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FIFA 18 Demo: What We Like and What We're Unsure About

FIFA 18

FIFA 18 Demo: What We Like and What We're Unsure About

Footy season is back in full swing. Not only did the other game release yesterday, but the Champions League Group Stages kicked off and the FIFA 18 demo dropped on both the PS4 and Xbox One consoles. With a variety of clubs at our disposal and some free time on my hands, let’s jump in and see what’s up.

Note: I played every match on World Class difficulty using Semi Assisted controls on both the Xbox One and PS4 Pro consoles. I did not adjust anything else beyond that.

What I Like

Visuals – FIFA has always been a beautiful game, but this year the team at EA Tiburon have taken it to a new level. Everything from the actual pitch to the crowd visuals look enhanced. Player models, faces and kits also look very detailed and more life-like. Some of the goal celebration interactions with the crowd look remarkably life-like.

Pace of Play – The early videos that leaked often showcase this series in a poor light. Up and down frantic play is often on display, but after playing the demo versus the AI, the pace of play is represented fairly well. Soccer is a game of highs and lulls when it comes to pace. Things slow down to a halt and then speed up very quickly depending on where you’re at on the pitch and the match situation among other things. FIFA 18 seems to capture this fairly well depending on which team you’re playing.

Positioning – From a default perspective (without touching sliders, tactics, etc.) FIFA 18 does a better job at positioning than its predecessors. Space is contested in the middle of the pitch as it should. Sure, it’s too easy to ping a pass into your striker at times, but the ability to receive a pass and immediately turn on goal outside the box has been tuned down. Defensively teams keep their shape better than year’s past, although I have still seen times when the back four are a little too flat (perfectly vertical/horizontal).

Human Passing – Passing in FIFA has always been an area of much debate. The usual culprits are manual versus semi, but after several matches on semi I’ve noticed much more error in passes, which is a good thing. Ground passes no longer are guaranteed to go straight to your target’s feet. As a result, first touches and the ability to play a quick first-time pass are a tad riskier. Of course with the inclusion of sliders, these things can be tweaked even further. Aerial through balls over the top have a much better variety now allowing you to actually run onto them instead of seeing them constantly fall on a defender’s head.

Player Weight – Player weight feels more defined this year with a greater variation between heavier and quicker players. Stronger players can lean on attackers and not allow them to try and turn them. A little more tussle (arm jockeying) could help visually improve these battles, but the outcomes remain realistic.

What I Don’t Like

Demo Mechanics – Four-minute halves? FIFA demos have been this way for years and it appears they won’t change. At times it’s hard to properly evaluate the AI when you know they’re working off coding that kicks in at pre-determined and organic times.

CPU Passing – To be blunt, it’s way too precise resulting in very high passing percentages by the CPU. This can be toned down by sliders, but even some of the lesser squads on the demo can ping the ball around with ease on the higher difficulty levels. On the flip side, this does help the CPU hold better possession making the battle for midfield more balanced.

“In-the-Box” – For me, FIFA 18 shines from box-to-box but suffers a little once you enter the eighteen. An odd combination of CPU passiveness and loose marking leads to far too many successful passes in the penalty area. In matches against Bayern Munich, I have seen the likes of Lewandoski and Robben dribble aimlessly around the box without the malicious intent they display in real-life.

Night Lighting – The only way I can describe this is “off” right now. After watching several Champions League fixtures yesterday (all of which are played at night) and then jumping into the demo, there seems to be a huge disconnect. On both the PS4 and XB1 the night lighting seems too artificial and unnatural.

Movement With the Ball – There’s some inconsistency between player movement on the ball. Running at pace often feels like players are sliding, but turning and other movements not associated with the turbo button feel superb and respect both momentum and inertia. True foot planting would go a long way towards advancing this series, but perhaps playing the game on a slower speed would help to nerf this sliding feeling.

Defensive Styles – I think it’s time that EA marries “Legacy” and “Tactical” defending into a consolidated system. Tactical defending makes sense from a “forming solid banks of 4” perspective but often lacks the aggression required of your teammates to effectively close down defenders. Legacy defending overly relies on the teammate pressure button often pulling your players out of position and breaking your defense down if that teammate doesn’t win the ball back. Either the option of specific defensive styles like PES (think Gegenpress) or tactics that actually work.

What’s Yet To Be Determined

Quick Subs – Any feature that allows you to make changes on the fly is a good thing, especially online, but so far in my experience it’s been limited to “like-for-like” changes, that is swapping a winger for another winger. Perhaps taking this feature a little further next year and having suggestions by way of an assistant would help expand upon this feature.

Fouls – As of right now, they’re hit or miss. I’ve played a few matches where none have been called, not even an advantage. However in one game against Manchester United, I saw them repeatedly hack me down in the midfield with Herrera and Matic. Perhaps team aggressiveness in the retail version will vary based on tactics and personnel.

Team Styles – They seem to be there, but it’s hard to say for certain with the short half length. Manchester United plays a counter-based game with balls sent long via the wings to Martial/Rashford and centrally to Lukaku. PSG is also very quick on the counter with Cavani making his trademark runs and Neymar pushing the envelope. Still teams fall into an all too familiar trend, but I think it’s mostly down to the demo’s mechanics.

Conclusion

Overall, the improvements to FIFA 18 are immediately recognizable. Not only does the game feel different than FIFA 17 but it also has improved visually. FIFA, with all its modes, licenses and solid online play doesn’t really need too much of an endorsement, but early returns appear positive, and if team styles are indeed ironed out post-release FIFA 18 will be must-buy.

We’ll have a lot more coverage of FIFA 18 moving forward so be sure to stay tuned!

