With the release of FIFA 18 on Switch, Nintendo gets its first home console FIFA in five years.
It is missing some of the features that have made PS4 and Xbox One versions so popular, but the game successfully delivers modern FIFA at home and on the go – and that’s quite something. You would however be forgiven for having second thoughts about investing in one of Nintendo’s pricier titles, so here’s a look at some of the ways it compares to other versions.
The biggest tick in the Switch’s favour of course is its portability. It’s the thing that sets this version apart from its home console competitors and it’s the one thing they can’t match right now.
The only problem with this is one of the best features I could imagine when the game was announced is fundamentally flawed. Playing single player FIFA on the go is great, as is connecting to consoles for multiplayer or playing with two pro-controllers. The issue comes from the classic shot from the adverts, with two players grasping a JoyCon each as you might in Mario Kart or 1-2-Switch. In FIFA however, these little controllers aren’t built for the complexity of the game and its an awkward experience at best. It’s significantly jarring to be with so few buttons.
Not a problem if you have already invested in extra controllers, but it does detract from the dream of quick and easy multiplayer action.
FIFA’s relationship with Nintendo consoles has traditionally been a rocky one. FIFA 13 for WiiU was seriously lacking major features, and vastly inferior to its equivalent on Sony and Microsoft’s consoles. Since then we haven’t had a single FIFA game on any Nintendo home console, so expectations for the Switch version are understandably cautious.
One of the biggest complaints with FIFA 13 was the lack of Ultimate Team in its WiiU version, and players will be happy to hear the popular feature is present in FIFA 18 for Switch. A few things are absent, such as Squad Battles and Weekend League.
The most notable omission is Champions mode, the competitive online tournament that pits you against the best of the best. From this, players can dream of reaching FIFA’s Interactive World Cup, a major eSports tournament which this year had a prize of $200,000. Players compete at the highest level and are divided throughout the competition between PlayStation and Xbox. But not Switch. Not yet anyway.
Considering both the popularity of FUT and the growth of eSports, it does seem like something Nintendo and EA will have to address in future iterations.
Whilst you can play multiplayer matches online and engage in Ultimate Team, one of the biggest hang-ups of the Switch is still issues with online play. Namely, you can’t play FIFA online with your friends.
The console is still lacking in online service, and has no invite or party systems that would allow for match-ups with friends lists or invites. It’s a bit of an oversight, and one that extends to the whole system rather than the game itself.
Last year, FIFA 17 introduced “The Journey”, a full single-player story mode with a good few hours of narrative woven between games. The reception was mixed, with so many players buying the game purely for competitive play, but it was a quality inclusion to make that annual release worth the upgrade.
Unfortunately this content, as well as its FIFA 18 sequel, is absent from the Switch version. EA explained the reason for this omission was due to the Switch version’s custom-built engine, as oppose to the Frostbite engine. Whilst this might not be a massive loss for many players, it is just another mark against the game on Nintendo’s console. An immersive but segmented single player experience would be perfect for the Switch. A game or two and a few cut scenes seems tailor made for your morning commute, and it’s a massive shame that this content was omitted.
Again, a chunky single player campaign is perfect for the Switch, and thankfully this one did make the cut. Career Mode is included in the game and plays well enough, but predictably there are a few omissions. The newly introduced transfer negotiations for instance are missing, which doesn’t ruin enjoyment of the game in the slightest but does make it feel more outdated.
Overall FIFA 18 feels and looks remarkably better than any handheld in the series. Compared to the PS4 version, the controls feel a little sluggish and the pace is noticeably slower, but not so much to strip enjoyment from the game.
If you’re a stickler for the latest graphics and mechanics, you should absolutely look to Xbox and PlayStation versions. But if the idea of endless FIFA on the go, round your mates house or in bed appeals to you, this isn’t going to disappoint.