FIFA 22 is the latest in the annual football franchise from developer and publisher EA Sports. While fans will undoubtedly enjoy the overall quality offered from the game, which includes some subtle enhancements to diehards that will be much appreciated, its most noticeable changes are also its most superficial, resulting in an experience that feels like it still missing something special to push it over the top.
Anyone who is aware of the advertising up to FIFA 22 knows that one of its big selling points is HyperMotion technology. HyperMotion is a combination of machine learning technology mixed with the most advanced motion capture EA has been able to implement in the series yet, resulting in what should be hyperrealistic player movements. In theory, this should be tangible with both individual player movements and with team-based formations, the latter of which will ebb and flow much more organically as a result of what happens on the field.
In practice, HyperMotion can pay off, but it feels more like an aesthetic blessing than one that has a significant impact on the game’s pitch simulation. That’s fine, but it’s more surface level than expected given the hype surrounding the technology, and FIFA 22 HyperMotion ends up adding cinematic quality to a game that was not lacking in previous iterations, but more subtle robot players appeared in replays in previous years. Thanks to the PlayStation 5 technology that Screen Rant reviewed FIFA 22 on, player performance and small environmental details on the pitch were also at the very best for the series, although stadiums still look like every fan from the eerie valley.
FIFA 22‘s gameplay modes vary again, and many of them change. FIFA Ultimate Team gets seasonal challenges complemented by a more flexible schedule of participation, which allows players with busy schedules to try to keep up with the online features. Career Mode team building feature gives fans even more control over the way they will play at different levels of football, and both player and manager Career Mode offerings have also received more attention to detail, sharpening the experience to offer less friction to those who want to participate without controlling everything.
Perhaps the best feature in Career Mode in FIFA 22 are its RPG-like skill trees for a player. Instead of feeling that development is on-the-rail and inflexible, focusing on a given element of coaching can help adapt a player to fit into their squad and its demands better. This feels like a more organic way of representing the real player development of footballers, who sometimes start as stars in one area of the pitch before better understanding their role and their fit in a team and evolving into another area of strength afterwards.
Volta is probably the mode best designed to hold players back as it breaks up the potential monotony of endless football matches ad nauseam with some unique spins on gameplay. FIFA 22 Volta succeeds here and is perhaps the most entertaining feature for those with less time to sink into sports simulations, which is an important change for a state that previously felt rather foreign to the overall FIFA experience.
In the end, game modes outside of Volta offer basically the same experiences, just with different details. This is where it is FIFA 22 matches, and would greatly benefit from a more involved single-player experience. Career mode works just fine – perhaps even excellent for those who want an indecent level of control over their seasonal simulation – but fail to capture much of a compelling narrative. Even fighting to get a team’s starting lineup or winning a player’s or manager’s first championship feels subdued at best, and the stakes feel so generic and meaningless that there really is no reason to pursue them without ticking a box. box on the player’s “legend-in-the-to-do list” and continues to the next.
All of this is fine under the assumption that EA makes with this kind of approach: People just want to play football in FIFA 22, and everything else dresses. In that case, however, the changes in the game’s mechanics with HyperMotion and other adjustments are so small that casual gamers simply will not notice it. That FIFA the series has had football simulation down to a science for several iterations now; adapting what already works for something better is certainly admirable and a welcome approach, but adding more meaningful game modes and experiences should have been a priority at this point. That said, adaptations to defensive behavior have made it one little more tangible, especially with slide-tackling that may even feel too light compared to its interpretation in previous modes, while free-flowing styles of football attack are activated in rare form here.
However, the same potential problems for longtime fans are still present in gameplay. FIFA 22 is still completely focused on attacking football, which is undoubtedly something of a necessary evil to keep it flashy and more interesting for more casual players. This means that it is still easier to complete long posts for beautiful headers than it might be, even at higher levels of difficulty, and greater control over dribbles and more fluid passes pushes the game even further into offensive football. Trying to play a defensive mindset can be quite frustrating as a result, and while “parking the bus” is somewhat of a controversial strategy among fans, it should at least be a viable strategy for José Mourinho fans, and FIFA 22 certainly makes it harder than it needs to be.
That’s not to say FIFA 22‘s game mechanics and presentation are poor; it’s generally a good game, and sometimes even an excellent game. Explosive sprint is a great addition that actually has flexibility in attack and defense, passes are crisp and much more in line with the player’s intention than the terrible effort in FIFA 21, and the new goalie system results in much better positioning on AI rescues, if not some slightly bizarre goalie behavior in some cases. However, in the context of the series as a whole, these game-to-game changes feel as if they are shrinking in effect rather than expanding what is being offered. Given the longevity of the series, this may be a natural occurrence – there are only so many major tweaks that can be made to a football simulation experience before it achieves a striking face to its true counterpart and intense focus on the offensive side, FIFA 22 Is there.
However, it is hard to shake the feeling of it FIFA 22, especially on consoles as powerful as PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X / S, should have been a bigger leap forward than it is. HyperMotion evokes some serious improvements in AI behavior and player positioning, but it does not feel like it can result in a markedly different experience than other years. The lack of a cinematic story experience seriously hurts the possibilities for gamers, and Career Mode’s many tweaks still do not make it feel memorable. It is probably fair to say so FIFA 22 features the best gameplay in the series to date, but these changes and advances are so minimal now that it feels like something more needs to happen to keep the franchise fresh and engaging.
While FIFA 22‘s gameplay is still great, its flashy qualities make it fun to watch, and Career Mode & Volta offer much-needed variation, its core experience feels a little too similar to previous generations of games. This is an issue that EA needs to address in the future. While the better graphics, loading times and small tweaks in FIFA 22 on current gene consoles is just enough to recommend a pickup, even for owners of FIFA 21, if there is not much progress within FIFA 23, the series risks some serious stagnation problems. For those who have not picked one up FIFA title in a few years, but this is definitely the best time to jump back into the franchise, with a bias towards offensive football minds that will no doubt result in faster pace, attractive play and a strong pick-up-and-play appeal to them who just want to play football here and there.
Next: The 10 Biggest FIFA Video Games Ranked, According to Metacritic
FIFA 22 October 1, 2021 for PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X / S and Google Stadium. Screen Rant was provided with a PS5 code for the purpose of this review.
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