2017 is slowly crawling towards its Q4, so it’s high time for an annual FIFA football simulator release. This year it will be, of course, FIFA 18, expanding and improving on last year’s launch and benefitting from the experience of a score of games launched in days long gone.
What specifically awaits us this year in the game of green fields, rolling balls, and completely innocent and harmless tackling? Let’s take a gander.
The Journey continues
FIFA 17 took a pretty good shot at providing some sense and structure to the game via its The Journey story mode. It put you in the shoes of a young football player Alex hunter trying to turn professional. Spoilers: he did it.
FIFA 18 doesn’t abandon the guy, and will give us The Journey: Hunter Returns, in which Hunter does, in fact, return. Promise 100% fulfilled, yay. This time the young man has a chance to leave England and take his chances with teams abroad. There is speculation he’ll go to Brazil.
You’ll also get to customise the lad to a greater extent, as Alex finally gets on the footballer hairstyle wagon. Reportedly he can even shave his own name on the side of his head, because why not. On a personal development front, Hunter will also meet more celebrities, like Ronaldo, possibly with some mentor-based relationship going on.
FIFA 2018 seems dedicated to making sure everything looks and feels as smooth and believable as possible. One aspect of it is the Motion Technology, which is a fancy name for a system, which allows animations to be triggered with each frame, rather than playing out fully before switching to a next movement. As a result your tiny football players move much more realistically, without awkward, jerky motions you may have noticed in the previous editions.
A side effect of that is greater responsiveness. The input lag is allegedly negligible now, which is a welcome change, especially since the animations are supposed to be more weighty this time around. If the input lag remained it would have made the game seem sluggish, which is never a good thing.
Another very welcome addition we’ll get with the game is an introduction of more player models for the purposes of animation. For once someone realised that a tall and skinny player will be running and moving in a different way, that a shorter and stockier one would. Now these “player archetypes” make all the players on the field run and act in a diverse, if not exactly unique way.
Importantly, some of the most famous players had their style recreated as well. Ronaldo is among them, as is Raheem Sterling, for instance, and more for us to discover after the game launches in September.
A serving of QoL details
If you’ve struggled to find the system for substitutions accessible and tolerable in previous FIFAs, this year’s edition has you covered. Now you can open a substitution menu during replays with just a tap of the trigger (assuming you’re playing on a gamepad), and select from a list of custom or automatic options. Easy, simple, responsive and doesn’t take you away from the experience. Great!
Crossing got reworked to act just like shooting does, activated with your pad’s bumper buttons for high and low crosses. It gives you much more control over the shot, letting you respond more appropriately to the situation.
Curiously the dribbling was also slightly reworked. Now if the player you control is good at dribbling, the animations will play faster than they would for someone mediocre. It lets you avoid tackles measurably easier, and reflects the effectiveness of real players to some extent as well.
Every year a new FIFA comes out and it seems like there is little more to improve, and a year later EA seems determined to prove to us how wrong we are in our assumptions. It appears that FIFA 18, launching on September 29 (so a little less than a month from now, get your pre-orders ready, if you want to play immediately at launch) continues the trend. It improves on overall visual quality, the animations are expanded and made more realistic, and handling of various systems is easier thanks to a better use of the controllers.
Whatever happens, FIFA 18 is clearly determined to fix FIFA 17’s faults and keep its good parts. What more could we ask for?