[Update: After it was confirmed that Pro Evolution Soccer developer, Konami, is reaching the end of its 10 year deal with UEFA and will not be renewing it, a Dutch commentator who has done voice work for FIFA may have just leaked that EA Sports has picked up the contract for FIFA 19. The moment was captured on videoand if it's true will mean that FIFA 19 will include the Champions League gameplay which Pro Evo had for so long. EA is yet to confirm the leak but we're sure any confirmation, if there is one, will come at E3.]
Every year we can usually mark the passage of time with some pretty predictable events: Christmas, Easter, Halloween, our birthdays and the release of a new FIFA. Though it hasn’t been officially revealed just yet, we can be fairly sure that 2018 will bring us the release of FIFA 19.
We’ve seen incremental improvements to the series with each release and we’re sure this year will be no different, though we’re always waiting for that one feature that could be a game changer. Will it be dynamic weather this time? If you’re counting down the days to that FIFA 19 release window, join us as we round up what we can expect to see this year and when we can expect to see it.
Cut to the chase
- What is it? The next game in the EA Sports football phenomenon
- When can I play it? Most likely September 2018
- What can I play it on? Likely to be PS4, Xbox One, PC and Nintendo Switch
EA’s FIFA titles follow a pretty predictable pattern and we can’t see any reason why this year would be any different. With the announcement that EA Play will be kicking off just before E3 on June 9 in LA this year and the confirmation that we’ll be seeing new EA Sports titles there, we expect that FIFA 19 will be revealed to the world then. We’ll likely see a new trailer, as well as this year’s cover star.
Following their announcement, FIFA titles are usually released in the September of that year. It’s been the case since FIFA 10 and we think it’ll probably continue with FIFA 19. Of course, we can’t say that with absolute certainty, but all trends point to this being the case.
News and rumors
So what do we know about FIFA 19 so far? Well, not a great deal has been announced, but we’ve been rounding up news and rumors to pull together some kind of picture of the game we might see.
Frostbite will remain
It’s almost a certainty that like FIFA 18, FIFA 19 will be powered by the Frostbite engine. While this means we’ll get a good looking game, it also means it’s not likely to be vastly more visually impressive than FIFA 18.
This could be the year of dynamic weather
The Frostbite engine does dynamic weather pretty well, so it’s somewhat surprising that we haven’t seen it in FIFA just yet. This, however, could be the year for that.
While dynamic weather can sometimes just seem like a pretty effect, we’ve seen it used in other titles to really change the way you play. It’s been used in Pro Evolution Soccer to great effect and it could really bring a whole new layer of tactical thought to FIFA if it’s introduced.
In wet or snowy weather, for example, players could be more prone to slipping; in hot and humid weather they could tire more easily; and in windy weather they could see their speed and passing accuracy suffer. It would make the game more complex and potentially more frustrating, certainly, but it’s the kind of added depth that the FIFA franchise is ready for and it’s possible with Frostbite.
A Nintendo Switch version looks likely
The Nintendo Switch version of FIFA 18 naturally didn’t outsell the other consoles on the market last year and, because it lacked features like The Journey and a full career mode, it received some critical flack. But it did shift enough units to make EA happy, meaning we can probably expect to see another release in 2018.
If there is another version released this year, we hope there are some upgrades that will bring it more in line with the full console versions. Perhaps an improvement in the Switch’s online service will help with that.
The Journey is likely to return
The Journey has proven to be a hit for FIFA, and we think it’s likely to return in FIFA 19. No doubt we’ll see the story of Alex and Danny continue, which is great, though it be even better to see some more RPG elements come into play this time around. More customization and exploration are always welcome in game modes like this (it’s something NBA 2K18 got right). We’d also like to see a greater sense of choice and consequence in our actions – more subtlety in dialog, and perhaps a more branching story would make The Journey even more engaging.
The big questions
Will there be lootboxes?
This is a big question indeed. Following the controversy EA faced with its Star Wars Battlefront 2 lootboxes, FIFA fans started to ask questions about their own favorite title and its Ultimate Team packs.
When you purchase an Ultimate Team pack in FIFA, you’re spending real money without any guarantee that you’ll be getting a good card. These packs aren't cheap, and fans can spend vast amounts of cash trying to get the cards they want.
Now that Battlefront 2 has attracted the attention of Gaming Commissions, who are looking into whether or not systems like these can be tied to gambling and whether they should be open to the young audiences that play EA’s titles, we could see some changes when it comes to Ultimate Team packs in FIFA 19.
Could this be the last physical FIFA?
As we said earlier, FIFA has become one of those annual things you can rely on, but that may not always be the case. Last year EA’s CEO Andrew Wilson told Bloomberg that the publisher might move away from its annual release model and veer towards a subscription and update model. This would mean that rather than buying a new FIFA every year, you’d subscribe to a 365-day live service with regular updates.
It was clear in Wilson’s interview that this idea was still in its early stages, but it’s undeniable that the industry is moving towards long-term service games and online downloads, so we could see it arrive sooner rather than later.
It isn’t an approach that will appeal to all players, but it’s one that been working for EA’s mobile division with the now three year old Madden NFL title.
No more Xbox 360 and PS3?
FIFA is one of those franchises that’s long straddled the latest and last generation in order to keep its very wide range of fans happy, but there comes a time when the games have to move on and that could happen with FIFA 19.
FIFA 18 on Xbox 360 and PS3 didn’t have nearly the same number of features as the Xbox One and PS4 versions; there was no Journey mode and no Frostbite engine. At a certain point EA will have to move past these consoles and it seems likely that this will happen soon.
At the Stifel 2013 Technology Conference, EA CFO Blake Jorgensen said the publisher would keep releasing titles for last-generation consoles until 2017.
This, he said, would be the “earliest” that EA would drop support for the older consoles, but when FIFA 19 is released we’ll be moving towards the end of 2018 so it seems like the right time to make this move.