There are reasons to be optimistic about FIFA 18. The Nintendo Switch is selling far better than many expected, while the Wii U was slow out the blocks and never even looked like recovering. And yes, FIFA 18 on Switch will be a perceptibly cut-down version, but it won’t be a whole year behind like FIFA 13 on Wii U was.
More importantly, like the console as a whole, the appeal of playing FIFA on Switch is far greater than on Wii U. The Wii U offered some largely unnecessary uses of the touchscreen and gyroscope, but the Nintendo Switch will offer the best portable version of FIFA ever made. Even the idea of huddling around the Switch for some local multiplayer, each player taking a single Joy-Con and using a simplified control scheme, seems ripe with potential for impromptu gatherings and pub tournaments.
Nintendo has a lot of ground to make up with FIFA 18 on Switch, and it’s already obvious deficiencies aren’t going to help with that. However, if it sets the goal not to topple the PS4 and Xbox One versions, instead playing on the Switch’s strengths to offer ways of playing that other consoles simply can’t, Nintendo can begin to claw back some of its diminished reputation in football gaming.