Yesterday we reported on FIFA 18’s first major patch, which focuses on welcome changes to goalkeepers and shooting. But it didn’t take long for fans to react to a couple of changes that initially went under the radar.
The first is another welcome change. The in-game radar icons are once again based on the colour of a team’s kit. This sounds like an innocuous change, but one of the most annoying things about FIFA 18 was its radar displayed player icons in black or white only. The black and white allocation was locked to the away and home teams respectively. So if the actual kits were, say, light and dark for away and home respectively, you’d find it very difficult to quickly make sense of the radar blobs because they’d be the opposite colour type compared to the on-pitch kits.
But it’s the second change that’s divided the FIFA community – and the debate is ongoing.
EA has enabled the opponent indicators in online matches. Again, this sounds like an innocuous change, but it makes a big difference to how you play matches against human opponents online.
Previously, you’d never know which player your opponent had selected when it came to defending. Obviously you’d know which player they had selected in possession because they’d have the ball. This meant that you wouldn’t know for sure whether a defending player was under the direct control of your opponent, the AI, or was called in for a second man contain.
This was crucial because in FIFA 18 human controlled defenders are, as you’d expect, better at intercepting and tackling than the AI. Now though, you can see exactly which player your opponent is controlling at any given moment, and if you fancy it, try to avoid them.
This change has sparked an interesting debate among players about what this means for competitive online play.
Over on the FIFA subreddit, user PS4_gerdinho90 worried “it will be even easier to retain the ball if you exactly know which player is controlled by the player”. It’s a sentiment shared elsewhere. In a thread titled “EA please remove the indicator above opponent’s head”, user TyrodTheGoat_TPN said the indicators “really mess with the game and open the door for bs play styles that I can easily see being exploited”.
deadlywhalejb said the indicators make FIFA 18 ” mind-numbingly boring”. “I know he can tell what I’m doing on defence and it’s so so easy to attack, I just run and pass towards whoever he doesn’t have selected. They need to get rid of it.”
Redditor QUKZZ went as far as calling the indicators “like a wallhack in shooter games”.
While the majority of the online reaction to the indicators has been negative, some have welcomed the change. Redditor Party4Icardi said it means “no more second-guessing if the AI is doing the work or if it’s my opponent actually having skill”.
“Furthermore, you can see if the opponent is just controlling midfielders and letting AI defend. I feel most people complaining are those that let AI defend and just chase back with midfield.”
Redditor 4look4rd added the change “forces you to manually defend instead of relying on AI tackles while pushing for an interception. I can see both ways”.
It’s too early for me to deliver a verdict on the online player indicator, but my initial impression is it makes playing online feel a bit more like playing local multiplayer, which has always displayed gamertags above the controlled players. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but the meta will certainly adapt to it. Love it or hate it, the online opponent indicator looks like it’s here to stay – and the debate will only get more vociferous once the patch is made available to console.