FIFA 19 Switch Review by SwitchWatch
Developer: EA Sports
Publisher: EA Sports
Release Date: September 28th, 2018
Price as of Article: $60 USD, £45 GBP
Last year I reviewed FIFA 18, the first FIFA game to grace a Nintendo console since 2013 and whilst it did have major issues I was impressed with a fully fledged version of FIFA on a handheld console. Fast forward a year and EA have once again opted to stick with a custom engine for FIFA 19 on the Switch rather than trying to port the frostbite version used on other consoles these days, the result is a markedly different game graphically, in features, modes, and even in the feel of gameplay. If you were to have a choice of which console to buy this on and didn’t care about playing it on the move then its quite simple – buy it on either Xbox or PlayStation.
For everyone else, the question is have EA done enough to make you part with your cash for this update just one year later?
The biggest gameplay change this year is the need for precision with passes, long balls, and through balls. In recent years you could get the power wrong on a pass and there was a fairly high chance it would find its mark anyway, in FIFA 19 that’s not the case – tap a through ball when you need more power and it will sadly dribble away from your foot. This takes some getting used to and feels quite jarring at first but it leads to a more realistic match.
This change combines with the need to set your feet, for example quickly passing a ball in the opposite direction you are facing will mean the ball stumbles – just like in real life you will need to get the ball under control before hitting that killer pass.
These two changes lead to a more gritty match experience with balls bouncing off of opponents and less bombing down the wings – in short, this iteration feels less arcade-like.
Elsewhere there have been further changes including the option of a weighted pass – achieved by holding R when you release can lead to some zippy one-twos.
Finishing has been overhauled as well. We have the timed finishing mechanic for that extra oomph when striking which leads to an interesting choice – a timed finish is triggered by pressing the shoot button as your foot makes contact with the ball after.
If you time it right, your shot will be more accurate and powerful but time it wrong and your shot will be much more likely to miss the target – choice is always good so I like that you can disregard this option completely without suffering from the penalty or gaining from its benefit for a more reliable and predictable outcome.
Overall I noticed an increased rate of success on long range shots which does border on the edge of being a little bit too easy to score from outside the area.
Goalkeepers distribution is in keeping with other consoles which I personally like, aiming left and right won’t move your keeper’s position which is especially useful when you are playing against a friend locally as this won’t signpost where you are kicking the ball out to.
The changes are numerous on the pitch, enough so that playing FIFA 18 and FIFA 19 will feel very different during a match and mostly these changes are welcome though some players won’t like the pace and will find it odd in comparison to last year’s outing.
Career mode has returned and in all honesty, its pretty much the same as last year’s version with some additional player formations. We don’t have Journey mode here. Ultimate team is back and the biggest change is the ability to play friendly seasons with your friends – a welcome addition though we are missing Division Rivals, Squad Battles, and the Weekend League modes which is a shame as these offerings provide more depth.
Tournament mode has seen an overhaul that gives us a lot of options which is especially useful when playing locally with friends as you can choose between knockout, league, and group and knockout options. The list of real tournaments is impressive as well including a huge number of tournaments – in England, for example, you can play the Checkatrade Trophy, The Premier League down to League Two, The Carabao Cup and even the Emirates Cup through to leagues and cups from around the world.
Improved Kick-off mode
Another excellent addition is the overhauled kick-off mode, like many people when I play with a group of friends we often mess about with winner stays on, best of 3’s, and randomising team selection to some degree to mix up play.
EA have accounted for this with the ability to customise your play experience, options include headers and volleys where only those types of goals count; no rules mode which is nuts – there are no fouls or offsides so anything goes; survivor which acts as winner stays on; and a whole bunch more – all of this comes with some stats so you can track who is winning and what’s going on. This is a huge improvement when it comes to local multiplayer, getting together with some mates is going to be great with this mode and it certainly plays up to EA’s pitch that FIFA on the Nintendo Switch is a more social experience when excusing some of the other missing features.
Speaking of social, one of the crippling features last time around was the inability to play against a friend online, this time its fixed and you can play online seasons, friendlies, and Ultimate team matches against a buddy.
Lee Dixon and Derek Rae step in and add their commentary in FIFA 19 and its good to hear a change from the usual suspects, that said the repertoire hasn’t been built up to the same depth given its the first time around so its good to combine them with the usual suspects. Having all of the major leagues as well as pinching the Champions League from Pro Evo leads to some nice commentary that pulls you into the drama at hand, combine this with the live updates in which the commentary reflects the teams’ real life standing at any point and you have a potent mix for immersive audio.
As always, FIFA 19 doesn’t disappoint in the music department with a library of music worthy of someone’s iPhone. You have the ability to create a playlist and other nice tweaks let you ensure your favorites appear at the right time – plus we have the champions league anthem this time to set that feeling of being in an important final!
The visuals have been significantly upgraded vs last year, this time around you can see that whilst the core engine was based on one from a few years back, they have made a decent effort to bring it much closer to FIFA on other consoles.
Character detail, in particular, looks great when on a TV, everything runs smoothly without any lag and replays have both great quality and excellent new angles to show off that wonder goal. Improved lighting and pitch degradation are welcome tweaks.
With EA securing even more leagues and competitions, its an immensely strong visual experience with every major league being licensed here. The official style packs for La Liga, the Bundesliga, the Champions League, and the Premier League for example all include official balls and banners down to the replay style and text overlay we see when watching a respective match on TV. Its an impressive feat when you consider this is equally true all the way down to League 2.
Whilst we are not up to the dizzy graphical heights as on other home consoles, the gap has certainly been decreased and of course, you can play on the move with a Switch. Here the update is less pronounced, the graphics are improved but not as much though I would say that when you are on the move the size of the screen makes this lower quality less noticeable.
Coming in at £45 in the UK and around $60 in the US, the game is not on the cheap side. In some areas – graphics, gameplay, and multiplayer – we have excellent additions and improvements whilst in others – ultimate team and career mode for example, the changes are less significant.
If you do not own FIFA 18 its a no-brainer – this is a very comprehensive offering from EA Sports and is particularly a blast against friends locally. If you do own FIFA 18 then the gameplay improvements are solid as is the ability to play against friends online but you likely wouldn’t be seeing a huge upgrade in your single player gaming – especially in the largely untouched career mode.
Overhauled Graphics and additional licenses
In match gameplay improved
Improved multiplayer online and locally
Career mode not improved
Gap vs other consoles