With pretty much all of the information about next-gen FIFA 21 out now — plus the game itself — we’re all going to go on this journey together. But is it justified to be excited for next gen? Let’s recap all the biggest pieces of news we’ve gotten the last two weeks to answer that question and get you all caught up if you’re taking the next-gen plunge today.
#NextLevel 𝗦 𝗖 𝗘 𝗡 𝗘 𝗦
— EA SPORTS FIFA (@EASPORTSFIFA) November 27, 2020
Responsive Multi-Touch Animations
“New gameplay technology enhances the visual quality and responsiveness of linked animations on the ball, enabling you to experience fluid and realistic player movement. Players now take more human contextual touches, reducing mechanical, robotic movement.”
“An expanded player interaction system brings our Real Player Motion Technology (RPMT) into the fight for the ball. Feel enhanced physicality in the battle for possession during open play and in set piece situations as players jostle, push, and pull with more responsiveness than ever before.”
When it comes to gameplay, don’t expect to see too many changes by way of enhanced AI aimed at giving you a better challenge. Instead, EA put the brunt of their focus on two areas, movement and physicality. And while these two go hand-in-hand, the improvements this year could set the stage for proper foot planting one day in the future. It’s no secret that I’m no fan of player movement in FIFA. There have been improvements over the years, but the game still suffers from the feeling of “ice skating” as EA seems to prioritize responsiveness over physics and inertia.
With responsiveness being such a high priority and the addition of agile dribbling, the physicality sometimes is overlooked as it’s quite hard to physically get near players at times during open action. One area where physicality can be replicated is on set pieces, and if you’re a fan of the Premier League you know a lot of shenanigans go on as players fight for the ball. It’s probably a bit unrealistic to expect these “push and pull” animations to result in fouls — heck, the Premier League still can’t figure it out.
What I do expect is less getting “stuck” in certain situations with the focus on reducing “mechanical movements” and “linked animations.” As always, the proof will be in the pudding.
Sights And Sounds
“With thousands of authentic chants, captured exclusively from the world’s biggest competitions, including the Premier League, La Liga Santander and the Bundesliga, FIFA 21 on both current and next gen brings you the ultimate EA SPORTS Atmospheric Audio experience, unparalleled in sports video games.”
“Next-gen technology creates a greater definition of player physique. Muscles flex after striking the ball, Frostbite™-enabled strand-based hair responds authentically to player movement for some of the games biggest stars, and enhanced realism of faces and kit cloth take the world’s best players to a whole new level of dynamic realism.”
“From tiredly adjusting shin pads in the 89th minute to screaming for a through ball from a team mate, Off-Ball Humanization creates visual animation texture and authentic character behaviours that let you feel all the emotion of football at the highest level.”
“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.”
“New pre-game cinematics deliver an unprecedented matchday experience to immerse you in the sights and sounds of football at the highest level. See team buses arrive at the ground prior to kick-off, feel the buzz as fans enter through the turnstiles, and watch players pass through the media zone on their way to the pitch.”
Big Goal Moments
“Some goals just mean more. New contextual player, bench, and fan reactions respond to the match situation to let you feel the explosive emotion and drama of a last-minute UEFA Champions League winner or a relegation-saving equaliser.”
The biggest improvement to next-gen FIFA 21 seems to be centered around creating a more immersive matchday experience. While gameplay is what we’ll always be about here on OS, having an immersive experience goes a long way towards sucking you in EA, through its shrewd business of snatching up licenses, has taken steps to improve the atmosphere side of FIFA over the years and FIFA 21 next gen looks to be a major improvement.
Crowds are everything in footy and having your favorite Premier League, La Liga or Bundesliga home ground resonate with supporters singing “When the Spurs Go Marching In” should sound lovely with next gen’s 3-D audio. Piggybacking off the improved crowds, the “Big Goal Moments” has me excited as much of the time the emotion of a big match featuring a last-minute winner goes wanting. I’m no stranger to getting out of my chair when my excitement levels reach peak Klopp-like levels, so seeing my players casually dismiss it kills the moment. With the updated fan reactions and better stadium announcer audio (which features a lot of authentic sounds), I’m expecting big things from my home supporters as well as all of the jeers when we’re away from home.
In case you weren’t aware, EA has long been fixated on hair physics, so if you’re a United fan expect to see Edinson Cavani’s long locks flowing as you flick on near-post headers. I could probably do without muscle flexes as they’ll most likely only come into play during replays, but “enhanced realism of faces” should be a good cosmetic addition. As we strive for realism, not only in terms of gameplay but also emotion, seeing your players react to the actions on the pitch will help with the realism. Now, how EA pulls this off and to what extent remains to be seen, but if they manage to capture Bruno Fernandes whining for a penalty then we’ll know they’ll have pulled it off
Next-Gen Tech Benefits
PS5 DualSense Haptics
“From last-ditch goal saving blocks to in-off-the-bar screamers, a new DualSense controller on PlayStation 5 with rich and responsive haptic feedback deepens the gameplay experience. Sense the impact of shots, passes, and tackles with immersive controller haptics that respond to what happens on the pitch to let you feel the rhythm of the game in your hands.”
Faster Load Times
“The power of next generation consoles delivers faster load times that get you in the game quicker than ever before. In FIFA 21, you’ll go from menu to kick-off in under two seconds*.
*Load time is representative of Kick-off mode to match on PS5 and Xbox Series X only.”
“Whether your next game is a Career Mode title decider or you’re getting ready to take on the world with your VOLTA SQUAD, PlayStation Activities lets you jump straight from the PlayStation home screen into your favourite game mode to get you into the action quicker.”
When it comes to the actual tech, FIFA 21 next gen will benefit, just like all other games, from the decreased load times. This means the boot from menu to pre-match festivities has been greatly reduced. At the expense of mini-games and possibly seeing your FUT opponent’s lineup, there is no downside to faster load times.
PlayStation Activities takes this one step further by being able to load your career mode or Ultimate Team save right from the next-gen menu.
Perhaps the biggest change when it comes to next-gen tech and the benefits it provides will be will through the haptics found in the PS5 controller — with a greater sense of impact through controller vibration being felt on tackles, shots and the like. Lastly, fatigue follows the same route as NBA 2K21 where as the players tire the sprint buttons become harder to depress, which adds to the dynamic.
Is All Of This Change Worth The Hype?
It’s yet to be seen if all of these changes are just a shiny a coat of paint on a well-driven Toyota Camry or truly an upgrade to a Lexus. Only time will tell, and I will be back in the coming days with some deeper impressions.