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FIFA 21 Next-Gen Preview - Breaking Down the Newest Details

fifa 21 next-gen preview

FIFA 21

FIFA 21 Next-Gen Preview - Breaking Down the Newest Details

If you’re one of the lucky ones who has been able to secure a next-gen console, you’ve been waiting patiently to hear news regarding what next-gen sports games are going to look like. With NBA 2K setting the standard and drawing some good reviews from my OS compatriots, it was always going to be tough for EA to measure up. While information on Madden was released late last week, we had to wait until November 24 to get a sneak peek at what’s in store for FIFA 21. Now that we’ve had a moment to take in what EA has planned for next-gen FIFA 21, it’s time to see if the wait was worth it in our FIFA 21 next-gen preview.

DualSense Controller Haptics

One of the best features the PS5 has to offer centers around the new DualSense controller. Harnessing the power of the console, the PS5 controller’s haptic feedback “responds to what happens on the pitch.” While this sounds like typical EA marketing, the proof is in the pudding as displayed by Astro’s Playroom and NBA 2K21. Offering resistance when players are fatigued and controller-specific vibrations should bring a new way to “feel” the action on the pitch.

The instantaneous feedback that should result from a crunching tackle seems like a no-brainer but the execution of fatigue will be interesting. Different parts of the community have different ideas when it comes to fatigue and its effects on gameplay. While the sim crowd will welcome this change, I’m not quite sure how the esports and FUT crowd will respond. My gut tells me they won’t be too happy, but if it is addressed properly and applied consistently, the playing field could be level — something that community wants.

Lastly, “Activity Cards” have been added as a way to jump right into the action (modes) from the main menu. If we’re being honest here, (side note, we always are) this does little to nothing for my excitement as load times are already lightning fast on next gen, and being able to jump into career mode now is already a breeze considering your most recently accessed modes/saves appear on your home screen. These decreased load times will probably kill off the pre-match arena skill games, which I honestly enjoy, but in the end it’s still a net positive.

FIFA 21

Visuals

Enhanced visuals are the most logical improvement we’re expecting when we move to a new generation of consoles. In particular, stadiums and crowds are set to receive some much needed attention. Upgrades to lighting and player models by way of “strand based hair technology” are marketed to show off the power of next gen with more life-like representations. Who knows, maybe we’ll be able to count every strand of Wayne Rooney’s hair!

When it comes to visuals, I’m not expecting too much of a leap when playing on the default camera. Because it’s zoomed out so far on the player action, and yet not so zoomed out you get the whole stadium, you really don’t get a chance to take in the stadiums and what makes them unique. Increased crowd visuals are what I expect to be the biggest difference from last gen, so it will be interesting to see how well the fan models hold up now.

fifa 21 next-gen preview

Next-Level Atmosphere

We’re approaching nearly a year without fans in the stadiums, so it’s easy to forget how raucous the atmosphere can get at soccer matches. While FIFA 21 released with the best atmosphere the series has enjoyed to date, the next-gen offering promises to take it to the next level. More cinematics pre-match are nice but I have the feeling most of us will skip over the cutscenes of fans walking through turnstiles.

What’s more eye catching is reading about the crowd’s reactions to on-field events. For me, that’s one of the biggest omissions in sports games. While most games have the requisite trophy presentations, it’s the emotion of scoring a last-minute winner that often fails to generate the same feelings they do in real life. If FIFA 21 can give me those same sort of feelings on the PS5/Xbox Series X, we’ll be in for a real treat.

Next-Level Simulation

FIFA 21 on PS5 also allows us to create the most natural movement and behavior to date.

This is music to my ears but I’m not holding my breath. Over the years I’ve been extremely critical of how FIFA moves. Yes, it’s very responsive but that comes at a cost, namely physics. True foot planting has been a wish of mine for many years — and not just in FIFA but also in Madden and NBA 2K. While NBA 2K and Madden have taken strides on next gen towards accomplishing this (at least Madden claims it has), I feel as if FIFA has gone the opposite direction.

Thus, hearing phrases such as “enhancing the visual quality and responsiveness of linked animations on the ball, giving you more agility and control over the ball than ever before with over 700 new animation combinations” give me cause for concern. I love new animations being added to their database, but FIFA already has a hard time with picking the right animation for the moment, which is why at times it can look so awkward. “Off the ball humanization” that was touted in the build-up to yesterday’s press release is a nice touch at adding the “little things” but lacks any real substantial change to how the game is played.

