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Physical Play Overhaul - FIFA 17 Developer Interview

FIFA 17 transforms the way players physically interact in all areas of the pitch. Lead Gameplay Producer Sam Rivera sat with us to explain all the new physical play options available in FIFA 17.

Check out our previous interview on Active Intelligence System.

Talk to us about Physical Play Overhaul, what exactly is that?

It's another game changer for the franchise. There are different components, but the main function is the ability to shield the ball successfully under any type of situation - called “360° Shield Dribble”. In previous games this was a huge missing part, the ability to hold up play and to place your body between the ball and the defender to shield them away from the ball. This didn't work as we wanted in previous games but now we've put together a big team of people, along with some additional time in research and development to build the technology required to make sure shielding becomes a reliable feature for the user.

How is 360° Shield Dribble performed in-game?

To trigger 360° Shield Dribble press LT/L2 and you will see your player be aware of the closest opponent and they will dribble the ball with the foot that better protects the ball. They will also stretch out their arm to stop the defender from getting closer. When the defender gets close, you will see how the dribbler places their body in a way that shields the defender from reaching the ball. Even when engaged in shield battles, you can dribble in any direction you want. You can also dribble into the defender, but your player will back into the opposition and drag and roll the ball for greater protection. Holding LT/L2 emphasizes protecting the ball over trying to get to your target as fast as possible.

Were there any changes to air battles?

In previous games, one of the only things you could do at goal kicks or corners was for your player to jump and try heading the ball. You weren't really able to hold or protect your spot and chest the ball. But in FIFA 17, we have the mechanic when you press LT/L2, you will put yourself in a spot where you can control the ball and shield it from an opponent. This won't work in all situations, your player needs to be stronger than the opponent in order to push them and shield the spot.

You've mentioned LT/L2, can you elaborate on what that does in-game?

We're putting all the physical actions in the LT/L2 button. It doesn't matter if you're an attacker or a defender, we want you to rely on that button for physical actions. There are a lot of 50/50 situations, so players will shield their opponent to protect their space or lane to get the ball. Pressing LT/L2 when defending will trigger the physical actions, which includes the push-pulls, shoulder challenges and seal outs from FIFA 16.

Are there any other interesting changes worth noting?

Yes, contextually, players are better at shielding an oncoming ball when the opposition is approaching from behind. A classic case in FIFA 16 is when you take a short goal kick and your defender doesn't make a good effort in protecting the ball, this could lead to the opposition scoring an easy goal. In FIFA 17, defenders can maintain possession longer.

We also improved the way defenders perform tackles. One problem players met was when you would tackle in the same direction your opponent was going, it would only give the ball right back to the attacker. Now, defenders will try to tackle in the opposite direction to prevent the attacker from quickly recovering the ball and continuing towards goal.

Also, if there is a teammate close by, the tackle will attempt to push the ball towards their teammate and not just into open space which could be retrieved by anyone. Defenders will also try physical tackles (Across Body Tackles) in the attempt to keep possession or push the ball in the opposite direction.

Something we noticed last year was that zig-zag dribbling was difficult to stop because you needed to quickly react to match the dribbler. Now, your teammates (AI-controlled defenders) will better help in chasing situations and prevent players from running solo with the ball for long periods of time.

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