Nothing quite signals the start of Autumn for sports game fans like grabbing a copy of that particular year’s edition of EA’s perennial soccer sim, in this instance FIFA 21.
Ahead of FIFA 21’s full worldwide release on Oct. 9, the first reviews paint a picture of a game that, while enjoyable, wavers under the weight of micro-transactions and a distinctive lack of seismic changes to push the formula forward.
That’s not to say improvement aren’t present – FIFA 21 features some notable, if subtle changes to AI, dribbling, player responsiveness, and game fluidity, as well as more fleshed-out modes. For some critics, this is enough to warrant a glowing review.
Yet, there’s a sense FIFA 21 is more of the same, slightly enhanced and tweaked, but fundamentally no different from what we’ve seen in recent years. For many, it acts as a serviceable transitional release to fatten up the coffers as EA eyes up the next-gen.
Here’s a round-up of FIFA 21 reviews from a selection of the gaming press.
“Here we have a fun, over-the-top football game with loads of modes and meaningful improvements across the board. But there is no big new feature. FIFA 21 is like a festival without a headline act. There will be plenty of people who will wonder why this game couldn’t have been an update for FIFA 20. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about that, and as a disgruntled FIFA 20 player I have struggled to come up with an appropriate explanation other than, well, money. I look at the likes of Fortnite and how a Fortnite 2 doesn’t make much sense for anyone, and I imagine a world where Ultimate Team is a free-to-play standalone and wouldn’t that be better?”
“It all comes down to the online gameplay which for many is the be all of FIFA, but for now FIFA 21 over-delivers on its promises of making an overall better footballing experience. Its beautiful presentation coupled with gameplay improvements and the constant stream of content makes FIFA 21 a great experience.”
“Although the long-running myth is that FIFA is the same every year, to EA’s credit it usually introduces at least one notable change, be that The Journey story mode, women’s football, Volta, Ultimate Team seasons, the Champions League or the like. There’s no big marquee addition this year, meaning that it somehow treads a strange balance of being the best FIFA to date yet still feeling like a stop-gap as EA prepares for next-gen.”
FIFA 21 is an evolution of FIFA 20, rather than a revolution. With next-gen consoles being released in November, it’s probably fair to say that FIFA fans will probably first see a true next-gen FIFA gaming title next year. But we’ll wait and see what FIFA 21 feels like on next-gen consoles before rushing to conclusions. FIFA 21 brings more goals, more attacking options, more features and most importantly, more fun.
“The graphics and gameplay of FIFA 21 deliver fun and functional football, but its ambitions don’t extend far beyond that. Over time, the grinding leads to burnout and boredom, and the gear and rewards you’re working so hard to obtain are rarely satisfying enough to make the chase worthwhile. Nailing the fundamentals is important, but it takes more than that to be a real winner.”
“With next-gen consoles only a few weeks away, FIFA 21 feels like a swan song for the current generation of sports games. It ostensibly wraps up an era that was defined by the increasing prevalence of microtransactions and the game modes designed around them, and FIFA 21 is no different in this regard. Ultimate Team is still front and center as the main draw for many players, but this year’s game is also the most robust version of FIFA in series history. Volta Football has been expanded after debuting last year, Career Mode has finally received some much-needed new additions, and there are even new ways to play Ultimate Team. None of this is revelatory–and that remains true on the pitch, where subtle attacking changes make for a more dynamic game of football–but each of these aspects sets FIFA up for the future while also ensuring that this year’s game is still worth playing.”