Dual Entitlement

One of the nicer things gaming companies have done with this console release is offering a free upgrade to those of us who have already purchased these games on the PS4/Xbox One. There’s not much to be said about this, but if you’re curious as to how it works feel free to check out EA’s website here for information on how the program works.

New Camera Angle

EA just kind of casually threw this nugget in, but it mirrors what Konami did with PES by changing the default camera. Although official screenshots haven’t been released yet, several FIFA Gamechangers have leaked pictures of this new camera:

Inspired by the look and feel of top-level football broadcasts, a new gameplay camera gives you a fresh perspective on every match. See more of the pitch to help you plan your build-up play or block passing lanes, and watch home and away fans react to the game in real time.

Reading the press clipping and looking at the screenshot posted above it appears that the camera offers a more broadcast feel. Some might have difficulty playing with such a zoomed-in angle but more options is never a bad thing.

Bottom Line

If you already purchased FIFA 21, then upgrading to the PS5/Xbox Series X version is not even a question. While the changes here are all welcomed additions, I can’t help be underwhelmed when compared to NBA 2K21 and the significant changes their development team made to AI and the foot planting mechanics.

Without seeing actual gameplay footage, we’re left to judge this next-gen offering based off a glitzy trailer and marketing pitch that has let us down previously (cough, cough Madden 25). I wasn’t expecting any significant changes, but with how tight EA kept this to the hip and how delayed the actual next-gen release is (December 4), one would expect a little bit more. Nonetheless, I’m still excited to see if any little gameplay changes have made their way into next-gen FIFA 21.

What’s your excitement level at for FIFA 21 on the PS5/Xbox Series X?

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Discussion
  1. I think you're right the competitive crowd will not like the feeling of fighting the controller due to fatigue. Because "responsiveness" trumps all and they will be the loudest voices, this will probably lead to decreasing fatigue across all modes. If only there was a solution that other games in the same company use for balancing different game modes...
    Still excited for the upgrade but I was never expecting a dramatic overhaul or AI enhancements. As I said before, if they would make some subtle tweaks that would really improve gameplay -- the minor changes to blocks & such are fine but not the real issues -- I'd be happy.
    Full disclosure I think this '21 is a terrible game. If someone likes it fair play but it's not the experience I want. It's becoming more evident that I'm not the target demo for the direction they want to go.
    Haptic:
    Anyone who's played Astro's Playroom knows how awesome the DualSense can be if developers use it to it's full capabilities. EA's tendency to only do things to the extreme whether good or bad gives me little hope that they can make the most of the controller especially in year one.
    Activity Cards:
    Still haven't used this in any game I've played yet. Like was mentioned games already load really fast. Also the jumping straight into an activity is a bit different in a sports title seeing how there is usually some "admin" work you want to do whether it be in opening a pack in FUT or doing some training in Career. Rarely do people just jump straight into things.
    Visuals:
    Like I said in the other post this is a given. It should look better things should continue to look more realistic that just the nature of computer graphics.
    Atmosphere:
    Fluctuating crowds (whether leaving during a match or a poor performing team not packing the seats), flares, smoke bombs in the stands is that in the game if not they still don't get the atmosphere. Fans walking into the stadium cool, what does it feel like on the pitch. Will the roar of the crowd be deafening in a Merseyside Derby or will it feel like every other match. Their description sounds like the atmosphere of watching on TV more than being on the pitch or in the stands.]
    Next Level Simulation:
    Said it in the other post but unless the animations also introduce some type of physics/collision engine then it's useless. You can have a million animations but if they happen because they "have to" happen to get to the next animation based on an algorithm it's just a poor representation of trying to emulate real life. It might look pretty but will continue to play terribly. How many times have instead of fixing a problem they just shorten how quickly or slowly an animation takes. It's the little in between movements that get neglected. Off ball humanization is a joke those little touches are nice but mean nothing in the end.
    Dual Entitlement:
    What KG said.
    New Camera Angle:
    So what exactly is this. I'm confused so what is the broadcast camera angle we have now. Maybe they won't have some stadium roofs clipping into view anymore.
    Like I said in the other post no version of FIFA will ever touch my PS5 unless I hear really good things from people I trust. Can't keep giving EA a pass for just barely making a functioning game because loyalty or familiarity.
    Qb
    I think you're right the competitive crowd will not like the feeling of fighting the controller due to fatigue. Because "responsiveness" trumps all and they will be the loudest voices, this will probably lead to decreasing fatigue across all modes. If only there was a solution that other games in the same company use for balancing different game modes...
    Still excited for the upgrade but I was never expecting a dramatic overhaul or AI enhancements. As I said before, if they would make some subtle tweaks that would really improve gameplay -- the minor changes to blocks & such are fine but not the real issues -- I'd be happy.

