Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo will feature on the cover of the football game for the first time ever, stoking anticipation for the new release
The accolades continue to roll in for Cristiano Ronaldo; fresh off winning La Liga and the Champions League, the Real Madrid star is now the face of the best-selling sports video-game franchise on the planet.
EA Sports announced on June 5 that Ronaldo will grace the cover of FIFA 18, which will be released later this year.
It will pit him against Barcelona rival Lionel Messi in yet another category, as the Argentine has signed up to appear on the cover of Konami’s Pro Evolution Soccer.
FIFA’s popularity has soared in recent years, however, with its Ultimate Team game mode making it the dominant force when it comes to football games. With anticipation for the new release already high, here is our complete guide to what we know and what to expect.
WHEN WILL FIFA 18 BE RELEASED?
FIFA 18 will be released worldwide on Friday, September 29. There are two ways, however, to get your hands on the game early.
The first is to pre-order the ‘Ronaldo Edition’ or ‘Icon Edition’, priced at £79.99 ($79.99) and £89.99 ($99.99) respectively and packed with bonus Ultimate Team content. They will be available to play on Tuesday, September 26, which is in line with EA’s knack for going live on a late Tuesday in September.
If that’s not soon enough you’ll need to sign up to EA Access (Xbox One) or Origin Access (PC), both of which cost either £3.99 ($4.99) a month or £19.99 ($29.99) a year. That will get you 10 hours of trial play time from Thursday, September 21.
If you’re a PlayStation 4 player, the September 26 date is the earliest you will be able to play.
HOW MUCH WILL FIFA 18 COST?
As mentioned, the special Ronaldo and Icon Editions cost £79.99 ($79.99) and £89.99 ($99.99) respectively. The standard version, meanwhile, will be priced at £54.99 ($59.99) – £5 more expensive than FIFA 17.
It’s likely those prices will drop, though, as the game nears release and retailers compete for sales.
HOW CAN I GET FIFA 18 CHEAP?
If you’re living in the UK and longing for all the Ultimate Team goodies in the Icon Edition but the price is a little too high for your liking, we can help.
In three easy – and entirely legitimate – steps, it’s possible to bring the price of the premium, Ronaldo Nazario-fronted version of the game down from £89.99 to just over £70. That’s cheaper than the Ronaldo Edition, which includes less bonus content.
Simply check out our guide and save nearly £20 while ensuring you get your hands on the game on the earlier September 26 release date.
WHAT IS IN EACH EDITION?
Per EA Sports, here’s what you get in each different version of the game…
WHAT CONSOLES WILL IT BE RELEASED ON?
It’s confirmed – FIFA 18 will be available to buy on Xbox 360 and PS3 as well as Xbox One, PS4, PC and the new Nintendo Switch.
There was some doubt as to whether EA would bother with the older consoles this year. That’s because the new Frostbite engine is too powerful for them to run, resulting in watered down versions of the game missing some key features such as The Journey.
Once again, the PS3 and Xbox 360 versions will not match up to their PS4 and Xbox One counterparts and will not include The Journey, but they will, at least, exist.
WHAT’S THE DEAL WITH THE NINTENDO SWITCH?
The Nintendo Switch version of the game will not run on Frostbite either, which is a blow to FIFA fans who were hoping to finally be able to play the game at its full, comprehensive best on a Nintendo platform.
EA are insistent, however, that they have built a worthy title for the new console and have revealed that in place of Frostbite, the Switch edition has its own, custom-built engine.
A lack of Frostbite means a lack of The Journey, which is a significant omission, but the potential for Switch players to take Ultimate Team on the go and open packs wherever they can find an internet connection is intriguing.
For a deeper look into what to expect on the Switch, check out our comprehensive guide.
WHEN CAN I PRE-ORDER FIFA 18?
You can pre-order FIFA 18 right now. It’s available to buy through the official channels such as the PlayStation and Xbox stores – find the PS4, Xbox One and PC versions at these links – and also with a few of the major retailers, with more set to follow soon.
