FIFA 18 makes enough to meaningful changes to keep fans hooked.
Last year, FIFA 17 introduced the Frostbite engine and The Journey, a fun storyline mode where you play as Alex Hunter, an up and coming football star, trying to make his mark.
This year, FIFA 18 has brought back Alex Hunter with The Journey: Hunter Returns. There are exciting cinematic changes to transfer deals in career mode. Plus, the addition of Squad Battles in Ultimate Team. Along with better crowd animation and the usual gameplay changes too, there’s enough to make you want to try the game.
A different system for free kicks and improved crossing make it a lot easier to pick out your man in the box. The introduction of quick substitutions with the click of a button is also a neat touch.
Everything feels smooth, from dribbling around players to launching deadly through balls. However, there’s a strong bias towards attacking play over defending, averaging more goals and more spectacular skill than the beautiful game does in real life.
New dribbling and animation systems give good players greater close control, and volleys and long shots find the net more often than not. The passing feels overly precise since the ball almost always perfectly finds the feet of teammates. These attacking qualities make defensive players like N’Golo Kante less worthwhile to play and make teams with strong defences, like Atlético Madrid, look average.
The graphics have improved, with FIFA 18 focusing on smaller details such as goal celebrations and the idiosyncratic way star players dribble. Stadiums and player likenesses are also better.
Collisions look particularly realistic, but there is the odd glitch and inconsistency. For example, after clutching his knee, one player was diagnosed with a broken ankle.
The Journey: Hunter Returns
Hunter’s developing into a better player and more of a star. He’s still likeable and it’s fun to see his career in motion. He swapped shirts with Ronaldo, was interviewed by Rio Ferdinand and was involved in transfer gossip. There’s now more balance between matches and what happens off the pitch. For example, choosing between three dialogue options for each question when interviewed by Ferdinand. This is interesting, though the choices don’t change much. It’s not a tell-tale game but does state that the choices you make affect Hunter’s relationships with different characters. There are cameos from the likes of Ronaldo and Thierry Henry, but these are little cringeworthy. It’s a decent story and fun to play, but one where you feel more like an audience than controlling Hunter.
FIFA Ultimate Team (FUT)
The main change in FIFA 18 is the introduction of Squad Battles, a single-player mode where you compete against squads built by other players. The more games you win, the more coins you get, and the higher up the leader board you climb. Which is good if you prefer playing against the AI. It’s also nice to see legends like Ronaldinho and Diego Maradona introduced.
Ultimate Team is still the best for online play but Online Seasons is still fun and good to find the season that fits your level.
Fans of Career Mode will welcome the changes. Transfer deals are conducted in real-time in cinematic cut-scenes with dialogue options, similar to that of The Journey. This makes transfer negations more exciting but gets dull after doing it for a while.
The heavy focus on attack makes FIFA 18 less realistic. But improved graphics and gameplay mean it’s still a lot of fun to play and a worthy addition to the seemingly endless FIFA library.