The beautiful game just got even prettier
“The new animation system allows for more responsive movement”
PUBLISHER EA SPORTS DEVELOPER EA CANADA FORMAT XBOX ONE ETA 29 SEPTEMBER 2018
Here at OXM Towers, we like to play a game when it comes to a new FIFA announcement – it’s called Buzzword Bingo. We all put words like “Systemic Action” and “Physicality” on a bingo card and get the dabbers out. This year, Dani won when she finished a line with “Explosiveness”. You won’t be surprised to hear that the game is ultimately not as fun as FIFA 18.
A dribbling system overhaul is the change that fans of the series will notice most keenly this time around. Skilled players are now much more useful – taking it around opponents is easier and feels extremely satisfying. We played an early build, and with players like Messi and Ronaldo, we were concerned that balancing may become an issue as defenders helplessly fling tackles in the direction of these stars, unable to get the all-important foot in. So, when we sat down with Sam Rivera, Lead Gameplay Producer on FIFA 18, we asked if keeping the game fair has been a challenge.
“It is, but in the same way that we are doing the better dribblers, [who are] faster and more agile, we’re also including better defenders, better tackling,” he stressed. “And the new Motion Technology animation system allows us to have more responsive movement when defending. A big part of defending is staying in front of the ball and finding that right moment to tackle. Now it will be easier to stay in front of the ball because the player will react better.”
Fair enough, although Motion Technology sadly wasn’t on our bingo sheet. That, by the way, is the new system that calculates an animation after every frame, rather than every step, and allows players to react more quickly to your inputs than previous games. Admittedly, Motion Technology is a tad catchier than our explanation.
Shoot and score
Elsewhere, aside from some major visual work on some of the world’s biggest stadia to improve the atmosphere and make them look more realistic, EA has also made the moment-to-moment play feel more special. It means that if you set up a great shooting opportunity, the chances of scoring a 40-yard screamer are greater.
“In real life if you have a shot, and you have space, you have time, and the ball is in a good position, you should have a very good shot,” says Rivera. “It’s up to the user to create the right situation to take the shot. We don’t want every shot to go in, obviously, but what we did in FIFA 18 was emulate those concepts from real football to make sure that they happen in FIFA 18. In FIFA 17 there were cases where everything was perfect but you’d hit it and the ball would go flying somewhere else. That doesn’t make sense.”
The Journey is back this year, too, with a more global storyline, bigger decisions, and choices that actually affect the outcome of Hunter’s story. “The story is much better,” says Rivera. “There is more variety, and you get to do more things and go to different places.” You can customise Hunter with hairstyles and clothing, too, and Rivera also teases that we would be playing as other characters this time around. “In the past it was always Alex Hunter, but now you will play, too, with some other people… although I can’t tell you who they are,” he says with a grin. The Journey was a surprise hit last year, so let’s hope the new season can match it.