Another year, another annual installment of the newest FIFA. The latest version of the game to drop, FIFA21, has noticeable upgrades from the previous year's version. As with all sports games, devoted fans of the series will notice these upgrades, whereas the more casual fans probably won't. Through new features, such as co-op FIFA Ultimate Team, online FIFA Volta squads with friends (a nice, newer version of FIFA street) and some long awaited updates to 'Career Mode,' this latest version has something to offer everyone. One of the best features of this year's game is the fact that it'll upgrade to the PlayStation 5 or Xbox Series X version for free to those who buy a next gen console. The next generation version is expected to have an upgrade in graphics and loading times, as well as upgrades on the current version.
Unlike some of the other yearly sports games like it, FIFA21 has enough changes to make this version feel a bit different than its previous editions. Through the changes in gameplay, it feels smoother going on the attack compared to last year's game, which is a huge upgrade. On the other side of the coin, this does makes defending a bit more of a challenge, but those who have patience and learn this new gameplay style will be very well rewarded. Players now have more control over the attacking runs their teammates make as well, as they're now able to take over and play as a teammate and run behind the opposing defense. This feature is completely brand new and, if mastered, can be a total game changer for diehard players.
Similar to other sports games in today's world, FIFA tends to have a predominant focus on microtransactions in its most popular feature: FIFA 'Ultimate Team.' This year, an option has been added to play this mode cooperatively with friends, which is a nice feature. So now, you can create a franchise with your friends together and run the team however all of you choose. Since the 'Ultimate Team' mode was created several years ago, this was never an option in games past. While it's a cool feature, though, it's also yet another method to pull players into spending their real life money on "FIFA packs" to help upgrade their teams in a much faster way. It's not too much of a surprise that the folks at EA would add another way to make money while pulling more players into this mode, but still, it definitely has its benefits.
Following the introduction of the new mode, 'Volta,' in last year's game, the folks at EA have retained and even expanded upon it in FIFA21. Now, you can also hop onto a team (similar to the 'Pro Clubs' mode) to play with your friends and have fun together as teammates. This is definitely a positive upgrade, as it wasn't an option last year; however, I won't go too far with the praise, as this easily could have and should have been added into the game last year. Quite frankly, it's a perfect example of EA's laziness when it comes to its properties. Still, this mode is a blast (when it's actually working) and adds a brand new dimension to the game.
Another year of FIFA, another year of disappointment with the game's 'Career Mode.' Once the game's best and most focused feature, it's now left for dead, although I guess it has been given somewhat of an update this year, especially if you compare it to recent versions. The biggest addition to FIFA21 is the new "interactive match simulation," which, as the name suggests, lets you watch a simulation of the match and gives you the option to hop in, take control and play the game at a moment of your choice. This certainly has some promise, but for the most possible control of their team, many players will just play the entire match from start to finish, rather than waiting for an opportunity to jump in after the whistle has blown.
New to this game is the ability to develop players in a more in-depth way, as you can now convert players to different positions. This is a really cool change, especially because things like this actually happen in the soccer world all the time. Changing a defending Midfielder fully into a Center Back is an excellent option to have and it can totally change the playing experience for some. That's about it in new features for 'Career Mode' that'll actually make a huge difference, though, which just isn't good enough when there's a big community that primarily buys the game for this mode alone (major similarities to how EA treats its 'Franchise Mode' in Madden, as well...do you notice a pattern?).
At the end of the day, FIFA21 is good for what it is: a yearly sports game with some noticeable additions and the most updated rosters. So, while you can never really expect anything crazy, the game does have some decent upgrades that give it an edge over some of the previous versions. Personally, I'd say that it's my favorite out of the past few released, so hopefully that's a good sign related to future editions. I would give this game a solid 7/10, as while there are some decent changes, the players definitely deserve more, especially considering how much money this game makes from sales and through microtransactions.
- Cameron (@Cameronv1124)