You can also snap up the ‘legacy’ versions for PS3 and Xbox 360 now for arrival on release day.
WHO WILL BE ON THE COVER OF FIFA 18?
The choice of FIFA 17 cover star came down to a fan vote (won by Marco Reus), but this time EA has gone straight ahead and picked one on its own – and who can blame them when it is Cristiano Ronaldo?
Ronaldo has been announced as the ‘global’ cover star, meaning there is a possibility a vote will still happen in each region to pick a second, more local athlete. With Ronaldo’s appeal worldwide and his probable lack of enthusiasm for sharing the cover, however, we wouldn’t bet on it.
We can also safely assume that Ronaldo will retain his status as the game’s highest-rated player in the wake of this news.
The only other player you’re likely to see on the cover is Ronaldo Nazario, who has bagged the front of the Icon Edition.
WHAT NEW FEATURES ARE IN FIFA 18?
There are plenty of new features that have been revealed specific to certain game modes, which you can read about further down this page.
In terms of gameplay, EA Sports are billing FIFA 18 as “the biggest step” in franchise history due to the introduction of ‘Real Player Motion Technology’, a new animation system that “unlocks the next level of responsiveness and player personality”.
EA has since released a 360° video of Ronaldo’s movements – specifically, his famous heel chop – being recorded during a motion-capture session.
Related to that are new movement and finishing animations that are said to make striking and heading the ball more fluid. EA are also introducing “all-new” crossing controls to allow players to get greater accuracy on their balls into the box and shape crosses in different ways.
The development of something EA are calling ‘Dramatic Moments’ should add to this realism. As producer Sam Rivera explained to Kotaku : “Basically what we are doing is we are spending more time making sure that the football concepts and contexts that create variety in real life are also in FIFA and tuned in the same way.”
What that means is that a number of different factors will come into play for every shot, pass or other action, such as pressure from a defender, the player having to stretch to reach the ball or the way his first touch sets up his next one.
While the feel of individual stars has always been a big focus for FIFA, this year they are also ramping up their efforts on a team level. The addition of ‘Team Styles’ is designed to bring sides with a recognisable style of play to life on the FIFA 18 pitches.
There will also be additions in terms of stadiums and matchday atmosphere, with EA using their Frostbite game engine to create a more cinematic experience built around the little details like sun position, on-pitch debris and pitch quality.
WILL ‘THE JOURNEY’ BE IN FIFA 18?
Yes, it will. After a successful debut, The Journey is back for another year and so is Alex Hunter in ‘Hunter Returns’.
EA released the first trailer for the second edition of the game’s newest mode on June 10 and it was a star-studded affair, featuring a number of players, coaches and pundits speculating as to Hunter’s future.
From the video, it looks like we can expect to have to decide whether or not Hunter should agree to a transfer ahead of his sophomore season and there is also a glimpse of a meeting with Cristiano Ronaldo.
In FIFA 17 you could only play as Hunter with a Premier League club, but that looks set to change this year – check out our complete guide to The Journey for a better idea of what might be coming.
EA has previously confirmed that new characters and storylines will feature in The Journey on FIFA 18, but it always seemed probable Hunter would be back as the protagonist given the way the 17 story – spoiler alert – ended rather abruptly at the conclusion of his first season.
Not to mention the fact that he is now even starting to become something of a real-life celebrity; Hunter has amassed over 35,000 followers on Twitter since a verified account was opened in his name in June.
WHAT’S NEW ABOUT ULTIMATE TEAM?
The biggest news as far as Ultimate Team is concerned will be of most interest to PS4 and PC players, and concerns the replacement of ‘Legends’ with cross-platform ‘Icons’.
The availability of retired players of days gone by exclusively on Xbox One in FIFA 17 will be shared across all consoles this year and rebranded as a result. The first to be revealed, as mentioned, was Ronaldo Nazario, who will grace the cover of the special ‘Icon Edition’ of the game now available to pre-order.