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  1. Re: the quick subs, you can pre-configure who to sub in/out before the game which may be how many people prefer to use it. I read that it is supposed to suggest taking out tired, injured or poor-performing players by default.
    Guys! Congrats on the new website, hope you're getting the traffic you deserve!
    If not, it will come!
    About the game, not trilled with Fifa.
    Thanks!
    I though I'd try this one more time.
    This game is actually disgusting!
    Crazy stupid!
    EA have sabotaged their own game, CB's don't seem to have a position anymore, my FB's thay I'm not using actually run away from their ball carrier.
    Just played a game, 3-3 but pc passing was 97%!!!!! Why do dumb stuff like that EA?
    dwnz
    Re: the quick subs, you can pre-configure who to sub in/out before the game which may be how many people prefer to use it. I read that it is supposed to suggest taking out tired, injured or poor-performing players by default.

    They do...if you don't preset it in the Team Management screen, they will still make suggestions.
    emark182
    They do...if you don't preset it in the Team Management screen, they will still make suggestions.

    Regarding quick subs, as already stated above you can pre-determine which subs come on, but the order they come on is predetermined which seems a bit stupid. Hopefully this gets addressed come the full release.
    AusWJP
    I though I'd try this one more time.
    This game is actually disgusting!
    Crazy stupid!
    EA have sabotaged their own game, CB's don't seem to have a position anymore, my FB's thay I'm not using actually run away from their ball carrier.

    This is also happening in PES 2018.
    CPU Passing – To be blunt, it’s way too precise resulting in very high passing percentages by the CPU. This can be toned down by sliders, but even some of the lesser squads on the demo can ping the ball around with ease on the higher difficulty levels. On the flip side, this does help the CPU hold better possession making the battle for midfield more balanced.
    “In-the-Box” – For me, FIFA 18 shines from box-to-box but suffers a little once you enter the eighteen. An odd combination of CPU passiveness and loose marking leads to far too many successful passes in the penalty area. In matches against Bayern Munich, I have seen the likes of Lewandoski and Robben dribble aimlessly around the box without the malicious intent they display in real-life.
    This is exactly what has been wrong with FIFA for years...On legendary, its 10x worse. CPU will never take a chance as they are to concerned with not turning the ball over. Then they end the game with 95% pass accuracy.. 3 shots. 3 on goal. 3 goals (because the shots end up from 3 feet away).
    This game isn't developed by EA Tiburon as far as I know, as mentioned in your first list item...
    Glad to see player weight mentioned though - it's the first thing I noticed vs. 17. Hopefully it's not just because it's shiny and new, but I'm really enjoying the feel.
    Also, have they said anything about the highly stylized filtering for the different locations/times of day? Are these going to be consistent and are they going to be based on stadiums themselves, or specific start times?
    adayinthelife
    This game isn't developed by EA Tiburon as far as I know, as mentioned in your first list item...
    Glad to see player weight mentioned though - it's the first thing I noticed vs. 17. Hopefully it's just because it's shiny and new, but I'm really enjoying the feel.
    Also, have they said anything about the highly stylized filtering for the different locations/times of day? Are these going to be consistent and are they going to be based on stadiums themselves, or specific start times?

    Oh yeah you're def right. It's EA Canada. Been lurking in the Madden forum for too long lol
    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    cody.stevens

    This is exactly what has been wrong with FIFA for years...On legendary, its 10x worse. CPU will never take a chance as they are to concerned with not turning the ball over. Then they end the game with 95% pass accuracy.. 3 shots. 3 on goal. 3 goals (because the shots end up from 3 feet away).

    While I think you have valid points regarding pass accuracy, I can't agree with this. On default settings sure.. but I'm still playing 17 on Legendary with the OS sliders and I literally NEVER see the 3 shot, 3 goals.
    FIFA is far from perfect, but I'd ask you to show me a single sports video game that nails everything. Even 2k and The Show, often the most acclaimed franchises, suffer from limitations.
    I think with proper sliders, we are going to have this thing tuned up nicely. I do agree with you regarding the box play, I think the CB's are just a too passive here in the demo. Swing over to the Community Sliders thread after release and see if you like what you see!
    cody.stevens
    CPU Passing – To be blunt, it’s way too precise resulting in very high passing percentages by the CPU. This can be toned down by sliders, but even some of the lesser squads on the demo can ping the ball around with ease on the higher difficulty levels. On the flip side, this does help the CPU hold better possession making the battle for midfield more balanced.
    “In-the-Box” – For me, FIFA 18 shines from box-to-box but suffers a little once you enter the eighteen. An odd combination of CPU passiveness and loose marking leads to far too many successful passes in the penalty area. In matches against Bayern Munich, I have seen the likes of Lewandoski and Robben dribble aimlessly around the box without the malicious intent they display in real-life.
    This is exactly what has been wrong with FIFA for years...On legendary, its 10x worse. CPU will never take a chance as they are to concerned with not turning the ball over. Then they end the game with 95% pass accuracy.. 3 shots. 3 on goal. 3 goals (because the shots end up from 3 feet away).

    Except the 3 shots and 3 goals, everything else has been my exact experience with FIFA 15, 16 and 17. Around the box they were terrible, only shoot sure shots after they pass the ball around aimlessly and without any purpose. And this was true with sliders also, in fact, i thought that altough Community Sliders fixed or reduced a lot of issues, it never solved this one, sometimes i even felt that it handicapped the CPU on offense.
    However... in this FIFA 18 demo im not seeing any of that! Honestly, im not! CPU shoots more, passes less around the box, when it does it makes sense most of the times, and shoot near the box a few times if the situation allows it.
    Im keeping my fingers crossed it keeps this up on the full game!

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