Cristiano Ronaldo is the FIFA 18 cover star, EA Sports have confirmed.
The Real Madrid superstar can be seen holding a ball and looking pensive in the new shot.
‘Ronaldo Edition’ is written across the top of the box on both the Xbox One and Ps4 versions, with the iconic FIFA 18 logo on top.
It marks the end of an incredible season for the Portuguese forward – which saw him win the European Championships with Portugal last summer, La Liga with Real Madrid and beat footballing rival Lionel Messi to the Ballon D’Or.
He topped it off by scoring twice in Los Blancos’ 4-1 Champions League final victory over Juventus last weekend.
Ronaldo will once again go head-to-head with Messi, who features on the cover of PES 2018 with other Barca teammates, when the games launch in September.
It’s not known yet how much the Portuguese was paid to feature on the cover – but we’re expecting the fee to be well into the millions.
The move shows EA’s ambition to make FIFA 18 an even bigger global player this year – with Ronaldo not just one of the most recognisable footballers in the world, but also a known celebrity across the globe.
At 32 years old, he’s arguably had his most successful season ever, but whether he’ll ever repeat these feats in the coming years remains to be seen.
What also remains to be revealed is Ronaldo’s FIFA 18 rating.
Cover stars are traditionally amongst the best players in the game, but some feel the Portuguese’s ability isn’t what it used to be.
There were even calls from some fans to downgrade his FIFA 18 rating as they thought he was too good in FIFA 17.
Others wanted to see Ronaldo’s FIFA 18 weak foot ability awarded the full five stars off the back of a string of wonder goals with his left.
Whether he gets a lower rating in the last game is still anyone’s guess – but given that he’s the cover star, it’s unlikely to take too much of a hit – and given his form in recent months, it may even rise.
FIFA cover stars through the years
- FIFA 17: Marco Reus
- FIFA 16: Lionel Messi and Jordan Henderson
- FIFA 15: Lionel Messi and Arturo Vidal
- FIFA 14: Lionel Messi
- FIFA 13: Lionel Messi, Joe Hart and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain
- FIFA 12: Wayne Rooney and Jack Wilshire
Borussia Dortmund’s Marco Reus fronted the last game after a public vote, but was met by a lukewarm reception from fans.
The preview year Jordan Henderson featured on the cover with Messi – causing a stir on social media, with some complaining the Liverpool midfielder wasn’t a big enough name to grace the cover of such a prestigious game.
But those doubts are unlikely to be forthcoming with the announcement of Ronaldo on the cover, with the world’s most famous footballer likely to make new and existing players rush to the shops when it goes on sale in September this year.
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Everything we know about FIFA 18 so far
What other big changes can we expect to see in in FIFA 18?
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.
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.
Will Legends return?
No, EA has ditched this in favour of Icons - with Ronaldo (Brazilian one) kicking it off.
When will it come out, and will there be a demo?
EA Sports have announced the game will be released on September 29.
FIFA 17 was released on 29 September, FIFA 16 on 22 September 2015 and FIFA 15 on 23 September 2014.
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, so he’ll definitely remain the game’s best player in FIFA 18.
Some believe he may have a stats downgrade, though – especially with regards to his pace and dribbling (which we’ve mocked up below).
Lionel Messi, who has been in blistering form of late, will keep second spot.
Will The Journey feature again? (SPOILER ALERT)
According to EA CEO Andrew Wilson, The Journey Season Two will feature new characters and story-lines and will ‘build on the foundation created with story mode this year’.
Alex Hunter’s debut was largely well-received by critics and fans alike.
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 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?
Penalties won’t change much, but free kicks could see an overhaul.
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.
FIFA could be the perfect platform to propel the hardware firmly into the mainstream – especially as the company look to further capitalise on the beefed up PS4 Pro.
But for those hoping that VR will replace the controller, that’s still some way off.
EA’s Sebastian Enrique told Trusted Reviews “haven’t found something that beats the experience when you have a controller in your hands”.
Where VR could be implemented, though, is through a camera angle – perhaps exclusive to PS4 / PC versions.
This would essentially place the player amongst fans in the stands – putting them next to a few well-rendered fans, and giving them ability to look around their seat.
They would play the game as per usual, only players would be further away – with the entire pitch visible.
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.
What will be the best new feature?
Dynamic weather will almost certainly feature in FIFA 18.
Need For Speed (2015) and Battlefield 1 -are both powered by the same engine and make use of unpredictable in-game weather systems.
Speaking to Metro last year, EA DICE’s Patrick Bach explained why weather is so much more than just a ‘pretty effect’.
“We often talk about these different dimensions in Battlefield, where you have the rock, paper, scissors and then you marry that with the destruction and you create unpredictability from different angles. And with the layer of weather we actually change the way you play in a very drastic way,” he said.
“So, if you have the tactics of being a sniper and it starts to rain then you probably have to change tactics. And the same with fighter planes, once the fog rolls in it’s like, ‘Okay, this is not as effective anymore, so I probably need to go back on the ground’.
“It’s not only a pretty effect, it actually changes the way you play the game.”
Dynamic weather would add a whole new layer of tactics to gameplay in FIFA.
For example, weather taking a turn for the worse could negatively affect player ground speed, passing accuracy and injury probability.
Players could fall over more easily, goalkeepers could be more likely to fumble fast shots… the list is endless, and would all help add an extra level of realism to the game.
How about the soundtrack?
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.
How much will it cost?
FIFA 18 will cost around £49.99 – but given the demand, some outlets may undercut this.
We expect the cheapest the game will go for at launch to be around £45.
When can I pre-order it?
Pre-orders should kick off around June 6, if last year’s campaign is anything to go by.
FIFA 18 is released in late September on Xbox, PS4 , PC Xbox 360 and ps3.
PES 2018 meanwhile launches a week earlier on September 14.