FIFA 18 rolled out its first big patch yesterday (which you can read about here), but one change in particular is causing a stir among dedicated players, and threatens to shake up the online multiplayer in a big way. Apparently, EA has opted to enable indicators that lets players see exactly who their opponents are playing as during an online match.
It works like this: previously, it was largely anonymous who your opponent was playing as specifically at any given time. This meant that your online opponent could have been an attacker, a defender, who knows? Basically it took some intuition and clear signs to figure out if you were up against a real player or an AI.
After the update, the opponent player is marked so you'll know exactly if the defender trying to stand between you and the goal is an AI or real person. The reason it makes a difference is that real players tend to be better than an AI when it comes to interceptions and tackles, so if you know you're up against a human defender it's now easier to theoretically avoid them as well.
This has thrown the FIFA subreddit into a bit of a frenzy with some players worried that this decision will throw off the balance of the game. Either with players purposefully targeting AI defenders, or by affecting the skill gap between players who know how to defend vs players who rely on AI defenders.
On the other hand, as Eurogamer and several other players in the community point out, opponent indicators are already commonplace in local multiplayer mode and doesn't appear to make a huge difference there.
Though of course using local multiplayer as an example is mostly observational. We'll have to wait and see if this decision shifts online stats in any meaningful way.