he can keep going well into the 90th minute.
Be extra careful for what technical things you upgrade too as base level Hunter should already boast a good weak foot and skill move rating. Choose wisely, and build the type of Hunter you'd want to play with in FIFA Ultimate Team.