2012 was the last year a FIFA game appeared on a Nintendo home console, with the launch of FIFA 13 on Wii U. At the time EA Sports was widely criticised for delivering a game that was not actually FIFA 13 but rather FIFA 12 albeit with some small updates. Since then, the series has waived its presence on Wii U. The situation is different on the Nintendo Switch, though, and EA Sports has decided to show its support in the console's first year. Better yet, unlike FIFA 13 on Wii U, this FIFA 18 is far from being a disappointment.
FIFA 18 on the Nintendo Switch is a pretty good football game but you need to be aware that it's not the same experience as the PC, PS4, and Xbox One versions. While those versions are powered by the Frostbite engine, the Switch version comes with an optimised version of the previous engine, and thus loses several features. The most obvious is The Journey, the story mode that allows you to follow the career of Alex Hunter, which simply isn't in the Switch version.
Consequently, all other features allowed by the use of Frostbite engine are also absent. The new cinematic celebrations and the Career mode negotiation sequences are the most significant absences, but even in terms of general presentation, the Switch version is inferior. The atmosphere in the stadiums is far duller, graphically there are glaring differences in lighting, focus, and resolution, and some details have been excluded, such as the real faces of Premier League coaches.
So what about the game modes? FIFA 18 on the Nintendo Switch includes FIFA's two most popular modes: Career and Ultimate Team. Career mode is similar to the 17 version. It includes scouts, preseason tournaments, the ability to coach both a team and a national team at the same time, and a training system that allows players to improve. All of FIFA 18's new features in Career mode are out, such as the negotiation sequences and release clauses, but the base experience remains, and sees you taking on the career of a coach or a singular footballer and leading them to glory through the seasons.
As for FIFA Ultimate Team Mode, it is essentially version 17 with the interface of 18. It's all there, with the exception of Squad Battles. Everything else, such as the market and the auction, the online and offline seasons, the FUT Draft, and even the challenges to build up squads, are present. More importantly, we tried some online games and everything went smoothly, with no lag problems on the Switch side. You will also have access to other modes, such as Skill Games (including the new ones), tournaments for men and women, online modes, and the option to play friendly matches against the backdrop of the current situation of your chosen club.
One of the novelties of this Switch version is the option to control the game with a single Joy-Con. This allows you to play against friends by splitting the controllers, although this implies giving up some abilities since you will be playing with fewer buttons. Ideally, each player should have their own pair of Joy-Cons or a Pro controller each, but if that's not possible, this is a decent alternative.
But... an important note. FIFA 18 on the Nintendo Switch does not allow you to face friends online. There simply isn't an option for it. All online games appear to be done via matchmaking, which is a shame.
FIFA 18 on the Nintendo Switch doesn't have the same insane value you can get from the main version, but it has more than enough to entertain you for several hours, both offline and online.
Looking at gameplay, you'll find a mixed experience. A lot of the main version new features are in there, such as the new crossing mechanics, the single footballer kick-off, and the new skill moves. It offers refined gameplay that's always fluid, and perfectly playable with Joy-Cons. Some details didn't make it over, like the quick substitutions, but the bulk of FIFA 18's gameplay remains in the Switch version.
The biggest difference arises from the artificial intelligence. This AI system was clearly taken from a previous FIFA, possibly FIFA 15 or 16. It is a relentless artificial intelligence on higher difficulty settings, more so than we think it should be at any rate. In other words, FIFA 18's AI on the Nintendo Switch can be much more difficult and frustrating than it is in the main version, anticipating some of the player's tackles and passes as if it was predicting the future.
As expected, the Nintendo Switch version of FIFA 18 is a few notches below the PC, PS4, and Xbox One versions, however, it is still a great experience and a decent football game. It includes the most popular modes, quality graphics, it seems to work well online, and the gameplay is a treat (even if the AI can be frustrating). We believe that FIFA 19 on the Switch could be much better than this 18th edition, but for now, it's a fantastic return for FIFA to Nintendo's console, with the awesome extra allowed by the Switch's portability. If you're a football fan, FIFA 18 on the Switch is a must.