FIFA 18: Xbox One & PS4 release dates, cost, pre-order and complete guide

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Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo will feature on the cover of the football game for the first time ever, stoking anticipation for the new release

The accolades continue to roll in for Cristiano Ronaldo; fresh off winning La Liga and the Champions League, the Real Madrid star is now the face of the best-selling sports video-game franchise on the planet.

EA Sports announced on June 5 that Ronaldo will grace the cover of FIFA 18, which will be released later this year.

It will pit him against Barcelona rival Lionel Messi in yet another category, as the Argentine has signed up to appear on the cover of Konami's Pro Evolution Soccer.

FIFA's popularity has soared in recent years, however, with its Ultimate Team game mode making it the dominant force when it comes to football games. With anticipation for the new release already high, here is our complete guide to what we know and what to expect.


WHEN WILL FIFA 18 BE RELEASED?


FIFA 18 will be released worldwide on Friday, September 29. There are two ways, however, to get your hands on the game early.

The first is to pre-order the 'Ronaldo Edition' or 'Icon Edition', priced at £79.99 ($79.99) and £89.99 ($99.99) respectively and packed with bonus Ultimate Team content. They will be available to play on Tuesday, September 26, which is in line with EA's knack for going live on a late Tuesday in September.

If that's not soon enough you'll need to sign up to EA Access (Xbox One) or Origin Access (PC), both of which cost either £3.99 ($4.99) a month or £19.99 ($29.99) a year. That will get you 10 hours of trial play time from Thursday, September 21.

If you're a PlayStation 4 player, the September 26 date is the earliest you will be able to play.

What about the web app?

EA Sports has announced that the new web app - which will allow players to begin building and managing Ultimate Team squads - will be launched on September 21, just over a week in advance of the game's worldwide release date.

While the new system is being prepared, the current web app and other web features associated with the game will be down for maintenance and thus unavailable.


HOW MUCH WILL FIFA 18 COST?


Cristiano Ronaldo

As mentioned, the special Ronaldo and Icon Editions cost £79.99 ($79.99) and £89.99 ($99.99) respectively. The standard version, meanwhile, will be priced at £54.99 ($59.99) - £5 more expensive than FIFA 17.

It's likely those prices will drop, though, as the game nears release and retailers compete for sales.


HOW CAN I GET FIFA 18 CHEAP?


If you're living in the UK and longing for all the Ultimate Team goodies in the Icon Edition but the price is a little too high for your liking, we can help.

In three easy - and entirely legitimate - steps, it's possible to bring the price of the premium, Ronaldo Nazario-fronted version of the game down from £89.99 to just over £70. That's cheaper than the Ronaldo Edition, which includes less bonus content.

Simply check out our guide and save nearly £20 while ensuring you get your hands on the game on the earlier September 26 release date.


WHAT IS IN EACH EDITION?


Per EA Sports, here's what you get in each different version of the game...

Icon Edition (£89.99)

FIFA 18 Icon Edition

  • Play from September 26 with three days of Early Access
  • Up to 40 FIFA Ultimate Team Jumbo Premium Gold Packs (two per week over 20 weeks)
  • One three-match FUT Team of the Week loan player for 20 weeks
  • Cristiano Ronaldo FUT loan player for five matches
  • Ronaldo Nazario FUT Icon loan player for five matches
  • Eight special edition FUT kits designed by FIFA soundtrack artists

Ronaldo Edition (£79.99)

FIFA 18 Ronaldo Edition

  • Play from September 26 with three days of Early Access
  • Up to 20 FIFA Ultimate Team Jumbo Premium Gold Packs (one per week for 20 weeks)
  • Cristiano Ronaldo FUT loan player for five matches
  • Eight special edition FUT kits designed by FIFA soundtrack artists

Standard Edition (£54.99)

FIFA 18 Standard Edition

  • Up to five FIFA Ultimate Team Jumbo Premium Gold Packs (one per week for five weeks)
  • Cristiano Ronaldo FUT loan player for five matches
  • Eight special edition FUT kits designed by FIFA soundtrack artists

WHAT CONSOLES WILL IT BE RELEASED ON?


It's confirmed - FIFA 18 will be available to buy on Xbox 360 and PS3 as well as Xbox One, PS4, PC and the new Nintendo Switch.

There was some doubt as to whether EA would bother with the older consoles this year. That's because the new Frostbite engine is too powerful for them to run, resulting in watered down versions of the game missing some key features such as The Journey.

