FIFA 18 Beta impressions: Career mode gets a much-needed facelift

Electronic Arts’ next installment of the FIFA franchise, FIFA 18, is one month away from release. As is now routine, the company gave a few thousand lucky players early access to the title via a limited closed beta. The beta, which was available from August 9 to the 20, featured one of two modes, depending on an individual’s preference, until the final weekend when EA unlocked every game mode.

My personal preference was for Career Mode, and I’m happy to report that EA has finally updated the mode with a number of much-needed cosmetic and gameplay changes that fans had clamored for years, as well as a few surprising additions.

Improved menus and options 

Let’s start at the beginning with the Career mode’s menu. The layout retains the same basic display, but the new schemes and changes give the menu a feel that veers towards more of a “web browser” feel in execution.

Player stats have all been moved to one location with a display that resembles some of the player menus in Konami’s Pro Evolution Soccer titles, EA’s competitor. All the relevant information is in the Squad Hub menu and split across four tabs: Status, Stats, Attributes, and Financial.

The Transfer Hub has also been changed in a way that makes it easier to read and follow. The Transfer Hub features four tabs with all the necessary information: Sent Offers, Received Offers, Shortlist, and Transfer Listed. Transfer negotiations have also been moved into this tab and out of the player scouting menu. Every scouted player appears in the shortlist and can only be selected from the shortlist for transfer or loan rather than the scouting menu.

Player transfers then take a whole new twist with “Interactive Transfer Negotiations” that allows gamers to conduct player transfer and contract negotiations in real-time rather than waiting for the game’s AI to handle every aspect for them (although that option is also available). Each player transfer/loan contract negotiation begins with contract negotiations with your coach and the desired player’s representative. Conversations happen via a Mass Effect-style dialogue wheel.

Contracts and delegation

What’s new to contracts is the Sell-On Clause to a player’s contract. A player can negotiate a percentage of the amount a player’s contract sells for with his new team thereby bringing another stream of cash for the team. If both parties agree, the conversation then shifts to one with the coach, the player, and the player’s agent to discuss his wages, contract length, and any bonuses.

Gamers can opt out of all that fuss by choosing the “delegate” option in the player transfer menu. The game’s assistant manager will handle the negotiations in the background and will notify the coach via in-game e-mail with the results of the preliminary negotiations.

The News section now features brief in-game cut scenes and pictures. Your Player Of The Month, for example, is shown in uniform holding up his trophy. A transfer of a big-name player usually yields a photo of that player in his new jersey on a billboard with his new team.

One weakness remains, however, in that club coaches can only be selected from a list of pre-made avatars in Manager Career Mode, unlike in PES, which allows players to customize their coaches from head to toe thereby allowing them to recreate themselves in a digital space. How difficult can it be to transfer a few options from the Player Career Mode’s avatar editor over to Manager Career Mode?

All in all, these changes were a long time coming, and have made FIFA 18's Career Mode more fun and interesting to play.