FIFA 18 - Footy Headlines Review

Over the past week, we were able to check out the new FIFA 18, released last Friday, in order to provide you with an extensive overview of all modes, new gameplay features and everything else important about FIFA 18. First, we tested the Demo and its features, while we got a digital copy of the game on release day thanks to EA.

Gameplay


First and foremost, a few things about the feel of FIFA 18. After FIFA 17, which was a bit more fast paced and easier to defend on, EA have overhauled the game especially on the offensive side of things. As you'll have noticed playing demo or full game, for example, scoring got easier, in particular on long shots - both due to 'improved' shooting ability and perhaps a lack of goalkeeping skill. Otherwise, FIFA 18 incorporates different play styles for different player types and even has own movement for top-notch players such as Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi or Neymar.



When talking about modern-day soccer simulations, one thing always catches my attention - the passing assistance. By default, an assistance is implemented which automatically delivers the ball to your teammate, given you pull the trigger in the approximate right direction with any amount of power, which makes it a lot easier to spin the ball around and the generally increases the pace of the game Even when playing with teams with 3 stars or less, passes are delivered at pinpoint precision, given that assistance is activated. It does not feel realistic at all and noticeably reduces the skill gap in the game. There's also semi assistance (supports power of pass, but direction only changes slightly) and manual (no assistance for direction or power), but especially online using those is not exactly popular as it greatly reduces the chances of winning against those playing on the default setup. Unfortunately, this leads to a more unrealistic, less varied and stale experience, at least in my opinion.



When taking a look at the CPU, EA incorporated more variety of its attacking play but also ditched out his affinity to turn around in a circle when you try to win the ball. The CPU still shields the ball excellently on higher difficulty levels but does not rely on it as much as before. Due to the fact that attacking play got easier, I've personally only lost one game against the highest difficulty level in approximately 30 games as you are able to checkmate the CPU with fast counter-attacks and deadly through passes.

Another key change in gameplay is the improvement of balls into the box of all kind. Computer-controlled players now move more intelligently and are more likely to win an aerial duel against defenders. This is both because the quality of deliveries into the box is improved and because attackers now perform better in these duels.

All in all, EA have tried to make the game appear more realistic which resulted in a smoother flow of play and in being able to execute different attacking styles - be it with through balls over the defense or by trying to combine your way into the attacking zone. In conclusion, FIFA 18 is more balanced but still has its weaknesses, something that will hopefully be ruled out through gameplay patches over the next few months - a first update was already released after just six days with the full game.

Licenses


For FIFA 18 the only important license addition is the 3. Liga from Germany with all 20 teams fully licensed and equipped. On the other hand, FIFA also lost one league license (Brazilian league with generic player names) and continues to miss out on an awful lot of national teams (Croatia, Serbia, Japan, Ghana...) as well as East European club teams competing in Champions or Europa League (e.g. Qarabağ, Maribor, APOEL, Partizan Belgrade, Ludogorets).



Considering the fact that FIFA has full leagues from countries like Belgium, Columbia or South Korea, it is a big bummer that not many national teams are included nor if included licensed (South America) and big traditional clubs from Eastern Europe, such as Partizan or Red Star Belgrade are not included as well. These teams, known for their fiery atmosphere, something EA promotes heavily this year, could have made excellent additions to the game.

Career Mode


This year, EA put a lot of effort into the career mode which was untouched the past couple of years. For FIFA 18, they have included an all-new transfer system that is available the throughout the entire year with transfers happening in the respective windows. Players can now have a release clause, request bonuses for achievements (goals, appearances...) and you as manager have the full ability to negotiate terms with respective clubs and players.



By changing this detail of career mode it got more realistic when talking about a transfer. Unfortunately, this is more a visual update than anything else. It's still way too easy to stack up on high potential youngsters as teams are happy to offload them in total disregard to their potential.

The Journey




Personally, I feel like The Journey is the most refreshing and exciting mode of FIFA for years to come. In The Journey, you become Alex Hunter, a virtual talent predestined to live through misery and success. With the addition of cinematic cut scenes and being able to answer on your own, you decide what kind of player you become and can even influence decisive moments which impact The Journey's outcome. Very staggering and written with a good, reasonable plot.

Online


Online, you still have the choice between Ultimate Team, Seasons - with or without a friend of yours - Friendlies and Pro Clubs. In Ultimate Team, you create your own football team at best consisting of players that harmonize, Seasons is just an Online Mode to play with normal club and national teams in a league system, while you have your own alter ego to only play with in Pro Clubs.

Ultimate Team, the by far most successful and profitable mode for Electronic Arts, has improved a lot. You can now play Squad Battles, where you challenge squads of other players from across the globe against a CPU level of your choice. Dependent on your rank in the system, you get better equipment the higher you are on a weekly basis.

The general feel of FIFA 18 online is fluid and smooth, while the game is also more fast paced online and especially in Ultimate Team. Personally, I have not had a single connection loss but feel free to share your own experience in the comments down below.

Verdict


With FIFA 18, EA has once again outperformed themselves and provided us with a solid, more realistic and graphically better experience. Arch Rival PES still has a lot of work to do. 4.5/5

Do you agree with our verdict? Have anything to add? Comment below, and check out our PES 2018 review as well.

This review was conducted on the PS4 version of the game.