If you've read our FIFA 21 review, regarding the PC, PS4, and Xbox One versions, you know that we are not fans of this year's edition. Thankfully the game will have another opportunity to impress us, now on the next-gen consoles. FIFA 21 will be released on November 4 for PS5 and Xbox Series X|S for £69.99, but whoever has the game on PS4 or Xbox One, can transition for free to the new generation.
But is it a different FIFA 21? To some extent, yes, it is. We had the opportunity to participate in a special event from EA Sports, where we were detailed on the specific news of the new generation versions, and while gameplay and modes will remain mostly identical, there are some obvious graphical upgrades.
On PS5 and Xbox Series X|S, FIFA 21 will include better detailed models for the most important players, with particular emphasis on hair and beards, which are notoriously superior to what we have seen so far. The athletes' muscles will also react dynamically depending on the action, as will the fabric of the kits. Even the ball has a new deformation system, deforming in the player's foot instead of clipping through the foot. Other details, such as grass, stadiums, and crowds, were also vastly improved, but what really impressed us was the new lighting system, which seems to allow for a greater level of realism through the whole game.
Taking advantage of this new level of detail and graphical power, EA Sports has created a series of new pre-game sequences, especially for important games. You can watch as the teams buses arrive, players in the mixed zones before they enter the field, and the fervour of fans in highly anticipated matches. There will even be sequences and details for specific countries, such as smoke and flares in countries that allow such accessories among the crowd.
FIFA 21 on PS5 and Xbox Series X|S will also include a series of new reactions in the most important goals, such as scoring the winning goal in the last minutes, or in a derby. This includes new special celebrations, which even involve the benched players and members of the crowd. Another new feature is the "EA Sports GameCam", a new camera angle created specifically for these versions of FIFA 21. This camera was designed to present more of the field, the players, and the crowd, so that everything participates equally in the match.
The animations were also improved, mostly due to the superior RAM in the new consoles. EA stated that in the past it had to sacrifice something to add something, but it seems that this is no longer necessary in the PS5 and Xbox Series X|S versions. This will be seen in the behaviours of players without the ball and without player control, which depending in the moment of the game, can take a deep breath, adjust their boots, scream for a pass, wipe their sweat, and other similar animations.
Physical duels have also been improved, thanks to the possibility of adding more animations and behaviours, including pulls, pushes, shoulder charges, and more. And unlike in the previous generation, where this only applies to two players (one from each team), it is now applicable to all players on the field, which means much more intense and realistic duels in corners, for example. With more space for animations, EA Sports has also extended the number of dynamic animations for each player, which allows for better and life-like reactions to various game situations, like stopping the ball with the chest, head touches, and receptions with the foot.
Another obvious improvement on the PS5 and Xbox Series X|S versions will be the game's speed in terms of menus and loading. Moving from the menus to the gameplay will be an almost instantaneous process, although EA Sports has decided to keep the Skill Games that usually appear during loadings. The difference is that on PS5 and Xbox Series X you can skip them as soon as they pop up.
As for game modes, nothing new to report. EA Sports promises exactly the same modes, with no new features. In the cases of Volta and Ultimate Team Mode: modes that have online connections, your progress will follow you between generations. In other words, you'll get to keep that awesome team you've been building in the last gen.
One last mention to a PS5 exclusive feature - the DualSense support. Like many other games, FIFA 21 will also take advantage of the capabilities of the new controller, including adaptive triggers and haptic feedback. In terms of feedback, you will feel several actions with more precision and impact, like shooting with the right foot and getting a vibration on that side of the controller. As for adaptive triggers, the more a player is tired, the heavier the sprint button (R2) will feel, which will allow you to have a real-time idea of the athlete's level of fatigue.
All of this sounds like cool features, but for now, we can't really serve as more of an intermediary between EA Sports and you, the reader. We really need to try the game for ourselves to get an idea if all this means a better FIFA, and that's something that will only open around launch day, December 4th.