FIFA 21 Game Review
Wed, Oct 14.20
FIFA 21 has just dropped and having been fans of the series since the early 2000’s, you can bet your bottom dollar we bought it day one and have been playing since. What is FIFA 21 like? Is it better than last year? Is it worth the money? Find out as we run you through the good and the bad.
Firstly, if you were looking for wholesale changes this year, you’ll be disappointed. If you were looking for massive improvements in career mode (like us) you’ll be disappointed. It’s not all doom and gloom though. While changes are small and few and farer between than previous seasons, they do make a big difference. In FIFA games of the past there’s been the overhauled set pieces and finishing, playable goalkeeper option, training methods – the list goes on. For this game though, the changes are more subtle. Luckily, Jordan Henderson can relax. He's moved up to an OVR that he's happy with.
Pace of gameplay has been improved which might sound like a minimal change, but those who have played in recent years will be happy about it. Not all forwards can break away and simply outpace defenders, when in real life that is clearly not always possible. EA has done a good job this year at making pace more realistic, meaning that if you have PSG's Kylian Mbappé on the end of a through ball then sure, most defenders in the game won’t catch him which is the same in real life. But if you are playing as someone who isn’t as fast in real life, you won’t simply just be able to break away unrealistically and be one-on-one with the keeper which has certainly been frustrating in the past. The same can be said for defenders who have been far too quick at recovering in previous games. Playing as Manchester United against PSG? You’d better hope Harry Maguire isn’t chasing Mbappé...
This change of pace means passing takes more of a focus in FIFA 21 – a welcome change for players who want to be a bit of passing maestro and new Juventus manager Andrea Pirlo, or fans who love to pass their way through defences like peak Arsenal under Arsène Wenger or Barcelona under Pep Guardiola. While this change is better and carving up defences with precise one-twos and perfectly weighted through balls is thrilling, it does tend to feel a little bit to easy as you clock up the hours playing the game. This will be the next thing that EA will need to focus on to get that as close to real life gameplay we all desire.
Another thing that needs attention is the goalkeeping. Maybe EA knew there were going to be an awful lot of howlers this season (Hi Chelsea’s Kepa and Liverpool’s Adrián) because some of the keepers positioning, decision making and just all round play leaves you scratching your head at times. Corners and set pieces can become very frustrating with goalkeepers often trying to punch, unsuccessfully, when they could have just caught the ball. It’s even more frustrating when playing with a team featuring a world class goalkeeper you just know wouldn’t make such basic errors time and again.
Slide tackling has been improved which is really quite nice for those defending fans out there, and further to that the new collision system which EA has brought in makes those big crunching tackles and player collisions feel all the more realistic and satisfying.
Another improvement comes to crossing and heading which have both been overhauled. In past games many players wanted to smash their controllers (by many we mean most of us in the office) when a header would sky rocket unrealistically over the bar, or a really good crossing scenario would end terribly through what felt like no fault of the fuming red-faced player with controller in hand. For FIFA 21 things feel more realistic and instead of just crossing and hoping something good will happen, this time around things flow and actually feel more game like.
As old school FIFA fans with most of us in our late twenties, we are DESPERATE for a proper update to career mode. Sure, FUT (FIFA Ultimate Team) is okay to play and VOLTA is definitely fun with a story mode that is actually enjoyable (albeit very short at 2-3 hours), but the neglected mode that needs some urgent TLC is career mode. It’s interesting to note as well that career mode always seems to be the mode that fans cry out for as needing an overhaul – with FUT the main focus and the fact that it is monetised, it does feel like EA are purposefully letting career mode fall to the wayside.
With big promises of change we were left disappointed with such minimal changes and also that fact some of the big ones, like taking control of the match if you are losing while the game is on sim have actually been seen in FIFA iterations of the past. Just because they come back doesn't mean they are ground-breaking new features.
Player development is one of the additions to career mode we do love. Being able to upgrade players and do things like change a defensive midfielder into a beast of a centre back is rewarding and does make you feel like you are having an impact on your team. Doing so can often lead to a higher player overall which is satisfying for all you Jurgen Klopp wannabees out there (like many of our Liverpool supporters in the office).
Fan of derbies? This video from EA ahead of this weekend's Derby della Madonnina was epic.
One final thing we'd like to say is please EA, go and submit a transfer request for the GOAT of commentary - Peter Drury.
Overall the game has improved, but the improvements are once again minimal and may not be enough to really get you over the line if you were sitting on the fence tossing up if you should buy it. As much as we want more improvements, especially a lot more in terms of career mode, we still think the game is a more polished version on last years so we’re definitely going to get a lot of enjoyment out of it. We'd give it a 7.5 out of 10 overall.
A heads up as well – one of the VOLTA locations is in Sydney which is very cool for all our Sydney based followers. Who knows, maybe one day we’ll see the Ultra HQ pitch added as a playable location!