It’s easy to make the claim sports games never change each year, yet for diehards like myself each yearly iteration presents new challenges to take on and gameplay to master. FIFA 22 is no different. After getting hands-on with the game’s beta this week, I can happily make a case that this year will be a big leap forward in EA’s long-running series.
The biggest change I noticed during my time playing a variety of Kick Off matches was the animation. Dubbed HyperMotion (and also next-gen exclusive), it’s the big marketing push this year and I can see why – players tussling for the ball feel closer to what you’d see in the real game, whereas faster players can get by bulky defenders with a well-placed touch forward. When push comes to shove and tackles start flying about, players ride challenges realistically (or hit the deck… also quite realistically – flailing and all), making for a more convincing depiction of the beautiful game.
Thanks to this new tech you’re less likely to be fully pulled out of the experience by wonky animation work, and while the system isn’t perfect it’s certainly an upgrade from entries prior.
Dictating the play and ball control feels significantly improved this year, too. I found the AI often forced me to switch the play, with through balls less effective than they were in FIFA 21. During the first couple of games in the beta I played way too loosely with possession and often conceded an easy breakaway goal. I tend to play on World Class and do pretty well, yet I struggled to score freely during my time with the game. Defenders would easily pick out my runs and I struggled to contain quick counter attacks – especially when the opposition AI brought their pacey wingers into the play. I was surprised (and actually quite pleased) to see the AI make good decisions in my final third, too, electing to pass the ball for an easy tap in rather than shoot at an acute angle. It’s these decisions that make the game more realistic and, when combined with the new animation tech, feel more immersive than ever. Similarly, this year feels more about possession-based play than ever before and being able to pick that perfect pass before committing a lot of players forward.
Goalkeepers have been completely refined in FIFA 22, and I laughed to myself when I read one of the refinements to be made from this beta is to effectively dumb them down a bit more in 1v1 situations. Gee, do I agree though – ‘keepers are insane when it came to 1v1s. PSG’s new Italian recruit Gianluigi Donnarumma may as well have been the bane of my existence as he pulled out at least eight crazy saves in one game (a game I went on to lose 3-2). There’s some refinement certainly needed here, but it was great to see more realistic saves happening – especially in tense 1v1 situations.
I’m excited to see these gameplay changes brought into the variety of modes across FIFA 22, especially my go-to in Career Mode. We’ve still got to wait a little bit longer to get the full scoop on all of the new additions coming, but I can say with confidence this feels like a step in the right direction for the series. HyperMotion isn’t a little gimmick – it makes a fundamental difference in the way the game plays. I’m a bit disappointed for those with a last-gen console that won’t be able to experience it (alongside the PC crowd), but for those lucky enough to have a PlayStation 5 or an Xbox Series X or S, you’re in for a treat.
FIFA 22 is shaping up nicely. There’s a lot of little changes coming through that I feel will make a noticeable difference for those that play the game religiously like myself, though for those who tend to dabble every now and again you may not notice a whole lot of difference. With that said, I am very keen to sink my teeth further into the game when it launches in only a couple of months’ time.