High-scoring fun from EA Sports, but FIFA 18 is an unspectacular upgrade.

Key events

EA reportedly under criminal investigation in Belgium due to FIFA's loot boxes

And failure to comply with country's gambling laws.

The Belgian government, which declared loot boxes to be a form of gambling earlier this year, has reportedly launched a criminal investigation into EA after the publisher refused to modify FIFA's randomised card pack loot boxes in order to comply with the country's gambling laws.

Why FIFA 18 players think EA changed gameplay for the World Cup update - despite the fact it didn't

When EA Sports released the free World Cup update for FIFA 18, some players thought it played differently compared to the main game. Actually, it was more than some - there were loads of players who thought it played differently.

These players, who suspected EA Sports had tinkered with the gameplay of FIFA 18 for the World Cup update on the quiet, claimed it felt slower, with nerfed dribbling and passing. I've also seen plenty of people say the World Cup mode plays more "arcadey" than the main FIFA 18 game, with overpowered shooting from distance. I've also seen people say lofted through balls are more effective, and even spotted the suggestion the World Cup update reverts to gameplay before FIFA 18 was patched.

The truth is, the gameplay in the World Cup update is exactly the same as the gameplay in the main FIFA 18 game, Andrei Lazarescu, producer of the Switch version of FIFA and the World Cup update confirmed to me at E3. So, why do players think there's a difference?

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Aston Villa has launched an esports league

Aston Villa has launched an esports league

John Terry's gone five minutes and this happens.

Here's an odd one: Aston Villa, the once great English football club now struggling to get out of the Championship, has launched an esports league.

The appropriately-named AVFC Gaming starts in June with a series of FIFA 18 tournaments that may or may not cheer up Villa fans still mourning the Championship playoff final defeat to Fulham that saw Chelsea legend John Terry exit the club.

Aston Villa said AVFC Gaming, which is working with the European Gaming League, will encourage gamers to compete against each other to win Pro Points, which in turn score exclusive prizes including match tickets, signed photos, signed FIFA player cards and AVFC Gaming branded consoles.

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FIFA 18 gets free World Cup mode in May

At least England have a chance with this one.

FIFA 18 gets a free World Cup mode on 29th May, so you can win the tournament with England in the game to make up for England getting knocked out at the group stage in real life.

Much-needed FIFA 18 patch stamps out kick-off goals

EA has issued an update for FIFA 18 that makes some much-needed improvements to the game.

Chief among them is an attempt to rid the game of its problematic kick-off goals glitch. I've reported on this before - essentially, loads of players were scoring straight from kick off because of the way the players set out and react upon the referee getting the game underway. As you can imagine, this caused problems online.

The patch makes the defending team more compact after kickoff. You should notice the defending team's attacking players are less aggressive in pushing up the field, and their defensive players close the space between them and their attacking players to reduce the gap and limit the attacking team's space.

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FeatureThe year in loot boxes

The empire strikes back.

The great Star Wars debacle - and I'm not talking about The Last Jedi's second act here - dominated video game headlines in the last quarter of 2017. But in truth the year was packed with depressing stories about loot boxes, so many in fact that it has at times felt like our beloved hobby was more about the chance to win a rare item than it was about the chance to play.

FeatureThe big interview: the Gambling Commission on loot boxes

"We don't yet understand enough of what the actual risks are."

Last week, independent charity Gamble Aware held its annual two-day conference in London. It focused on what's called Harm Minimisation, in particular, how to protect young people from gambling. The event was a who's who of the UK gambling industry, but there was one topic on everyone's lips: loot boxes.

This past week has been a rough one for the FIFA community, with disturbing allegations of cheating calling into question the legitimacy of FIFA Ultimate Team's most competitive mode.

FIFA 18 patch stamps out popular FUT AI "exploit"

FIFA 18 patch stamps out popular FUT AI "exploit"

And offers rare peek behind the AI curtain.

Last week we reported on an "exploit" FIFA 18 players were using to beat the FIFA Ultimate Team AI on the hardest difficulty for the maximum FIFA Coins reward possible.

