The wait is finally over. The FIFA 17 demo is now available for download through EA’s Origin client. The demo offers up to 12 teams, including the familiar Manchester United, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich. In addition to this, you can try out the all-new game mode called The Journey.
Before I go further, one thing that I would say straight away is that this is probably not the final build so the game will most likely be tweaked a little bit on full release but it does give us some impression of how FIFA 17 will be.
The New Frostbite Engine & Visual Enhancements
The most notable change in the FIFA 17 is the departure from the Ignite to Frostbite engine. This is the same technology used in the breath of other EA titles like Battlefield, Dragon Age Inquisition, and the upcoming Mass Effect. So it’s almost everywhere but for FIFA 17, it really makes a difference to the game’s lighting and brings in a host of atmospheric effects.
We can see places like Stamford Bridge and CenturyLink Field have minor changes to their geometry but it’s the lighting quality in particular that gets a big boost. FIFA 17 makes use of the volumetric lighting filling the air above the stands in a more realistic way.
Further, the Frostbite lighting seems to have improved the quality of shadows across the floor in daytime matches that translates to the actual gameplay, too.
As for the players themselves, the lighting transforms the color tone across the skin, but on top of that we see some of the bigger names, like Cristiano Ronaldo and James Rodriguez, getting the usual update to reflect how they look a year on from FIFA 16.
Apart from improving lighting, shadows and players, the other main benefit of switching to Frostbite engine is the suite of post-processing effects it brings that helps add that sense of realism. That being said, there are new additions as well, which include the more varied handshake gestures, more goal celebrations and team huddles we didn’t have before.
FIFA 17 Demo Graphics Settings and Layout
The switch to Frostbite however hasn’t changed much with the graphics settings. Of course, we do get support for 21:9 ratios, and more options for ‘Rendering Quality’, but the rest of it is pretty much the business as usual. Menus and replays are still locked at 30fps, and you’ll require some kind of external frame-limiter for ‘No Limit’ frame rate option, otherwise get ready for a bout of stutter.
The menu layout is also pretty much the exact same as FIFA 16–just with a new coat of paint. Instead of a sky blue color theme, this year it’s yellow and black and that’s pretty much it with no other noticeable changes.
FIFA 17 Demo benchmarks – Midrange GPUs Tested
Now let’s move to our topic of discussion. Our friends at PCGH have posted the FIFA 17 Demo benchmarks using a handful of latest midrange graphics cards from both AMD and Nvidia, as well as some popular, older GPUs. The benchmarks didn’t include high-end cards as the performance is almost superfluous. The frame rates on midrange GPUs hit the roof, even the previous-gen Radeon R9 390 managed to achieve three-digit FPS values in Ultra HD.
For performance analysis, they chose the beginning of a match between Bayern Munich and Real Madrid played in Stamford Bridge on a clear evening. Here’s the FIFA 17 demo benchmarks.
Test Bench Specs:
Intel Core i7-6700K @ 4.5 GHz
MSI Z170A Gaming Pro Carbon
4 × 8 GiByte Corsair DDR4-3000 RAM
Geforce 372.70 WHQL, Radeon Software 16.9.1 hotfix
Windows 10 x64
FIFA 17 Demo Benchmarks – 1920 × 1080
FIFA 17 Demo Benchmarks – 2,560 × 1,440
FIFA 17 Demo Benchmarks – 3,840 × 2,160
As you can see in the benchmarks, graphics cards deliver a very decent performance with no issues in Full HD. Even in WQHD and Ultra HD, the game is completely playable on all GPUs tested, with the frame rates ironed out. Only the GTX 770 suffered some minor stutter in Ultra HD. This isn’t surprising considering this older GPU has only 2GB memory on board, which might be adequate for Full HD but it obviously falls a little short when playing in Ultra HD.
So for those that own a high-end graphics card from the current generation, you should be able to take advantage of the power in Ultra HD although within reasonable FPS limits. According to PCGH, they used a GTX 1080 OC to achieve the insane resolution of 7,680 × 4,320 pixels (8K UHD, 33 megapixels) while the game was still playable at 50fps.
FIFA 17 Demo – Final Words
In a nutshell, FIFA 17 demo does come with some noticeable visual upgrades over the last game. The Frostbite engine helps to enhance the atmosphere in several key departments with improved lighting and an overhaul to post-process pipeline. Still I believe a little more graphics splendor at such high performance levels would have made things really impressive. Maybe the full release could offer more in that regard, especially when it comes to resolution scaling beyond 100%.
The FIFA 17 is scheduled for release in North America on September 27 and worldwide on September 29 on Origin for PC, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. However, EA Access members on Xbox One and PC can try the game before its official launch with a 10-hour Play First Trial starting September 22.