FIFA 22 has arrived.
For those who pre-ordered the Ultimate Edition of the annual football juggernaut, the game is available as of Monday. For those who waited, global launch is Friday.
Either way, a dramatically upgraded football experience awaits as the FIFA series fully leans into the power of next-generation consoles for the first time. Doing so has paved the way for a huge overhaul to the feel of gameplay, plus new features and upgrades for three of the game's biggest modes.
Of course, right around the release date is when player ratings really start to enter the discussion.
This year, the game's cover star Kylian Mbappe is right there alongside the sport's heaviest hitters as one of the players with the highest overall rating:
And just for fun, let's point out that Mbappe has the highest "potential" rating in the game for career modes:
Career mode is a huge point of emphasis for the game this year. The player-oriented career mode offers big overhauls to progression and match-based goals that actually reflect what's happening on the field. Meaning, a player's created avatar will have to accomplish goals based on the formation of the opponent and his or her team's formation and individual position.
The club-based career mode gets the most noteworthy boosts of all, though. There's an extensive list of things players will be able to customize while creating a club, including kits, crests and more.
From there, players will pick the league, rivals and other features that will actually be properly reflected in the presentation package thanks to the upgraded power of the new consoles.
From a developer diary:
"You can choose any league in the game, carving your path to glory from the bottom tier of a country’s league system or playing against the world’s biggest teams in the top leagues. You will then choose a Rival club from within your league. Matches against your rival will be treated with higher importance in our broadcast experience and benefit from additional news coverage & stories."
Volta Football offers similar customization options for those who prefer the more arcade-based gameplay. Players can tweak much of their home pitch's design, including the crowd itself. If nothing else, it's just another way to put a personal touch on a player's home environment, especially when playing online against others.
That's a smaller note about Volta compared to the really big stuff, though. This year, FIFA introduced a Skill Meter to gameplay that amplifies how much a goal is actually worth on the scoreboard. Filling up this 1,000-point-based meter through feats like wall passes (200 points) and fancy passes (100) changes a goal's worth by up to four.
There are also new super abilities to earn and use on the pitch at key moments, as a developer diary explained: "Signature Abilities are brand new, easy-to-use, game-changing abilities for you to trigger during a match. Whether you want to slam home thundering shots from anywhere on the pitch, blow past opponents with lightning pace, or rattle bones with crunching tackles, Signature Abilities are there to help."
By comparison, FUT (FIFA Ultimate Team) doesn't have as many noteworthy upgrades. But the collection-based mode continues to flaunt a customization slant of its own merely because it lets players earn rewards in the way they choose instead of shoving them into activities they don't want to play.
Solo players who want to tackle challenges alone can do just that and still earn plenty of awards compared to more multiplayer and competitive-minded players. But it's online that gets a big overhaul this year, as a new Division Rivals format offers players skill checkpoints to reach for additional rewards alongside season-long goals. The highest of the top-end players even get split off into their own bracket as everyone pursues the playoffs and more before seasonal resets.
In the backdrop of all these upgrades for the big three are simple gameplay boosts provided by the additional power of the new systems. Computer A.I. is smarter, mixes up attacks more and behaves more realistically away from the ball.
That, paired with a new camera angle and improved ball physics, makes for a better-feeling game that aligns with the simulation-styled goals of the series as a whole.
Of course, it only has to be a simulation sort of game for players who want it to be. Volta is still there for players who want arcade-only action, FUT is there for the fantasy-drafters across all eras and the career modes with endless numbers and stats is there for players who want to go elbow-deep while running an entire club.
Written another way, it's a great time to be a fan of the sport as FIFA finally steps into the next generation.