FIFA’s last major act for the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 came last fall, and didn’t exactly end on a high note. In our FIFA 21 review last year, we highlighted that while some of the gameplay felt fresh, most of the title’s game modes, including Football Ultimate Team and Career Mode, just felt too similar to prior games in the series.
FIFA 22 offered EA Sports a major opportunity, since this is really the first true next-gen edition of the franchise. FIFA 21 did receive an Xbox Series X/PlayStation 5 edition back in December 2020, but much like with Madden 21, there were no new additions other than updated graphics. So, did EA nail it with FIFA 22, or did it hit the crossbar? It’s good, but much like with FIFA 21, it can be tough to distinguish this year’s game from last year.
Gameplay gets a “machine”-like upgrade
If you paid attention to any of EA’s marketing of FIFA 22, there was one singular theme that could be seen with ease: gameplay would be like nothing that has been seen before. Throughout the summer, EA touted the new FIFA Hypermotion system, which utilizes machine learning in order to replicate thousands of real-life motions into the video game. In other words, EA sold players on a system that would be marked by more realistic and much smoother gameplay.
Throughout my time with the game, I have to say that while I was a bit skeptical about how this would play out throughout the summer, I’m not anymore. FIFA 22’s gameplay does feel quite nice, to say the least. Passing feels fluid and consistent, something that, needless to say, is incredibly important in football (or soccer, depending on what part of the world you live in).
Sprinting and dribbling animations also look and feel clean, with very little visible clunkiness around. And as far as the AI goes, the computer-controlled players do hold up their end of the bargain. AI players cover their spots and have solid awareness across the pitch.
FIFA’s gameplay hasn’t been controversy-free over the years, and we did note some of the problems that have been present in the title over the past. But as far as FIFA 22 goes, the gameplay is not something that I can complain all too much about.
Ultimate Team does not receive an Ultimate facelift
To no one’s surprise, Football Ultimate Team (FUT) is back for another year. Users can attempt to construct their very own dream team of former and current football superstars from around the world. But much like in other years, this year’s title will either require players to grind for hours and hours on end, or spend some real-life dough and buy packs.
Ultimate Team, much like last year, does offer some opportunities for free-to-play users to build a solid team, thanks to Squad Battles, Squad Building Challenges, and Objectives challenges. But aside from minor aesthetical tweaks and the addition of FUT Heroes, it’s really hard to find the differences between FUT 21 and FUT 22.
It’s hard to expect much to change in Football Ultimate Team over the next 12 months. FUT is still a big money-maker for EA, despite the controversies that have surrounded it over the past few years. Electronic Arts has dealt with a number of controversies regarding FUT, including the banning of selling microtransactions in Belgium thanks to government actions, and accusations over employees selling Icon cards. So much like in past years, FUT looks to be in the same place as before: a love or hate mode.
FIFA’s Career mode returns for another year, as users can either choose to be either a manager of a club football team, or become a player. Career mode sees the return the option to create a club, plus some other new features. FIFA 22 allows players for the first time to start out as a reserve. Users can begin as a reserve or substitute, and grind in order to make it into the Starting XI.
Additionally, Career mode offers an overhauled player upgrade system, highlighted by a XP and Skill Tree system that looks quite similar to what NHL integrated into its Be a Pro mode last year. Users must meet certain in-game objectives and collect XP in order to court favor with the manager, and move up into new levels and acquire new Skill Points.
Career mode, by and large, is fine for the most part. On the player side, it does feel a little too easy to jump into the starting lineup, especially if you do all of the Training sessions on a weekly basis. But, it does feel rewarding for the most part.
VOLTA has also returned for FIFA 22, as users can once again travel the world and play pickup street games in scenic locations around the world via Squads and Battles. While it might not receive the same kind of attention that FUT does, VOLTA is a nice change of pace from everything else that FIFA has to offer. If you have any friends who enjoy football, but don’t like FUT all that much, VOLTA is the kind of mode where users can just pick up the controller and have stress-free fun.
Despite the past controversies that EA has dealt with in prior years regarding FIFA, it’s refreshing to see a more rewarding gameplay system instituted into FIFA 22. Yes, this game shapes up to be the kind of title that individuals will love or hate, depending on your opinion on the microtransactions-laced mode that is Football Ultimate Team. Still, the AI and gameplay engine does feel fresh and clean, and that, coupled with the tweaks to VOLTA builds and Career mode does give FIFA 22 a different look.
FIFA 22 does have some room for improvement, but by and large, this wasn’t a bad start for EA and the FIFA development team.
7 / 10
|+||Hypermotion adds more fluidity and consistency to gameplay|
|+||XP and reserve option adds more layers to Career mode|
|–||Despite minor additions, FUT feels much like last year|
|–||Similar to prior titles, microtransactions lurk in every shape and form|
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