A groundswell of excitement will soon come to a head for FIFA 22 from EA Sports.
Paris Saint-Germain forward Kylian Mbappe appears on the cover one year removed from his gracing the standard, Champions and Ultimate Edition covers for FIFA 21. That's again the case for FIFA 22's Ultimate Edition, which boasts four days of early access on what is otherwise an October 1 release date.
EA Sports and Mbappe provided a look at one version:
Besides the cover star and expected annual upgrades to the beloved football franchise, this year's game seems more hyped than usual because it's the first time players will get to see the next-generation hardware truly utilized to push upgrades across the experience.
Whereas last year's game merely straddled the next-generation gap, this year's (like other recent sports releases) leans heavily into next-gen only upgrades.
Take, for example, a new gameplay feature dubbed Hypermotion. On-pitch physics have been revamped using the additional horsepower provided by new consoles, and motion-capture suits of 22 players at a time means a brand-new feel to gameplay.
Besides what EA Sports touts as 4,000-plus new animations, the added horsepower helps the A.I. receive a noted boost across the board.
From a developer diary: "The ability to make up to 6x more decisions per second gives attackers more awareness of their surroundings, allows them to make smarter runs in build-up play, and lets them react to loose balls quicker."
This type of revamp makes it fair to expect better-feeling football across the board. Also noted is the detailed work put into player behavior and actions away from the ball. More realism in the realm of reactions and general behavior equates to a release that feels less like a robotic video game and more like a simulation of the real thing.
Over in Volta Football is where players will find one of the most notable changes to any feature in FIFA 22. There, the developers have thrown in a new Skill Meter to make it feel unique.
That general idea leads to a fun wrinkle, as players build up this new meter by performing wall passes, successful skill moves and more. Fill the meter and get rewarded with a goal multiplier of up to four, so the incentive to pull off flashy moves before actually scoring is amplified, to say the least.
Also, Signature Abilities have made it into the game. Players choose one or two during the avatar-creation process and can activate them to change the course of a game. It's similar to super abilities in pretty much any other game.
None of this is to suggest Volta needed anything to feel distinct. The colorful street-ball style and multiplayer-focused experience has always been a blast. But this year's game deciding to lean even more into the arcade side of things only sounds more enjoyable.
FUT (FIFA Ultimate Team) is the other mode getting some major upgrades. Like other sports game releases this year, some of the most important details come in the form of player progression.
For FUT, the big change in this area comes via a new feature dubbed Divison Rivals, as explained at EA.com:
"Advance through a new competitive structure in Divison Rivals - your chance to take on the FUT Community online. Win matches to progress through new stages, ranks, and divisions on your way to better weekly rewards. Stay at the right level for your skill with checkpoints and accelerate your progress with win streaks that get you further, faster. Division resets at the end of each Season in FUT 22 determine where you start your next Division Rivals journey."
Through that process, players will have a chance to qualify for FUT Champions, meaning a trip to the playoffs, if not the finals. Outside of the usual collection frenzy and seasonal goals to chase—which offer a variety of rewards while building a roster—the other big upgrade is more customization options to a player's stadium, which means personalizing how a home game will feel.
While none of the big talking points above fall into the unexpected column, football fans should be in for a treat with FIFA 22 merely because of the upgraded power now present behind the game. The upgrades, plus a potentially better-feeling game thanks to the uptick in power, means this year's offering has a serious shot at being the best release in the series to date.