Countless arguments have been made over time with regards to FIFA going down the free-to-play route. But if the recent release of eFootball 2022 – or Pro Evolution Soccer to the vast majority of us – has taught us anything, it’s that players are still by and large happier with a premium sports title. Of course, these arguments tend to be louder when FIFA has an ‘off’ year, but could the lack of arguments this year be down to a better FIFA title or the failures of eFootball?
It could well be both.
FIFA 22 isn’t a complete rewrite however; this time around, EA have decided to tweak things here and there. No new modes have been added, but existing modes have been fleshed out, to varying degrees. And despite this being the second FIFA on Xbox Series X|S, this is the first time it has felt like a true next-gen experience.
Thanks to the new HyperMotion technology, the actual gameplay in FIFA is perhaps the best it’s ever been at recreating the beautiful game. You can feel the effects of it instantly on the pitch. From how a player collects the ball, to the way they will fall when having their shirt pulled, player movement has been completely overhauled. Tackling animations are improved but can still cause some awkward moments when bodies collapse in a heap on the floor.
Games are exciting again and feel much more fluid; faster than the past few iterations. There are goals aplenty too as shooting feels natural in terms of where you line up the shot, and goal tallys can quickly tick over. Even with my short time with FIFA 22 I have had scores such as 9-0, 7-2 and 1-5, though this could be as a result of primarily playing as Leeds United…
How have EA achieved this? By using motion capture on a real 11v11 match, this has resulted in FIFA 22 having over 4000 new animations from over 8.7 million frames of data. And boy does it work. No wonder it has been reserved for next-gen systems only.
That’s the headline addition for FIFA 22; many other new inclusions are smaller but just as appreciated. For example, female players have now been added into Pro Clubs for the first time. They are still missing from Ultimate Team, but don’t be surprised if they are included for next season. It would be awesome to create some otherwise impossible dream teams with the likes of Ellen White, Megan Rapinoe and Lucy Bronze dropping into Ultimate Team alongside established male players.
Speaking of Ultimate Team, it is largely untouched this time around, with tweaks rather than new features. But if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it, right? New Hero cards will be sought after however. These provide unique chemistry links based on the league the likes of Robbie Keane, Jerzy Dudek and Freddie Ljungberg and more that their ‘hero’ moment are famous for. Other improvements are directed towards Division Rivals and FUT Champions that are aimed at reducing requirements and time commitments required to succeed. This almost sounds counter-intuitive from EA, lowering the amount of time spent in Ultimate Team for you to achieve your goals. But then there are lots of options to help you limit the amount of time you spend playing FIFA; the addictive nature of Ultimate Team and opening pack after pack is acknowledged in a positive way.
Volta returns, and feels like it is branching away from regular FIFA – in a good way – into its own separate game. Once again featuring its own soundtrack, Volta has this year introduced Signature Abilities: Choose from Power Strike, Pure Pace and Aggressive Tackle. These can be unleashed when ready by pressing RB. Power Strike and Aggressive Tackle are far more effective; the tight pitches and smaller number of players in Volta make Pure Pace an almost redundant ability.
This time around though, you don’t just have to stick to the pitch. Volta Arcade has arrived with eight minigames designed for four-players, with more to come over the season. These bitesize party games feature Volta gameplay in a variety of situations; target practice, tennis, dodgeball and more, these are fun little additions that can be played online competitively or with friends. For some reason though, they are only available on weekends.
Career mode now allows you to create your own club for the first time ever. You can drop them into any league in the world, allowing you to set things such as the clubs overall rating, age, budget and more. This doesn’t actually allow you to create a team of players from scratch – so your Sunday league team can’t be created as individuals per se – but you can at least use their team name and other ‘qualities’ should you wish.
Other new additions are about getting you as fully engrossed in what is happening away from the pitch as it is on it. New cutscenes when negotiating for players as a manager, or dressing room sequences in the improved Player Career have been added. Many of these aren’t voice acted unfortunately, but are a nice touch nonetheless.
One area that is fully voice acted is the new intro, and anyone watching you play would be forgiven for thinking you were playing something other than FIFA during it. After creating your new avatar, it’s a race against time through the streets of Paris for your first day training with the PSG squad. You just so happen to be living in the same building as David Beckham and, after choosing a suit to wear from the in-house tailor, join the likes of Lewis Hamilton and Anthony Joshua in the boxes to watch PSG take on Chelsea. It’s a little bit silly, maybe narcissistic, not entirely FIFA, but it is good fun.
With the inclusion of HyperMotion technology, FIFA 22 on Xbox Series X|S is in the best shape it has been for years. HyperMotion may sound very buzz-wordy – and it is – but it also fundamentally changes the action on the pitch into something very much resembling real-life football. Tweaks and changes will be made as the season progresses but right now, this is one of the best launches a FIFA game has ever had.
Experience HyperMotion for yourself in FIFA 22 on Xbox Series X|S for £59.99