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FIFA 18 on Switch is the Mobile FUT We Wanted

When EA announced that FIFA 18 would be coming to the Nintendo Switch, it’s fair to say there was a bit of a mixed reaction. You would assume that Switch owners would be super excited about one of the biggest franchises coming to their shiny new console, and quite a few were, but others remembered similar launches and feared the worst.

When FIFA first launched on the PS Vita it was a very stripped-back version of the previous year’s release and as time went on things only got worse, with many iterations only being kit and squad updates. Many people feared that EA would go down the same route when it came to the Switch; after all a relatively small install base on a less powerful machine pretty much sums up what the Vita was.

Fortunately with FIFA 18 almost ready to launch on the new Nintendo console, EA took the Switch version to Gamescom and we’re happy to report that, for the most part, this seems to be a very good, very solid FIFA game.

What’s missing?

Of course there are a few things missing from the Switch version that the Xbox One and PS4 versions will offer. The updated visuals of the crowd and stadiums are too much for the Nintendo Switch to handle, so we’re back to the cardboard cutout fans in the stands. New gameplay features such as the overhaul to the animation system and the quick substitutions that are being added to the main version of FIFA 18 are seemingly absent and, perhaps most glaringly, single-player story mode, The Journey, is nowhere to be seen. Outside of that, there's almost everything you could need in a FIFA game to keep you occupied for months.

It looks surprisingly good

We all know that the Switch isn't capable of matching the Xbox One and PS4 when it comes to visuals, but FIFA 18 actually looks really quite good. Some areas are lacking, such as the crowd and some of the pre-match graphics, but when it comes to the action on the pitch and the players themselves, these are solid visuals. You certainly won’t be wondering which player is which when the camera cuts to them in a replay. Some look better than others, but for the most part these are player models that wouldn’t have looked out of place in FIFA a few years ago – they just happen to be on the go now.

Generally the Switch version looks good, and isn’t too far from what we saw before the switch to the Frostbite engine last year for the main series. It’s very much a halfway house between the last-gen FIFA games and this year’s main release. There were a few frame rate stutters here and there that are rare in other versions, and if you play it out of the dock it'll be limited to 720p, but generally speaking this is a very good-looking game for a handheld device.

Gameplay

This will be the sticking point for some people. FIFA 18 on the Switch feels very different to the main versions of FIFA 18, and if you want to try and master the latter, then the Switch version won't help at all in that department. The play feels a little slower generally, and the AI is nowhere near as good as the much-improved FIFA 18 AI. If you never play the main version you probably won’t notice, but as soon as you see players actually making useful runs on the PS4 or Xbox One it will be difficult to go back to the pretty stationary Switch players.

For a first effort, FIFA 18 on Nintendo Switch is an impressive game. It still feels very much like the main series, despite running on a more limited engine. They have all of the major game modes that fans will play all year and, as good as The Journey was, for those who just want to play online, its absence won’t be noticed. Having a full FUT game that plays really well, on a device you can use on a train, plane, or, shall we say, elsewhere, is going to be a real system seller to a lot of people. We just want to have it in our hands for our next flight.
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