After what I would consider a mostly solid release, FIFA 22 is in line to receive the first of what will most likely be many title updates. With games, especially sports games, being as complicated and robust as ever, there’s always a need for patches, updates, and other cosmetic changes in order to make the game better for the community. I look at these title updates with the sense that it’s a net positive for the community, but only if they are done correctly. Too much tinkering, as was done with FIFA 21, can result in a game that plays differently according to the latest patch. With that being said, I have never seen such a large patch, especially considering it’s the first patch of the year. I stopped counting at over 100 items updated, but there are some juicy and interesting areas of FIFA 22 receiving attention. I won’t go into detail about all of them, but instead highlight a select few that have the potential to alter the FIFA 22 gameplay, sometimes for the better and at other times for worse.
FIFA 22 Title Update 1 Breakdown
Let’s break this one down into a few categories as some of the updates fall under a common theme. Like a good Guardiola side, let’s start from the back.
It’s been a wild ride for keepers already in FIFA 22 and we’re just getting started. They went from being good in the beta to frustratingly inconsistent in the full release. When they’re good, they’re making double saves with realistic animations and urgency. When they’re bad, they’re getting beat from 30 yards out by a shot they can see the whole time. You can tell how much feedback EA received around keepers because they received a lot of attention in this update.
- Reduced the effectiveness of goalkeepers when diving for top corner shots taken from inside of the penalty box.
- This change specifically applies to shots taken within 37 feet/11.27 meters of the goalkeeper.
- When manually rushing the goalkeeper outside of the penalty box, the keeper could incorrectly attempt to make a save with their hands.
- After catching the ball near the goal line and falling to the ground with it, the Goalkeeper could sometimes slide on the pitch.
- When a goalkeeper was attempting to punch the ball after a deflected shot, the keeper could attempt to head the ball instead.
- The goalkeeper would sometimes not make an attempt to save the ball following a shot, if the shot occurred close to the keeper.
- In some rare scenarios, the goalkeeper would get up too slowly after engaging in a physical contest.
- When attempting a diving save, the goalkeeper could sometimes dive diagonally instead of laterally.
- This was a visual issue only and addressing it does not change goalkeeper performance in these situations.
- Added goalkeeper animations that could occur when a keeper is attempting to save a high finesse shot.
- This change is intended to provide more authentic looking goalkeeper reactions and very slightly increases the effectiveness of goalkeepers saving this type of shot.
- In rare situations, the goalkeeper does not attempt to catch a cross near the goal area.
Of all the tweaks to keepers, the bolded change is by far the most important. High finesse shots from outside the box are the meta right now, and it’s ruining a lot of online play as well as making the offline gameplay worse considering that the AI does now shoot from distance. The Pitch Notes highlighted how these shots will see an uptick in accuracy within the box, but this is all we have to go on in terms of these shots being toned down from outside the box. In a nutshell, keepers were too good at saving finesse shots inside the box and too poor at saving them from outside the box.
These two changes are for the greater good here as both offline and online players were in agreement that keepers needed some tweaking.
- Updated the defensive logic for players near the halfway line when defending a counter attack that originated from a corner situation.
- Defenders near the halfway line will now attempt to more closely mark the counter attacking players.
This is a nice tweak to the defensive logic. Counters from corners have been a problem both offline as well in Pro Clubs where corners tend to see most humans push up or defend in the box. With ball physics still needing work when it comes to headers, the chance to break against the AI from this situation is easily exploitable because the AI has trouble marking in this situation, usually either leaving a man free or doing the dreaded side shuffle animation that’s easy to dribble past.
- In some situations, the defending team’s player would momentarily stop moving after the attacking side performed a Lobbed Through Pass.
One of the stranger bugs in FIFA 22 is precisely this one. While the AI doesn’t spam the lobbed through ball quite like people do, there are still too many instances where your defenders will momentarily stop, jog, or side shuffle for no apparent reason. This bug is near disastrous as it usually happens when the opponent is nearly through on goal.
FIFA has always suffered from odd animations at times, but for the most part they’re harmless. Unfortunately, this one has repercussions so a patch is very welcome.
- Improved referee logic to call more fouls caused by high velocity tackles.
- Improved referee logic to call for fewer penalty kicks caused by reasonably timed slide tackles.
- Improved referee logic to call more fouls in situations where a player purposefully collides with a goalkeeper that is holding the ball.
- Improved referee logic to call for fewer fouls due to soft physical contact.
- Sometimes, fouls were not being called when committed on a player performing a nutmeg or a Bridge Skill Move.
Over the past few, years fouls have been extremely rare in FIFA. Probably by design to prevent stoppages, a certain segment of the FIFA community does not want as many fouls called as there are in real life. Make no mistake, there’s some tweaks needed to referee logic, but if my reading is correct this new attention to fouls seems a bit off.
On one hand, more fouls, will be called when defenders barge in via “high velocity” tackles, but on the flip-side, fewer fouls will be called now due to soft physical contact. I must be playing a different game because I don’t see too many of these “soft” foul calls. To be honest, I can’t remember the last free kick I’ve taken because the AI simply isn’t aggressive enough nor does it commit fouls that aren’t perfect.
When EA removed the second-man press as the default defensive mechanic, it was mostly due to removing AI assistance. However, instead what it did was create a passive environment where the user was forced to attempt the tackle instead of the AI. This isn’t bad in theory, but tweaking the effectiveness of perfectly timed tackles by the AI would lead to more fouls, as would the aforementioned increase in AI aggression. Fouls are a huge part of the game and it’s frustrating that so much of the FIFA community doesn’t want to see more realism incorporated within FIFA.
There really aren’t that many critical issues with the attacking AI this year. Whether it’s your teammate’s intelligence off the ball or even playing against the AI offline, the attacking side of FIFA 22 is very solid. EA does make note of some heavy touches, which will be toned down — hopefully not at the expense of those AI driven passes that are definitely an eyesore and not properly balanced with the new first touch system.
If there’s one area I’d like to see addressed, it’s passing. At times the directional input doesn’t reflect where I’m aiming, and at others the through ball on assisted controls doesn’t seem to pick a good angle to complete the pass. Perhaps that last part is tied into ratings, which would be nice, but I’d love to see a manual modifier button like they had in PES where if I wanted to play a pass without assists (in other words, manual) I could just press a bumper and the pass or shot button.
There are a lot of fixes to career mode, but very few (if any of them) are what I’d call substantial fixes. Most of the actual fixes here are cosmetic in nature, and while they’re certainly the easiest to spot and fix, several legacy issues still remain in career mode.
The stamina bug, issues with the youth academy, and the transfer logic where the AI teams stack players at positions are still there. The issues I referenced are probably best addressed during the development cycle as they most likely require substantial testing to ensure that they don’t impact other areas. However, most of them, if not all, were present last year so there’s no excuse for EA to not address them.
I’m feeling apathetic towards career mode this year either way. Fans of the mode received the short end of the stick this year as most of the improvements were to “player” career mode, which I suspect lags in popularity to the conventional career mode.
On the pitch, this has the makings of a good patch. There’s no mention of the defensive line dropping too deep, but I suspect that’s a problem not easily fixed as it looks like it’s tied to HyperMotion. If you’re offline, a combination of sliders and the “Step Up” instruction can help with this issue.
Regardless, better keepers should help the realism even despite the tinkering with fouls by EA. Still, I hope EA doesn’t go patch happy this year. Small tweaks here and there that don’t throw off the balance of play would help solidify this FIFA as the best since FIFA 16 so please choose your feedback wisely EA.