FIFA 18 will no doubt be the best-looking game of the series – but just how much better will players and managers look?
Speaking to Dream Team Gaming last year, Frostbite Studio Director Jonas Skantz revealed FIFA 18 will be a considerable leap in visual quality – despite running on the same engine.
Our graphics team have knocked up what a FIFA 18 Jose Mourinho could look like compared with the FIFA 17 version
We go through just how much better character models could look in the next FIFA – examining everything from animation and skin complexion to hair detail and eye movements.
Let's kick off.
Thanks to Frostbite's enhanced lighting capabilities, players' skin tone looked more lifelike than in FIFA 16.
This is due to something called Physics-based Rendering (PBR) – which renders graphics in a way that more accurately models the flow of light in the real world.
The Frostbite Engine did a good job recreating Eden Hazard in FIFA 17 – but it was still some way off Battlefield 1 quality
This means re-creating everything from essential reflections, to specular intensity, gloss and global illumination – where light bounces or is emitted from objects other than the primary light sources.
We'd expect this to take another leap in FIFA 18 – with more detail such as wrinkles and under-eye shading to make players look more realistic.
Previous games to have used Frostbite include Battlefield 1 (below) – which boasted near photo-realistic characters both during cutscenes and in-game – largely due to the way the engine recreated light.
Battlefield 1 still has some of the most realistic character models in any game – especially when it comes to the eyes
This is one of the hardest things to get right.
Sadly, although the likes of TressFX have made huge leaps in the reproduction of a realistic barnet, given the amount of GPU power required – and the sheer number of players on the screen – this won't feature in FIFA 18.
The Tomb Raider reboot used TressFX to make Lara Croft's hair look more lifelike
However, all hope is not lost.
While hair will still look 'stuck on' and lack movement – we'd expect to see slightly more detail due to an increased polygon count.
Post processing, such as depth of field and motion blur, will go some way to mask static hair, too.
Many gamers noticed that while FIFA 17's characters looked realistic, they were let down by a 'dead-behind-the-eyes' look.
Given the emphasis on The Journey – which required lead character Alex Hunter to show a range of emotions – it detracted from the experience.
A large part of this is due to the nature of the game itself.
Although impressive as a static image, during gameplay players'expressions were limited and gormless in FIFA 17
Character models' eyes are usually programmed to just look at the ball – so do everything they can to keep their head and eyes centred on it.
Creating realistic eyes then becomes an engineering task of figuring out how much of this animation you can show without destroying the target of where the ball needs to be.
Thankfully, this is an area that EA along with rival publishers 2K, are pumping a lot of resource into.
An initial improvement will likely be increasing blinking frequency or introducing saccades – the quick, simultaneous movement of both eyes between two or more phases of fixation in the same direction.
Animation and post processing
This will likely be the biggest area of improvement, despite the fact EA will likely be reusing and tweaking animations from FIFA 17, rather than starting from scratch.
EA will no doubt be increasing the polygon count of FIFA 18's biggest players – leading to more realistic graphics
Managers will be the focus, given the gulf of animation quality between them and the players in FIFA 17.
While some effort was made to try and capture managers' behaviour and individual characteristics, further refinement is required to help add even more character.
Frostbite is full of tricks to make games look pretty – tricks that were arguably underused in FIFA 17.
As a result, expect an improved depth of field and motion blur to feature – making character movement look more 'TV' like when watching replays.
Thank you for reading and good luck in your next adventure and you can buy FIFA 18 coins on our site that will help you get a more pleasant game journey!
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