Hunter returns and this year with FIFA 18 the promise is to see the world but is this just grand standing to take the focus away from the pitch or is this EA really taking FIFA 18 to the next level on PS4 and Xbox One. 

Upon initial boot-up you wont see anything strikingly different from FIFA 18 this year, the menus appear similar to last years instalment with little touches here and there to bring more content and game modes to your attention. Prior to the menus there is a nice little intro where you control Cristiano Ronaldo with a free kick against Atletico Madrid all that stands between you and victory after some sweet CG player sequences. I tried several times to miss but like the Hunter storyline your never really altering the outcomes of where the game wishes to take you. On reflection this intro is pretty much needless and unless you still have game files installing or downloading this isn’t adding any value to your experience.

FIFA Ultimate Team is it up to task?

The crown jewel in EA’s football masterpiece has to be Ultimate team the card based game mode continues to show innovations in games modes and yet more ways to persuade you into buying FIFA points. One welcome instalment in this game mode is the introduction of Squad Battles. A new offline mode designed to pit players created squads against each other. So rather than having to play against boring squads as you rank up you are given a selection of user created squads as opponents to pit your wits against.

How does FIFA Ultimate team Squad Battles Work?

As an offline game mode progression on FUT Squad battles is through acquiring points upon completing matches. Essentially the higher the difficulty the more points you can achieve and thus the faster you can move up the ranks. The mode has a timeframe of one week in which to reach the highest rank you can. Throughout the week you are provided daily chances to pit your wits against a series of opponents and with points accrued you can move up to the next rank unlocking some pretty good rewards. Squad battles helps you win coins and FUT packs. Naturally these rewards are better the higher rank you achieve. Within each rank you have 4 matches to gain the required points to earn promotion to the next squad battle ranking.

The reason this mode is so great is not for the fact you have to play against the AI which typically becomes repetitive, however this year its pretty fluent more on that later, Its because this represents a method for casual and average skilled players to reap some decent rewards previously reserved for the elite players who gained coins, rare players and more in the FUT champions weekend league where entry to itself was tough. This move by EA should go some way to making the wider community have something to play for and I for one am delighted with its arrival.

Does FIFA 18 play better than PES 2018?

If you had time to check out our full review on PES 2018 you will know we are highly impressed with the games on the pitch gameplay and despite some visual nasties is a real crowd pleaser. So with FIFA 18 no gracing our TV’s whats the verdict on whether FIFA 18 is better than PES 2018? Well on the pitch EA have produced probably one of the best FIFA games in years. Gone is the slow sluggish ball movement on the pitch that always made the game feel like it was being played on a soggy pitch. With slicker ball movement and quicker passing the game hits an incredible pace at times. With that does come a compromise and with what feels like over powered passing and shooting this year is the arrival of some dodgy defence AI.

 

If you are a FIFA player that loves to hold down contain and a combination of L2 or LT on the controller then your going to have a tough time. The tweaks EA have made require players to think constantly about defensive player movement and no longer can you dive in or miss time a standing tackle and not pay the price. With attacking pace and ball pace up the chances are you are going to concede alot of goals. Having played both offline and online this is a familiar story and online its really becoming an issue and perhaps spoiling the game. Games finishing 6-6 is not normal or representing authentic football experiences. Don’t get me wrong theres a highlight reel worthy of Match of the Day but the OP nature of the shooting this year does need to be looked at by EA and I can for-see a patch to resolve.

However if you want to play slow and utilise build up play then FIFA 18 brings a tight well rounded gameplay feel which is as close to PES as it could be. I still feel PES 2018 wins in the gameplay front but with some tweaks EA really have a pitch king with FIFA 18.

Hunter returns – More drama than a Jim White transfer deadline day

Our FIFA 18 review wouldn’t be worth its salt if we didn’t cover the return of the Alex Hunter in the much anticipated story mode to FIFA 18. This year is the next step for Alex after breaking through in the mode during FIFA 17. The game puts you in early pre season and theres a nice surprise awaiting any fans of the FIFA street series. The story picks up straight from the events of the first instalment and as you would expect there are twists and turns and player cameos that really show a level of immersion and polish that only EA and the frostbite engine can deliver. For the main this story mode is an on rails and I would love to explain in our FIFA 18 review how player choice delivers true consequences and arching storylines but its sadly not the case but in terms of a gameplay experience that doesn’t simply put you game to game and offers a glimpse into the life of a pro footballer then this mode is a must. If you haven’t played last years version then don’t worry theres a handy get you up to speed video that gets you ready to jump straight in.

How good does FIFA 18 look on the PS4 pro and Xbox One X?

For players looking to pick up FIFA 18 on either PS4 or Xbox One then rest assured that the game is absolutely stunning and on the base models of these consoles the presentation and visual fidelity is outstanding. Visual broadcast presentations and player likeness have continued to showcase the capability of the frostbite engine and with EA having had several years now to optimise performance on these engines the game is clearly showing its power. Stadium and audio visuals enhance this further and with these consoles comes more stadium elements, bottles, flares, paper on the pitch and pitch-side activity really breath life into each environment. On PS4 Pro players can expect 4k Visuals at 60fps and this crisp look and feel is a joy to appreciate on a 4K TV. With the Xbox One X just around the corner Microsoft have promised that the Xbox One X is the best place to play titles like FIFA 18 so our FIFA 18 review will be updated in time to reflect the graphic enhancements as we see them.

The Verdict

FIFA returns in all its glory and with tweaks to returning modes such as pro clubs, Career mode transfers there is something for every type of FIFA player. A great shift in Ultimate team to support all players having a route to a reward will expand the player base in taht mode for sure. The graphics continue to impress with official licensing helping showcase the power of FIFA 18 on the PS4 pro in 4k. If the defending wasn’t worse than Crystal palace on a Saturday afternoon then this would be the pinnacle in terms of FIFA’s gameplay but these issues and basketball mentality gameplay continue to hold the series back against PES 2018  when it comes to pitch performance. Above all else this years FIFA is a huge leap in performance, gameplay and visual fidelity. For footie fans the world over this is a must own and will likely be a chart topper for months to come.

FIFA 18 Review
9.5
Gameplay
9
Narrative
9
Graphics
9
Sound
10
Value
Our Score 9.3
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