Nintendo's half-arsed online cripples FIFA 18 on Switch
You'll always walk alone.
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).
I've been personally looking forward to this version of FIFA 18 in the hope it'd fill a hole that's recently opened up in my life. Every month, myself and a group of mates get together for a PES mini-league, giving over a whole Saturday to pizza, beer and football games. It's fairly serious business - we've got a trophy and everything - but one of our number recently upped sticks and moved to Japan. No worries, we thought - we've got a Nintendo Switch each, so surely we'll be covered when FIFA 18 comes out. We'd even happily stomach making the switch from PES to FIFA to make it happen.
If only it were that simple.
In FIFA 18 on Switch, you can't play online with friends, and I personally lay the blame at Nintendo's feet. The Switch just doesn't have the online infrastructure in place that should be the bare minimum for any contemporary console, and FIFA 18 exposes that once again.
Nintendo's Switch doesn't have a built-in invite system, nor does it have a party system. The online service remains barebones, well after the console's launch and a couple of months after the dedicated mobile app - which we found to be severely lacking - went live. It's pitiful stuff.
It's worth noting that some games do allow you to partner up with friends - in Mario Kart 8 Deluxe you can create a room to play with friends, while in Splatoon 2 you can also join up in-game - but the onus appears to remain on each game offering its own solution rather than there being a console wide service, as is the norm on other systems. I don't think it's good enough, and I don't think the likes of EA Sports should be expected to conjure up something to get around Nintendo's shortcomings.
As it is, this version of FIFA 18 has been rendered pretty much redundant for me, which is a real shame, and for now I don't think you can expect half-decent ports of current gen games on the Switch when it doesn't offer the bare minimum online features you'd expect of a contemporary console. I just hope that Nintendo's got a solution in place for when it starts charging for its online service next year, otherwise it's all going to look very bad indeed.