FIFA 18 is officially on its way - not that there was ever any doubt about that - and with it will likely come a series of new features, tweaks, and changes.
There's now plenty of info out there following EA's E3 conference an our own hands-on time, and interviews, with both FIFA 18 and FIFA 18 on Nintendo Switch, so here's a look at everything we know about the latest iteration of the beautiful game.
FIFA 18 demo unlock date, demo details, and what time will the FIFA 18 demo go live?
The FIFA 18 demo has been announced at last, and will go live at some point 'in the evening' on Tuesday, September 12th.
For some reason the exact time isn't being announced yet - perhaps to stagger the impending surge of players from the off? - but in previous years it's gone live at either 5pm or 6pm UK time. Our estimate would put it at the following times globally.
FIFA 18 demo unlock time (estimates):
- UK: 5 / 6pm (BST)
- Europe: 6 / 7pm (CEST)
- US East Coast: Noon / 1pm (ET)
- US West Coast: 9 / 10am (PT)
In brief then, we expect it to be up and running by 6pm UK time at the latest. The demo will contain just a couple of modes. Below is the full list of what you can play.
FIFA 18 demo modes:
- Kick Off - local player vs. player friendlies
- The Journey - a taste of the early stages of the new Journey mode: Hunter Returns - more on this below!
In terms of the teams and stadia available in the demo you can play the following.
FIFA 18 demo teams:
- Manchester United
- Manchester City
- Real Madrid CF
- Atlético de Madrid
- Juventus F.C.
- FC Bayern Munich
- Paris Saint-Germain F.C.
- LA Galaxy
- Toronto FC
- Boca Juniors
- C.D. Guadalajara
- Vissel Kobe
FIFA 18 demo stadia:
- Santiago Bernabéu
- La Bombonera
- StubHub Center
- King Fahd Stadium
FIFA 18 new features and gameplay details
Actual, solid information on FIFA 18 was surprisingly sparse back at EA's E3 2017 conference, but fortunately since then there's been a steady drip-feed of info.
Likewise, myself and our own Wesley Yin-Poole have since had a decent amount of hands on time with the game, so we can dish out some more detail below.
We highly recommend you check out Wes' hands-on FIFA 18 impressions over in his full preview, but here's a quick low-down of all that's confirmed as new so far:
FIFA 18 new features:
- Improved visuals, particularly on faces
- Improved stadiums and crowds- more immersive and focused on creating each stadium's unique atmosphere
- Motion Technology - animations are triggered every frame, rather than every step a player takes, making it seem more visually fluid.
- Weightier, but more responsive experience due to a perceptible lower input buffer.
- Sprinting more clearly defined visually - six sprinting archetypes, like skinny or stocky, with special sprints for certain players, like Ronaldo, Sterling, and Robben.
- Jog/slow dribble now more useful, with good dribblers able to start animations faster. You can slowly dribble to work some space, then burst into it with speed, like Ronaldo or Messi would, if you have good enough dribblers on your team.
- Quick subs lets you perform recommended substitutions during cutscenes or replays
- Crossing overhauled - right and left bumper are used to modify crosses, like they are for shooting.
- A new hard tackle introduced, with triangle/Y. Works as something between a standing and sliding tackle, with the player going for the ball regardless of anyone in their way.
- Penalties easier, now more 'point and shoot'.
- New Career mode transfer cutscenes, featuring the same Frostbite-powered character models and animation as the Journey.
FIFA 18 Icons and FUT:
Icons, meanwhile replaces Legends, the mode which was exclusively available to Xbox players thanks their marketing deal with EA. Now, Icons is a mode available on all platforms. As we mentioned at the time Icons was announced, this is also the first evidence we've had to show EA Sports' somewhat dramatic shift from that exclusive Xbox marketing deal to Sony's platform. Noting like a bit of console drama.
