Forget Pep vs Jose This Month! Its FIFA 17 vs PES 17

September is here, and we all know what that means. Not Jose Mourinho vs Pep Guardiola. Duh!!!

 It's the battle of the football games, and once again FIFA 17 and PES 2017 are going head to head. But this year could perhaps be the toughest battle yet, with both titles really bringing their A-game in 2017.

The FIFA 17 release date has been confirmed for September 27, 2016. There's no word on when PES 2017 will arrive, but we expect it will launch around September too, as is the norm for Konami's football sim.


What new stuff has each game added on the pitch?

Extra physicality and more realistic movement into space are FIFA’s focus this year. That means players make support runs laterally and even across one another, and can hold off opponents when the ball is in the air.

Set-pieces have also been reworked, with an aiming reticule provided for corners, and your player is now able to move up and down the touchline before taking a throw-in. Plus, we get managers for all 20 Premier League sides on the touchline – and yes, Jose Mourinho's already at Manchester United.

PES doesn’t do anything as ambitious as last year’s game, instead focusing on tightening up the fundamentals. Passing is a touch smoother and more accurate, shooting offers more variation in terms of both power and accuracy – best of all – tighter dribbling enables you to buy space on the edge of the box or beat a man out wide with cleverly-timed movement or a sudden change of pace, rather than having to be a skill-stick master

Both games look fantastic, incidentally. FIFA has adopted Battlefield’s Frostbite engine, enabling it to offer volumetric lighting (night games at Old Trafford are insanely true-to-life), while PES’s facial likenesses is edging towards uncanny-valley territory. Watch out for Olivier Giroud’s manly beard???



What about off the pitch?

In terms of modes, little to report on the PES front. But more effort has been made to place tactical options front-and-centre of the team selection screen. After pausing the game, you can quickly and easily amend elements such as your team’s defensive line, support run tendencies and width on both the attacking and defensive side of the ball. These options were here last year, but hidden away deep in tactics menus.

FIFA is attempting something far grander, and it’s called The Journey: a story mode where you play as a fictional youth prospect called Alex Hunter, following his career after signing for one of the 20 Premier League clubs (you choose which). In addition to controlling Hunter in matches, you also get to play out interactive cut-scenes where you choose what he says to the media, talk to team-mates in the dressing room and respond to orders from your coach on the touchline. It’s a huge risk that could backfire spectacularly, but you can see that EA's trying to move the genre forward. Maybe next year, instead of Hunter, it’ll be you lining up alongside Rooney and Co.


Any new teams or leagues being added to either this year? Or player faces?

Arsenal are confirmed as licensed in PES 2017, with three other teams announced so far – Atletico Madrid, France and Germany

Arsenal are confirmed as licensed in PES 2017, with three other teams announced so far – Atletico Madrid, France and Germany. Konami also still owns the Champions League licence. Beyond that, nothing to report as yet.

EA bosses are keeping just as schtum about FIFA’s line-up. The Israeli league is the addition fans want most according to a poll with over six million votes, but EA won’t say whether or not it'll make the cut. What can be stated with a fair degree of certainty is that, as part of the official Premier League licensing agreement, the Riverside will take its FIFA bow following Middlesbrough’s promotion. (Burnley and Hull City’s stadia are already in the game, having been top-flight teams in 2014-15.)


How does each of them play?

It’s early days, so I’d caution against getting overly excited, but on this evidence both games are going to be worth it.

My favourite thing about FIFA is that it’s opened up: no longer do central defenders and defensive midfielders break on (and intercept) every pass the moment you reach the final third. Quickly tap L2 and you can even push them backwards, buying yourself space to play in an overlapping full back or breaking centre midfielder. Low drilled shots are also a welcome addition to the player's repertoire. It’s all a touch faster and more attacking, while retaining the ‘sim’ elements added in recent years.

And PES plays dreamily. I wonder how much you’ll truly be able to vary up tactics but if delicate, intricate, precise passing football is your bag, there’s a chance it never leaves your console until PES 2018 comes out.

There’s a constant, beautiful sense of the unknown, and I mean that in the kindest way; you can dominate a game then lose to a Schweinsteiger humdinger, or pass and move the opposition off the park en route to a 4-0 victory, and all things in between. For now, it really feels like Konami is onto something special.


Which of them is the early favourite to win next season’s title?

If the two games were released today, with licensing and presentation removed from the equation, I’d have to say PES 2017. But fans across the globe want real teams and TV-style presentation, and there’s still no doubt that FIFA does the latter better, with Martin Tyler and Alan Smith again on superb, easy-on-the-ears form.