As the number of FIFA titles grows year on year, fans endlessly finding themselves debating which title has left the greatest impression since the series’ debut in the early 90s. FIFA 21 adds another edition to the list equipped with fine tweaks and systematic changes which will give such fans a lot to think about. And, of course, it comes with fresh updates to kits, squads and stats to reflect what’s happening in the world of football going into 2021.
While FIFA 21’s gameplay is not very dissimilar from the previous instalments, there have been a number of tweaks to the game’s systems providing a noticeably smoother and more realistic feel.
The most obvious of these is the pace. Gone are the days where FIFA felt like an arcade-romp, with even bottom-division players running the length of the pitch in seconds. In FIFA 21 players, at least those at the top, feel much closer to their real-world selves. Only the fastest forwards can break through a defensive line with ease, making player choice much more compelling. More importantly, though, all the movements, repositioning and player action feel closer to life, adding an extra hit of realism, especially compared with early titles of the early 2010s.
Defending also has been given a boost, with slide tackles being notably more effective and headers accurate making pulling off the perfect defensive positioning a satisfying feat, even if it is particularly complex in this edition.
Overall, the gameplay itself hasn’t felt many big changes, but for lovers of the previous instalment, these changes will feel much needed.
Where FIFA 21 does introduce some new material is in the game modes.
To the Volta mode, reminiscent of FIFA Street, it has added a short 2-3-hour story mode which will see you progress through a bunch of skill challenges in the small-team street-type game. Its scripting and narrative are, of course, pretty cheesy, but offer a nice bit of variance for those looking for other ways to play.
The Volta mode has also been graced with an online mode, meaning the mini matches can be enjoyed with friends.
Career mode has also seen a few exciting developments.
The player development system allows you to play through a bunch of training activities to increase player stats. This is paired with Player Position Conversion where you can assign players new positions, meaning there will most certainly be a fan-challenge to turn defenders (or even keepers) into top goal scorers!
Match simulation has also seen a fantastic new improvement, which allows you to take control of the players if the match isn’t going the way you had hoped. The transition between watching the simulation and playing is also incredibly smooth, making it especially welcome.
FUT (FIFA Ultimate Team) is clearly still where EA is putting a lot of their efforts, and it has gained a handful of improvements. Most notably; you can now completely customize your home stadium, and even team-up with others in co-op modes where players are tasked with completing special co-op objectives. This certainly will breathe a new life into FUT for lovers of co-op FIFA.
FIFA 21 builds on the tried and tested formula that has proved to be a gaming sensation over the past decade. Its quality of life changes to gameplay and game modes will be welcomed warmly by fans, but some will surely criticize the title that is doesn’t stand far enough away from last year’s title to warrant another $60+ purchase.