When EA first revealed that FIFA would be coming to Nintendo Switch, the first question many fans asked was: which version of FIFA? The company later confirmed it would indeed be FIFA 18—not, as some imagined after PS Vita’s watered down FIFA Football, FIFA For Switch.
However, after a brief play session at E3 2017, it appears the football game coming to Nintendo’s hybrid console is not quite the fully-fledged title I was hoping for. We already discovered that the Switch version won’t run on the same engine and doesn’t include The Journey, FIFA’s story mode, but the problems run deeper than those. Upon playing FIFA 18 on Switch for the first time, it becomes apparent that this is definitely not FIFA 18. This is not the same game I played a month ago on PS4.
From the character models to the feel of the dribbling, almost everything feels quite far removed from FIFA 18 on PS4 and Xbox One. It’s probably closest to FIFA 15 or 16‘s gameplay in its on-pitch action–a little quicker both to respond and to move–and given I wasn’t a huge fan of FIFA 18 at preview stage, that’s probably a good thing.
Other than that, it feels fairly feature-rich and as competent a FIFA port as you could realistically expect on Switch. Until you detach the Joy-Cons to play in multiplayer, that is.
For many FIFA players, the primary–if not only–reason to buy FIFA on Switch ahead of the full PS4, Xbox One, or PC versions would be to have the ability to play on the move with friends. But playing with just one Joy-Con each makes it far too difficult to enjoyably do so. Fewer buttons than a standard controller (you lose out on two triggers, a d-pad, and a stick) means less flexibility on the pitch. On the standard control scheme, no adaptations are made to the original controls, so instead of, say, assigning a heavy touch to a double flick of the left stick in lieu of the the absent right, there simply appears to be no way of performing a heavy touch. This also applies to skill moves, accurate changes of player while defending, changing tactics on-the-fly, finesse shots, driven passes, and all types of chipped kicks.
Taking away functionality depending on your controller setup is incredibly frustrating, so here’s hoping EA can implement an elegant solution in time for launch on September 29, 2017.
While FIFA 18 feels a little dated, then, it is still a lot of fun. However, if you plan to play on-the-go-multiplayer–the port’s primary advantage over the PS4 and Xbox One editions–it might be best not to switch flanks from console.