While the "exploit" was hardly a 'press a button to win' situation, it was effective. It involved shielding with terrible (bronze) players with low physical stats to bait the AI into fouling and getting sent off. With enough players sent off, the computer controlled team could be consistently defeated even on the normally rock hard ultimate difficulty.

The "exploit" got traction within the FIFA community after the top-ranked FUT Squad Battles player on PlayStation 4 was accused of using the technique.

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Big FIFA 18 patch nerfs passing

FIFA 18 has a new patch - and it's a hefty one.

Title Update 3, which brings FIFA 18 up to version 1.04, nerfs ground passes and ground through balls.

Most FIFA 18 players agree the passing in FIFA 18 is particularly effective. I've found the game favours fast one-touch passing, with even mediocre players able to drill accurate passes into the feet of teammates from seemingly impossible angles. (More on this in my FIFA 18 review.)

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A month after launch, how's FIFA 18?

A month after launch, FIFA 18 is in an interesting spot.

When EA's gargantuan football sequel came out I, and from what I can tell most people, enjoyed the game. Gameplay changes made for a fun, fast-passing and high-scoring game of virtual football, and some cool new modes meant FIFA 18 felt fully-featured. (For more, check out our FIFA 18 review.)

A month later, and with a couple of patches under its belt, FIFA 18 now has a mixed reputation among its rabid community. I've stuck with the game, pumping tens of hours into this year's FIFA Ultimate Team mode, and I've played what feels like hundreds of online and offline matches so far. So, I thought it would be useful to run through the good, bad and ugly of FIFA 18 one month in - and to offer my thoughts on what happens next.

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In FIFA, as so many fans of EA's all-conquering football series know, you can buy FIFA Coins with real world money. And with those FIFA Coins you can buy packs of cards for use in FIFA Ultimate Team, the series' most popular mode and the one that makes EA so many millions of dollars each financial quarter. Pay your money, buy a pack and roll the dice. Will I pack Ronaldo? Or Messi? Or an in-form? There's only one way to find out.

Sin City is the global capital of gambling. Casinos with colourful chips, well-postured croupiers and automaton pensioners plugged into slot machines. At first glance it might not seem sinister, but strip back the glamour and Las Vegas paints a sad picture - its denizens cogs in a billion-dollar machine fuelled by potentially addictive gaming. The novelty of the place can hide its true intentions.

FIFA 18 on Switch: custom-built or enhanced Xbox 360 port?

Multi-platform development sits at the heart of the way games are made today, with code and assets shared across multiple platforms - and this puts Nintendo Switch in a difficult position. It's highly capable bearing in mind its mobile chipset, but it's not quite potent enough to power cutting-edge triple-A titles, explaining why FIFA 18 is somewhat different to its PS4 and Xbox One counterparts. EA has promised a custom-built experience but to what extent is this really a bespoke edition of the game? Is it indeed built from the ground up with Nintendo's hardware in mind, or is it more like a custom variant of the last-gen versions? Yes, remarkably, PS3 and Xbox 360 still get annual FIFA updates.

It's a distinction we've been looking to hammer down for some time, especially in light of Peter Moore's reaction to a tweet from Eurogamer's Tom Phillips. Our news editor suggested that the Switch game was indeed built on last-gen foundations, while Moore doubled down on the 'custom-built' marketing. But what if we were to say that to a certain extent, both of them are correct? We laid down £54.99 (!) of our own money for the Xbox 360 game and can report that the Switch version does indeed use the last-gen assets as a base, and it also plays a lot more like the Xbox 360 game than the current-gen versions. However, describing it as a straight port would be unfair: the customisations are extensive and more is being made of the Nintendo hardware so to that extent at least, aspects of the title are indeed 'custom' built.

And happily, first impression suggest that the Switch release appears to mostly deliver the full-fat FIFA experience. Aside from missing The Journey, all other key modes are present, with Ultimate Team finally appearing on a Nintendo platform, along with the latest changes expected from a yearly FIFA update. There's also online play too, though this is limited to matchmaking with random people due to Nintendo's convoluted network set-up. Regardless, it's a promising start, and it's probably the most feature-complete FIFA we've seen on a Nintendo console in years.