    The second when Murray Miracles III can't get on the end of a Hans Gruber manual through ball because of haptic related fatigue effects I'll probably say a few choice words in your ear!
    jrnlgrn
    Full disclosure I think this '21 is a terrible game. If someone likes it fair play but it's not the experience I want. It's becoming more evident that I'm not the target demo for the direction they want to go.
    Haptic:
    Anyone who's played Astro's Playroom knows how awesome the DualSense can be if developers use it to it's full capabilities. EA's tendency to only do things to the extreme whether good or bad gives me little hope that they can make the most of the controller especially in year one.
    Activity Cards:
    Still haven't used this in any game I've played yet. Like was mentioned games already load really fast. Also the jumping straight into an activity is a bit different in a sports title seeing how there is usually some "admin" work you want to do whether it be in opening a pack in FUT or doing some training in Career. Rarely do people just jump straight into things.
    Visuals:
    Like I said in the other post this is a given. It should look better things should continue to look more realistic that just the nature of computer graphics.
    Atmosphere:
    Fluctuating crowds (whether leaving during a match or a poor performing team not packing the seats), flares, smoke bombs in the stands is that in the game if not they still don't get the atmosphere. Fans walking into the stadium cool, what does it feel like on the pitch. Will the roar of the crowd be deafening in a Merseyside Derby or will it feel like every other match. Their description sounds like the atmosphere of watching on TV more than being on the pitch or in the stands.]
    Next Level Simulation:
    Said it in the other post but unless the animations also introduce some type of physics/collision engine then it's useless. You can have a million animations but if they happen because they "have to" happen to get to the next animation based on an algorithm it's just a poor representation of trying to emulate real life. It might look pretty but will continue to play terribly. How many times have instead of fixing a problem they just shorten how quickly or slowly an animation takes. It's the little in between movements that get neglected. Off ball humanization is a joke those little touches are nice but mean nothing in the end.
    Dual Entitlement:
    What KG said.
    New Camera Angle:
    So what exactly is this. I'm confused so what is the broadcast camera angle we have now. Maybe they won't have some stadium roofs clipping into view anymore.
    Like I said in the other post no version of FIFA will ever touch my PS5 unless I hear really good things from people I trust. Can't keep giving EA a pass for just barely making a functioning game because out of loyalty or familiarity.

    Agree with everything you said jrn!
    Regarding the camera angle, the angle should be a little bit more towards 45 degrees as opposed to the flat 180 degree we have now on Tele/Tele Broadcast. That's fine with me since we can change it BUT what I'd really like is "Stadium Specific" cameras.
    Put all of those licenses to use where if you're playing in Bournemouth's Vitality stadium the camera is noticeably closer as their stadium is on the small side. On the flip side a massive stadium like the Bernabeau will be more zoomed out. I have PES PC mod that does this and it takes away matches to the next level. You're fighting the home team, home crowd, and home stadium camera!
    The fact that they aren't showing off actual gameplay should be worrying. This isn't a game that is 3 or 4 months out from release. Opening cinematic looked nice but looked a bit dim.
    Between madden and fifa the two titles ive played most in my life other than 2k. its making me feel like i may have rushed to get a ps5 (extremely happy with just astros playroom tbh lmao)
    no gameplay. no video with proof of concept. to me that is insane for the size of these titles.
    also what do i have to do to get a online career mode. ive never been into FUT or MUT. i try it once a year and just cant rock with it. all i ask for at the moment is a online career mode and focus JUST 1 YEAR to get career mode to a next gen level of depth/options. just copy 2k or football manager FFS.

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