EA Sports’ recent
history with Nintendo consoles isn’t good. The company and its games were
almost entirely absent from the Wii U library, and its handful of Wii titles
weren’t fun to play. Therefore, when EA Sports announced a Switch version of FIFA
18, it immediately raised questions about what features would be cut from the
PS4 and Xbox One versions due to hardware limitations. While FIFA 18 on Switch
is indeed slimmer on features, I got past the fact that it doesn’t have The
Journey story mode, Pro Clubs, and some aspects of Ultimate Team (like the new
Squad Battles) thanks to the gameplay and modes that are present.
The FIFA basics of
career mode and Ultimate Team contain plenty of mileage to keep any player
busy, even without new transfer cutscenes and contract options, FUT Champions,
and friendly seasons. The inclusion of other play options such as the women’s
international tournament and seasons online play (including local Wi-Fi play)
means this isn’t a bare-bones offering.
The modes are backed up
by strong gameplay. The Switch version isn’t on par with FIFA 18 on the other
systems, but it contains the jostling and off-the-ball support from A.I.
teammates that helps you engineer an attack or marshal a defense. The ball
bounces more awkwardly at times, and some of the player movements (like a
defensive lunge or burst of speed) can be slightly exaggerated. Both seem to
lack a layer of refinement, like one extra animation or calculation is missing
that would smooth out the transition from action A to action B.
The fact that you can
play FIFA 18 on the go isn’t a huge draw for me, both because the title doesn’t
use a system to allow you to play friends online (only strangers) due to
Nintendo’s lack of infrastructure support. Also, some of the controller
configurations aren’t conducive to comfort. Playing with the Joy-Cons attached
to an undocked screen isn’t as good as having the screen docked and attaching
the Joy-Cons to the plastic controller housing (or using the Pro Controller).
When attached to the screen, accessing the bumpers and triggers is harder.
Similarly, multiplayer with local friends on a single screen is even more
uncomfortable when you each take a Joy-Con and tilt them on their sides.
The Switch version of FIFA
18 is a better portable experience than you’ve been able to get on Nintendo
consoles up to this point, but it’s hampered by Nintendo’s insufficient online
strategy. Unlike some previous EA Sports titles on Nintendo platforms, FIFA 18
isn’t an ill-formed castoff, but it’s an uneven performance and not a clear-cut