Rugby 22: Developers explain how new AI can give you the edge in attack

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The third instalment of Eko Software's Rugby 22 is out now on all major platforms.

With loads of new features, licenses, and in-depth tactical systems, rugby fans around the world can't wait to get stuck into the game.

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Ahead of the release, Rugby 22 Product Manager Clement Nicolin gave up his time to talk us through what we can expect from the new rugby sim.

What’s New?

There are plenty of new features coming to Rugby 22. Nicolin highlighted the new button system that has been redeveloped since Rugby 20.

"A new control system is in place for Rugby 22 for the rucks, lineouts and mauls. The studio has been learning from Rugby 20 and has made appropriate changes, including a more logical and convenient button system."
rugby 22
RUCK OVER - Add more weight to the ruck in order to secure the ball

Nicolin then explained why a new high-difficulty mode has been introduced for Rugby 22.

"A new difficulty mode has been added as well because we realised that in Rugby 20 even in the hardest difficulty, once you have mastered the game it proved not so difficult," he said.
"Of course, the best opposition will always be to play aginast another human, but for somebody who wants to play a quick match offline, it was important for us to provide more of a challenge."

Improved AI

When quizzed on what new feature he is most excited for fans to see, Nicolin focused in on the refined artificial intelligence.

"The improvements that have been made in the AI is definitely the most exciting element for me, as this is really at the centre of the game. It impacts every part of the game when you are playing. Having an AI that is more realistic actually allows you to create more advances moves too."
rugby 22
TEAM UNITY - Your AI squad members will be vital to the success of the team
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Nicolin couldn't stress enough how important the refined AI will be in Rugby 22.

"The refined artificial intelligence is one of the main elements of the game. Either you are playing against the computer or you are playing vs a real human but there is always AI in the game, so that has been a big point of focus for the developers."

Licenses

Nacon is very excited to bring us some of the biggest names in world rugby, having secured some new licenses for the game.

"Two of the major additions are the All Blacks of New Zealand and the Wallabies of Australia," he said.
"They come in a roster of 10 national teams. There are some minor nations, like Canada for example, that are not in Rigby 22, with our priority to focus on securing the major national teams."

There will also be some real player faces added to Rugby 22...

"Two of the teams, the All Blacks and the French national team, have had player faces created in photogrammetry and added to the game."

Access for all

Nicolin was keen to make the point that Rugby 22 will cater not only to the experienced rugby gamers but also to those who may be more pick-up and play gamers.

"The core of the community is made up of rugby enthusiasts, but we want the game to be accessible to everybody. The new training and tutorials are very important to us to make the onboarding of the game as easy as possible. These tutorials will now teach you the key elements of Rugby 22 that the previous game did not."

Tactical Genius

Rugby 22 brings an in-depth tactical element of real-life rugby to the game that we haven't seen in such detail before.

"You have a lot of tactical options in the game, you can set up your winger to be wide or to be more penetrating and can also change position of your full back. You have a lot of general tactics on the passing chain as well, where you can play the classic way, that you may have learnt at school as a kid, or you can play the modern rugby tactics with pods, so playing in a 1-3-3-1 or 2-4-2 system."
rugby 22
WELL DRILLED - Set plays can make the difference in the tight matches
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When we asked about how impactful the tactics and set plays a player chooses to use will be on the outcome of the game, Nicolin said:

"It's very important actually, because in the game when there is a ruck you will need to add players to add more wight and give you more chance to secure the ball, which is the most vital thing in rugby. Playing in pods will of course give you, as in reality, quicker support and a good base to build from. So, choosing when to use your pods will be important"

Nicolin then went on to explain that adaptation to your opponents' styles will be key.

"Adapting your tactics to the opponent will of course be the key to finding the weakness in the defence of the opponent. You have the option to make quick tactical changes during the match, so you can choose to have to different playing styles that you can switch between in order to react to what your opponent is doing."

Attacking Threat

An all-new set-play system has been implemented for Rugby 22.

"You can set up some more specific and complex plays that will change the run-course of your players, to allow you to make specific movements, create some space in the opponent's defence and catch them by surprise."

Kicking game

When asked how impactful the kicking game will be in the overall gameplay, Nicolin said:

"Rugby 22, as with the real-life sport, is a game of field domination, so it will be important to choose the right kicks in the right scnenarios."
rugby 22 kick
GOOD NUDGE - Kicking will be key in breaking down the defence
"There are several different types of kicks you can do in both defence and offence. One effective method is a chip just in behind the defenisve line that you try to regather in attack. You don't nescessarily need to kick a lot, but if your opponent is playing a modern kicking game then it's important to utilise this and take the advantage in field position."

Career Mode

You will start with an initial budget in Rugby 22 Career Mode which allows you to pick up players and improve your first team.

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You will be engaged in a small championship of five clubs in a mini fantasy league.

rugby 22
CHOOSE WISELY - Recruitment will be the key in Career Mode

As you climb the divisions you will receive a higher budget each season, meaning you can spend top dollar on the world's best players and create your dream team.

When asked to pinpoint one key element to success in career mode in Rugby 22, Nicolin said:

"I think one of the key elements to success will be to start by building a balanced team because you will have a lot of players to recruit in order to build a quality squad."

"You may be tempted to start your career mode save by getting a superstar into your team, but then, because you have spent a lot of your budget on one particular player, you will have a low budget to spend on the rest of your squad."

Next-Gen Rugby

Nicolin was keen to stress that making Rugby 22 available on Next-Generation consoles was of paramount importance.

"Rugby 22 has been developed to offer the same experience on all platforms, so no matter on what platform you are playing you will get the full game. This means that you will get 100% of the Rugby 22 experience, we are not cutting anything from the previous-Gen versions"

Rugby 22 is one of Eko Software's first video games to adapt to Next-Gen consoles so, of course, we expect to see a step up in the graphics too!

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Rugby 22 arrives on 27 January on PS4, PS5, Xbox consoles and PC. Purchase the game from Amazon here.