FIFA 22 is just around the corner, and it should be an exciting season for fans of all game modes, competitive or not.
FIFA esports commentator Richard Buckley has given his views on last year's game, as well as what to expect from this season too.
Reflecting on an unusual year of FIFA due to the ongoing global pandemic, Buckley’s report on the game is largely positive.
“I think FIFA 21 all-in-all was a very good game. And for me, it's improved year-on-year, especially over the last couple of iterations,” he said.
“I've played FIFA 21 longer than any FIFA really. In terms of the game cycle, I think EA has done a fantastic job in producing content Ultimate Team long into the year that kept people engaging, that's kept people coming back and grinding really.”
The content in Ultimate Team this season for the most part has been terrific, so we are excited to see how EA can top it in FIFA 22.
It is not just Ultimate Team that has had a successful year despite the challenges.
“In terms of esports. Since it's been all remote, which has created quite a different atmosphere, all the events being regionalised, I think there has been a lot of positives as a result.
“We've shone a spotlight on a lot of regions that might not have had a lot of love in the past: Oceania, East Asia, West Asia, South America.
“And we've really started to see sort of superstars come out, Matias Bonnano in South America. And we've seen in Oceania, and East Asia, specifically some of the best games of FIFA we've seen all year coming from those regions.”
Improvise, adapt, overcome
The future of FIFA as an esport is uncertain with the current travel restrictions, but the obstacles currently in place can certainly be overcome.
“It's impossible to call really,” said Buckey. “We're in such a- I wouldn't say turbulent, because turbulent would sort of imply that it's not under control.”
“What we can do is very much under control. As a game and an esport, if EA decided we must go online again, we simply play online again.”
The competitive gaming community has shown throughout the pandemic that it can continue to thrive, but travel remains an issue.
“I think we can just cross our fingers and hope that things get better.”
There is a lot of hype around FIFA 22 this year, and the early signs are positive too.
“I think what we've seen so far, the gameplay seems very promising,” said Buckley.
“The gameplay looks quite fast and there looks to be a lot of new skill moves, ways to beat players ways to get around people.”
It is not just the gameplay though that Buckley is excited about.
“Little things like the ball control and the humanisation of the players as well, the AI I think could be really, really important with the tactical AI upgrade.
“That's been a big thing that's sort of been talked about a lot, making better runs off the ball, the defensive shape being sort of in line with each other.”
With lots of new features exclusive to Next Gen consoles, PS5 and Xbox Series X|S users are sure to see the best of FIFA 22.
VOLTA to step up
EA has brought in changes to all their game modes for FIFA 22, but there is one unfancied game mode that Buckley has tipped for big things this season.
“The real standout that I've had a lot of fun on the open beta has been with VOLTA arcade,” said Buckley.
“Playing stuff like one-touch off the wall with mates and football tennis is fun, it can get very competitive as well!”
EA has introduced various ‘arcade’ game modes to VOLTA which should spice things up in FIFA 22.
It’s not just VOLTA that has seen improvements though as Buckley rightly pointed out.
“Across the board, there have been improvements to every facet of the game, rather than just in previous years we might have just had Ultimate Team upgrades or Career Mode upgrades.”
Hyped for Hypermotion
When asked to select just one new feature that he was looking forward to seeing most, Buckley showed no hesitation.
“Hypermotion Technology,” he said. “Made by Football, that's sort of the slogan that's been touted.
“I think 4000 animations have been added to the game, so it really should make the game more fluid.
“You should see these improvements in every single match that you play. Realistically, you should see a new thing that you didn't see in the last game for the first three, four months of playing FIFA.”
It is not just the gameplay that it should affect though, as competitive FIFA could see a benefit too.
“In previous years we've had a really good understanding of what you need to do, and when you need to do it to get the best results.
“With this Hypermotion, I think we might see just a bit more creativity all being well, potentially even at that pro level where it is sort of really grounded in what you need to do to win games and the meta.
“Hopefully, this Hypermotion technology on PS5 and the Xbox Series X can bring a little bit more creativity, especially in the final third.”