FIFA is finally coming back to a Nintendo home console. Yes, it’s been a long time Nintendo fans, just about five years to be exact. After FIFA and Madden both sold poorly for the Wii U, EA sports pulled support for the console. That was all the way in 2012, but with the recent release of the Nintendo Switch, EA is giving it another go. This time they’re taking a more cautious route, and are only releasing FIFA 18 for the Switch. Which honestly looks like EA is taking a test run with the console this year, and the downgraded version of FIFA they’re about to release shows just that.
With the announcement of FIFA for the Switch came a decent amount of anticipation from sports gamers, who are looking for a quality sports gaming experience on the go. But, it did not take long for the bad news to start leaking out. Literally a couple of hours after the Switch version was announced there was a rumor that it was just a port of the 360/PS3 versions of the game (thank god that turned out to be false.) Secondly, came the news that the game will NOT run on the Frostbite engine like the Xbox One and PS4 versions do. Instead, FIFA 18 for the Switch will use a “custom-made” engine to adapt with Switch’s different methods of play.
This is concerning. FIFA for the Xbox One and PS4 didn’t even start feeling like a “Next-Gen” soccer experience until they upgraded the engine for FIFA 17. So, straight off the bat, FIFA for the Switch is not only going to look worse (as expected) but play dramatically worse as well. The Frostbite engine upgraded the visuals, the AI, the ball and player physics, the atmosphere, the look of the pitch, etc. The ‘switch’ from the Ignite engine to the Frostbite engine really has changed the game of FIFA for the better. Also, the Frostbite engine was able to run on the Xbox 360 and PS3, which the Switch is clearly more powerful than. Now, obviously the Xbox One/PS4 version of Frostbite EA is using couldn’t work on the 360 and PS3, but the fact that Frostbite could run on the 360 and PS3 just shows how scaleable that engine is. So why can’t it run on the Switch? Just some food for thought.
Thirdly, the Switch version of FIFA 18 will not have the game mode called “The Journey.” Which is a cinematic story mode where you take control of a young teenager, named Alex Hunter, and guide him through the English Premier League. While I was not a fan of this mode, and thought it was essentially just a rip off of the movie Goal: The Dream Begins, I won’t deny its wide appeal. EA says this mode is linked exclusively to the Frostbite engine, so it wont be on the Switch version. Well….. my question for EA is: why not? If you can make a custom build of the whole base game and all its other modes for the Switch, why can’t you guys do the same thing for the “The Journey” as well? This just makes EA look lazy or too scared to put money into the Switch version of the game.
Lastly, and my main concern for the game, is how it actually plays. I started playing the series back with FIFA 14 on the Xbox One, and I can tell you, gameplay is all that really matters. I was hopeful with their new custom-built engine that they were going to keep the action on the pitch as close to the Xbox One/PS4 versions as they possibly could, but from what I’ve been reading from the E3 demos, that does not seem to be the case. Gameplay is king, and if FIFA 18 on Switch really does play like the 2014-2016 Xbox One/PS4 versions, then unfortunately I will not be buying this version of the game. Which is a shame, because if FIFA 18 sells poorly on the Switch, it would not surprise me to see EA pull the product from the console. Just like they did with the Wii U and Vita versions.
Just to be clear, I would never expect FIFA 18 on the Switch to be a like-for-like with the Xbox One and PS4 versions. The Switch just isn’t powerful enough for that. But, that shouldn’t give EA permission to put out a half-assed product. This puts Nintendo fans in a hard spot because if they don’t buy this version of FIFA for the Switch, then they might never get another version of the game. I own a Switch and an Xbox One, I’ve considered buying both versions of the game to support the Switch. But, for the same price point of $60 for the Switch and Xbox version, I cannot justify spending the same amount on a much lesser version.
So, Nintendo and FIFA fans, what are your thoughts on FIFA 18 for the Switch? Will you be picking it up or will you not support it at all? Let me know in the comments down below!