FIFA 18 on the Nintendo Switch is a half-measure. Electronic Arts should bring the “real” FIFA to the hybrid handheld/home console next year. But, for what it is, I still came away impressed.
EA Sports did not use the latest build of its FIFA games from the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One when porting the soccer sim to Nintendo Switch. While FIFA 18 on Sony’s and Microsoft’s consoles runs on the Frostbite engine that powers games like Battlefield 1 and Star Wars: Battlefront, the Switch is running on older tech from last-generation systems. What that means is that the Switch doesn’t look quite as dynamic, its dribbling tech isn’t quite as advanced, and it won’t have The Journey story mode. But I didn’t really care while I was playing the game in Switch’s portable mode, because FIFA 18 is easily the best handheld soccer game ever.
Don’t misunderstand me: Long-time FIFA fans who have already focused on the Xbox One or PlayStation 4 should continue to play the game on those devices. They will look better and have more features. The Switch will support online play and the popular Ultimate Team mode (it’s like fantasy football but for FIFA), but c’mon — Nintendo’s online infrastructure isn’t mature enough to support all the ways people interact in those modes in FIFA.
So what good is FIFA 18 on Switch? Well, it is great if you want a sports game on-the-go or if you want a traditional FIFA for your commute and the hampered mobile version annoys you. It’s could be an excellent as a party game with the option to play with simplified controls and two Joy-Cons on the portable screen.
The point is that I can see FIFA 18 fitting into some people’s life on the Switch as is. But EA Sports should see how this one does and how Nintendo’s online system is going to work, and then it should probably plan to bring the same Frostbite FIFA game to Switch next year since it’ll have plenty of time to get it working.