FIFA 18: FUT Year-in-Review

FIFA ’19 is just around the corner. This post will take a look at FIFA 18 and assess the following: (1) Game-play; (2) Content; and (3) Pay-to-Win Factor.

Game-play

The game-play to start off FIFA ’18 was close to brilliant. It forced you to defend manually and the pace of the game felt great. This made formations other than the 4-1-2-1-2 narrow useful. The major flaw was goal keeping, which did need to be tweaked following release. This all changed with the release of the very first patch. The patch essentially reverted the game-play back to the AI reliant styles of FIFA ’17.

Aside from the disastrous first patch that outraged the die-hard FIFA community, FIFA 18 featured: Dramatic Moments; Real Player Motion Technology; Team Styles and Immersive Atmospheres.

In the FUT context, Dramatic Moments simply amounts to momentum swings. These are not desirable in what is supposed to be a competitive game mode. Momentum was also present in FIFA ’17, however it felt as though it decided the outcome of more matches over the past season. I cannot count the amount amount of matches where I was two down and managed to score three in the second half and win on the last kick with a lesser team. Similarly, my side would go from dominating the match to not being able to complete a simple pass. Overall this addition to the game should not have been advertised or included.

Real Player Motion Technology was a new animation system that unlocked “the next level of responsiveness and player personality.” Aside from the odd and perhaps too frequent glitch animation (for example, when a players ankle breaks the wrong way to touch the ball), the players do move and feel good to control. Overall, this was a successful addition.

Team Styles focused on improved tactics and player positioning. In the FUT context, I really did not notice this feature at all while playing online. At the start of the game’s life cycle, there was some differences in squad battles matches, but nothing that really warranted the attention that the “new” feature received. The AI still did not react properly in certain situation. For example, instructing your team to implement a full press when behind did not even come close to countering time wasting tactics.

Finally, Immersive Atmospheres were designed to “bring the most immersive football experiences to life in FIFA 18.” The overall presentation of the game is very good. However, shadows on the pitch negatively impacted game-play in FUT and needed to be addressed in FUT Champions.

Pre-first patch grade: 8 out of 10

Post-first patch grade: 4 out of 10. The momentum felt in each match had a major impact on the low grade. 

Content

Squad Battles was the major new addition to FUT in 18. This mode grew stale after the first few rounds and ended up feeling like more of a chore to complete. In addition to Squad Battles, FIFA 18 introduced daily and weekly objectives.

Online game-play content was limited to daily qualifiers, the weekend league and drafts. This past summer, we received the addition of the 2018 world cup mode as well. This does not directly impact FUT and it will not be addressed or considered in the grade.

The Weekend League has grown stale this past year and the community has voiced its concern over the 40 game weekend requirement. Hopefully EA hears the cries of the community and changes the format for FIFA 19.

Finally, the additional content in FUT 18 centered around Squad Building Challenges (SBCs) and the Champions Channel. I am personally not a big fan of SBCs, but I do keep an eye on them and they seemed to have lacked in content during major promotions. The most enjoyable and creative SBCs were the ones that combined building requirements with daily or weekly objectives. Other than that, they seemed to be stale and exist simply as a way to regulate the market. This is done by using overall requirements, which in-turn holds the value of mid-rated cards.

Content grade: 6/10

Pay-to-win factor

FIFA is perhaps the King of the pay-to-win structure. Icons and the highest rated players simply cannot be contained for the course of an entire match and are required to compete at the top level of FUT Champions.

Youtuber ChrisMD posted a video where he spent  £5000 on packs. The 5,000 pounds got him a return of $9,875,000 FIFA coins. The packs he opened had an approximate coin value of $56,000,000. As such, if the packs were purchased with coins, his approximate loss would have been $46,000,000.00. There are many other instances where excessive amounts of real money were spent on packs with fairly minimal returns.

The main conclusion is that aside from consistently placing in the top 10 in Weekend League and Squad Battles, it is impossible to have a fully loaded squad without spending some serious money. The per-match coin bonus and alternative options for generating coins are not viable paths to obtaining the top players. The only other way to generate coin income is to successfully anticipate SBCs and invest in the correct rated players.

In this grade, a 1 out of 10 would be the score that is least favorable to a no money spent player. The pay-to-win factor in FIFA 18 has a grade of 2 out of 10.

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