FIFA 22: Release Date, Best New Features and Cover

Chris Roling@@Chris_RolingFeatured ColumnistSeptember 24, 2021

PSG's Kylian Mbappe grimaces after missing a chance during the French League One soccer match between FC Metz and Paris Saint-Germain at Saint Symphorien stadium, in Metz, eastern France, Wednesday, Sept. 22, 2021. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)
Christophe Ena/Associated Press

FIFA 22 hopes to change the sports video game landscape when it launches globally on October 1.

With Paris Saint-Germain forward Kylian Mbappe on the cover for the second release in a row, this year's FIFA touts big next-generation upgrades harnessing the power of the consoles—on and off the pitch.

The superstar himself shared a look at one of the covers:

Kylian Mbappé @KMbappe

FIFA 22 😍😍😍 @EASPORTSFIFA https://t.co/VoQLlVEWk6

Gameplay itself appears to have received the biggest overhaul this year thanks to the power offered by the newest consoles. At a pulled-back level, gameplay should feel different simply because of HyperMotion, the nickname given to the physics and motion-capture overhauls to on-pitch action.

New animations, plus boosts to A.I.-controlled players will equate to more realistic behavior on both ends of the pitch and especially away from the ball. It's sure to make the game feel more organic as a whole and readily seen in some of the gameplay videos offered up:

All of the new abilities to chain together moves with a new sprint mechanic to top it all could have left the game feeling imbalanced at launch. But EA Sports has also promised a revamped set of skills for goalkeepers, as noted in a developer diary:

"A brand new goalkeeper system brings a new level of intelligence to the last line of defence, unlocking more reliable shot-stopping and smarter decision-making between the posts. Goalkeeper positioning personality replicates the different styles of keepers throughout the game - to represent the lightning-fast reflexes of world-class shot stoppers."

FIFA 22 doesn't slouch on upgrades across the board for game modes, either.

The uber-popular FIFA Ultimate Team (FUT), for example, gets major overhauls in the progression department. A new system, Division Rivals, is a fresh take on ladder progression in the ranked online scene, similar to online first-person shooters. Ever-refreshing rewards thanks to seasons and a shot at playoffs, not to mention big overhauls to team customization atop the usual slew of single-player modes, should have those who love to collect and form dream teams happy for at least a year.

But FUT is hardly the only mode getting big attention. Those who crave a more arcade-like experience will feel right at home in the streetball confines of Volta Football. And those who played it a ton last year will find new features that make the return trip worthwhile.

Those fresh features are most prominent on the pitch itself. A new Skill Meter that players can fill based on points earned for tricks and other feats can boost the value of a goal fourfold. It's another layer of fun arcade action that can make games even more dramatic, as even a four-goal advantage late in a match isn't safe.

That's not all—new Signature Abilities function similarly to super abilities in other games. There's one for offense and defense, plus one that generally amplifies a player's speed and other traits.

The offensive ability, for example, is as explained in a developer diary:

"Let thundering shots fly! When activated, your Shot Power Attribute gains a 50% boost and can exceed the usual 99 Attribute cap. These shots are so strong, they'll knock over and stumble defenders and GKs standing in their way, giving you and your teammates an opportunity to follow up with an open shot at goal if you don't score on that first try. This ability has a 30 second duration and an 80 second cooldown."

And no, the upgrades to various game modes don't stop there.

For those not interested in a collection frenzy or arcade-style modes, the deepest sports simulation out there is about to get deeper over in Career mode.

Split into two brackets, players can choose to manage a club or follow a solo player's journey, with both versions getting big upgrades.

Over in the club-based mode, players go through an extensive customization process, picking the new squad's star rating, generating players, picking a league and rival and modifying kits, crests and stadiums before diving into the fray.

The where and how of the created club dictates how the board will generate overarching goals and match-based goals, which then fuels overall progression. Whether a player decides to slot the club in the low ranks and start a climb or start with the best on the planet will dictate the feel of the mode.

And for those who want a more dialed-in experience, the player-focused avatar mode has improved too. Gamers are free to create a player who has to come off the sideline as a sub consistently to start their journey or simply join a top-end club.

Either way, the game comes up with similar goals, and whether a player can hit them will dictate things on the manager rating, as a developer diary detailed:

"The requirements to make the starting 11 versus the bench are based on the quality of the squad. So you'll have little room for failure in a top club as you'll have to be at your best to hold on to your spot in the starting lineup, while for lower rated clubs you're more likely to be forgiven for failing an objective occasionally."

A robust skill tree should mean distinct-feeling play based on character archetype, position and team joined. And in an additional next-generation boost, the presentation of the game—whether it's announcers or locker-room cinematics—changes to reflect the status of a player's journey.

It's a lot to take in when it comes to upgrades across the board for FIFA 22, but the laundry list of changes is what players should expect for the first major overhaul with new power backing the game.

Whether a player wants a simulation, arcade or collection experience, if not a mix of all three, the latest installment of FIFA seems to have all of the bases covered.