Once again, the PS3 and Xbox 360 versions will not match up to their PS4 and Xbox One counterparts and will not include The Journey, but they will, at least, exist.


WHAT'S THE DEAL WITH THE NINTENDO SWITCH?


Nintendo Switch

The Nintendo Switch version of the game will not run on Frostbite either, which is a blow to FIFA fans who were hoping to finally be able to play the game at its full, comprehensive best on a Nintendo platform.

FIFA 18 on Nintendo Switch: What to expect

EA are insistent, however, that they have built a worthy title for the new console and have revealed that in place of Frostbite, the Switch edition has its own, custom-built engine.

A lack of Frostbite means a lack of The Journey, which is a significant omission, but the potential for Switch players to take Ultimate Team on the go and open packs wherever they can find an internet connection is intriguing.

For a deeper look into what to expect on the Switch, check out our comprehensive guide.


WHEN CAN I PRE-ORDER FIFA 18?


You can pre-order FIFA 18 right now. It's available to buy through the official channels such as the PlayStation and Xbox stores - find the PS4, Xbox One and PC versions at these links - and also with a few of the major retailers, with more set to follow soon.

You can also snap up the 'legacy' versions for PS3 and Xbox 360 now for arrival on release day.


WHO WILL BE ON THE COVER OF FIFA 18?


FIFA 18 Pack Shot

The choice of FIFA 17 cover star came down to a fan vote (won by Marco Reus), but this time EA has gone straight ahead and picked one on its own - and who can blame them when it is Cristiano Ronaldo?

The only other player you'll see on the worldwide cover is Ronaldo Nazario, who has bagged the front of the Icon Edition.

In late August, however, EA Sports revealed a limited edition Ajax version of the game, which features a unique red cover and is available across platforms.

They are also running local votes for downloadable custom covers, with the likes of Tim Howard and Jozy Altidore in contention for the MLS edition.


WHAT NEW FEATURES ARE IN FIFA 18?


There are plenty of new features that have been revealed specific to certain game modes, which you can read about further down this page.

In terms of gameplay, EA Sports are billing FIFA 18 as "the biggest step" in franchise history due to the introduction of 'Real Player Motion Technology', a new animation system that "unlocks the next level of responsiveness and player personality".

EA has since released a 360° video of Ronaldo's movements - specifically, his famous heel chop - being recorded during a motion-capture session.

Related to that are new movement and finishing animations that are said to make striking and heading the ball more fluid. EA are also introducing "all-new" crossing controls to allow players to get greater accuracy on their balls into the box and shape crosses in different ways.

The development of something EA are calling 'Dramatic Moments' should add to this realism. As producer Sam Rivera explained to Kotaku : "Basically what we are doing is we are spending more time making sure that the football concepts and contexts that create variety in real life are also in FIFA and tuned in the same way."

What that means is that a number of different factors will come into play for every shot, pass or other action, such as pressure from a defender, the player having to stretch to reach the ball or the way his first touch sets up his next one.

While the feel of individual stars has always been a big focus for FIFA, this year they are also ramping up their efforts on a team level. The addition of 'Team Styles' is designed to bring sides with a recognisable style of play to life on the FIFA 18 pitches.

There will also be additions in terms of stadiums and matchday atmosphere, with EA using their Frostbite game engine to create a more cinematic experience built around the little details like sun position, on-pitch debris and pitch quality.

The game will also sport new features for its career mode as the transfer system has been overhauled. It is now possible to negotiate transfers with opposition managers and player agents with expanded options for fees and contract bonuses. There are also additional cut scenes for both negotiations and player announcements.


WILL ‘THE JOURNEY’ BE IN FIFA 18?


Yes, it will. After a successful debut, The Journey is back for another year and so is Alex Hunter in 'Hunter Returns'.

EA released the first trailer for the second edition of the game's newest mode on June 10 and it was a star-studded affair, featuring a number of players, coaches and pundits speculating as to Hunter's future.

We can expect to have to decide whether or not Hunter should agree to a transfer ahead of his sophomore season and there is also a glimpse of a meeting with Cristiano Ronaldo.

In FIFA 17 you could only play as Hunter with a Premier League club, but that looks set to change this year - check out our complete guide to The Journey for a better idea of what might be coming.

EA has previously confirmed that new characters and storylines will feature in The Journey on FIFA 18, but it always seemed probable Hunter would be back as the protagonist given the way the 17 story - spoiler alert - ended rather abruptly at the conclusion of his first season.

Not to mention the fact that he is now even starting to become something of a real-life celebrity; Hunter has amassed over 40,000 followers on Twitter since a verified account was opened in his name in June.

