FIFA 18 is continuing the proud tradition of the Electronic Arts’ long-lasting soccer simulation. The latest addition is also the second year with the new Frostbite engine, and the improvements are noticeable. The developers upgraded what worked well and managed to deliver a solid game to their fan base once again.
Slower Pace and AI Improvements
Most of the changes on the pitch are literal, but the overall feeling is somewhat different compared to the predecessor. EA slowed down the pace of the game, making the difference between slower and quicker footballers more apparent. That goes for your defense, too, which makes it more prone to errors as the end of the match approaches. The crossing was tweaked with some new options implemented, as well as dribbling which is now more stringent. You need to be very precise to perform some complex movements and impress the audience with some of the new animations currently available.
One of the most significant improvements in FIFA 18 is how AI teammates work with you. They now make smarter forward runs and get into open spaces often. The entire squad gives its best to implement the tactics you agreed on in the dressing room. The area that could use some improvement is AI pass interception. Even when they are right up to the ball, computer-controlled players refused to touch it, which can be intimidating.
The Journey Is the Core of the Game
The fans loved the Journey last year, and it isn’t a surprise that the story-mode is here with another chapter. In the debut season, Alex Hunter went through the incredible drama of the FA Cup, but this year brings something different. Alex will now face issues within the squad and in private life, where he will reconnect with his father.
Life gets better soon for Alex, and our favorite player gets a chance to play for a top-class European club. Appearances by legends such as Thierry Henry and superstars like Antoine Griezmann and Cristiano Ronaldo make everything more authentic. However, the authenticity comes at a price of bad voice acting, but keep in mind that we are talking about professional football players.
As for the Journey’s gameplay, you will train, play an entire season plus additional games, and make decisions that will improve or damage relations with the fans and the coach. Now you can change your footballer’s hairstyle, tattoos, and other accessories. There are also two skill trees, but it seems that the developers should have added more story elements to improve the off-the-pitch experience.
The Manager Career mode also makes its return in FIFA 18 along with a few adjustments. The scouting remained the same, but negotiating a transfer now takes you to a screen where two managers will discuss all terms of the deal. Aside from offering money, you can also exchange players or include a sell-on or a release clause.
After you negotiate with the club, you move on to talking about the player and his agent. Signing and loaning players became more difficult overall, especially if your organization isn’t at the desired level of the targeted footballer. You need to be careful as they can not only reject your current offer but leave negotiations altogether, leaving you empty-handed. The training system remained, although many gamers expected it to become more automated. Despite that, the Manager Career is a mode that can keep your attention for days, especially if you keep in mind the number of teams that EA licensed for FIFA 18.
The revenue that is secured to the developers secured a guaranteed place in this year’s roster to the Ultimate Team mode. There are fun new ways to test your skills, such as the Squad battles mode, as well as the usual Daily and Weekly challenges. Microtransactions are an integral part of the FUT, but you can still build a reasonably strong team without them.
Improvements to the Frostbite Engine
The implementation of the new engine called Frostbite brought an extensive enhancement regarding graphics last year. Building upon that engine is visible, and it contributes to feeling like you are on a real football pitch. The stadiums featured are impressive, and the lightings are what particularly dazzled us. Additional focus was on the crowd which is more varied than ever and features authentic chants. For example, they will now start whistling to the away team if they hold onto the ball too long.
The stadiums feature additional banners; we see clips of players warming up before the match starts, as well as new goal celebrations. We particularly liked when players rush towards the spectators and hug with those in the bottom of the stands. As for the in-game commentary, it remained intact with only a couple of new lines we noticed. The visual presentation is undoubtedly the best part of the release.
It Is Better than the Last Year, But…
When you compare it to its predecessors, FIFA 18 is an improvement and probably the best release in the series. Its visual presentation is something that not a lot of games can match, and the number of licenses and details enables the authors to deliver a real football-like world. While it dominates off the pitch, it’s when the match starts that FIFA cannot compare to some other games (hint: PES 2018). However, if you are a fan of the EA football simulation, you will surely be thrilled with this new installment, too.