If you haven't heard much about it before, Icons is essentially a form of Ultimate Team that lets you collect not only current professional players for your dream team, but legendary retired players, too. The first to be revealed is Ronaldo - the actual Ronaldo, the Brazilian one, not Cristiano Ronaldo. Since then, EA Sports has revealed a few more to join the roster: Diego Maradonna, Thierry Henry, Lev Yashin and the one and only Pele.
EA Sports recently revealed that FUT Icons will now feature three versions of each player - so you could get a good or a great Michael Owen, for example - even more reason to spend on those packs, hooray!
Ultimate Team in general is also set for several new modes, including single-player Squad Battles, Champions Channel and Objectives - more on these when we have proper details, but by the sounds of it Squad Battles in particular is a great addition, pitting players against the AI with pre-selected squads, and giving you an alternative to the more hardcore FUT Champions mode.
Alex Hunter is back in FIFA 18 The Journey: Hunter Returns
That's right! Hunter's back, now with more audacious hair than ever.
The Journey 2 appears to be all about Hunter's "will he stay or will he go" storyline this time, with our first full trailer kicking off with a huge amount of speculation over the hot prospect's future. He seems to be playing up to the hype, too, as you can now change his appearance with things like ridiculous Pogba-esque shaven-head logos and neon-tinged boots.
It looks like you can take him abroad this time, and there's a suggestion that there'll be significantly more reliance on player choice this time around. It'll also be broken up into sections with different objectives for each - hopefully dodging that slightly soggy middle patch of the original Journey, where you just had to grind through the games and training sessions to get to the good stuff.
Oh, and he's appearing as a Chelsea player in all of the promo art this time, instead of a United one. I'll try to hold my tongue on that one.
FIFA 18 Switch version details
FIFA 18 will be coming to the Nintendo Switch, as per the teases in those early Switch trailers. But the version on Switch won't be the same as the one we'll be getting on the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC platforms.
As our own Wesley Yin-Poole put it, there's FIFA 18, and there's EA Sports FIFA on Switch. Crucially, press releases from EA refer to those two things as two separate entitites.
EA announced during its E3 conference that FIFA 18 on Switch won't have the Journey mode, or FUT Champions, but does get every other one, including the standard FIFA Ultimate Team mode, and a special Local Seasons mode unique to the console that lets you play Seasons mode with a friend.
The main point of contention is the engine: FIFA 18 runs on Frostbite, a demanding engine that delivers visually impressive results. The suggestion is that the Switch just simply doesn't have the power to run that engine, although we confirmed in an interview with the FIFA Switch developer that this isn't simply a port of the last-gen versions. Rather, it's a custom-built engine made especially for the Switch.
FIFA 18 demo, pre-order, beta, cover star and release date
This year's cover star is Cristiano Ronaldo. His announcement as the cover star came in the FIFA 18 reveal trailer that we saw earlier in June, which you can see below:
Of course, Ronaldo (the shiny new one) is indeed the highest-rated player in FIFA 18, what with him being the cover star and all. He has a rating of 94, with Lionel Messi following up a close second in 93, the rest of what was MSN - Neymar and Luis Suarez - both have 92, and it decends from then onwards.
Ronaldo has won quite simply everything this past season, including the FIFA World Player of the Year award, the Champions Legaue, and La Liga titles. He's been nothing short of phenomenal, so his stardom in FIFA 18 probably makes sense.
FIFA 18 will release on September 29th across all platforms - although you never quite know with things like the Switch.
That Ronaldo Edition, according to UK retailer GAME, comes with "up to 20 FIFA Ultimate Team Jumbo Premium Gold Packs (one per week for 20 weeks - worth up to £40+), a Cristiano Ronaldo FUT loan player for 5 matches, and 8 special edition FUT kits designed by FIFA soundtrack artists."
There's also an Early Access program, for those who purchase the more expensive Ronaldo Edition, which will let you play FIFA three days early, from September 26th.
Speaking of which, there's no news just yet of FIFA 18 betas or a FIFA 18 demo, but we'd expect things to follow a similar format to last year, where a demo was available for free download about two weeks before the game's release, featuring a reduced number of teams and modes. More on that when we hear it!