Story modes and sports games haven't always made for the best of bedfellows – yet like its two predecessors, FIFA 19 defies such traditions in The Journey: Champions. Alex Hunter is back for a final instalment with a theme centred on the Champions League, and this time out you also get to play as his sister Alex and best friend Danny Williams. The neatest part of this three-way tale is the ability to switch between the trio at any time.
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The Journey: Champions is split into four chapters, and below I’ll guide you through what happens in each, and what you earn for completing them. Note that the storyline varies dependent on decisions and results from both previous games and this one, so your playthrough may deviate slightly from mine. Whatever path you take, all Ultimate Team rewards are identical.
Many, many spoilers ahead, obviously.
Chapter 1: Alex, Kim & Danny
The Journey: Champions opens with you taking control of Alex’s granddad Jim Hunter, on a boggy ‘70s pitch with John Motson on commentary. It’s a neat throwback to FIFA games of yesteryear which had Motty on the mic. From here we catch up with our trio of protagonists. Alex meets, and signs with, Beatriz ‘V’ Villanova, an agent to the stars introduced at last year’s climax. Danny’s friend Ringo seals him a deal as the face of McMillan’s Fish & Chips. And Kim befriends USWNT megastar Alex Morgan after training together ahead of a World Cup qualifier.
The trio heads to Japan for a pre-season tournament, where Kim learns she’s made the US national squad, and Alex H is offered a five-year contract at Real Madrid. We also meet Danny’s condescending eight-years-elder brother Terry, who’s already won the Champions League once and is now playing for PSG. It’s here that the story branches out and you can switch characters at any time.
Ultimate Team rewards: Jim Hunter card & ball
Chapter 2: Alex
Alex has doubts on signing for Real, but V reassures him of his ability. A new ‘mentor’ system is introduced, where winning a series of one-on-one challenges against the likes of Toni Kroos and Gareth Bale earn in-mode boosts. Note that these do not affect FUT rewards. Piggy-in-the-middle in the Madrid dressing room (cool!) is followed by Champions League matches against Spurs, Marseille and Sporting. A key branching decision is who’ll design a logo and clothing for the new Hunter brand: agent V, or mum Catherine. I select Catherine.
Chapter 2: Kim
Kim lines up for the USA against Canada, but receives a frosty reception from (fictional) opposition midfielder Melanie Trembley. After the game we fast forward to spring 2019 in Kim’s story, with her arriving in Madrid to little fanfare from brother Alex. Catherine apologies on her son’s behalf, and takes Kim for dinner. The story then jumps again to summer 2019, with Kim throwing a tantrum at national team-mate Megan Rapinoe for publicising a picture of her sleeping during a flight to the World Cup. She learns that Seattle have enquired about her turning professional rather than attending college, to which her dad reacts badly. The chapter ends after a critical World Cup fixture with Sweden.
Chapter 2: Danny
Danny describes himself as “the club’s Tasmanian” – as opposed to talisman – in an interview, then vows to lift the Champions League trophy with his current team. (Crystal Palace for me, again picking up where FIFA 18 left off.) He’s then paired with Terry’s side, PSG, in the Champions League group stage draw. His pal Ringo begins to have doubts about long-standing agent Michael. The Williams brothers meet in the Champions League and, if you win, Terry texts to say that you “got lucky, Beanpole.” The best bit of the chapter is doing extra crossing-and-shooting work on the common with your old coach from the previous games.
Ultimate Team reward: Real Madrid ‘Player Pick’ pack for a 7-game loan
Chapter 3: Alex
Alex’s coach at Madrid shows him an image of a vintage Real side and asks what he sees. Hunter says “trophies, history, success”. His coach responds that this is a club built on family values, and that off-field distractions such as the Hunter brand are affecting his form. Back at his house we see the scene where Kim arrives in Madrid from Alex’s perspective. After Catherine and Kim leave, he dashes outside and is challenged to a first-to-five kickabout in the parking area. It’s great fun. Upon qualification for the Champions League final Alex hosts Neymar at his pad, and is again warned about having too big an entourage. After the final game of the La Liga season, which I win to seal the title, the chapter ends on Alex doing keepy-uppies with Jim’s old leather ball.
