All the key details you should know about this year’s FIFA.
There are some things in life that are inevitable, and EA Sports releasing a new FIFA game every year is definitely one of them, even in a year defined by intense global turmoil. Of course, FIFA is a franchise that – like many other annual sports franchises – leans more on iterative upgrades than radical improvements, and while there’s going to be plenty of that to go around in FIFA 21, it seems like there’s going to be some pretty significant improvements made to its formula as well- at least, based on the details EA have shared so far. So as we look ahead to the game’s imminent launch, in this feature, we’re going to talk about key pieces of information you should know about the game.
FIFA 21 will be introducing some finer changes to moment-to-moment gameplay, and Agile Dribbling – as EA is calling it – is one of those. In one on one situations, players will be able to have more fluid and agile close control of the ball, depending on their stats, of course. By holding down R1 or RB and moving the left stick, you’ll be able to control the ball at your feet with more precise and accurate touches to dribble your way past defenders.
FIFA 21 will also give players more control over the runs your AI-controlled teammates make when you’re in attacking positions. For instance, directed runs will allow you complete control over the direction your teammates make their runs in, while for quicker and more agile attacks, you’ll be able to direct your teammates in a general direction to make a run in following a pass.
While changes such as Agile Dribbling and Creative Runs are pretty attack-minded, the new “Positioning Personality” systems FIFA 21 is introducing apply to both attack and defense. Essentially, what it means in a nutshell is that AI is being improved so that your teammates will position themselves more smartly based on what’s happening on the field. Theoretically, this means that you can expect more smartly times runs from attackers, defensive-minded players positioning themselves betters for interceptions, and the like.
NEW COLLISION SYSTEM
EA Sports have been making small yet steady improvements to physics and collisions in FIFA games for a number of years running, and that will continue with FIFA 21. The new collisions system is based on new animations that have been designed to minimize chaotic, over-the-top encounters during matches as much as possible. EA Sports says that this should result in more believable collisions, from players having more sense of how to avoid running into others to them trying to maintain their balance so as not to fall over at the slightest provocation.
INTERACTIVE MATCH SIM
For years, FIFA fans have been crying out for significant improvements to be made to the Career Mode, which, barring some cursory and ultimately needless additions here and there, has remained static for far too long. FIFA 21 is promising to finally make some much-needed improvements (at least on paper). One of these is interactive match simulations. While simulating matches, FIFA 21 will give you full information of your players’ fitness and performance and allow you to make adjustments as needed, while crucially, you’ll also be able to jump back and forth between simulation and actual gameplay whenever you want, allowing you to take control during key moments of a match.
FIFA 21 also features a new, revamped player growth system that will afford greater control over how you want to train and develop your players. Essentially, players now get XP based on their performances- the better their form, the more XP they get. By default, that XP is distributed evenly to all attributes, but you can select the exact attributes you want them to focus on, which will allow you to tailor them to specific roles and positions. You can now also convert players and retrain them in different positions much more effectively. It’s a much more granular level of control, and something that FIFA’s Career Mode has been crying out for a long time.
FIFA 21 is also adding a new attribute that pertains specifically to match sharpness, which essentially tells you how well a specific player will probably perform in an upcoming match. Going hand-in-hand with that are finer improvements being made to training, which will allow you to set up training sessions before matches to increase a player’s sharpness, and ensure that they perform well in the games to come.
NEW TRANSFER OPTIONS
The transfer market is an area where FIFA’s Career Mode has needed improvements the most desperately for a while, and FIFA 21 is adding some new options to that effect. AI teams will now be more willing to make player swap offers rather than straight cash deals, loan to buy options have finally been added in, and contract renewals in AI clubs are going to be much more realistic, which means you hopefully won’t see a player becoming a free agent months after topping the scoring charts of his league.
MORE CAREER MODE IMPROVEMENTS
There are some other improvements in the Career Mode to speak of as well. For instance, the AI improvements that we spoke of earlier will apply to opposition teams as well, in terms of everything from dribbling to attacking to defending. Meanwhile, a new activity management system is going to give you greater control over planning out your schedule and choose exactly when your team should train, and when they should be given a rest.
VOLTA was perhaps the biggest new addition in FIFA 20, and though it might not have been as popular with the fans as The Journey was, the different style of football it brought to the table was appreciated by many nonetheless. FIFA 21 is going to stick with VOLTA, with the biggest new addition this year being VOLTA Squads, which allows online 5-a-side matches with friends of via matchmaking.
EA are going to apply their next-gen upgrades plan, called Dual Entitlement, to FIFA 21, just as they have done with Madden NFL 21. In a nutshell, if you buy FIFA 21 on a PS4 or an Xbox One, you will be able to upgrade to the PS5 or Xbox Series X version respectively for no additional cost. There is a catch though- this will only be possible for a year following the game’s launch. So once FIFA 22 is out, free next-gen upgrades will no longer apply to FIFA 21.
Online play is a major part of any FIFA game, but sadly, cross-platform play has been notably missing from the series. With cross-play becoming much more common in the industry, the hope has been that FIFA 21 will be the game to introduce it to this series- though that isn’t going to be the case. EA have confirmed that though they hope to add cross-play to FIFA eventually, it will not be featured in FIFA 21.
EA does the formality of releasing a new FIFA game on the Switch every year- and it really is a formality, because those new games aren’t exactly new. That will once again be the case with FIFA 21, which is going to be yet another Legacy Edition on the Switch. What this means is that none of the new gameplay improvements, features, and modes being introduced in FIFA 21 will be in the Switch version. It’ll essentially just be a $60 roster update.
The PC version of FIFA 21 will fare much better than the Switch, of course, but EA are making some questionably decisions here as well. On PC, FIFA 21 will be the same version as the one released on PS4 and Xbox One- which, of course, means that you shouldn’t expect any of the upgrades the game will receive when it becomes available on the PS5 and Xbox Series X. Whether or not EA will add those upgrades to the PC version post-launch remains to be seen.