Fans had their appetites further whetted when EA Sports released another trailer for The Journey on September 1.

This one showed Hunter embroiled in a Real Madrid transfer controversy before being welcomed to PSG by Neymar, Atletico Madrid by Antoine Griezmann, Bayern Munich by Thomas Muller and the LA Galaxy by Gyasi Zardes.

Those scenes indicate that the story will offer gamers some choice as to which club Hunter joins.

There were also cameo appearances by Thierry Henry and basketball star James Harden and it looks as if Hunter's apparent love interest may be a U.S. women's national team player.

Add in sponsorship deals, injuries and agent disputes and it looks set to be an action-packed year for England's newest superstar.


WHAT’S NEW ABOUT ULTIMATE TEAM?


The biggest news as far as Ultimate Team goes will be of most interest to PS4 and PC players, and concerns the replacement of 'Legends' with cross-platform 'Icons'.

The availability of retired players of days gone by exclusively on Xbox One in FIFA 17 will be shared across all consoles this year and rebranded as a result. The first to be revealed, as mentioned, was Ronaldo Nazario, who will grace the cover of the special 'Icon Edition' of the game now available to pre-order.

The Icon Edition comes with a five-match loan card of the elder Ronaldo to get you started. You'll also receive the same five-match loan card of Cristiano Ronaldo, giving you one hell of a front two to kick things off with.

Since then, Diego Maradona, Thierry Henry, Pele and Ronaldinho are among those to have also been confirmed as Icons.

Beyond that, EA is introducing 'Squad Battles' to Ultimate Team this year. This is a single-player mode in which gamers can play against special squads built by celebrities, professional footballers, pro FIFA players and others in the FUT community for rewards.

The pack-opening animations will also be jazzed up, but by and large it's the same Ultimate Team you know and love. Why mess with a winning formula, after all?


WHAT ABOUT CAREER MODE?


If you still love playing offline, worry not: EA Sports appear to have paid a lot of attention to career mode this year to bring it up to par with The Journey.

The headline new addition is transfer negotiations, which - making use of the Frostbite engine - now have their own cutscenes in which talks and bargaining play out.

First, you sit down with your transfer target's manager and attempt to hammer out a deal to sign him.

"At that point, you need to negotiate with the club how much money you’re going to pay for that player," gameplay designer Sam Rivera told Dream Team.

"Right away if you say I’m going to give £5 million for a very expensive player, they will say that's far too low. You then need to go higher or say no deal.

"Depending on your offer you may get more chances. So, if the player is worth £50m and you offer £5m, they'll say you are wasting their time. They react in real time to your offers."

Once terms are agreed and you have permission to talk to the player, you will then meet with him and his agent to discuss a contract.

"At that point you have to negotiate other stuff," Rivera added. "First of all salary and then the player’s role in the team. The players will also be asking you for bonuses."

When a deal is done, more Frostbite magic will see the new signing presented to the media - and similar visuals can be enjoyed when you win a trophy or one of your players is named the Player of the Month.

EA has also introduced over 15 new skill games to add variety to training, and quick subs will allow you to make changes on the fly without having to pause the match.


WHAT NEW LEAGUES WILL BE IN FIFA 18?


Bad news for those hoping to play in the Chinese Super League on FIFA 18 - it won't be included in the game despite its influx of star names over the past couple of years and rumours to the contrary.

ICC 2017: The complete guide

The German third tier, the 3. Liga, is being included in the game for the first time in FIFA 18, allowing fans of recently relegated Karlsruher and Wurzburg Kickers to play as their teams in a lower division.

There has also been a new addition to the 'rest of the world' clubs, with Sparta Prague returning to FIFA for the first time since FIFA 11. The club's marketing director confirmed that the Czech Republic's most successful team would be back after successful negotiations with EA Sports.

As well as the new clubs included in FIFA 18, the Icelandic national team makes its return to the series for the first time since the 2014 FIFA World Cup game.


WHO WILL BE THE TOP-RATED PLAYER?


He's not only bagged the cover - Cristiano Ronaldo is also the top-rated player on FIFA 18.

The Real Madrid star has kept the 94 overall rating he held on FIFA 17 and is one point ahead of his Barcelona rival Lionel Messi.

Neymar, Luis Suarez and Manuel Neuer all bag 92 ratings, while Eden Hazard is the best player at a Premier League club at 90 overall.

Click here to view the full list of the top 100 players in FIFA 18.


