FIFA 18 is off to kind of an odd start. When it first launched, much of the discussion centered around overpowered long shots and poor goalkeeping. Now the conversation has swung in completely the opposite direction, with the bulk of the hate being focused on one new feature in particular.
That would be the new player indicator: a feature that tells you what player your opponent is controlling in online head-to-head. Seemingly intended for eSports matches, it makes it much easier to see where an opponent is defending and bypass them.
The indicator was disliked enough that it received its very own megathread on the FIFA subreddit shortly after the patch went live, which went on to garner nearly 300 responses.
Here are some of the more common criticisms from fans.
Don't know why they would change something that was never broken. It's gonna be so hard for people to defend now that their attacker knows who they are defending. Pressing with the AI and taking away passing lanes won't work anymore which is how I defend, and how I've been so successful with defending in this FIFA.
This indicator definitely made attacking significantly easier and there was literally no reason to warrant this change. I am the farthest thing from a good FIFA player. Struggled in Division 2 in FIFA17 and regularly struggle to even qualify for the weekend league. The most goals I've ever scored in a single game was 4. I just played a match on this new update and scored 8 goals with ease.
When you make a pass, if your opponent switches and you see him running towards you, all you have to do is simply change direction and tap R2 (sprint) or do a ball roll and you'll blow right past him 90% of the time.. Idk i think there was literally no reason for the indicator in the first place.. no one asked for it and it wasnt in past FIFAs.. so why are they adding it now especially right before the first weekend league.. gah EA sucks.
Please put it on squad battle as well, so I could see how the hell can the opponent man mark, tackle, cut passing lane, defensive run at the same time. EA pls.
FIFA fans aren't too happy about the defending, either. Previously, it was much easier to move the ball up the field and punish mistakes. Now fans are complaining that defending is "back to FIFA 17 levels," with increased blocking and nerfed crossing drawing sharp complaints.
It's enough that the full patch has garnered a rant megathread of its own. Individual threads have also continued to proliferate throughout the morning.
It all adds up to an initial patch that has proven quite unpopular with fans as negative feelings have spilled on to social media and elsewhere. Between the recent patch and the lack of guest play in this year's FIFA Ultimate Team, it seems they have plenty to complain about.
Does EA Need to Respond to the Uproar Over FIFA 18's New Patch?
Not all the comments are negative, though. Shortly after the controversy over the player indicators began, FIFA mainstay Marius Hjerpseth took to the EA Sports forums to defend EA's decision to introduce the indicators.
"My personal opinion is that disguising yourself amongst your teammates and letting the AI do a lot of the work is-if not a cheap tactic-a style of play that shouldn't be encouraged because it renders every match virtually the same," he wrote. "It reduces the amount of spectacular moments that can only happen when two human minds go at it. One mind using FIFA as a vehicle to claim dominance over the other, via creativity, experience and lightning fast reflexes."
Jeremy Stein was a little more critical, but not as much as the forum dwellers on Reddit. A former Madden developer and hardcore FIFA enthusiast who plays Ultimate Team year round, Stein understands better than most the trials and tribulations of balancing a sports game.
"As for the rage, I think some of it makes sense," Stein told me over text. "[The player indicator] seems like a move to match tournament play, which I'm cool with, EA just needs to communicate better."
He also offered measured criticism of the rebalanced mechanics, "Nerfing shooting the way they did was clumsy. Yes, buffing keepers made sense. Nerfing finesse shots and long shots made sense."
He wondered why EA had buffed shot blocking. "[T]hey seemed to overreact and thus overtune the balance with the latest patch."
Despite his criticism, Stein feels that FIFA 18 is in better place than FIFA 17, which he found to be a boring slog. He's confident that the right foundation is in place, and the EA just needs to find the balance with another update or two.
As always, competitive sports games are extremely finicky to balance, and tuning one mechanic can throw everything else completely out of whack. That is more or less what is happening in FIFA right now, with the result being that the overall game feels much slower right now.
We reached out to EA for their thoughts as well. We'll let you know when they back to us with comment.