FIFA 18: EA tackles the pre-release criticisms of slow defenders and super-speed forwards

Nathan Lawrence 26 September 2017

fifa-18-line-up

Producer Sam Rivera responds to online criticisms that FIFA 18 will have sluggish defenders and impossibly fast forwards.

Developers are wise to use closed alpha and closed beta periods to test out components of the game that are yet to be finalised. Internally, this happens all the time with experienced QA workers and developers, who are able to test out and refine features which ultimately might be scrapped or require tweaking prior to release. Basically, there are things created during the development process of any game that might never see the light of day, or development decisions that change drastically prior to release.

When the public is involved in these closed alpha or beta phases, things can get a little trickier. Despite the norm of having to sign non-disclosure agreements, the details and reactions of certain participants in these tests tend to leak online. For instance, you don’t have to look too far on Reddit to find leaked details for games that have recently had supposedly closed alpha or beta phases.

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Case in point: not so long ago, FIFA 18 had a closed beta phase. Some of the details of that beta leaked online, and there were complaints from some closed beta participants about sluggish defenders and forwards who were too fast. That’s not the best combination. On top of this, there were grumbles about the reaction time of goalkeepers during the closed beta.

Prior to our recent interview, we sniffed out these complaints on Reddit and were eager to ask producer Sam Rivera how these closed beta negatives have been addressed in the lead-up to the final game. Read on for Rivera’s reply to concerns over player speeds and goalkeeper reaction time.

We were having a bit of a dive in to Reddit, which must sometimes be a scary place for developers, and we saw some people talking about the defenders feeling slower versus forwards that felt too fast. Is that a deliberate gameplay mix-up, or is that something you’re addressing in a different way?

It’s basically that it’s a closed beta and we had plans to improve that, so we kind of knew that that was going to happen. Obviously, with a lot of feedback from that, we spent more time making sure that it’s balanced. But, yes, there were cases where the ball was close by, I need to chase it, but my player would take a long time to turn and go. It was giving you the feeling that my defenders are reacting too slow. If you play it now, it’s much better, and there are still some changes on the way, so we’re taking that feedback seriously and changing and improving it. But we are not changing the way FIFA plays. We are fixing the kinks that were broken: that player was not turning. So, we’re keeping the vision and idea of FIFA 18, but fixing those problems.

Are you approaching goalkeeper AI in a different way this year? Are they a little bit more fallible, a little less godlike, are they more prone to human error? Or are they better, perhaps, at stopping goals?

Do you mean the goalkeepers controlled by the users or the AI?

Both.

So, AI-control of keepers, regular keepers, in the closed beta there were some bugs that we fixed afterwards, with reaction time, so it’s better. The user controlling the goalkeeper, what happened was we rewrote that system and put a little bit more assistance, we just didn’t have time to put it in the goalkeeper. So, people recognise, ‘Hey, it’s super hard now.’ Yes, that’s because it was work in progress. But for the full game expect to have a better experience by the user controlling the goalkeeper.

For more on how player feedback has shaped the development of FIFA 18, check out the first part of our interview with Sam Rivera. And 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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