WHEN WILL THE FIFA 18 DEMO BE RELEASED?


The FIFA 18 demo was made available for download on September 12 and can be played on Xbox One, Playstation 4 and PC ahead of the full release on September 29.

Gamers can play 'kick-off' mode in the demo and have 12 teams to choose from - including Manchester United, Champions League winners Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain - as they sample the new features.

As well as being able to choose from 12 teams, demo players can check out four different stadiums - including the LA Galaxy's StubHub Center, which is a new venue this year.

The demo also gives a first hands-on glimpse at this year's new season of The Journey.

The demo can be downloaded from EA Sports' official website.


WILL FIFA 18 FEATURE VIRTUAL REALITY?


PlayStation VR

Anything you read on this front is purely speculation at the moment, with EA giving no indication VR will be a part of FIFA 18 despite the early success of the headsets as they hit the market and begin to influence gaming.

It's easy to imagine a VR future for FIFA - especially now a more cinematic mode like The Journey is a reality. There has not been much indication it is a priority, though, and it's hard to see the core of how the game is played changing given the boom in competitive gaming.


WHICH STADIUMS ARE IN FIFA 18?


Four new stadiums have been confirmed for FIFA 18 so far.

As was the case in FIFA 17, every Premier League ground will feature. That means Brighton's Amex Stadium and Huddersfield's John Smith's Stadium will make their debuts (Newcastle United's St James' Park was already in the game).

In addition, the LA Galaxy's StubHub Center and Atletico Madrid's new Wanda Metropolitano have been added.

The biggest omission is Camp Nou, as Pro Evolution Soccer have the exclusive rights to Barcelona's famous home. Sadly for Tottenham fans, White Hart Lane has also said farewell as Spurs move to Wembley while their new ground is built.

PREMIER LEAGUE (ENGLAND) CLUB CAPACITY
Dean Court AFC Bournemouth 11,464
Emirates Stadium Arsenal 60,432
Amex Stadium Brighton & Hove Albion 30,750
Turf Moor Burnley 21,401
Stamford Bridge Chelsea 41,623
Selhurst Park Crystal Palace 26,309
Goodison Park Everton 39,572
John Smith's Stadium Huddersfield Town 24,500
King Power Stadium Leicester City 32,500
Anfield Liverpool 54,074
Etihad Stadium Manchester City 55,097
Old Trafford Manchester United 76,100
St James' Park Newcastle United 52,354
St Mary's Stadium Southampton 32,689
bet365 Stadium Stoke City 27,902
Liberty Stadium Swansea City 20,972
Wembley Tottenham Hotspur 90,000
Vicarage Road Watford 21,977
The Hawthorns West Bromwich Albion 26,500
London Stadium West Ham United 57,000
EFL CHAMPIONSHIP (ENGLAND) CLUB CAPACITY
Villa Park Aston Villa 42,790
KCOM Stadium Hull City 25,404
Riverside Middlesbrough 34,742
Carrow Road Norwich City 27,220
Loftus Road QPR 18,439
EFL LEAGUE ONE (ENGLAND) CLUB CAPACITY
Fratton Park Portsmouth 21,100
EUROPEAN STADIA CLUB CAPACITY
Allianz Arena Bayern Munich 75,000
Johan Cruijff Arena Ajax 54,033
Borussia Park Borussia Monchengladbach 46,287
Donbass Arena Shakhtar Donetsk 52,187
Mestalla Stadium Valencia CF 55,000
Juventus Stadium Juventus 41,507
Olympiastadion Hertha Berlin 74,475
Stade Velodrome Olympique Marseille 67,394
Parc des Princes PSG 48,583
San Siro AC Milan & Inter Milan 80,018
Santiago Bernabeu Real Madrid 81,044
Signal Iduna Park Borussia Dortmund 81,360
Veltins Arena Schalke 04 54,740
Volksparkstadion Hamburg SV 57,000
Wanda Metropolitano Atletico Madrid 68,000
REST OF THE WORLD STADIA CLUB CAPACITY
BC Place Stadium Vancouver Whitecaps 54,500
CenturyLink Field Seattle Sounders 67,000
Estadio Azteca Club America 87,000
King Abdullah Sports City Al Ittihad & Al Ahli 62,241
King Fahd International Stadium Al Hilal, Al Nassr & Al Shabab 68,752
La Bombonera Boca Juniors 49,000
El Monumental River Plate 61,688
StubHub Center LA Galaxy 27,000
Suita City Football Stadium Gamba Osaka 39,694

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