Cristiano Ronaldo, the Portuguese footballer who just led Real Madrid to its third UEFA Champions League title in four years, is the global cover athlete for FIFA 18, publisher Electronic Arts announced today. But in the game’s first trailer, EA also stealthily announced that the Switch version of FIFA 18 is indeed a very different product from what soccer fans expect a current-generation FIFA title to be.
FIFA 18 will be released Sept. 29 on Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Windows PC, Xbox 360 and Xbox One, EA said today. The company previously announced that the game will include a second season of The Journey, the single-player story mode that debuted last year. In the Ronaldo-focused first trailer for FIFA 18, which you can watch above, EA says in some fine print that the mode will be called The Journey: Hunter Returns, indicating that it will once again focus on protagonist Alex Hunter.
However, the fine print also notes that both the Frostbite engine — the technology that has powered the FIFA series on current-generation platforms since last year — and The Journey: Hunter Returns will be available only in the PC, PS4 and Xbox One versions of FIFA 18. That confirms that FIFA 18 on the Switch is a separate product that will probably be more in line with the outdated PS3 and Xbox 360 versions of the game.
The in-engine footage from the trailer of Ronaldo preparing to take a free kick, sweat dripping down his face? Well, you already knew that the Switch version of FIFA 18 wasn’t going to look like that. But it’s galling to hear that something as huge as an entire mode — the story mode, no less — will be missing in action on the Switch.
In other words, sports fans on a Nintendo platform are once again being treated like an afterthought, which makes it essentially meaningless that, as EA says, the game is “custom built for Nintendo Switch.” We’ve reached out to EA for further details on the Switch version, and we’ll update this article with any information we receive.
Ronaldo, 32, scored two goals in Saturday’s Champions League Final as Real Madrid defeated Juventus 4-1. He is the only person to have notched more than 100 goals in European competition. Ronaldo is also the top player in Portugal’s history, with 138 appearances and 71 goals for the national team since his debut in 2003 — both all-time records.
“The world’s best player has helped fuel the biggest leap forward on the pitch that we’ve ever delivered,” said Aaron McHardy, senior producer on the FIFA series, in a news release from EA. “We are extremely excited to partner with Cristiano — working with him we learned a lot about his unique play style and what makes him so special.”
EA filmed Ronaldo in Madrid to capture his acceleration, run cadence, skills and shooting technique — performance data that developer EA Vancouver will use to make his virtual doppelgänger in FIFA 18 look and play more like the man himself. EA said the data also “informed important gameplay elements including fluidity, player responsiveness and explosiveness.”
FIFA 18 will be available in three editions, each of which will feature a Ronaldo on the cover. The $79.99 Ronaldo Edition includes a bunch of bonus content for the FIFA Ultimate Team mode, like a five-match loan for Cristiano Ronaldo and 20 jumbo premium gold packs. EA is also offering an Icon Edition for $99.99 with the other Ronaldo — the retired Brazilian legend Ronaldo Nazário — on its cover. That package includes everything in the Ronaldo Edition, plus 20 more FUT packs and some additional content for the mode.
Anyone who pre-orders the Ronaldo Edition or Icon Edition, which will be available on PC, PS4 and Xbox One, will be able to play FIFA 18 three days early — starting Tuesday, Sept. 26. Subscribers to EA Access (Xbox One) or Origin Access (PC) will be able to use the game’s Play First Trial to play it for up to 10 hours starting Thursday, Sept. 21. Expect more details on FIFA 18 this Saturday, June 10, during EA’s E3 press briefing at EA Play 2017.
Update: An EA representative told Polygon that the Switch version of FIFA 18 will bear the same name — simply FIFA 18 — as the other versions.