FIFA 18 and PES 2018 are going head to head in September – battling it out for your hard-earned cash.
The latter certainly has its work cut out.
But which one is looking like the better investment this year – based on what we’ve seen so far?
PES 2018: Fox Engine
PES 2018 is powered by Konami’s in-house Fox Engine, the same powerhouse behind the recent Metal Gear Solid games.
It was used in the last game but has had a number of overhauls to make players and environments look more realistic.
A new ‘REAL Capture’ system provides true-to-life lighting across day and night games, while more than 20,000 components have been faithfully recreated – from the turf to the tunnels.
Konami has totally overhauled player animation, too, making movements much closer to real life.
Core animations such as walking, turning, and posture have also been reworked, all the way down to the way that kits fit differing physiques.
Perhaps the best thing about the Fox Engine is how well it works on older hardware. So, Xbox 360 and Ps3 owners will still get a decent experience.
All in all, it’s vastly improved on the last game.
FIFA 18: Frostbite
FIFA 18 is once again powered by Frostbite – but it’s also had significant tweaks.
The big improvements are lighting and animation – with players looking and moving in a more realistic way.
PS4 Pro, Xbox One X owners and PC gamers will receive the best-looking versions of the game.
The former will once again capitalise on ‘Pro Mode’ – allowing for increased detail and a more stable framerate.
Sadly Xbox 360 and Ps3 gamers will be stuck with the Ignite engine, which was used in FIFA 16.
It’ll be a ‘Gold’ edition of the game, meaning The Journey: Hunter Returns won’t be on there, either.
It’s a bit of a kick in the teeth as EA drives fans to expensive current-gen hardware.
Winner: FIFA 18
There’s very little in it right now, but based on what we’ve seen and played so far, FIFA 18 has the edge when it comes to visuals.
PES 2018 will have more new features than any other PES title in the last decade.
The control system will be revised to add more fluidity to the game, while a new user interface makes navigating menus and modes easier.
Matches will be played at a more realistic pace, while a new strategic dribbling system offers greater close control, including contextual shielding to protect the ball.
Similarly, simple movements of the control stick can be used to perform shimmies to wrong-foot defenders.
Konami has also implemented a ‘REAL Touch + process’, wherein players will react to receiving a ball using parts of the body, such as chest, head and legs to bring a pass under control dependent on the height and pace of the incoming ball.
All set-piece routines have also been totally reworked, notably the way penalty kicks are taken and a one-player kick off routine as well.
All the changes certainly look stunning in motion – FIFA 18 will need to bring it’s ‘A’ game to stand a chance.
FIFA 18 adds new team strategies such as tiki-taka and high press as EA looks to vastly improve positioning and tactical enhancements.
There are also a host of general gameplay tweaks.
One of the major overhauls they will introduce is the use of ‘quick subs’, a nifty way of making a rapid-fire substitution in the game without having to go back to through the menu screen.
Currently, players have to pause the game, select the changes to the team they want, before returning to the game.
Players will now be offered the chance to make a ‘quick sub’ in the bottom corner of the screen when the ball goes out of play, with the computer giving you the most appropriate substitution for players who are either flagging or injured, or simply underperforming.
You can make a substitution by holding down the right trigger on the controller – so R2 on PlayStation and RT on Xbox.
Elsewhere, there’s also a new method of tackling that promises to vastly improve how you approach defending in the game.
The new ‘hard tackle’ will be a halfway house between the traditional conservative standing tackle, and a full-blown sliding challenge.
General gameplay speed has been slowed down a touch – while players and the ball both feeling heavier, allowing for more realistic physics.
One thing to note is that on the preview build we played, it’s much easier to score from outside the box – so prepare to net some worldies.
Winner: PES 2018
It’s too close to call, but based on what we’ve seen, PES looks to have built on everything that made it great last year.
FIFA 18 has come on leaps and bounds, but we’re slightly worried at just how easy it is to score from outside the box.
Quick subs, too, need refinement – as suggested options the CPU serves up show little tactical awareness.
In terms of multiplayer, full 11-Vs-11 online options and myClub challenge, where players build a team from scratch, both return.
They are joined by a co-operative 2-Vs-2 and 3-Vs-3 modes with support for local guests.
The ‘Random Selection’ match also returns with all-new content, while the Master League implements pre-season tournaments, a new transfer system and pre-match interviews.
Sadly, there’s no mode to rival FIFA 18’s The Journey – plus there’s no Nintendo Switch version, either.
The past game was also plagued with server issues – making online gaming unstable and, ultimately, not as fun as it could have been.
Let’s hope Konami sorts this out.
FIFA 18 offers quite the package when it comes to multiplayer.
Ultimate Team is back in full force and Xbox exclusive Legends have been ditched in favour of cross-platform Icons.
The biggest multiplayer news is that The Journey: Hunter Returns can now be played with a friend via local co-op.
This means you can blame your fried if Hunter fails to secure a goal and that much-needed 7.0 rating.
Another big coup is FIFA on the Nintendo Switch – which will be the only new football game available for Nintendo gamers (PES is skipping it this year).
It may not use the latest Frostbite technology but gameplay is sleek, responsive and runs at 60FPS.
Plus, you can play Ultimate Team on the go. How great is that?
Winner: FIFA 18
We’re yet to play The Journey in co-op but it sounds great fun.
Plus, if EA gets the Switch offering right, it’ll make things very difficult for PES.
Special features and considerations
PES 2018: Usain Bolt
Weird one this, but Jamaican speedster Usain Bolt is a playable character on the game.
The 30-year-old Olympic champion comes bundled with pre-orders of the game and will feature in MyClub mode.
He’ll be the fastest player ever to feature – we can’t wait to take him for a spin.
FIFA 18 – The Journey: Hunter Returns
After its vastly popular release in last year’s game, the game’s ‘story driven’ mode will once again return.
Called Hunter Returns, it’ll give gamers the chance to act, play and make all the decisions for Hunter over the course of the season, with the ending still anyone’s guess.
Last season’s game mode saw the storyline quite narrow, with limited decision making.
It was the first time EA Sports had entered in a story mode like this, so we can forgive them, but this time round the storyline is much, much broader, and the decisions you make will make a much greater difference.
Whereas most of us ended up winning the FA Cup with our Hunters in FIFA 17, it’ll be interesting to see where our character can end up once we’ve taken different decisions from our mates.
You’ll also be able to change the look of your Alex Hunter to have a vast array of different hairstyles, tattoos, tracksuits and so on.
Winner: FIFA 18
The Journey is a huge advantage for EA SPORTS’ offering – and while Bolt is certainly a fun addition, we’re hoping Konami reveals other incentives to help PES really stand out.
PES 2018 arrives on September 14, while FIFA launches on September 29.
There’s still everything to play for.
WE WILL CERTAINLY MISS THESE BONE-CRUNCHING FIFA 17 TACKLES.