Ever since FIFA was revealed for the Nintendo Switch, we have been a little confused about exactly which experience we’d be getting on the console. Whilst it looked like an outstanding portable version, EA were constantly changing up the messaging on whether this was a full console version, even to the point that we didn’t know if it would be titled FIFA 18. We got to speak to Andrei Lazarescu from the Nintendo Switch development team and clear up some of the uncertainties.
Thankfully, after going hands-on with the title and getting some clarification, it looks like FIFA 18 on the Nintendo Switch might just be the definitive version.
PS: Being the first installment of the franchise on the Switch, despite there having been portable FIFA titles in the past, would you call this the first full FIFA on the go?
AL: It’s an interesting question, actually. This is the first FIFA that I’ve personally done on a Nintendo console, so I don’t really think I can talk about the past or how previous games have been, but in my personal opinion this is the best that FIFA has ever been in a portable form, that’s for sure. You can play it in so many ways; docked; undocked, with the joycons, split joycons, there are just so many ways to play.
PS: When did you guys start working on the game? When did they give you a development kit and say, you guys get to bring FIFA to the Switch?
AL: Probably about 12 months ago. The thing is, with FIFA you really don’t get more time than that. You need to launch it every year in September and the decisions that you make throughout the process need to be the right ones, next to the fact that they need to be made quickly.
PS: How does this process go? Do you guys develop it independently, or do you guys work together with the other teams?
AL: So we have different teams working across all different platforms, ranging from PlayStation 4 to the Xbox 360 and everything. Some of the teams actually work from a common standpoint and work together on certain features that are spread across all platforms, whilst some work independently. Each team has its own dedicated leadership that collaborates and communicates throughout the whole process.
PS: Was bringing FIFA 18 to the Nintendo Switch a challenge, and if so, what were some of the main challenges?
AL: Oh no, it was a challenge, there’s no reason to put it mildly, because it’s a lot of effort, especially when you’re in the first year of the hardware and you’re putting a new team on the project. It’s always challenging, there’s no way around that, especially because next to the normal technical challenges and design challenges you also have the addition of Ultimate Team to a Nintendo platforms, which is a very complex mode that works with a lot of live components, microtransactions and the transfer market. It’s basically building a game within a game, which was the biggest challenge, but Nintendo has helped us through every step of the way.
PS: Obviously a lot of people see FIFA as a social experience, wanting to play the game in multiplayer. How is FIFA Switch in this regard?
AL: When we first started looking at what kind of game we wanted to build. we were looking at social, immersive, responsive and fun as keywords. This is what people expect it to be, and that’s what we tried to make it be like and I think we delivered 100% on that promise and goal. You have a multitude of ways to play. You can play 1v1 with a single joycon and there’s also the addition of local seasons. If you have a console and you’re near a friend, even without an internet connection, you’ll be able to play through seasons together wherever you go. You also, of course, have Ultimate Team, skill games, tournaments and such. All-in-all this is a fully featured FIFA experience that people can’t just enjoy at home, but anywhere.
PS: There was a lot of confusion about whether the Switch version would be called ‘FIFA 18’. Based on what we’ve spoken about today, there’s no reason to not call this FIFA 18, right?
AL: That’s right. This is FIFA 18. Every platform has its own iteration of it, and FIFA Switch stands well on its own within its own ecosystem. I get this asked a lot and I personally wouldn’t compare, for example, the PS4 version and the Switch version. It’s a different experience, a different type of audience and different hardware, but it’s FIFA 18.
FIFA 18 releases on September 26 for PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One and almost every other current gaming platform in the market.