Fifa 18 Nintendo Switch
The game in handheld mode.EA

EA Sports' upcoming version of Fifa 18 for Nintendo Switch caused a few alarm bells to ring when it was announced. Inevitably it was revealed that the game hasn't been built in Frostbite, EA's current engine of choice, and does not include some of the football series' headline features.

Consequently, expectations haven't been high, but the game is an interesting proposition. There has been a desire among Switch owners to see familiar console experiences transition to the device for the simple reason that it's portable, and for many that portability is immensely convenient.

Fifa has long been a multiplayer favourite, and immediately it seems like a natural fit for Switch's built-in local multiplayer capabilities. The only issue would be how much effort EA would put into the game.

The answer, it seems, is plenty.

Fifa 18 for Nintendo Switch doesn't look as good or play quite the same as the upcoming versions for PS4 and Xbox One, but it was never going to. Compare the visuals to Fifa 18 on PS4 Pro and it's significantly inferior of course, but taken as a handheld Fifa it looks great.

What this game does is provide Switch with what seems, after our hands-on session, to be a solid Fifa title that makes good use of the console's unique, portable features.

Primarily, this means tabletop mode. This is when the Switch's Joy-Con controllers are removed from each side of the portable screen and said screen is propped up with a kickstand on the back.

The Joy-Cons are perfectly suited to short multiplayer sessions, but the complexity of any one game's control scheme will determine how well they work with the miniature controllers.

Fifa 18 for Switch offers players two core layouts when using a Joy-Con: a super-simplified layout and something a little more complex, but players hoping to pull of finesse shots or skill moves will be left wanting.

This isn't for those players though, this is for people on the move who will enjoy a simplified Fifa experience whether in multiplayer or not. This version of the game may not include The Journey – Fifa's headline-making single-player campaign – but it does include the insanely-popular Ultimate Team in offline and online modes.

Fifa 18 Nintendo Switch
Fifa 18 being played in Switch's tabletop mode.EA

There are new modes designed specifically for Switch too. Two devices can connect wirelessly for Local Seasons and a quick-starting Switch Kick-Off mode allows players to get straight into the action.

Online multiplayer is limited to a maximum of four players rather than the 22 its bigger brothers can reach, but 11-vs-11 games aren't exactly beloved. They're a gimmick really, and hardly a loss here.

Fifa 18 for Switch is shaping up to be the best portable version of the game ever. Docked it may pale compared to other versions, but in handheld mode it looks lush, running smoothly and offering a Fifa game that will satisfy casual fans after fun rather than mastery.

This is for casual fans and families, for parents to play with their kids on planes, trains or wherever they please. It's for those kinds of spur-of-the-moment multiplayer sessions Nintendo Switch was designed for.

Fifa 18 for Switch will be released on 29 September.