It’s a new year. Which means all the typical things. New political scandals, new fashion disasters and a new addition to the FIFA series. Let’s check out what FIFA 18 has to offer in the latest instalment, so get ready for new game modes, improved gameplay and the return of the legend, Alex Hunter.
After 17 broke the ground with the Journey mode, introducing us to Alex Hunter, a player at the start of his career, everyone applauded EA for the best step forward they had made in single player gaming in the FIFA series. It was a bit of a question in the air when the year rolled round into summer and people questioned what the next logical step in the path was. So after the previous drama that was transfer window this past September, it was an engaging parallel when the game thrust us into deciding Alex’s fate when he starts the mode itching to move to a new club.
The actual mode itself hasn’t altered by a large amount, but it has been refined and tweaked to produce a much cleaner and fluid experience. The usual ‘train, talk, match day’ is still there, but the ability to make adverts and even customise the appearance of our returning star gives a breath of fresh air to the mode.
But it’s not just the Journey that has a new set of boots. Ultimate Team is back and for once I can say that I am enjoying it. Year after year I’ve spent hours (if not days) playing this mode, trying to get myself to enjoy it or at the least feel a sense of accomplishment with it without pushing cash into the pack system. 18 seems to have cracked the code, with 2 features. Firstly the Squad Building Challenges, a mode which encourages you to build interesting and varied squads in exchange for packs and coins. This helps open the understanding of chemistry and also rewards more than fairly, helping give a boost to players who aren’t shovelling money into the mode. Secondly the Squad Battle system. An almost weekly ranking mode where you play against other peoples squads offline to earn points. These points (depending on performance and result) help boost your rank, which rewards you with bigger and better prizes at the end of each week. FUT has never been in a better position.
The rest of the modes are the standard FIFA arrangement, Career (Player or Manager), Online Seasons, etc. However what shines through for me in this title is the small tweaks made to make the game feel more immersive. The weight of the ball seems to have been perfected this year, with the feeling of a long range goal as the ball sinks into the top corner giving an almighty feeling of satisfaction, the noise levels when a match boots up almost perfecting the sound of actually being on a pitch, its obvious that EA continue to pour love into the series rather than just cycling them out.
FIFA 18 seems to have actually broken the mould slightly in my opinion when it comes to the yearly sports games, as it feels fresh. Looking back at the past 5 years, it shines as the best since ’13. A sincerely solid 8/10. If you’re a FIFA fan, grab it, if you’re not, maybe wait a month, but grab it anyway.