The new year is finally here, which can only mean one thing. FIFA 18.
While details are scarce, look close enough and there are plenty of clues about how EA Sports’ next football game will shape up.
So, will it look better?
In short, yes – but don’t expect a huge improvement.
FIFA 17 was the first game in the series to be powered by Frostbite – which replaced the Ignite engine used the previous year.
While graphics took a noticeable boost this year, especially facial and player animations, FIFA 18 will see more subtle improvements as it’ll run on the same Frostbite 4 engine.
Expect player movement and animation to look sharper – not to mention greater detail and likeness.
Other peripheral graphical tweaks, such as improved crowd detail, will also be present.
PS4 Pro owners and PC gamers will once again receive the best-looking versions of the game.
The former will once again capitalise on “Pro Mode” – allowing for increased detail and more stable framerate at above 1080p resolution.
Pro Mode offered tangible improvements in FIFA 17, but this year, EA will have more time to push this even further and make greater use of Pro’s substantial GPU grunt.
Will it play the same as FIFA 17?
FIFA 17 has come under fire for some aspects of its gameplay – but as FIFA 18 will be powered by the same engine, we doubt much will change here.
Input delay – the time it takes for a button press to translate into an on-screen action – has led to some negative feedback in FIFA 17.t
There have also been claims of “EAaids” or “scripting”, which refers to the game dynamically adjusting online matches to favour weaker players.
Whilst the former issue is a result of the game’s severs compensating for “Ping” or connection strength variance between online players, we’d expect to see action taken over “EAAids”.
Whether this will be the re-introduction of a “momentum” bar, as in FIFA 06, or just a tweak of the alleged in-game code remains to be seen.
Either way, fans want something done about it.
When will it come out, and will there be a demo?
All of the recent FIFA games have come out in September so expect FIFA 18 to drop then.
For those wanting early access, the demo usually lands a week or two before the game launches – but expect EA Access members to get first dibs.
Will Cristiano Ronaldo still be the best player?
It’s been an incredible year for the Portuguese, who’ll certainly appear in the FIFA 17 Team of the Year when it’s released later this month.
He’ll remain the game’s best player in FIFA 18, likely receiving a small overall boost to honour his incredible feats in real life.
Lionel Messi, who has been in blistering form of late, will keep second spot.
Who will be the cover star?
PES 2017 developers Konami own Messi’s rights (as well as all the rights to his Barcelona team mates and the Nou Camp).
As a result, we bet Cristiano Ronaldo will be the cover star.
Will The Journey feature again? (SPOILER ALERT)
Alex Hunter’s debut was largely well-received by critics and fans alike, paving the way for the next chapter.
It’ll no doubt focus on Hunter’s international career as he deals with the pressure of becoming a global star.
One of the issues with The Journey was that player choice did not affect the story as much as many would like.
As a result, expect improved dialogue wheels with actions that genuinely affect Hunter’s fate.
The EA-published Mass Effect series (below) saw a similar evolution of the dialogue wheel – eventually allowing your character to interrupt NPCs mid conversation.
This feature would be a welcome, and easy to implement, addition.
Will free kicks and penalties stay the same?
We’re going to make a call on this and say no – at least for free kicks.
The new “momentum” system that governs the set-pieces is incredibly hard to master and has been panned by FIFA players.
As a result, we’d expect this to revert back to the more “traditional” shot power and curl mechanic.
The system works wonders for penalties, though – allowing for much more control over shot placement and power.
Goalkeeper AI during spot kicks is often found wanting, so expect EA to address this.
Will this FIFA make use of VR?
On PS4 Pro and PC, almost certainly.
Sony has invested millions into PSVR but needs more mainstream games to show it off.
Whilst VR won’t be anything super special (Forget about first-person Alex Hunter for the time being), we think specific gameplay camera options will cater to the technology.
A “crowd” camera, that allows you to play a game as if you were watching from the stands, is – in theory – incredibly simple to pull off.
While a “first-person ref cam” could add some much needed immersion.
Non VR-ready games can be enjoyed on PSVR – with the device acting a micro-cinema screen on your face.
It’s time FIFA made the most of it.
Established artists such as Blur, Kasabian and Radiohead have all featured in the past, but recently there’s been more music from emerging talent making its way on to the game.
Whilst it’s too early to make any predictions, expect this trend to continue in FIFA 18.
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