With every new year comes a new FIFA. Sometimes, there’re big changes that revolutionise the experience. Other times, you’re given a similar game to the previous year under the guise of a new number. Last year, FIFA 21 felt like a carbon copy of the year before. It was released prior to the next-gen console launch, not quite sure what it was trying to be. A whole year has passed since then, and the team at EA has had time to work out how new technology can improve their iconic football franchise for the better. FIFA 22 is a monumental improvement. Certain modes feel very similar, but the gameplay has been changed dramatically. This makes this year’s iteration feel exactly like a game of football.
It seems bizarre to say, but FIFA 22 is the most realistic yet. In FIFA 21, you become familiar with AI trends. When you’re a goal down, it was a given that if you strike from a certain position, you’d score. With Hypermotion being EA Sports’ big reveal, FIFA 22 was set to utilise real-world football. It takes millions of player movements, and pumps them into the game. After only a couple of matches in, all these big changes to gameplay were noticeable. It’s a breath of fresh air in all honesty. There are plenty of improvements to every aspect of the game that make it feel like a real football match.
FIFA 22: Huge improvements to playmaking
Dribbling and controlling is much tighter, with more options to how you make runs. The real ball physics allow you to control the ball with more accuracy. When receiving a pass, turning into open space feels natural. Super knock-ons can give you a chance to play the ball in front of you and get past a defender, especially if the player you’re controlling has a decent pace stat. Explosive sprint can also send you forward with great speed, allowing wingers to rush towards the box and put in a cross. Getting support from nearby players, or setting them off on runs is also a useful feature this year.
By pressing L1/LB, a close-by player will be alerted to the fact you want them to break forward. Pressing the right analogue stick shortly after in a certain direction makes a blue line appear, and the player makes that run. To get players to come close for a short pass, you can press R1/RB to bring them in for support. Creating chances and passing is a dream, opening up so many opportunities to make unique plays when breaking forward. Using the right stick as a high pass comes in will trigger a skill that can bamboozle your marker, allowing you to show off from the moment a ball meets your feet as opposed to when you’re already in possession.
More realism than ever before
Off the ball, icon switching makes tackling more efficient. By pressing the right stick down, four icons appear above the four closest players to the ball. By pressing the prompt above the player you want to control, you’ll instantly switch to them. One of the most frustrating things about FIFA was not switching to the correct player and missing out on taking the ball from an attacker. Now, this can be done in the blink of an eye, providing much better control when defending.
The natural flow of matches is slower than last year. This makes matches more realistic, and will hopefully stop online opponents from dinking the ball up the pitch and scoring in the same formulaic way. Against AI, this means you have more control in how you counter attack, but also when working out how to defend. Opponent AI can be far too perfect at times. Fundamentally playing critical passes like everyone on the pitch has 99 vision. This can be irritating when trying to recover after a failed shot, only for the opponent to play tika taka to perfection and cut through your squad like a knife through butter.
FIFA 22: Small changes make a big difference
There are still so many more improvements to the beautiful game. Goalkeepers are more aggressive. Not only that, they make some incredible saves, and react more realistically depending on what shot you’re making. Aerial battles are brutal, but look stunning as well. Quite often my players would rise above the opposition and get above their shoulders to make an important header, falling to the ground after successfully getting the ball. Before switching to an AI controlled player, they’ll run into position for an aerial challenge, making these moments an important part of the game.
Long balls feel less lofty, flowing much better with speed and accuracy. Shots have more range and realism, requiring better precision from the player to get the ball in the back of the net. Players slow down before a shot in an effort to control the ball. Defenders stick to the opposition, but can still be broken away from providing you use the right approach. There’s something new in every facet of gameplay, making FIFA 22 so wonderful to play. With so many improvements on the pitch, EA hasn’t changed the main modes drastically. However, there’re enough subtle changes that improve the overall look and feel of many of the modes.
A new perk system
Manager Career is practically the same, and even after you try out club creation, the seasonal journey plays like last year’s. There’re new animations in transfer negotiations and in the news section, but outside of this it all seems identical. If you are keen in building a team from scratch, you can edit everything from what your team crest looks like to the style of grass on your home pitch. While there’re so many options in how your team and stadium looks, player names and appearances can’t be changed. This is a bit of a shame, especially if you were hoping to build AFC Richmond from Ted Lasso. Before you start your season, you can adjust the board expectations, what you want your transfer budget to be, and more.
In Player Career, there’re some small changes that mix things up throughout the season. You can be brought on as a substitute, with managers giving you objectives much like what was seen in the first chapter of Alex Hunter’s journey from FIFA 17. As for player progression, perks have now been added, allowing you to add up to three from a wide selection. This also transfers into Pro Clubs, where you can build a more precise type of player depending on how you want to play. Pro Clubs also grants XP which is more direct to how you level up. Depending on how you perform in all areas of the park, you’ll level up and build your player up based on successful passes, tackles, and shots.
FIFA 22: an all-round better experience
FIFA Ultimate Team has had a few new changes, but nothing that’ll rock the boat too much. Elite Leagues offer a step up after Division 1, and co-op is easier to get into thanks to a streamlined drop-in system. If you still enjoy Volta, there’re more customisation options, and a new two-player celebration that allows friends to show off together. You can also take part in online minigames through Volta, adding that little something extra. Finally, you’re rewarded for consistent skills in way of a skill multiplier whilst playing, but if you don’t really play Volta, there’s nothing here to reignite your interest in the mode.
FIFA 22 feels like such a better game. There is tons of improvements to gameplay, as well as AI on both sides of the pitch. Animations have been drastically improved, and on PS5, they are incredible. The addition of Alex Scott reporting in the place of Alan McNally is a smart move. A more detailed stat summary gives you an overwhelming amount of stats, perfect for nerds like me who care about all those little bits of information that highlight how your team performed. There might not be tons of changes to Career, but with gameplay so good, it wasn’t an issue. Pro Clubs features some nice additions, especially in player progression, and FUT is as strong as ever. The next generation of FIFA is here, and it is fantastic.
Hypermotion provides excellent realism
Better control on and off the ball
Goalkeepers are better
Aerial battles are awesome
Animations are wonderful
Slick in every way
Opponent AI can be too good
No huge changes to Career