This week our focus is on how FIFA 22 must improve with a closer look at FIFA’s most lucrative game mode – Ultimate Team.
With the help of FIFA pro Alan "AlanAvi" Avila, we have dissected this season and where EA can build over the coming year.
Start with the positives
Before diving into where the game can improve, AlanAvi is more than happy with several aspects of the game.
In terms of general gameplay (not Ultimate Team specific), AlanAvi heaps praise on some of the new additions in FIFA 21.
“I’ve enjoyed how there are more ways of breaking down a defence, especially an AI defence, compared to FIFA 20. I also like the addition of the new directional nutmeg, player lock, and cancelation of skill moves; it allows for a larger skill gap and more ways to be unique in playstyle. The more you practice these features, the more tools you’ll have at your disposal in your attack.”
The cancel skill moves have divided opinion this season, but you can’t argue with his reasoning.
Maybe they just need a little fine-tuning!
On to Ultimate Team and we have seen some brilliant content this season, with some of the brand-new promo events impressing.
“Team of the Season, Team of the Year, FUT Freeze, Rulebreakers, and What If promos were really good. They offered the ability to use a wider variety of players instead of seeing the same old teams.
I feel variation in FUT is great, especially when it comes to a lot more players being meta or ‘useable’ so people can use their favourite players from real life that may not have the best cards in FIFA.”
Throw in the returning Festival of FUTball and we have been treated to some excellent promo events this season.
New game who ‘dis?
AlanAvi echoes the thoughts of many FIFA 21 players when discussing what he is most looking forward to in FIFA 22… fix up the AI blocks!
“I am looking forward to the gameplay changing in a positive way. I hope we have a fun game to play and good content that follows that.
I really want to see less AI help in the defence and more ways to score in the attack. In previous FIFAs, there was a different style to every goal being scored. In FIFA 21, we are seeing very repetitive types of goals.”
Not only has the AI defending been a pain in the a** this season, but attacking play has felt one-dimensional with an over-reliance on pace.
That reliance features at both ends of the pitch too with full-backs playing a more prominent role than expected.
“The fast and strong fullbacks were really good to use at the centre-back position due to their pace, agility, and defensive presence. Specifically, [Kyle] Walker, [Aaron] Wan-Bissaka, Theo [Hernandez], [Kevin] Mbabu, [Joao] Cancelo, [and] Reece James. We didn’t really see actual centre-backs at the centre-back position.”
This is an area of concern we have raised before, and we would like to see a change in how slower centre-backs manage the game.
FIFA Ultimate Team (FUT) is the most popular and lucrative game mode, so it is where EA will likely focus most efforts ahead of FIFA 22.
Anyone who plays FUT will notice that the gameplay does vary from time to time, and there are noticeable differences when playing offline too.
While the gameplay adjustments are not solely for Ultimate Team, AlanAvi is clear that the AI defending does need patching as a priority.
“EA can improve Ultimate Team by making a game that feels rewarding and balanced – a game that rewards you for crafting a nice attack with learned skill moves or other mechanics.
I don’t want to see someone getting bailed out by their AI-controlled defence when they aren’t actually putting the skill in to defend properly, and they still end up getting rewarded.”
AlanAvi has shared his ideas on how EA can improve in FUT 22 aside from the gameplay too, including some new ways to play.
“Outside of the gameplay, a big way to improve the Ultimate Team experience would be to add new creative game modes such as penalty kick shootouts, penalty kick shootout tournaments, 2v2 tournaments, or any other game modes that would give an incentive to play, especially during the weekdays.”
This is an intriguing proposition. Could some sort of VOLTA / Ultimate Team crossover take place?
If you had one wish
Given one wish, AlanAvi says he would make changes to the dribbling in FIFA 22.
“I would like to see a feature that maybe gives you more control of your players’ dribbling and animations. Similar to the precision dribbling or agile dribbling that was in FIFA 17.”
One of AlanAvi’s key reasons for this is to renew the skill gap while playing, something which AI defending has somewhat bridged this season.
“Also, in FIFA 16 and others, we could change direction quickly with attackers while sprinting forward, which called for a larger skill gap by giving the defenders more to deal with.
Seeing features that allow for more creativity in both attacks and defending would be awesome.”
A more hands-on approach to defending is preferred by AlanAvi, with less reliance on the formation or the AI to do the work for you, and we can’t help but agree!