The Icon Edition comes with a five-match loan card of the elder Ronaldo to get you started. You’ll also receive the same five-match loan card of Cristiano Ronaldo, giving you one hell of a front two to kick things off with.
Since then, Diego Maradona, Thierry Henry, Pele and Ronaldinho are among those to have also been confirmed as Icons.
Beyond that, EA is introducing ‘Squad Battles’ to Ultimate Team this year. This is a single-player mode in which gamers can play against special squads built by celebrities, professional footballers, pro FIFA players and others in the FUT community for rewards.
The pack-opening animations will also be jazzed up, but by and large it’s the same Ultimate Team you know and love. Why mess with a winning formula, after all?
WHAT NEW LEAGUES WILL BE IN FIFA 18?
Bad news for those hoping to play in the Chinese Super League on FIFA 18 – it won’t be included in the game despite its influx of star names over the past couple of years and rumours to the contrary.
The German third tier, the 3. Liga, is being included in the game for the first time in FIFA 18, allowing fans of recently relegated Karlsruher and Wurzburg Kickers to play as their teams in a lower division.
There has also been a new addition to the ‘rest of the world’ clubs, with Sparta Prague returning to FIFA for the first time since FIFA 11. The club’s marketing director confirmed that the Czech Republic’s most successful team would be back after successful negotiations with EA Sports.
WHO WILL BE THE TOP-RATED PLAYER?
It’s very difficult to imagine anyone other than Cristiano Ronaldo will be the top-rated player on FIFA 18.
Projecting FIFA 18’s player ratings
Ronaldo was rated at 94 on FIFA 17, with Lionel Messi at 93. With Ronaldo on the cover, don’t be surprised if he’s boosted up to 95 on the back of another sensational season.
Neymar will probably be in third, followed by a group of players including Luis Suarez, Robert Lewandowski, David de Gea and Manuel Neuer.
We’d also expect to see significant increases for the likes of Antoine Griezmann, Paulo Dybala, Harry Kane and Dele Alli after they impressed in 2016-17 – especially Kane and Alli, who have been involved regularly in the marketing of the title in the UK.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Jerome Boateng and Petr Cech are among those who may be hit by downgrades due to age and injury.
WHEN WILL THE FIFA 18 DEMO BE RELEASED?
The FIFA 17 demo was released approximately two weeks before the full game came out, so you can expect to be getting your first taste of FIFA 18 sometime in early to mid-September.
According to Dream Team FC, Manchester United, Manchester City, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, Chelsea, PSG, Juventus, Gamba Osaka, Lyon, Inter, the Seattle Sounders and Tigres are likely to be playable demo teams, and you’re also likely to get a glimpse of The Journey.
Some had hoped to strike it really lucky by sneaking in on the beta testing, which is taking place in August, to get an even earlier glimpse.
But that privilege will be reserved for a carefully selected pool of players bound to include professional gamers and well-known YouTubers, with no extra spots circulated at random to EA accounts as had been speculated.
WILL FIFA 18 FEATURE VIRTUAL REALITY?
Anything you read on this front is purely speculation at the moment, with EA giving no indication VR will be a part of FIFA 18 despite the early success of the headsets as they hit the market and begin to influence gaming.
It’s easy to imagine a VR future for FIFA – especially now a more cinematic mode like The Journey is a reality. There has not been much indication it is a priority, though, and it’s hard to see the core of how the game is played changing given the boom in competitive gaming.
WHICH STADIUMS ARE IN FIFA 18?
Four new stadiums have been confirmed for FIFA 18 so far.
As was the case in FIFA 17, every Premier League ground will feature. That means Brighton’s Amex Stadium and Huddersfield’s John Smith’s Stadium will make their debuts (Newcastle United’s St James’ Park was already in the game).
In addition, the LA Galaxy’s StubHub Center and Atletico Madrid’s new Wanda Metropolitano have been added.
The biggest omission is Camp Nou, as Pro Evolution Soccer have the exclusive rights to Barcelona’s famous home. Sadly for Tottenham fans, White Hart Lane has also said farewell as Spurs move to Wembley while their new ground is built.