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What we know about FIFA 18’s new features so far

With the release of the world’s biggest game just around the corner, Fraser Gilbert rounds up all the key info you need to know

FIFA 18 will be unleashed to the world on September 29 – huzzah! It was properly unveiled at the E3 convention in Los Angeles earlier this year, and more information has been trickled through since about features, new modes and new platforms.

But the question remains – is it worth spending your hard-earned money on? To help you decide, we’ve gathered all the important info below, complete with links to some of our past features on the game (including our recent hands-on session at Chelsea’s Stamford Bridge).

Gameplay: what’s new?

FIFA 18’s most prominent gameplay improvements focus on a few key areas:

  1. More precise and creative dribbling mechanics

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  2. Realistic player personalities and an all-new animation system (‘Real Player Motion Technology’ it says here)

  3. New crossing mechanics (more on that here)

  4. Varied team styles

EA also makes mention of ‘Dramatic Moments’ – a system that takes advantage of new animations to “unlock more fluid striking and heading of the ball”. As for team styles, the game aims to incorporate more authentic tactics alongside improved player positioning.

Another new feature is that of ‘Dynamic Quick Subs’ – the ability to make changes on the fly rather than navigating to the menu – while set-pieces (penalties in particular) have been tinkered with too.

‘Immersive atmospheres’

The debut of the Frostbite engine in FIFA 17 significantly improved the visuals of many elements, but crowds weren’t one of them. This year, an ‘Immersive Atmospheres’ feature seeks to make dramatic improvements to this aspect of the game. Now, you’ll be able to interact with high-definition fans as you celebrate, gaze at stadium-specific banners in the stands and benefit from signature pitch-side fixtures.

More authentic overlays for some of the world’s top leagues will populate each encounter, alongside a smattering of unique camera angles for added realism. Other features include cinematic atmosphere grading, authentic sun positions, adaptive commentary and deteriorating pitch quality as each match wears on. Expect improvements to player models and celebrations too.

Alex Hunter is back

FIFA 18 will showcase the second outing of fictional character Alex Hunter and his career in The Journey: Hunter Returns mode. This time, a range of new features will take the Englishman’s story in a different direction, splitting the tale into a six-chapter saga. No longer will Alex be restricted to the top two divisions of English football – he’ll be heading across “the world of football” in Season Two.

Details are still limited, but The Journey: Hunter Returns would appear to boast a similar-length narrative to last year’s game, incorporating new customisation features for Alex (hairstyles, clothing etc), alongside an updated cast of fictional and real-world names.

Additionally, a leaked video (below) at the recent Gamescom convention appeared to suggest a mini FIFA Street-style feature will be incorporated into the mode – possibly during the Brazilian favelas segment of the story.

Ultimate Team/Career Mode updates

Back in early August, an extensive FUT Live! Stream showcased a range of new features for FIFA 18’s Ultimate Team. Arguably the highlight was that of FUT ‘Icons Stories’ – replacing last year’s ‘Legends’ cards, and now incorporating three historical editions of players including Pele, Ronaldinho and Diego Maradona. As of FIFA 18, the feature will no longer be exclusive to Xbox.

Another big new feature is that of Squad Battles – a single-player variant of the popular FUT Champions component that was introduced in FIFA 17. There are also brand new walkout animations for big-name players (complete with unique celebrations), while daily and weekly objectives also feature alongside the ability to watch full match replays of the world’s top players.

Meanwhile, Career Mode benefits from a new feature called ‘Interactive Transfer Negotiations’, as showcased in the recent beta. Now, transfer and contract negotiations take place within an interactive cutscene between representatives and agents, ditching last year’s purely menu-driven mechanics. Further details on Career Mode have yet to be unveiled in full.

Switch it up

Nintendo Switch owners can get their hands on FIFA this year too. The Switch version of the game is built specifically for the device, utilising a custom engine that differs from the current Frostbite engine which drives the Xbox One, PS4 and PC versions. As a result, it appears to be something of a hybrid of the series’ previous iterations.

Unfortunately, this means you can’t play The Journey: Hunter Returns on the Switch. Nearly everything else, however – including the much-loved Ultimate Team – will be available to play in both docked and handheld modes, with the game also boasting split Joy-Con support.

Early access to the game

As we recently detailed, FIFA 18 will allow players to get hands-on ahead of schedule this year. We’ve already seen the game’s beta period come and go, but don’t be surprised if a demo lands around mid-September for a range of devices. It usually incorporates a standard exhibition mode, and we may even get a snippet of The Journey: Hunter Returns for Xbox One, PS4 and PC platforms.

Additionally, EA and Origin Access members will get their standard 10-hour trial of the game ahead of release, with partial restrictions likely being placed on The Journey. And, if you want full early access with no time limits, you can pre-order the gift-laden Ronaldo or Icon versions of the game (on Xbox One, PS4 and PC) to get 72 hours’ worth of advantage over your mates.

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