EA Sports has made a song and dance about FIFA 22's new gameplay features exclusive to PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X and S, but what's new for the last-gen version of the game?
FIFA 22 on PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC (yes, PC gets the last-gen version) will be the most-played version of the game, given the enormous install base of the last-gen consoles versus the supply-constrained and newer current-gen.
So, it's worth running through what those who intend to play FIFA 22 on last-gen will get that's new in terms of gameplay.
We've published my hands-on impressions of FIFA 22 on PS5 - what's interesting is I felt some of the changes coming to all versions (not including Nintendo Switch, which gets the legacy edition once again) of the game perhaps even more keenly than the next-gen exclusive features.
During a recent preview event attended by Eurogamer, lead gameplay producer Sam Rivera outlined the changes made to FIFA 22 on last-gen as well as current-gen.
There's a significant goalkeeper refresh that includes an animation refresh for the goalkeepers. EA promises more reliable saves, too. Playing on PS5, I found the keepers to be harder to beat than in FIFA 21, with some new animations for saves and for collapsing on the ball after a save. They seem less likely to parry a shot into the path of an onrushing opponent, at least.
Rivera also said FIFA 22 has "true ball physics" across last and current-gen, which affects ball trajectory. Certainly shifting the ball to the side of the pitch feels more viable, and lofted passes tend to find a teammate in space. You can get that wonderful Ronaldinho driven pass from inside to the outside, too.
There's a new explosive sprint feature across both versions of the game. This explosive sprint affects the rate at which the player accelerates when you press sprint forward in a straight line (it doesn't work if you try to go backwards or to the side). The idea is you will feel this explosive sprint with more heft at the start as the player quickly accelerates. This occurs with or without the ball, but there is a downside: it's easier to overshoot, so you need to time the sprint well.
There are new attacking tactics across the board. Rivera mentioned you can now select your attacking tactics separate from your offensive half and your defensive half. You can, for example, go for possession in your own half and go to direct passing in the opposition's half.
There are four new skill moves this year: the scoop turn fake; the four touch skill (important for when you're on the sideline); the skilled bridge; and the first time spin. There are first time skill moves, too. 90 percent of the skill moves can be used to control the ball, Rivera said. You can't use skill moves that don't touch the ball for this, obviously, nor the skill bridge.
And there are many more stats to dig into, including the popular expected goals stat. You get more detailed information about your shots, your passing, where passing is made, which positions your players are taking, etc.
And finally, EA Sports is trying to address the problem of tackling and not getting the ball back, which has been an issue in prior FIFA games. Rivera also briefly touched on other changes designed to improve "gameplay fairness". He said EA Sports has "addressed community call-outs across fundamental competitive balance". What does this mean, exactly? One example is EA is expanding enforced manual headers to more settings. There are changes to blocks and physicality of players, too.
Expect more detail on the changes to the last-gen version of FIFA 22 in an upcoming "pitch notes" blog post on the EA website.
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