FIFA 22 offers a better game of football than before and a whole load of new features for PS5, Xbox Series consoles and Stadia. Shame it’s let down by countless bugs and a lack of true improvements in many modes.
- Improved gameplay
- HyperMotion improves animations on newer consoles
- Some players and stadiums really do look great
- Volta is more fun
- Ultimate Team remains pay-to-win
- Lots of bug and general jank
- Career Mode should be better
- PlatformsPS5 (reviewed), PS4, Stadia, PC, Xbox One, Xbox Series S|X, Nintendo Switch (Legacy Edition)
FIFA 22 is the latest entry in the long-running football sim and it’s the first to really feel like it’s designed with the new-gen of consoles in mind.
This year, more than most, is a sizeable step forward in terms of gameplay for the series. FIFA 22 offers the best game of football from EA Sports in a long time, with new PS5 and Xbox Series S|X exclusive motion capture improving the overall experience no end.
Yet, I can’t help but feel a little disappointed. Areas like Career Mode still feel limited, Ultimate Team continues with its loot box-heavy approach and there’s a lack of polish I don’t usually expect from a FIFA game.
- Much improved gameplay on PS5, Xbox Series consoles
- More fluid animations
- Harder, but more rewarding
Gameplay is, of course, king when it comes to a football game. This is how PES thrived for so many years even though it lacked the modes, licenses and general finesse of FIFA.
In recent years it has felt like gameplay was less of a focus, with superficial improvements to game modes and the constant eagerness to keep on pushing FUT (FIFA Ultimate Team) taking precedent.
That’s not the case here though, with FIFA 22 finally pushing forward the actual virtual game of football into a far more interesting place. Well, at least on the newer consoles. This review is purely based on the PS5 (and Xbox Series consoles) so it could be a very different experience on older consoles and PC.
HyperMotion is the shiny, poster-friendly name for these improvements and while I would normally pass something named like that as just media fluff, the changes here actually make a welcome difference.
Animations have now been motion-captured by some actual players and that helps movement feel so much more natural. Keepers react differently, players trip and fall after a particularly hard shot and the ball doesn’t always feel it’s doing the same thing. In so many of the previous years, I have eventually gotten bored after a few months of playing FIFA due to the same animations and player movements occurring constantly. It seems like that won’t be an issue here.
The game just also feels a lot more fun to play. It’s a little slower, with less of a focus on bombastic end-to-end contests that end 6-5 with five goals from Mo Salah and a number of hilarious goalkeeping mistakes. This puts more of a focus on actually picking the right players, building up play through the middle of the park and utilising fast wide players.
A new feature called Explosive Sprint allows those fast wingers, especially the likes of Sancho and Sterling, to burst away from dawdling centre backs and really put those pace and acceleration stats to good use. This is welcome, but the AI utilises these skills well too, so it does make things a little tricky.
Actually, I would say this is a much harder game than before. Probably not for the ‘FIFA Pros’ but for lowly League 1 players like me. I could barely score in the first few games I played, and when then the goals finally started to flow (thanks Erling) I was conceding more. If you’re used to focussing your play down the wing and crossing in for a tap-in then you might have to update your game.
There’s much more of a focus on passing too. HyperMotion adds in a bunch of sleek animations that make controlling the ball and spraying out a Beckham-esque crossfield more realistic. But really, you just need to pass the ball to actually break down even a basic defence. This added difficulty is satisfying though and very much welcome.
If you’re reading this and feel me complimenting the game for being ‘harder’, ‘slower’ and less ‘bombastic’ is completely the opposite of what you want out of FIFA then yes, you might be disappointed. Those crying out for arcadey fun might be disappointed.
Graphics and Presentation
- Visuals can look great, but there’s an obvious gulf between players
- Poor commentary
- Plenty of bugs
While the gameplay additions make this a better game of football, there’s still a lot of places where FIFA 22 feels very janky.
There’s a general sheen to the game running on the PS5 (reviewed) and Xbox Series consoles. Sweat is more noticeable on knackered players’ foreheads, while shirts move in more realistic ways.
The strand hair system, first introduced in the updated version of FIFA 21, gives certain players almost ridiculously luscious locks. My eyes were stuck on Cavani’s glorious barnet as he rose for a header and I could barely focus on defending the set play.
