Producer Sam Rivera breaks down the player feedback that’s helped shape FIFA 18

Nathan Lawrence 25 September 2017 NEWS


According to producer Sam Rivera, FIFA 18 is poised to improve some of the shortcomings of FIFA 17.

Franchises that have new entries year in, year out are tricky things to get right. For FIFA, like Star Trek movies, it’s often every second one that bangs the ball into the back of the net, at least as far as the feedback from hardcore fans is concerned. The casual player probably won’t notice the subtle differences when sporadically playing FIFA, but the ones that sink scores of hours in every year are also the ones who are, understandably, most vocal about changes they don’t like whenever a new FIFA game comes along.

FIFA 17 had some issues that hardcore fans were particularly vocal about, and at least some of these issues were related to the fact that it was the first game in the series to make the jump from the Ignite engine to Frostbite 3. AI defending was one of the loudest criticisms of FIFA 17, and in terms of the engine transition, there were reports of input delay in online matches. Given the competitive importance of FIFA 17 – it is, after all, a big deal on the esports scene – any issues with the core mechanics can impact the community’s willingness to battle it out online.

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It’s even more of a pressing issue for the developers at EA Canada when you consider that these hardcore fans will tend to own the previous FIFA games and can just jump back to playing a more stable experience online in an older entry. We recently had the chance to sit down with FIFA 18 producer Sam Rivera to talk about AI defending, input delay in FIFA 17, and other changes that have been made to the Frostbite 3 engine, now that the team isn’t working with it for the first time.

Here’s what Rivera had to say about the defending and engine improvements for FIFA 18:

Can you talk about some of the player feedback that’s helped shape other parts of FIFA 18 that will be evident in what might have been seen recently to what will be seen at release?

Totally. For example, one of the main concerns in FIFA 17 is AI defending. A lot of people don’t really defend by themselves. They let the AI defend for them and then they just follow the player with a mid-fielder and let the AI-controlled defender do their job. So, what we wanted for this year was to react to that and do it more skill-based. So, instead of the AI doing it by themselves, you need to control the defender, otherwise he’s easier to beat. They still do cover, but not as well as before. So, with that, that forces you to defend, and the better defender you are, the better player you are. So, it’s a skill gap. We really care about skill gap and that’s one of the things we changed based on the feedback from our fans.

We were reading up on some of the feedback from fans of FIFA 17 and one of the things that came through was an input delay in FIFA 17. Has that been something you’ve been able to improve in FIFA 18 and in Frostbite, and what other improvements have you been able to make in Frostbite that you weren’t able to do in FIFA 17?

Totally. So, yes, input lag is very important. It’s one of our main complaints. So, yes, with our dedicated people working on making online connections better, we’ve fixed a lot of problems to fix that input lag. So, it’s pretty much a smoother version of the FIFA team when you play online.

We'll have more on how EA is responding to the criticisms of FIFA 17 throughout the week, so be sure to check back in the coming days.

If you're looking to score yourself an early copy of FIFA 18, you can find a sweet deal on the game in this week's best game deals.

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