Chapter 3: Kim
Ahead of the last 16 World Cup match Kim is congratulated in training for bringing a new dimension to the team. Brother Alex arrives to watch the tournament’s latter stages, with Jim’s lucky ball. V tells Kim that under her guidance she could be football’s next breakout star. But when USA play Australia in the quarter-final the coach overhears her informing Alex Morgan of the plan to go pro, and gives her an almighty dressing-down. She’s given one final chance to show her maturity in the semi-final against Germany. After winning, Kim ends up sharing the hotel lift with Canadian rival Trembley. “See you soon sweetheart,” sneers Trembley, with Canada awaiting in the World Cup final.
Chapter 3: Danny
Agent Michael continues to impress on Danny the importance of investing his wages in bricks and mortar; friend Ringo says the insistence on buying a house is for Michael’s financial benefit. At this point you’re forced to choose between the pair. I select to stay with Michael, and learn that Ringo has been fiddling Danny’s books and left him effectively bankrupt. Back training on the common, Terry shows up to compete in a one-on-one challenge the day before the second leg between Danny’s club and PSG, who’ve been drawn together (again!) in the semi-finals. After Danny’s team wins, Terry shakes his hand but walks off when offered a ticket to the final. You then complete the Premier League season. In my game Palace win the league but Danny insists he’s taking “one game at a time” with the CL final still to come.
Ultimate Team reward: Paris St Germain ‘Player Pick’ pack for a 7-game loan
Chapter 4: Alex & Danny
Chapter 4 combines both Alex and Danny’s stories, with Real Madrid meeting Williams’ team in the Champions League final. The two catch up at the Estadio Metropolitano media day, and Alex challenges Danny to a game of FIFA. Danny accepts but things get heated and Alex apologises for being a rubbish friend in recent months. Later on Danny watches from the stands as Alex, Kim, Jim and Catherine take a walk on the pitch. Brother Terry arrives, and the pair settle their differences. That evening both teams disembark their coaches to a sea of paparazzi, and in the tunnel you’re forced to choose who to play as in the final.
This is actually really difficult, because chapters 2 and 3 paint Alex as a prima donna and Danny as a decent lad desperate to overcome his financial woes. But this being Hunter’s story from FIFA 17, I felt duty bound to see it through. After winning, he’s met in the tunnel by V and you’re forced to choose between celebrating with family or greeting sponsors. I choose family. In the final scene Jim calls Alex the greatest Hunter that ever lived, and the camera pulls back to show Alex contentedly staring up at the night sky.
Disappointingly, after choosing to play as Alex in the final, no resolution to Danny’s story is provided.
Chapter 4: Kim
A short final chapter for Kim, focussed solely on the World Cup final against Canada. Alex Morgan switches the stereo off in the dressing room beforehand and the team is reminded that this is their chance to win a record-setting fourth World Cup, and overcome their deadliest rivals at the same time. In the tunnel beforehand you’re given the option to shake Trembley’s hand, or blank her. After winning there’s a similar option, with Trembley disconsolate on the turf: feign a handshake, or offer a real one? Back in LA, Kim packs her bags as dad tells her that turning pro with Seattle, in a deal brokered by V, is the right decision. He gives Kim a photo of her as a child, holding a football. She leaves that on the mantelpiece for her dad, but grabs Jim’s lucky ball for the road.
Ultimate Team reward: Alex Hunter card & Danny Williams card
Epilogue: Alex, Kim & Danny
A series of images rewinds time to the mid-season Venice Beach Tango League Tournament, briefly introduced in Chapter 3. Here Alex, Danny and Kim face off in a first-to-five, three-on-three match against Rio Ferdinand, Thierry Henry and Alex Morgan. Following that match, Alex gives Jim a brand new football to bring the three-year Journey story arc full circle.
Feel like transplanting your skills into FIFA 19's biggest mode once done with The Journey? Then be sure to bookmark GR's guide to making FIFA 19 Ultimate Team coins.