But really, these improvements only heighten the contrast between the parts of the game that look good and the areas that don’t. Properly scanned player faces look great, but these are mostly just the big names. Start a career mode with Leeds, Brentford or even Leicester City and you’ll notice many faces simply plucked from a generic design. The difference between, say, Jadon Sancho’s face to Wesley Fofana’s is frankly odd.
The game is also very buggy. On numerous occasions players have disappeared during celebrations, referees have awarded the match ball to a blank space and celebrating teammates run through the crowd to congratulate a last-minute winner. I know these quirks have been present in previous years, but it feels so much more common here.
It’s also worth mentioning that the commentary is frankly awful. BT Sports Italian co-commentator and ESPN regular Stuart Robson replaces Lee Dixon, and his insights are rarely welcome and always irritating. At least the excellent Alex Scott pops up occasionally with score updates from other games.
- FUT remains very much pay-to-win
- Volta feels closer to FIFA Street than before
- Minor changes to other modes
There isn’t a big new game mode introduced in FIFA 22, nor is there the now traditional story arc tied in. Instead, there are smaller tweaks to series stalwarts like FUT, Career Mode and Volta.
I enjoyed Volta when it arrived a few years ago, but it never quite scratched the FIFA Street itch. It was fun, but it felt too much like the same FIFA game transported from pitch to park.
Thankfully, Volta is a little more fun this time. While the outrageousness might have been ditched from the main game, the street portion gets it added it swathes. There’s more skills, more ludicrous power-ups and just generally a more fun game. It’s still not FIFA Street, but it’s not too far off.
I’m less enthused about Career Mode, though that’s probably because it’s the area of the game I play the most. I disliked a lot of new additions in FIFA 21, as things like training were (and still are) ridiculously boring and make practically no difference to how well your team actually play.
This year, there’s more of an RPG focus in the ‘Player Career’. There are numerous objectives to meet every game and ticking these off help you unlock new skills and work your way up to a starting place in the first team.
Then there’s Create A Club which I admit I was eager to try out. Sadly, this mode feels half-baked. To begin with, you can choose a team to replace in any league that’s licensed and then create and design a crest, kit and stadium. You then choose how much pressure you want from the board and whether you want your squad to be good or not. A five-star team, for example, gives you a bunch of players rated around the 80-90 mark. You can even give yourself a healthy £1billion transfer kitty.
The biggest letdown with Create A Club is that your team is just filled with non-descript generated players with blank expressions. I want a team full of real players, not one with all the charisma of a new-gen on Football Manager.
Many will buy FIFA simply for Ultimate Team, the loot-box focussed portion of the game that makes the big bucks for EA every year. I will happily admit I rarely play this mode outside of reviewing FIFA as I get no pleasure from getting comfortably beaten by players far better than me and spending money to even have a chance of winning.
Loot boxes and the whole pay-to-win aspect aside, there are some changes to FUT. You can at least see what you’re spending some money on with the new Preview Packs feature which lets you look inside one FUT pack a day. There are also changes to the leagues and the addition of some checkpoints to make losing a little easier to take. Still, the focus on spending real-life money to get the chance of picking up a top-quality player will likely never feel quite right.
You can easily play FIFA 22 without touching Ultimate Team, and that’s exactly what I will be doing going forward.
Should you buy it?
You prefer a slower game: FIFA 22 is slower and more focused on build-up play than before, making it a little harder and more interesting to play.
You want an arcade experience: That slower nature does make it less like FIFA of old, with lower-scoring games and more defending.
There are a number of welcome changes in FIFA 22. The gameplay is more rewarding and the animations are finally interesting. There’s more intricacy to build-up play and often a much more satisfying finish.
But there’s also no getting around the large number of bugs, the fairly modest improvements in various game modes and the continued focus on paying to win in FUT. FIFA 22 is certainly more Europa Conference League than Champions League.
How we test
We play every game we review through to the end, outside of certain exceptions where getting 100% completion, like Skyrim, is close to impossible to do. When we don’t fully finish a game before reviewing it we will always alert the reader.
Played and tested every available game mode
Played on PS5
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Yes, there is a Legacy version available for Switch
No, this is a new-gen only featured for PS5, Xbox Series and Stadia