FIFA 18 Review: What we thought of EA Sports' latest football release

With the release of FIFA 18 still a few months away, it’s easy to get over-excited by any snippet and titbit of information you see.

But after Dream Team were invited to FIFA 18’s preview event at Stamford Bridge in late May, it would be remiss of us to not cast some initial impressions on the game itself.

We’ve broken down every facet of the game and all we know so far on Dream Team, but here all-round football fan Andrew Butler sits down with Dream Team Gaming expert Talal Musa to discuss what they made of the game.

Andrew Butler: Hi Talal, thanks for joining me in this slightly alternative format of writing what we’ve said out loud in real life.

Talal Musa: Absolute pleasure. It’s a bit meta, but let’s dig into FIFA 18 shall we?

Andrew Butler: Sure. I’ll start by saying the game felt, well, very similar to FIFA 17.

I guess there’s not a great deal you can do to change a game that was widely praised, and a game that I personally enjoyed very much.

From a gameplay perspective, the game felt slightly slower than last year’s, which is probably due a little bit to the new friction software they’ve implemented – they’ve made the grass feel slightly stickier, I think, so the passing feels a touch slower initially.

Cristiano Ronaldo will be the figurehead of the new game

Cristiano Ronaldo will be the figurehead of the new game

I got used to that very quickly though, and it was nice to see that they’ve also sorted out the slow player keeping up with the fast player issue.

At least now if you play with Per Mertesacker, you won’t somehow be able to keep up with Lionel Messi.

Talal Musa: Yeah, I agree that it’s not changed a great deal.

What was immediately noticeable, though, was just how much weightier the players and ball feel.

It’s perhaps not as fast as FIFA 17 but that’s no bad thing.

Plus, EA confirmed they’ve tweaked long shots – so it’s even more satisfying, and easier, to score from outside the box.

A new replay angle – a sort of dynamic, Matrix-style camera – lets you enjoy your favourite moments from the match again and again.

A welcome addition.

Andrew Butler: A couple of quickfire points I’d make – they’ve ‘fixed’ the penalty issue, so you don’t have to run up to the ball now to start a penalty kick, which is much, much better.

One man kick-offs have been introduced, which is cool to see as a football fan, and the inclusion of ‘quick substitutions’ is also a neat addition – though I’d have to play it a bit more, as it seemed to throw up some interesting choices for automatic subs, so whether or not I’ll use it remains to be seen.

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Talal Musa: Yeah, I agree. In theory, a quick-fire subs function is a master stroke, but when one of my players was injured, I was disappointed when the quick-sub option wasn’t the most appropriate suggestion.

Andrew Butler: We got to play a little bit of The Journey 2. Alex Hunter’s back, of course, but it looked very promising from what we saw.

There seems to be loads of new storylines, you can customise Hunter, and your game will probably be different from your friend’s game.

The only frustration of The Journey last year, which I thought was excellent, was the fact that realistically you basically always ended up lifting the FA Cup, and you got a 75-rated FUT card.

It’ll be interesting to see what EA Sport have done with it this season.

The Journey 2 is set to be bigger and better than last year's debut season

The Journey 2 is set to be bigger and better than last year’s debut season

Talal Musa: Yes, there needs to be more player choice and consequence -it all felt too linear last year. From what we’ve seen it looks as though EA has taken this on board.

Sure, we won’t be looking at Mass Effect-level of freedom, but there will be branching storylines and, I bet, multiple endings, too.

Andrew Butler: You know way more about engines and gameplay and all that – what did you make of the way the Frostbite engine has improved the game?

Talal Musa: The first thing that hit me was just how much better the player faces look. There’s bags more emotion and life in every one of them.

This is largely down to an improved lighting model, which makes light react more realistically to the skin.

Elsewhere, sweat drips down players’ faces, while animation has been refined resulting in smoother transitions between movements.

It’s all very impressive indeed.

The Frostbite engine allows FIFA to look more realistic and gives greater physical presence.

The Frostbite engine allows FIFA to look more realistic and gives greater physical presence.

Andrew Butler: We didn’t get to play Ultimate Team and many other features, but if the rest of the game is anything to go by, this looks like another hit.

Of course we’ve only played a few hours of a preview build, so there might be issues that become more obvious when the full game comes out.

Talal Musa: Yeah, I think FIFA fans are going to be very happy.

Andrew Butler: Cheers Talal, it’s been a pleasure. Fancy a game?

Talal Musa: Unfortunately, we haven’t got a copy of the game yet. But if EA want to send us one well in advance, feel free.

Andrew Butler: Oh yeah. Pint?

Talal Musa: Nah. Fancy a gym sesh?

Andrew Butler: *walks out*

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