Every year, fans of soccer face the same question, whether they choose FIFA or PES. The release of FIFA 18 was no different. It can be a tense time as friends decide which franchise to go with and argue that their choice is the best option.
Pro Evolution Soccer has largely been seen as the connoisseur’s choice in recent years. Its refined gameplay made it a better playing experience.
With FIFA 18, EA finally began to fight back against that stereotype. With major improvements made to several areas, could FIFA start to rival PES in terms of gameplay?
A major issue in FIFA for several years has been the transition as players go from attacking to defending. Animations would slow down the pace of the game and players would be locked in to following through with all their actions. It meant an individual could easily end up out of position through no fault of your own. The developers fix for this was new animations that you can interrupt, allowing quicker response times.
Other areas have also seen improvements in FIFA 18. Goalkeepers are no longer the haphazard last defense they once were, while a rework of the crossing mechanic is very welcome. Now, balls can fizz in with a simple button press and cause mayhem in the box. Individuals feel as if they have more weight to them, able to shield the ball effectively. Additionally, taking advantage of pacey players to make better off-the-ball runs to get in behind high defensive lines is possible.
Player A.I. is also better than in previous iterations. Characters play more intelligently and have a larger pool of options to draw from when it comes to making a decision. You no longer feel like you have to manage every player on the pitch. Being able to put more of your trust in the CPU-controlled players frees you up to actually enjoy the game.
There is also the addition of playing styles for each team, which helps them be distinct from each other. It is possible to see the different ways that teams play. For example, you can clearly see the difference between Pep Guardiola team and a Tony Pulis side.
When it comes to the game modes on offer, EA has taken a more conservative approach. There are not any wholesale changes. Rather, the team has tried to fine-tune the various modes so that they address fan concerns.
That means there is nothing as innovative as the story-driven mode “The Journey” from FIFA 17 in this installment. However, The Journey does come back for a second season, continuing the story of Alex Hunter. New locations and playable characters make an appearance and the mode feels like a more well-rounded experience.
The two most important changes come in the form of Career mode and the newly introduced Squad Battles. An overhaul to contract negotiations allows you to talk directly with an opposition manager during transfers. It gives far more options and creates a more immersive representation of what it would be like to be a manager.
Meanwhile, Squad Battles is an offline mode where you play against CPU teams. The twist is that these teams have been picked by celebrities or prominent FIFA players. This game mode offers a nice way to get involved in Ultimate Team without having to jump into multiplayer.
One new addition that did come later was a World Cup add-on. This free DLC arrived in the summer of 2018 and brought with it the ability to compete in the international tournament. Authentic teams and players who made it to the competition were included, as well as new challenges and packs for Ultimate Team.
The real strength of EA’s FIFA series has always been its unmatched presentation. It’s evident the publisher is willing to spend big. Everything from the upbeat and modern soundtrack to the slick menu system makes FIFA 18 inviting.
The matchday experience is just as good. Stadium announcers boom out team news before kickoff, while the crowd bustles with chants, boos, and cheers. The only real downside is the commentary, but even this aspect is still better than in PES.
As you expect from such a high profile release, FIFA 18 looks fantastic on the pitch. Even now the game’s visuals are pretty much unrivalled when it comes to sports games. With the team finally getting to grips with the Frostbite engine, they could deliver a gorgeous title.
Players look ultra realistic and have far more detail than ever before. You can say exactly the same thing for stadiums as well. As previously mentioned, animations have also seen a marked improvement, which helps the on-field action flow more effectively.
For the most part, FIFA 18 is still not as great as PES where gameplay is concerned. Even though the developers have made some great improvements, this entry still lacks the fluidity of its competitor.
Yet, FIFA 18 comes out on top in almost every other area. An expansion to Ultimate Team, improvements to gameplay, and a presentation that is second-to-none help it stand out.
And despite what people might say, most fans want to play fully-licensed teams without having to edit official names in themselves. Hardcore players might prefer PES. The vast majority of soccer fans, though, will probably be enticed by the better-looking and accessible FIFA 18.