(Pocket-lint) - FIFA 18 details have been announced and Pocket-lint has had a chance to play an early build of the game for several hours ahead of E3 2017.

This year's edition has plenty of changes too, with a second year of the Frostbite engine yielding some very impressive graphical results. And many gameplay elements have been rebuilt from the ground up.

So here is everything we know about the game so far, including the new features, official screens, trailers and, importantly, the release date and formats it will be available for.

FIFA 18 release date

FIFA 18 gets a slightly staggered release, depending on whether you have EA Access on Xbox One and/or pre-order the game.

Here are the different release dates for each option:

  • 21 September - EA Access members can play the full game from this date
  • 26 September - Pre-orders of FIFA 18 Ronaldo Edition and FIFA 18 Icon Edition are available from this date
  • 29 September - Full global release date

FIFA 18 formats

FIFA 18 will be available for PS4, Xbox One (plus Scorpio) and PC through Origin.

There is also a FIFA 18 Legacy Edition for PS3 and Xbox 360, although, like last year's game, it will not feature The Journey.

Please note that the new FIFA game for Switch is not being labelled as FIFA 18 and is likely to be a tweaked experience with a different feature set.

EA Sports

FIFA 18 cover star

FIFA 18's covers are a case of two Ronaldos. Current FIFA World Player of the Year, Cristiano Ronaldo, is on the front of the Standard Edition. He also stars on his own special Ronaldo Edition box cover.

There is also an Icon Edition, this time featuring a previous Real Madrid star with the same name: Ronaldo Luís Nazário de Lima, known simply as Ronaldo. The three-time FIFA World Player of the Year leads the charge for the all-new, renamed Legends mode as it debuts on PS4 and PC, as well as Xbox One which had the exclusive in previous seasons.

FIFA 18 pre-orders

You can now pre-order FIFA 18 digital download versions from the respective console and PC stores.

Here are links for each of the different versions, on the different platforms:

PS4 (via PlayStation Store)

Xbox One (via Xbox Store)

Note, EA Access members get a discount for each version.

PC (via Origins)

Note, Origin Access members get a discount for each version.

FIFA 18 editions explained, what you get in each

The pre-order versions of each edition come with added bonuses. We're not sure whether the full release of each will also include additional offerings - we'll update when we find out more.

EA Sports

FIFA 18 Standard Edition

Pre-order comes with a loan of Cristiano Ronaldo for Ultimate Team plus eight special edition Ultimate Team kits.

FIFA 18 Ronaldo Edition

As well as the same loan of Cristiano Ronaldo for Ultimate Team and eight kits, you also get three-days early access to the game with a pre-order of the Ronaldo Edition.

FIFA 18 Icon Edition

This super-deluxe edition comes with the same benefits as the Ronaldo Edition, however you also get Team of the Week loan player packs and a loan of the legend Ronaldo Nazário for Ultimate Team.

FIFA 18: What's new?

Based on our play of a substantial early build, there is no doubt that FIFA 18 is a considerable update to last year's game. The gameplay, graphics and The Journey mode have all been improved or tweaked dramatically.

Here then are the changes we've been privy to so far. We haven't seen anything of the new FIFA Ultimate Team and there is plenty yet to come, including bigger reveals during Gamescom in August, but here are the main new features as we know them currently:

FIFA 18 graphics

FIFA 18 uses the Frostbite engine again, but with additional experience the development team has redesigned the graphics superbly.

There is a new dual-lighting system that creates a more realistic look across the board, from stadiums to players and even the pitch they play on.

Different regions around the world now have realistic lighting too, with sun-drenched South American stadiums having a more yellow-tinted filter, while European locations look greener and darker. Games look more like TV coverage of foreign matches depending on where they take place.

EA Sports

FIFA 18 animation

One of the biggest changes to not only the way the game looks, but how it plays is animation. The entire animation engine has been rebuilt from the ground up and as well as add tonnes more personality to players, they move more fluidly.

Unlike previous games, FIFA 18 now animates players and the ball frame by frame. That means you get less latency between movements of a gamepad and the player responding.

Before, a player had to finish a set animation before responding to your actions. And while that might have still been milliseconds, it made the game feel laggy - one of the biggest complaints FIFA has always had.

