FIFA 18 World Cup Mode Hands-on Preview – Russia Beckons

While we’re slowly edging closer to the reveal of this year’s FIFA game, FIFA 18 is still chugging along at a great pace and will most definitely see a boost in numbers tomorrow following the official release of the game’s free World Cup update. Having had a chance to go hands-on with a couple of the single-player oriented game modes a week or so ago, I came away impressed with what’s on offer from the free update.

Having booted into a quick kick off match between Australia and Saudi Arabia, I was immediately impressed with the level of detail EA have managed to conjure up — official graphics and branding, alongside the presentation of it all just came together wonderfully. As such, it feels like each match you play has some levity to it, which is a good resemblance of the importance each game has throughout the tournament.

After calibrating the controls to my personal preferences and getting a warm up game out of the way, it was time to jump into the actual tournament itself. The game’s World Cup mode allows you to play as any of the 32 teams that have qualified for the tournament — alongside a few notable omissions like Italy, the Netherlands, and Chile — and run through the tournament. That means playing through the group stages, and then going through the knockout stages en route to the final itself.

I decided to play as France in my play-through, due to my allegiance with Manchester United and the side’s French players. Unfortunately that meant taking on Australia in the first game of the group stage, and a quick 3-0 win left me feeling a bit dead inside.

Over the hours following I managed to make it all the way to the final, which ended up being a Euro 2016 final repeat: France vs Portugal. I beat Portugal convincingly — making up for some disappointing feelings two years ago — and felt like I’d very much accomplished something of worth.

And that comes down to the fact that, throughout the two hours of time I spent working through the tournament as France, I really felt as if I was playing a role in the World Cup. It was good fun, and the realism of it all — down to players singing their national anthem prior to games kicking off and the official stadiums in Russia being expertly recreated — made for a blast of a time. I felt immersed in each game I played, and even had a couple of small storylines going through my head — which is something that tends to happen when I play FIFA’s Career Mode.

One thing I didn’t really like was the fact the mode’s menu emulates that of Career Mode during tournament play, and it looks a bit out of place. Further, a players’ overall goal tally throughout the tournament isn’t shown via stats in-game like it does in Career Mode, which is an odd omission and takes away a bit from the immersion of it all.

Unfortunately I didn’t get a chance at trying out the game’s Ultimate Team mode, though I definitely am in support of the fact every card pack purchase you make in World Cup mode gives you the equivalent card pack in regular Ultimate Team. It’s a smart move, and feels a lot more worth it in the end if you’re into FUT. This will no doubt be where the meat of the game (and most of the players) will be, and I’m keen to give it a crack when the update drops tomorrow.

That all said, after a few hours with FIFA 18’s World Cup mode I came away impressed with what the team has managed to cram into the free update. There’s quite a bit of content here, and I think players looking forward to the World Cup kicking off in just a couple of weeks time will have a blast with what’s on offer. The realism of it all is breathtaking at times, and emulates the grandeur nature of the competition very well. Given these updates used to be part of a full-priced game dropped in between yearly FIFA iterations, I’m happy to see this one come in the form a free update and think it’ll sit well with players looking for a reason to jump back into FIFA 18.