With everyone’s favorite virtual game of footie (Sorry PEZ) days away from release, I figured I would fire up the free FIFA 18 demo on my Xbox One to see how things have changed since I’d last played. While an avid soccer and FIFA fan, as well as a soccer player throughout my youth, I still haven’t played an installment in the franchise in a couple of years, similar to Madden, as the yearly release window didn’t entice me to buy such similar games.
The demo limited me to a quick play game between a small variety of big named teams, but there was plenty of information provided on the features I wasn’t able to access, from new features to online play to the return of “The Journey“. The most important categories are broken down below.
FIFA has always had considerable realistic gameplay, but always has a few odd quirks here and with each iteration, which somewhat pulls me out of it. Examples being that despite having 20 shots on target, the CPU goalkeeper would either save it or a ridiculous bounce would occur. While that surely happens in some instance of real soccer/futbol, it was far to frequent in previous versions. With that in mind, I was interested to see just how the Frostbite system would affect play, especially seeing how it changed some of the look and feel of Madden NFL 18.
From the little I played, it did not disappoint, as FIFA 18 feels like the most polished game in the franchise I have played yet. Passes feel more pragmatic, instead of whirly dirly balls forced into the other team’s feet. The scoring was perfectly precise, making the multiple ways to score (Precision, Crosses, One Touch, ect.) all balanced options, as opposed to the horrible touches from previous games when trying to one-touch a cross. Collisions and fighting for the ball is natural as well, making 50-50 balls feel as such. Hopefully, this will mean the end of players tripping all over each other as well.
The Journey Returns
I’ve always felt that sports games need story modes more than almost any other genre, as the popularity of most sports hinges on the amazing stories they tell. That is why I am very glad that EA is continuing Alex Hunter’s story in FIFA 18. “The Journey” surprised many last year and likely will this year too. Hunter is going to be joined by a star-studded cast this year as Superstars Cristiano Ronaldo, Antoine Griezmann, Thierry Henry, Dele Alli, Rio Ferdinand, Thomas Müller, James Harden, and many more lend there voices to this years story.
“The Journey” is also going to see a lot more customizable aspects in FIFA 18 too. Not only is Hunter’s look changeable, so are his actions, as the choices he makes will have short and long-term consequences. Chapter-based, short-term goals also give Alex (and you) more things to do in his prospering career. The narrative is also going to branch off though, giving the chance to experience short, standalone stories with new playable characters that Alex meets throughout “The Journey.”
FIFA Ultimate Team
Ultimate Team is probably never going to appeal to me personally, but FIFA 18 is adding a lot to it for those who do love it. The introduction of FUT Icons is going to allow players to experience the incredible careers and stories of Futbol legends like Pele, Maradona, Ronaldinho and more. The Stories are going to be told when players receive three Ultimate team cards for different stages in each of the Icons careers. To obtain to of these three cards, unlock them in packs and squad building challenges. To unveil prime Icons, participate in FIFA 18’s Throwback Thursday each week. You’ll only be able to get these in limited time packs and squad building challenges.
Alongside that, the system is going to offer more ways to play. Like before, build your own Ultimate Team via unlocking the thousands of different players throughout each league. New daily objectives and rewards only add to the fun. Squad Battles is sure to excite as well, allowing you to compete in weekly single-player competitions against AI-controlled teams built by other human players. This is where players can find the best rewards, but are only available on PS4, Xbox One, and PC editions.
There is plenty to be excited about for the next installment of FIFA, as FIFA 18 hopes to shed the clone stigma that comes with yearly iterations of EA Sports Franchise releases. Polished gameplay thanks to Frostbite, the return of Alex Hunter and “The Journey,” and FUT (FIFA Ultimate Team) are just a few of the many things to look forward to when FIFA 18 is released in just under two weeks on September 29, 2017.
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