It was a curious run-up to this year’s World Cup DLC release. Uncertainty about EA actually releasing a standalone World Cup mode created an environment filled with rumors and speculation. After the success of FIFA World Cup 2010 and 2014, many of us, including myself, had high expectations as we were really looking forward to getting our hands on a video game representation of the world’s most popular sporting event. Now that it’s out, it’s time to see if it lived up to the hype.
As far as modes are concerned, this World Cup DLC is a little bit of a letdown. While I’ve had a ton of fun playing offline tournaments and online seasons, the two modes I was most looking forward to, Captain Your Country and a true qualification mode, were not included. While some may be quick to blame Ultimate Team as EA Canada’s primary focus, I believe it might have been asking too much to add these omissions for a free update. That being said, the ability to customize offline tournaments and complete in the knockout rounds through an online tournament offer plenty of excitement to even the casual fan who look to get their footy fix once every four years. One additional mode that should have been included is the ability to create a custom online tournament. While it’s fun to play one-off matches versus your buddies online, the days of going over to a friend’s house to play a tournament are long gone. Love it or hate it, Ultimate Team is here to stay and EA Canada put the majority of their game mode focus on it. With a promise of updated ratings based on live match performances and a double pack incentive for those of us who enjoy suspense, EA smartly is focusing their attention on their core base.
Visually, FIFA 18’s World Cup DLC is nothing short of stunning. With the inclusion of all 12 authentic Russian stadiums featured this summer during the tournament, this update does a great job of capturing the essence and pageantry of football on the grandest of stages. Overlays including new pre-match graphics for lineups and in-match statistics are nicely done, incorporating Russian flair to give you the feeling that you’re actually there. Unfortunately, when the camera pans to the crowd you will notice the same individuals who were present at all of your FIFA 18 matches made the trip with the only difference being their faces painted in the colors of their home country — as well as donning the latest national kits. Speaking of kits, the majority of the updated kits made it into the game with a few errors, most noticeably Germany’s away shorts being green instead of white. This is unacceptable considering Germany is the current cup holder. Hopefully as we get closer to the actual tournament, EA will correct these issues. If you enjoyed FIFA 18’s graphical style when it comes to match lighting, you will mostly be satisfied with this update. Conversely, if the day lighting and stadium shadows annoyed you, you will find this update to be on par with those expectations. Lastly, commentary hasn’t been updated to incorporate new storylines so you’ll hear the same generic content that has plagued the series for years.
The rosters released with this DLC are a bit strange as most countries included in this update do not have the finalized squads. Perhaps as squads are officially declared in the days leading up to the tournament, EA will send out an update and correct this error. Another curious aspect to the rosters are the lack of face updates and pictures that seemingly did not carry over from the main game. Players like Germany’s Marco Reus, yes the same Marco Reus who donned the cover of FIFA 17 is strangely missing his face in the game. Ratings also do not seem to have been updated to reflect the latest season results although I’m still holding out hope for the Ultimate Team ratings/roster updates to carry over to all modes.
Unsurprisingly gameplay is largely unchanged, meaning that if you enjoyed the most recent gameplay patch you will enjoy this game. With such a vast difference between national sides like Germany and say Saudi Arabia, you might be fooled into thinking you’re seeing things that aren’t there but it’s mostly just down to a massive gulf in ratings between the two sides. Realistically, we cannot expect to see any updates to gameplay until FIFA 19 is released.
FIFA 18’s World Cup DLC falls short of EA’s previous World Cup releases, which is a real shame. The prior two World Cup games provided endless hours of excitement and challenges with its full qualification, memorable moments and Captain your Country modes. While this DLC will suffice for a quick fix of international footy, those who did not purchase FIFA 18 are better off skipping this update unless you can find FIFA 18 for a reasonable price.