As the nights begin to draw darker, the leaves on the trees begin to turn brown and autumn rolls in, so too does a new instalment of the FIFA series. The world might be in a strange place right now, but at least you can rely on FIFA, back and ready to see you through the 2020/21 season.
FIFA quite often faces criticism for putting out the same game year after year and, with a new generation of consoles looming on the horizon, perhaps EA could be forgiven for focusing their attention on the future.
As usual, EA have made some minor changes to gameplay and, depending on your position, these tweaks will either revolutionise the way you play FIFA or be nothing more than a mere drop in the ocean.
The big one this year is “agile dribbling,” designed to enable players to pull off the quick, mesmerising footwork that creates headlines on TikTok. All fine and dandy, but good luck if you find yourself up against a gamer who has the thumb dexterity to make the most of these skills, it will intrigue and infuriate you in equal measure.
FIFA has also tried to give you the opportunity to revolutionise the way you attack, thanks to “Creative Runs.” Unlocking that tricky defence is the key to scoring goals and in previous FIFAs, triggering runs was a simple case of hitting L1/LB and watching as a player strode forward into the empty space ahead of them.
Now, when you’re controlling a player in possession and you’d like another player to make a run, simply press L1/LB and flick the right analog stick in the direction you want your teammate to run in. It does do the trick of sending your players to where you want them to be but takes a little getting used to before you’re carving through opposition defences at will.
It works just after you’ve played a pass, too. It is useful if your defender has carried the ball up the pitch and you want them to run back or, you want to bamboozle the opposition with a decoy run.
As usual, there’s always a route to goal that seems particularly overpowered. Where last year trying to score from a header was a fruitless task, this year it has been improved to provide a greater chance of scoring; perhaps EA have taken note of Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s aerial abilities so far this season. The deft chip, too, feels like a potentially deadly weapon in this year’s game, so don’t be so quick to bring your goalkeeper out.
On the pitch, there’s not a great deal to be disappointed with. The game has the same smoothness and emphasis on attacking play as FIFA 20 without providing any radical differences to really blow you away.
Aside from the gameplay itself, FIFA has continued to tweak other areas of the game; Career Mode benefits from the addition of new dynamic training and the option to jump into games mid-simulation to change the course of your team’s destiny.
Ultimate Team, for many, is what FIFA is all about. Visually it is the most impressive game mode, bringing the depth and playability that it has become known for. This year sees the addition of a co-op mode, allowing you and a friend to team up as you build your dream squad and take on the world.
It is, as always, possible to build a great team for free but the game consistently pushes you to spend money on packs, which can be off-putting if you’re not a regular FUT player or you’re simply happy with the amount you’ve already forked out for the game itself.
Volta, the FIFA Street-inspired creation, is fun to play but feels like it would benefit from being part of its own dedicated game. The camera and gameplay systems feel very similar to the base game and there’s a general feeling that more work could have gone into this mode to give it a fresh feel from last year.
FIFA 21 brings some new and interesting features to the table, as well as better crossing, which is one of the most pleasing factors. I would like to see more effort made to improve the offline modes, particularly Career Mode. It has the potential to provide hours of satisfying gaming, yet continues to play second fiddle to the FUT behemoth.
FIFA this year is worth putting your time into; the gameplay is enjoyable, one of the major bugbears from FIFA 20 has been fixed and Career Mode has enough in it to keep you engaged. It might bear similarities to last year’s installment but amid the current uncertainty in the world, there’s nothing wrong with a familiar, comforting friend to spend your time with.
Posted by: Steven
Steven is an avid gamer with a love for many genres. Will his detailed reviews convince you to pick up some great games?
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