While Konami sat out the mid-cycle jump to next gen, EA went full steam ahead with noticeable upgrades to visuals, audio, and some gameplay elements. In case you missed our review of next-gen FIFA 21, you can find it here. While the additions weren’t to the level of NBA 2K21, they were certainly appreciated and gave us a glimpse of what could be on the horizon for FIFA 22. We’re still months away from hearing any news, but it’s never too early to put out a good wishlist.
With no further delay, let’s dive into five areas EA must improve for FIFA 22.
FIFA 22 Wishlist
The top priority for FIFA 22 should be better AI. If you skipped FIFA 21, and you’re not wrong for doing so, you didn’t miss much in the way of new gameplay refinements. Improvements to dribbling, player movement, and career mode meant little when the core gameplay suffered from poor choices made by EA as the developers shifted their focus to appeasing the competitive crowd.
Worthless additions like “Competitor Mode” highlighted the ridiculousness nature of the AI, while the much documented “midfield not tracking any runners” still feels as intentional as a Joey Barton slide tackle. Throw in the lack of AI players sending in crosses, and FIFA 21 succumbed to a frustratingly repetitive game, no matter how hard the OS slider folks tried to fix the issues for those of us who play offline.
With more powerful consoles filling the shelves now, it’s time for EA to give FIFA a much needed boost when it comes to AI. More dynamic AI that senses situations that cause for a deviation from the AI’s tactical approach is needed, as well as a move away from the current “1v1” culture so that you can actually rely on your teammates to defend.
Creation Center Return
It’s no secret that FIFA has a stronghold on the current license front. What’s disturbing however is the recent trend of Italian Serie A clubs like Juventus and Roma being excluded, meaning you get to see these lovely generic kits.
Bridging the gap here would involve giving us the ability to add custom kits. Even bringing back retro kits to the EASFC Catalogue would go a long way towards helping those of us who like to play career mode in Italy. A stadium creator would be a great re-addition, as would an online hub where you can share files as needed. I don’t think I’m asking too much as previous FIFAs had these features. Perhaps more time and resources are being dedicated to player faces and FUT, but letting the community take a little off EA’s shoulders could be a good thing here.
Online Career Mode
I’ve included “online career mode” on every FIFA wishlist I have ever created and will continue to do so until it comes to fruition. If it’s included in Madden and NBA 2K, then there’s no excuse for the world’s best selling sports game to not have it in there, especially considering EA has the technical architecture to handle it — dating all-the-way back to NCAA Football 09, a full decade ago.
A lot of the weak points of career mode could be somewhat overlooked if there was another human or two competing with you. Imagine how competitive the transfer market could get if you have multiple users going after Dortmund’s dynamic duo of Erling Haaland and Jadon Sancho. It’s time for an online career mode to happen, even if it’s a stripped down version of offline career mode.
Consistent Approach By EA
The time has come for EA to make up its mind. Is FIFA a card-collecting game where players are rewarded for pulling off tricks and skills, or is it going to be an attempt at a soccer simulation? This is the question that has divided the FIFA community for years and has caused EA to straddle the fence, trying to appease both crowds. In an attempt to appeal to both sides, EA has created an unbalanced game that ends up receiving multiple patches throughout the year, often creating different gameplay experiences each time.
PES, EA’s main competitor here, is no stranger to gameplay-altering patches with Data Packs released throughout the year. At most, PES releases between 7-10 Data Packs a year. FIFA usually hits its 10th update within a couple months of release. Dedication to the product is admirable but too much “tinkering” can lead to a culture of negativity. Just ask Rafa Benitez about tinkering!
We probably already know the answer to what crowd EA caters to. Still, EA’s resources and firm grip on licenses means it could also attempt to replicate real footy as much as possible. Creating a balanced game that respects the fundamentals, but still offers those who prefer a more competitive product a way to enjoy the game, isn’t going to scare its base away. There’s no shame in wanting FIFA players to use both stick skills, and a basic knowledge and understanding of the game when it comes to tactics. For too long folks have been “playing FIFA” instead of playing soccer.
Realistic Player Movement & Fouls
Look, everyone loves how responsive FIFA can be, especially on the next-gen systems, but that responsiveness has come at a price — namely sacrificing realistic player movement. While next gen improved upon this, especially with the fatigue-impacted sprint trigger buttons on the PS5, overall it’s still not good enough. What we need is true foot planting that respects the laws of physics and inertia. Slowing the game down but implementing a true foot-planting-based locomotion system is a must if FIFA wants to strive to be a soccer simulation.
This directly ties into fouls, or the lack of, as too often it’s too hard to get close to attackers while defending because the opposition can just sprint, turn, and glide by defenders at ease. The decision to dumb down AI teammates on defense already puts you at a disadvantage because your players will be innocent bystanders looking at attackers just waltzing through their zones without as much as even trying to stop them.
When you combine all of these factors, you decrease the likelihood of fouls — even more so when you factor in the strange decisions by referees who seem to be following the Premier League’s guide to officiating. Until FIFA addresses these issues, the game will continue to look and feel like an arcade game instead of simulating the beautiful game.
This isn’t the “end-all-be-all” wishlist when it comes to areas of improvement for FIFA 22, but it would be a good start. Taking a consistent approach and having an unwavering vision for what FIFA should be is a good way for EA to start addressing the issues that have plagued FIFA over the past few years. Setting the priorities up front could lead to other issues I have listed organically falling into place. While I’ve always enjoyed FIFA, especially with friends, I’ve always come away with “what if…” questions.
What tops your wishlist of improvements you’d like to see in FIFA 22? If you missed our PES 22 wishlist that was similar to this article, you can also check that out here.