FIFA 21 hits this month from EA Sports. Taking a look forward to the next iteration of the annual frontrunner soccer sim also means having a look at where it’s already been…

1. One of the big concerns from players of FIFA 20 was the lack of speed in play. Slowing down proceedings to focus on agile skill-based plays essentially turned every game into a trial for the Brazilian national team. Twists and tricks are all nice to have, but not at the expense of fast end-to-end play. With this in mind, the agile dribbling system has been reworked, making for more speed in attack and more danger in defence. Whichever side of the ball you’re on, there’ll be a whole new world of speed and dazzling foot skills to contend with. Many of these skills seem to have been drawn straight out of the VOLTA game mode, which could make for absolute chaos in the full-sized game!

2. The “Fundamentals of football” have been overhauled, including manual headers, improved through balls and long passes. All of these changes seem focused on giving more manual control to some gameplay mechanics that have been in desperate need of a refresh.

“The ‘Fundamentals of football’ have been overhauled…”

3. The FIFA franchise has been gradually moving away from arcade gameplay to more realistic simulation, and to this end comes the addition of a new natural collision system. There’ll be less spills and more accurate impacts when players clash. Instead of players tumbling over each other in a less cartoonish version of a Takeshi’s Castle challenge, you’ll notice players keeping their feet more often and running to get back into the contest quickly.

4. There’s been a huge overhaul to the career mode for FIFA 21, which is one of the most exciting things to look forward to. Improvements to this mode had been all but forgotten in the past three releases, so this is a massive plus. We’re excited to see:

A new interactive match simulation
Seeing players running about in a mode taken straight out of Football Manager, you’ll be able to make in-match strategic changes to give your team the guidance they need to take the win. Alternatively, you’ll be able to choose to take over the team if you need an extra boost to turn the tide. It’s an awesome new feature that will no doubt give couch managers the best opportunity to live out their dreams.

Player development has been completely changed
No longer will you be focusing on specific skill sets, but rather an array of skills that will boost player proficiency. You’ll also be able to refocus players to give them skills in slightly different areas to suit your line-up, formation and game-style requirements. For example, turn an all-round mid to a specialist CAM and give yourself some bonus firepower, or you could improve their defensive capabilities and build a pillar CDM to act as your midfield general.

Improvements to the training system
This means that you’ll be spending less time worrying about the minute details and more time focusing on the end goal of your training programs. You’ll set the weekly team schedule, including targeting off days, to make sure that your players are fit and firing for game time. Previously, this was all simulated in the background, but now FIFA 21 will give you control of the program.

An all-new transfer market system
You’ll now have more tools at your disposal to make the signings you need, including options for ‘Loan-to-Buy’ if your coffers are a bit empty in this transfer window. There’ll also be some excellent new tools available that are going to change the experience entirely for longtime fans of the career mode.

 FIFA 21

5. Improvements to AI mean that you won’t be facing up to the same attack/defence patterns from your opposition. Star players will be letting loose appropriately awesome moves to make sure that you’re kept on your toes.

6. More intelligent player positioning will mean that you’re going to be properly supported by your teammates. You’ll still be calling for through runs and positioning the ball carrier, however this will make the task of finding space that much easier. A lot more will rely on the actual skills and awareness ratings of the individual players. The improved AI will determine the off-ball movement and help you to build more effective attack runs. There’ll also be more natural anticipation from your off-ball players, so that they’ll be moving into effective positions without you having to force the issue.

All up that’s a solid array of improvements and refreshing updates to be excited about with FIFA 21. Whether you’re a newcomer or a legend-in-your-own-home FIFA master, new gameplay and options should make for many a happy little couch footballer.

FIFA 21 launches October 9 for PS4 and Xbox One, with a Legacy Edition available for Switch. Pre-order now at JB Hi-Fi.

FIFA: The next generation

The great news for anybody looking to upgrade to the next generation of consoles in the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X/S is that should you opt for PS4 or Xbox One now, free upgrades to the same family of the new consoles will be included. This means that FIFA fans won’t have to wait until the new consoles drop before they can start enjoying FIFA 21 – they can get going then continue in all of the splendour of next-gen once it’s unleashed.