FIFA has been the biggest and best football simulation for so long that it could be forgiven for resting on its laurels. After all, millions of people will buy it just to get the newest teams and players. So fair play to EA Sports for giving it one of the most impressive redesigns in franchise history – at least in the field.
FIFA 22 is technically not the first next-gen entry in the annualized sports franchise: FIFA 21 missed the launch of the PS5 and Xbox Series X, but was released to those systems around a month later with a welcome fairly mixed.
But while last year’s FIFA on next-gen hardware was really a port with a little extra shine, FIFA 22 is quite the opposite. It’s a bold step forward for the franchise that takes the most popular soccer simulator on the market to the next level.
From a gameplay perspective, FIFA has never played so well. So it’s a shame that offline modes have been neglected in favor of a clear focus on FIFA Ultimate Team, which has reduced the whole package somewhat.
Still, when playing a match, you’ll be hard pressed to find a more realistic and enjoyable virtual version of the world’s most popular sport. Read on for our full FIFA 22 review.
FIFA 22 Review: Gameplay
Before its release, one of the FIFA producers claimed that FIFA 22 was “the game we always wanted to develop” and it shows. On the pitch, FIFA 22 is simply the best the series has been in years.
The much-vaunted Hypermotion animation system, which is exclusive to the PS5 and Xbox Series X versions, is a true game changer. The system adds 4,000 new animations to the game and makes every encounter with the ball noticeably different.
FIFA gameplay is no longer composed of scripted animations where your players react the same way every time. In FIFA 22, every time you pass, shoot on goal, or tackle forward, the result is original and authentic. The system even kicks in when you’re not on the ball, adding depth to play across the entire court.
I scored goals in FIFA 22 that I had never achieved in previous matches. And I’m not just talking about quality strikes from outside the box, but also scrappy goals where the ping-pong ball goes around the six-yard box like in a real match. The Hypermotion animation system is one of the biggest improvements in franchise history; going back to a former FIFA after having lived it would be a demoralizing experience.
It’s not the only gameplay improvement either, as the Guardians’ AI has also received a much-needed overhaul. Goalkeepers can now be relied on to make saves, which means head-to-head situations are no longer a guarantee of a goal. It is therefore essential that you place your shot more carefully. It can’t be overstated how refreshing it is to be able to trust your AI-controlled keeper to make simple saves.
The physics of the ball have also been changed which, when paired with the Hypermotion animation system, creates unpredictable scenarios that faithfully mimic real sport. It’s still a little too easy to create a computer-controlled squad, but the defensive positioning of the AI has also been adjusted slightly and I found myself working harder than before for each goal. Far from being frustrating, it makes the scoring all the more satisfying.
Certainly, some of FIFA’s old flaws are still present. For example, players with rhythm are still too valuable; those with an overall 70s rating but high pace stats on their own will win you matches. Additionally, set-piece systems weren’t affected, which is a shame as penalties in particular require a complete overhaul.
FIFA 22 review: FIFA Ultimate Team
FIFA Ultimate Team, or FUT, is still the most popular mode in the game and it’s easy to see why. The thrill of building your own team, grouping it with the best players and competing against the best online is extremely alluring.
As usual, it’s in FUT that you’ll find the most significant off-court additions to the game, with The Division Rivals and FUT Champions modes both receiving significant revisions.
Division Rivals have removed qualifying matches and progression is now structured around a ladder: you go up if you win a match, you go down if you lose. It’s an easy-to-learn system and it effectively rewards you for playing well. There are also checkpoints that prevent you from falling too low if you encounter bad form.
FUT Champions, meanwhile, has been reworked to be more accessible. This no longer requires you to play dozens of matches in a single weekend, but instead allows you to compete for qualifiers during the week when it’s convenient for you and earn your place to the Champions Playoff and Champions Final via a system based. on points. This redesigned progression system works well, although it still requires a lot of play in a relatively short period of time.
There’s also a whole new feature, in the form of the FIFA 22 Hero Cards. These celebrate some of the sport’s most memorable players and moments, but while they are useful, getting one requires a lot of luck. , a big expense.
Speaking of money, that remains the biggest issue with FUT. FIFA’s most important mode may be smoother than ever before, but players who are willing to invest the extra cash still have a huge advantage over those who are unwilling to spend more. The mode is unmistakably pay-to-win and this imbalance has not been addressed here.
FIFA 22 Review: Career Mode, Volta and Pro Clubs
EA Sports have promised to improve FIFA 22’s oft-overlooked career mode, but unfortunately the changes here are mostly minor.
The fact that you can now start your own club, for example, seems like a big deal – but in practice it is very little. You will spend around 30 minutes choosing your club name, choosing a patch from a predefined selection, choosing the colors for your kit, etc., but after you have created your new club all you have to do is play. in standard career mode. Sure, it’s fun to make AFC Richmond out of Ted Lasso, but playing as a created club doesn’t fundamentally change the career mode in any form.
At least the player career mode has been tweaked in FIFA 22. You can now step off the bench during a match, which is a welcome addition, but it should have been added ten years ago. The new animated sequences between matches also add a novelty factor, but that hardly changes the game.
FIFA’s take on street football Volta returns in FIFA 22, but it’s definitely an afterthought. There is no proper story mode this time around, just a quick game and an online game; you can’t even run a custom Volta tournament. Still, there’s a new arcade mode that pits you against three other players online in a series of mini-games such as soccer and tennis. This mode is really fun, but doesn’t have a lot of depth.
Unfortunately for the small but very dedicated group of pro club players, FIFA 22 adds almost nothing to this mode. There are new customization options, but otherwise it’s business as usual.
FIFA 22 Review: Visuals and Sounds
FIFA 22 is a magnificent game. The players are well animated, the top stars look incredibly realistic, and the big leagues and tournaments all have tailor-made presentation packages.
The matchday experience in FIFA 22 is also second to none. Big games are given the appropriate gravity, with a range of pre-game cutscenes adding to the build-up. This commitment to authenticity is part of the reason that FIFA has dominated the simulator football market for the past decade, and FIFA 22 is no slouch in this area.
New commentators have been added in the form of Stewart Robson and Alex Scott, the first female voice in FIFA history, nothing less. The duo bring freshness to the commenting team, though there are still plenty of times what they say doesn’t quite match the action on the pitch.
From a soundtrack perspective, FIFA 22 contains a nice mix of songs from emerging artists and mainstream tracks like Sam Fender and CHVRCHES. Being able to set any song on the soundtrack as the music played when your team scores a goal is also a good idea.
FIFA 22 Review: Verdict
FIFA 22 is a huge leap forward for the franchise. The new Hypermotion animation system isn’t just marketing talk, it’s a game-changing genius that helps games play out closer to real sport than ever before.
It’s a shame that the leap forward in gameplay hasn’t been accompanied by more substantial career mode improvements, or a redesigned FUT less inclined to encourage extra spending. But on the pitch at least FIFA has never looked so good.
Players on older systems won’t fully experience the wealth of gameplay enhancements in FIFA 22, but if you own a PS5 or Xbox Series X and fancy a virtual kick, then this is it. an essential purchase.