What can be a more exciting time to be a football fan?
Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo join new clubs and leagues after the Euro 2020 drama. Then there is the potential Chelsea, Manchester City, Liverpool and Manchester United four-in-hand racing in the Premier League and next year’s World Cup to look forward to.
And as if that wasn’t enough, we now have the latest EA Sports offering in theirs FIFA Franchise – and this time around, it’s their first real try on next-gen consoles.
The national was granted access to the PlayStation 5 version earlier, so this is how we’ve found it so far:
Style of play
Most of the people who played FIFA Over the past few years, there has been a consensus that the game has a lot going on off the field as well, with lots of modes, teams, and activities, but they get tired of the game mechanics quickly.
FIFA 21 became predictable as certain methods of shooting on goal were abused, too many unrealistic goals landed on the net and the frustration of passing grows with poor direction and weight.
It was fine for a quick pick-up and play, but for those looking to immerse themselves in the virtual game world, there were no doubt a few controllers that got whacked after a month or two, let alone six months later.
FIFA 22, aims to put things in order on the field, however, and now that we’re on a new console, gamers should really expect a decent leap forward in terms of the gaming experience.
The good news is that it feels like a different and improved game.
The most noticeable difference is that the game flow is much slower. Attacks are built more subtle compared to spamming the pass button last year, and it all feels so much smoother with players moving into the off-ball positions they are supposed to be in.
This is thanks to the new exclusive HyperMotion technology for PS5 and Xbox Series X / S, which captured 22 professional players on the pitch at the same time to study their movements.
EA said it would add authenticity and it certainly feels more like a soccer game with 4,000 new animations than an arcade pinball machine. If you want to switch the game from left to right, your full-back is advanced and ready and waiting.
Another big change from EA this year is the overhaul of the tactical AI so that attacking players make better decisions, show more personality, and defensive units keep their shape but are affected by fatigue levels.
I’ve found the first half of games to be hesitant, with play in small areas of the field and a few goals before half as the game opens later. So far, so good.
Another complaint from FIFA 21 was the ball physics. Sometimes it felt like playing with a marble, sometimes it was a beach ball.
The pass weight is definitely better and the goalkeepers can finally kick the ball well over the center line. My only problem would be shooting – when are we going to see a dipping knuckle style punch accompanying the low grass cutter, finesse curler, and soaring drive?
Goalkeepers have been the main question so far. They’re just too good sometimes. You’re doing world class saves after world class saves, but without that the scores would be too high so how do you fix that?
According to EA, the new system has more than 600 animations, although many of them appear very similar to the previous ones FIFA Title.
Experienced players will also notice how difficult it is to fire a shot from the penalty area. Defenders quickly displace strikers and come into blocks when a goal seems the more likely outcome.
It means clear openings need to be made, but it can frustrate some players. There is also a lack of dingy goals – where the balls wobble over the line or a player takes a wrong kick, but how much more realistic can it be?
Overall, the game feels fresh and progressive on the court. Hopefully future update patches won’t change it too much.
EA’s big money spinner is back with lots of players waiting to be opened. Of course, you can do this with your virtual coins, although there is an option to deposit real money. As introduced earlier this year, you can preview the package before you buy it.
In this main game mode, players build a squad, compete online or against the console, rise in the ranks, and collect cards to improve their team.
Changes this year include a reorganization of the Rivals Division so that everyone starts in Division 10 and must move up the ranks before they are reset at the end of each season.
In the meantime, FUT Champions, the highly competitive weekend tournament, has also been optimized. Now it has a two tier structure that involves qualifying for a play-off round and then the final, with EA saying this makes the schedule more accessible. Since we’ve only been playing for a week we have yet to see how effective the changes are.
Card collectors will be delighted to see the launch of FUT Heroes, basically ex-players who weren’t quite icon-level (think Robbie Keane and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer), but it’s well worth getting into the game.
You can again customize your own stadium and one of the nicest inclusions is the chants of the crowd and the club anthems. For example, when Manchester United fans go out to the sound of the Stone Roses and hear Liverpool fans You’ll never Walk Alone is an absolute pleasure.
Other game modes
For those who prefer to spend their time outside of Ultimate Team, the career mode has been redesigned.
There’s now an option to create your own team from scratch in the Manager Career, with stadium customization added as well. Meanwhile, in the player career, you can join the fight as a replacement as a freshman who is ready to make a name for himself. There’s a revamped player growth system, while the manager’s rating system will determine if you will be dropped.
If you’re in the mood for a quick kick with your pals on the street, Volta is back. It comes with new skill moves and a skill meter system that makes goals worth more (the more nutmegs – kick the ball between a player’s legs – the better). There are also fun games like dodgeball, soccer tennis and disco lava where you dribble over colored squares.
The football purists who like to score after a 20-pass move will be happy about the changes from EA. Is it a giant step up from PlayStation 4? Not yet, but it’s a step in the right direction and the first impression is that there are still months of enjoyment ahead of us FIFA 22.
Updated: September 27, 2021, 7:06 am