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FIFA 18's first big patch tackles goalkeepers and shooting

EA has released FIFA 18's first big patch - and it makes some important changes to the game.

This update, available now on PC and soon on console, makes improvements to the goalkeepers, which some considered to be poor, and makes shooting slightly harder.

One of the chief criticisms of FIFA 18 is that it's too easy to score (there's more on this in our FIFA 18 review). In short, the keepers aren't great, shooting is pretty easy and quick-passing is incredibly effective. I found this to be a fun and, crucially, improved experience compared to FIFA 17, but some games do balloon out of control with too many goals.

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FIFA 18 physical launch sales down 25% from last year

FIFA 18 scored first place in the UK games chart this week, though its physical launch sales were down by a quarter.

Numbers company Chart-Track recorded retail copy sales as being down 25 per cent during FIFA 18's launch week compared to FIFA 17 a year ago. Should EA be worried? Well, probably not...

First off, FIFA 18 launched on a Friday this year. FIFA 17 arrived on a Tuesday, so had three days longer on sale to rack up numbers.

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FIFA 18 just came out on Nintendo Switch, which should be reason for cheer. It's a decent port of this year's game, albeit running on an older engine and understandably without all the bells and whistles of its PlayStation 4 and Xbox One counterparts (and missing a few features such as The Journey mode and small details such as quick substitutions).

FIFA 18 review

You know how Spurs never made a superstar signing in the summer but are still really good and should really end up in the top four of the Premier League? Well, FIFA is Spurs this year.


Developer: EA Sports

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FIFA 18 demo goes live today

On PC, PS4 and Xbox One.

The FIFA 18 demo comes out today on PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One (it goes live on each platform at various times - we'll update the article throughout the day). You can play Kick Off mode with a raft of clubs and stadiums, as well as preview The Journey story mode.

FeatureBalancing FIFA 18 sounds like a living nightmare

"Sometimes it just takes a few tries."

Pace, Strength, Finesse Shots, Crosses. Those are the four most contentious points of FIFA's balance that I can think of, and they come up, every year, as predictably as Antonio Valencia's balls into the box. (Antonio Valencia's balls into the box are very predictable, if you didn't get that.)

FeatureThe limits for FIFA on Nintendo Switch

"I don't think it's impossible to do more with this engine…"

The Switch version of FIFA 18 is a bit of an oddity. It's certainly the most fully-fledged FIFA we've had outside of the console and PC versions - Ultimate Team on a handheld console is quite something - but it's also, for obvious reasons, still a more limited version next to all their Frostbite-powered glory.

FeatureFIFA 18 on Nintendo Switch is the best portable FIFA ever

But I wouldn't want to play it on my living room telly.

FIFA 18 on Nintendo Switch is a curious beast: a game not quite last gen, not quite current gen. It's a game that on the face of it looks significantly inferior to the PS4, Xbox One and PC versions, but viewed as a portable game is pretty impressive. It's a game I'm happy to play on a bus, but I wouldn't want to play it on a big telly at home. Indulge me the appropriation of a football cliche: FIFA 18 is a video game of two halves.

FeatureEarly impressions of FIFA 18

Better graphics, responsive gameplay and The Journey 2.

At a recent event in London, I had the chance to go hands-on with FIFA 18 for a few hours. My early impressions are that it looks better, has some useful gameplay improvements that make a lot of sense, and feels a tad weightier to play.

FIFA 18 ditches Xbox-exclusive Legends for multiplatform Icons

FIFA 18 ditches Xbox-exclusive Legends for multiplatform Icons

Marketing moves from Xbox to PS4, Switch version doesn't run on Frostbite.

Big news in the world of FIFA: EA Sports has ditched Legends - aka retired footballers for FIFA Ultimate Team - in favour of multiplatform Icons.

Icons will be available on all platforms, EA said today. And the first Icon is Ronaldo. No, not that Ronaldo. Old Ronaldo.

EA has also gone with PS4 for its FIFA 18 marketing, which is a significant switch after a number of years with Xbox.

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