Now though, as a player can change direction mid-way through an animation sequence the game feels much more responsive. Players will still need to turn and control the ball, etc, like before, but different players can do so more quickly than others depending on their statistics. You finally feel in complete control over every motion.

FIFA 18 pitch

As well as look more realistic, friction on the pitch has been altered to make the ball travel slower a touch, but much more true-to-life. Passing, therefore, requires more thought and a defter touch.

FIFA 18 crowd

The crowd is another area that has been significantly improved. FIFA 17's crowd animations look great from afar but get up close and there is a lot of repetition in animation and look.

With FIFA 18, much of the crowd has its own AI, meaning it responds more accurately to action on a pitch. Score a goal, for example, and some members of the crowd surge forward to get closer to the pitch.

EA Sports

FIFA 18 players

As we've mentioned about, new animations give players more personality.

Many of the big name players move more like their real-life counterparts - including Cristiano Ronaldo, who provided all-new motion captures.

Plus, different player sizes come into play for the first time. A smaller player, for example, takes more steps when running than a bigger defender. The bigger player might also lurch along a touch in comparison.

There are many more options to the kind of motions a player is capable of, making for much more variety in even standard models.

FIFA 18 dribbling

One of the other tweaks on a player-by-player basis is slow, close dribbling.

The dribbling engine has been overhauled to match individual styles. For example, Messi and Hazard are very different players when on the ball, and FIFA 18 now reflects that.

Slow dribble has now been moved back to the left bumper of the gamepad and better gamers will be able to move their on-field player around more quickly. It adds more skills for FIFA players to master.

FIFA 18 team AI

The in-match artificial intelligence has been improved, giving a more realistic ebb and flow to a game. Players make more intelligent runs, or support the ball carrier, for example. Through balls no longer go askew, depending on the skills of the passer.

FIFA 18 team tactics

The tactics engine has been refined to include new systems that work much more like their real-world counterparts. Tiki Taka, counter attacking, pressing and even long ball tactics each have their own styles and feel. Career mode games against the computer should gain wider variety, therefore.

FIFA 18 substitutions

In-match substitutions are now possible without having to pause the game and enter the menu. Just hit the right bumper and a substitution will be offered while you are playing, with the player to come on in the next dead ball situation.

You can set up you own preferred subs options before games, or let the game recommend the next sub depending on the context when you hit the bumper - if you have an injured player, for instance.

FIFA 18 wondergoals and crossing

Goal attempts and crossing have been tweaked to give a higher possibility to score a spectacular goal.

The default crossing mode is now more curled and flatter than before. FIFA 17's crosses were too looping so easier for defenders to get to. You should have a better chance of getting a striker onto a cross now, depending on the skill level of the striker and the one making the cross.

Wondergoals can occur as the game has a better understanding of the sport and the context in which a striker finds himself. Volleys are a little easier too, although they have as much chance of flying in as in real life.

FIFA 18 defending

Of course, where attackers have been tweaked to have been chances of scoring, defenders have been tweaked too to stop them.

One change is that there is now a hard tackle option, between a standing and sliding tackle.

FIFA 18 The Journey - Hunter returns

EA Sports is yet to reveal a lot of the new season of The Journey - FIFA 18's campaign/story mode. However, it did let us in on a few nuggets.

Alex Hunter is subject to a major transfer early in the game, which we suspect is to Real Madrid considering Cristiano Ronaldo's presence as a player and character in the game.

We think there will be international matches too, considering we saw a South American vista in one of the early shots. Or maybe it refers to the pre-season tour, that was revealed in one of the screengrabs we got a glimpse of.

EA Sports has confirmed that the mode will be bigger this year, with old characters returning and some new ones.

We were told that there will be six distinct chapters this year, with different major goals to complete in each. However, there will be much more personalisation and choices to be made throughout, which will have a big impact on your own experience going forward.

There will also be customisation options for your version of Alex Hunter this year. You can't change his physical look, but you will be able to choose the clothes he wears, his haircut and even add tattoos to his arms and neck.

Another addition is local multiplayer in The Journey. And there will be other characters you can play with through the story.

Writing by Rik Henderson.