Creative Soccer Culture

EA Sports FIFA 18 Review

Apologise to your significant other, reintroduce yourself in time for Christmas… it’s FIFA day. Having got our grubby mitts on a copy a week before the release, we’ve spent the week button bashing to write a review. Or that’s how we’ve sold it to the other half anyway, so we need to stick this online to justify it.

There’s a few days a year that get special attention, and the day that FIFA launches is always one of them. If you’re the type of player that heads straight into Ultimate Team, or for the long slog through career mode, or you’re anxious to see where Alex Hunter has ended up... FIFA18 is more than ready to make sure that your weekends/free-time/cancelled plans are now busy. Spoiler: It’s good.



If you launch straight into kick-off mode, you’re definitely going to notice that the pre-game animations are now incredible. Pre-Match you’ve got player introductions, more storyline mentions (transfer rumours/goal scoring streaks/etc.), and fans that look like thousands of individuals instead of thousands of people that all seem to be in sync.

FIFA18 has included the ability to pass the kick-off backwards (per recent rule changes), so you can no longer have your second striker turn and launch their way towards the opponent’s back-line and hope for a quick goal. As with past iterations, the passing is continuing to evolve to where you can thread the ball to your weighted desire. Sending a direct pass rarely leads a player very far, something that FIFA17 used to give you some wiggle room with. So if you want to make sure you’re leading a player into space, you have to hit the through ball button. Even with your settings set to give you aid on these passes, EA has continued to make sure that you are going to greatly change the pass effectiveness by changing the power. If you under power a through ball, it’s not going to work. If you over power a through ball, the defence is going to pick it off easily.

Diagonal through balls played through the air are extremely effective on FIFA18, and players that can execute quick tiki-taka like passes as they attempt to break through the last line of defence will be rewarded. Crosses have also been fine-tuned, and anyone that used to love how effective pressing the cross button three times (resulting in own-goals, incredibly fast passes to their player’s feet, and always being dangerous) will be upset (which is good).  If you can learn how to cross well with normal crosses and low crosses (still in the air), you can be a serious threat.

One of the biggest things you’ll notice on FIFA18 is that shooting looks similar to FIFA17, but the change shows itself once you start peppering a goal. What does that mean? If you take twenty shots and the opponent takes two, you’re going to win more often than not. This also stretches into Pro Clubs, which will make players that get enraged at the rubber brand aspect of playing online feel a bit satiated. If you are taking shots that would normally be goals in real-life, they’ll hit the back of the net in FIFA. We will say that, a few shots that shouldn’t have even been on target did seem to find their way into the goal-scoring column more often than we’d expect, but goals make everything more fun (right?).  Early free-kick work seems to have made them more dangerous, and shooting from outside the box can get hit with some serious movement as they fly in.  If you’re about the goal life, FIFA18 has got your back.

There will be many detractors to defending on FIFA18 this year, because it does feel like a fairly tough road. How can you make defending feel capable if you’ve made your game easier to score on? It’s a tough path for EA to walk, but spending some time playing will show you that there is still a path to keeping scores down. One thing that is going to be a sore spot for players is that ricochets and bounces tend to end frustratingly for the defenders. Whether a future update will alter how often you see your defender seem to be fully capable of stopping a ball and just watch it roll by will remain to be seen.


The Journey

Alex Hunter is back with FIFA18, and there has been some brand new storylines added to the game mode. While we won’t drop too many spoilers (WARNING: there are some), Hunter manages to anger his home club (whichever club you want) and finds his only way for first team football to be through a career with the LA Galaxy. After becoming a shining light and attacking force for the MLS based club, big clubs start to remember that Hunter was once a prized asset in England.

We’ll end the story there (and that is an extremely truncated version of what you have to go through), but we have two massive thoughts on The Journey this time around. Our first thought is that the story drags you in and makes you want to see Hunter finally work his way onto the team sheet for one of Europe’s finest. The second thought is that we hate what we had to sacrifice in order for the story to be so strong. You can’t play for the club in England that you fell in love with in FIFA17, you have no option to avoid the situation that angers your club early in the game (spoiler: Madrid comes calling), and several aspects of the story require some extra suspension of belief (the MLS is the only league that Hunter could find a transfer to (you just won the FA Cup almost single-handedly…).

All in all, it’s a game mode that you will enjoy, but the improvement of the story and in-depth moments come at the expense of some things we wish wouldn’t have been shelved.

Career Mode

The biggest change has to be transfers and contract negotiations. As you’ve probably seen on various videos, you now have to sit down with agents and managers, have a live discussion on terms, and hope that you don’t anger the other party enough to see them storm out of your office without getting a deal done. Outside of that, you can lead your club to years and years of promotion/silverware/success as you see fit. If manager mode has always been your calling, FIFA18 will only continue to please that desire. Just don’t try and edit Donnarumma’s stats (on any player 19 or younger) before your manager mode starts… it glitches the game and makes him/them 57 years old… which we found out the hard way.

Growing players is still working towards being perfect, but there are some new skill games that make sure that you can be involved in the improvement of your squad for quite some time before you finally decide to just simulate every skill game. We haven’t spent long enough in the game to see if the youth players you recruit will ever live up to the potential that your scouts say they will hit… but that was always a sore spot on FIFA17.


Ultimate Team/Pro Clubs

EA Sports is definitely learning that Ultimate Team is a huge asset in their game, and it’s only getting bigger. It feels like steps have been taken to make sure that the game avoids the “rich getting richer” scenario that tends to alway plague Ultimate Team for as long as possible. Be prepared to see some awesome cut-scenes when you open a new pack and snag a top notch player (Kevin De Bruyne’s is our favourite, so far), and don’t be surprised to see Legend cards working their way around very early into the game. Ultimate Team continues to be a game mode that only improves the more time you’re willing to put into, so don’t walk away after one or two losses (or one or two awful card pack openings) and let it get in the time to win you over... it will.

If getting together with your friends and playing online Pro Clubs is more your speed, then FIFA18 continues to improve that game mode. Customising your club is now more extensive than ever, the match lobby is more user-friendly, and you can set your virtual pro to have multiple trait set-ups so that you don’t have to spend those valuable minutes switching your play style because your best striker mate forgot that it was his anniversary and he won’t be able to play.

Early signs show that you are going to face those annoying clubs that want to set their defenders to “Park the bus” straight from the kick-off, but improved distance shooting mechanics and quick passing in the attacking third can break those teams down a bit easier than in the past. One huge change is that, if you don’t use your stamina much, you will find yourself late in the game with a huge reserve of energy!

Unlike in past FIFA games where it gradually ate your stamina just for being on the pitch, a player that spends most of the game walking will hit the 80th minute with almost a full stamina bar. That feature can turn into a huge advantage if your teammates and yourself learn better positioning and make forward runs only when they’ll be effective… the other team will be gasping for air heading towards the final whistle and you’ll be zipping by.

You will still feel like some of the bounces are against you and that your keeper was some bloke that you picked up on the way to the stadium, but it does seem like the better team that works more quality shots during the game will find themselves walking away with three points a bit more often than in the past.


So, should I buy FIFA18?

If you haven’t already splurged, then the answer is simple: yes. FIFA18 will still cause some frustration, but it’s still the torch bearer for football games. Whether you’re wanting to get roped into The Journey, open some packs in Ultimate Team, while away the hours with a manager mode, or just neck a few cans before a night out while you play friendlies. Oh, one last thing, the boots look immense.


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