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FIFA 18

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Summary

Key Features

  • Release date: September 2017
  • Available on: PS4, Xbox One, PC
  • Switch, PS3 and Xbox 360 to get a different version
  • Manufacturer: EA Sports
  • Review Price: to be confirmed

FIFA 18 release date, Ultimate Team, The Journey, EA Access, demo and all the latest news

FIFA 18 is official, and this is our ultimate guide. Start with our hands-on impressions, followed by the latest news, trailers and feature info for the new game.

Hands-on review by Max Parker

Keeping an annual franchise fresh is hard, but EA Sports has been on an impressive run with FIFA over the past few iterations. FIFA 18 isn’t a huge overhaul, but the various tweaks and additions make a game of football that’s much more realistic, fluid and very enjoyable.

The switch to the Frostbite engine last year was huge, giving the series a dramatic facelift. But, as with the move to any new engine, there were some quirks with odd player reactions and blank faces. There are countless funny blooper videos all over YouTube. Thankfully FIFA 18 is the year when the Frostbite engine really comes into its own, and this game looks absolutely stunning for it.

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The new lighting system is the biggest obvious graphical change, and it really gives that extra hit of realism that was missing before. Playing in a sun-soaked South American stadium, the light bathes the players and shadows dot about an almost sepia toned pitch whilst at night in Europe the floodlights bounce of the walls.

Stadiums feel much more alive, which might seem a small and insignificant detail but it really helps amp up the atmosphere. Each venue feels unique, with everything from the fans to the pitch reacting differently. Fans in Argentina wave flags and banners, throwing confetti that floats down onto the pitch and stays there. A demo game of Real Madrid vs Atletico Madrid saw the fans pile down from behind the goal and run towards Griezmann as he scored a deft last minute winner. The crowd feels alive in a way those regimented fans in previous versions have never felt.

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Stunning visuals are nothing without strong gameplay, and thankfully FIFA 18 offers probably the best game of football on a console. The biggest jump this year is in player movement, and this is due to a new Motion Technology System. That’s just fancy marketing speak, but you’ll notice the change as soon as you start playing. EA told me players used to have one single animation for every movement – a complete step-over, for example – but now they have a different animation for every single frame. This leads to a much smoother, fluid way of playing and is very similar to way PES 2017 played. I hated the way FIFA skills often looked robotic and repetitive before, but now that’s no longer than case. Every step-over, shimmy or jink feels different and it’s another thing that adds to the overall realism and dynamism in FIFA 18.

Motion capturing players is nothing new for the FIFA franchise, but this year's cover star Cristiano Ronaldo has been mo-capped into the game to really capture his unique style of play. Other players with distinctive running styles like Robben and Sterling have been captured accurately, too.

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Dribbling has been overhauled and this stems from the enhanced motion system. It’s much easier, and a lot more fun, to keep the ball at the feet of a great dribbler – Hazard, for example – and actually do more than trying a ridiculous skill move. The friction on the ground has been strengthened, meaning the ball sticks to the pitch more than before and it feels slower as a result. This is fine by me, but it is quite odd at first and does take a bit of getting used to.

Crossing has been tweaked to offer a wider variety of balls in and they have much more curve now, which gives it more realism than the overly straight balls of last year.

Considering the early version of the game I was playing, it seems overly harsh to criticise aspects of the game yet. But, two new features stuck out as needing some extra tweaking between now and release. Dynamic quick substitutions are a great idea; every time the ball goes out of play, you flick R2 and perform a sub without needing to hop into the menu. My issue is that the players it suggested I sub and who was going to replace them seemed weird and highly unrealistic. There’s also been some improvements to player movement and while players are now more likely to spread out to receive the ball, I found they still clump together and force you to take the ball further than you want. Hopefully both of these will be fixed and tinkered with before release.

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The Journey single-player campaign, which debuted last year, could easily have been a point of ridicule for trying to add a narrative to a football game. But it was actually surprisingly great, and it’s no surprise it’s back for another season here. The Journey: Hunter’s Return finally lets you customise Alex’s hair and clothes and it takes a disitinctively more continental feel with the option of moving abroad. Local multiplayer in The Journey is new, and the decisions you make along the way are said to have greater impact on the story.

I only got to play the first few minutes of the story, but it certainly feels like more and that’s not a bad thing.

Ultimate Team isn’t to my tastes due to its reliance on microtransactions, but I know a lot – and I mean a lot – of people love it and EA is of course bringing it back. Expect to hear more on this mode later, but for now all I was told was that the currently Xbox-only Legends will be coming to PS4 and PC this year headlined by the iconic Brazilian striker Ronaldo.

First impressions

After a few matches, FIFA 18 had already done enough to grab my attention. The improved atmosphere inside the stadiums and more realism in players' faces is nice, but it’s the smoother and genuinely much more fun dribbling and shooting that makes this such a step-forward.

It likely won’t attract the PES die-hards, but this is another impressive entry in a very consistent series.

FIFA 18 release date – When is it coming out?

FIFA 18 will launch for PS4, PS3, Xbox One, Xbox 360, Nintendo Switch and PC on September 29, 2017. At the end of the debut trailer, a PS4 Pro logo appears, suggesting the game will offer additional support for Sony's premier console. It is as yet unknown if Xbox Scorpio will also get additional graphical enhancements.

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FIFA 18 The Journey – What's it about?

EA has confirmed The Journey will return in FIFA 18 with all new storylines and characters. Alex Hunter is returning to the series, with our hero now embarking on the next stage of his superstar career.

FIFA 18 Trailer – How does it look?

Electronic Arts has finally released the reveal trailer for FIFA 18, confirming Cristiano Ronaldo as the series' next coverstar. Check it out below:

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FIFA 18 Ultimate Team Legends coming to PS4 and PC

The recent news from EA Sports has confirmed that FIFA Ultimate Team Legends will no longer be exclusive to Xbox One. The news is noticeable in the pre-order page for the game, in which players who purchase the "Icon Edition" receive £120 worth of Jumbo Premium Gold Packs, as well as Cristiano Ronaldo and Ronaldo, the iconic Brazilian striker, on loan for five games.

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