FIFA 21 is coming this October and it promises to be the most advanced yet.
To be honest, it was always going to be on the cards – there’s been at least one FIFA game every year for almost three decades – but this is the first in the series that’ll be released for PS5 and Xbox Series X as well as current-gen consoles.
And that means it comes with additional bells and whistles (literally, in the latter case).
So here’s what we know about it so far, including the official screengrabs (which you can slide through above), trailers, features, and more.
FIFA 21 trailer
The game’s first trailer, which you can see below, gave us our first proper look at gameplay for the series. It also revealed the main cover star: PSG’s Kylian Mbappe (see below). However, both Trend Alexander-Arnold and Erling Haaland look set to feature heavily too.
FIFA 21 platforms
FIFA 21 will be available on all the usual platforms, as well as the next-gen consoles when they have launched. EA has also announced that it will be supporting Google Stadia for the first time too.
That means it’ll be released for PS4, Xbox One, PC (via Steam and Origin), Nintendo Switch and Google Stadia. Plus the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X when they are available.
FIFA 21 Dual Entitlement
The game will also be part of EA’s new Dual Entitlement incentive. This allows PS4 and Xbox One owners to purchase the game and upgrade them to their respective next-gen versions at a later date for free.
The only caveat is that, if you buy the physical disc copy for PS4, you will not be able to upgrade it on a PS5 Digital Edition console without a drive (you have to have the digital download version for that).
FIFA 21 release date
FIFA 21 will be available for PS4, Xbox One, PC and Switch (albeit in a cut-down “Legacy” format) on 9 October 2020.
Members of EA Access or Origin Access Basic will be able to try the game on 1 October, while Origin Access Premier subscribers will get the full game.
The Google Stadia version will be available from “winter”. The release date for the PS5 and Xbox Series X versions is yet to be announced (likely as soon as PlayStation and Xbox reveal their own console launch dates).
FIFA 21 features
General game features are still forthcoming, but we have learned about some of the enhancements planned for the PS5 and Xbox Series X versions, especially from the first gameplay showcase, in the video above.
As always, gameplay is getting a little bit of a shakeup, mostly when it comes to attacking, which is getting more controlled. You’ll have access to more dribbling modes and skill moves, as well as being able to more directly take control of the supporting runs of your teammates.
While Ultimate Team will retain much of what makes it so popular, there will be some key changes. Celebrations will be truncated a bit, to avoid in-game toxic behaviour, while unconfirmed reports suggest that fitness cards will be scrapped entirely, with players being replenished automatically after each match.
Co-op is coming to FUT 21 for the first time too, with two-players being able to play on the same side and earn rewards together. You can find out more about FUT 21 above, including the new stadium customisation options.
As you can see in the dedicated trailer above, there are three key additions to career mode that will hopefully make it a much better option for play this year.
There is an all-new interactive match simulation, that speeds double-time through matches in similar style to old-school management games, such as Championship Manager before it adopted the FM branding. Basically, top down view of the match will show it playing out based on your tactics. However, if you fancy turning the tide of the game, you can jump in at any time and take full control.
There are also tabs in the simulation mode to give you real-time stats on your players and how they are doing.
The interative match simulation is just one of the options before each game, you can also choose to play the whole match as before, or quick sim the final result without a ball being kicked.
Player development has been enhanced dramatically, with training of groups of players made easier, while any experience gained through training will now be assigned to the player attributes that most matter to their position. Speaking of which, player positions can be converted, with training now also available to help a player switch positions to where you want them to play.
Finally, transfers have been improved, with loan-to-buy options, player swaps now suggested by AI managers, not just yourself, and contract renewal tweaks to make for a more fluid system.
There are a host of other improvements coming to career mode, including a better media broadcast experience. And, of course, the match engine will be in-line with all the on-pitch enhancements found in other modes.
Faster load times
Both next-gen consoles have SSD storage and faster loading abilities, so EA Sports has promised “blazing load times” to get to “kick off in seconds”.
Controller haptics on PS5
The game will utilise the new haptic feedback talents of the PS5 DualSense controller, although only time will tell exactly what this feels like for players.
Deferred lighting and rendering
Both of the new consoles have ray tracing-enabled graphics chips, which give developers the ability to produce much more realistic lighting effects and shading. EA hasn’t revealed whether that’s what aids its “new lighting system” but we suspect so.
Re-imagined player bodies
Greater graphical power equals greater detail in the player models, so you should notice more accuracy than ever before on that front.
Enhanced animation technology
The animation engine has been reworked to give players even more responsiveness and realism, which you can see in the gameplay shown off so far. Blocking, tackling and collisions have all been iterated on to offer more variety and responsiveness, moving us further away from the janky collisions and collapses that can plague FIFA games.
Players will be more emotive when they don’t have the ball. They’ll scream for passes or adjust their shin pads, for example.
Reactions of the players, bench and fans will be more contextual, adding extra ambient realism.
We’ll update this list – and the whole feature – as we learn more about FIFA 21.
FIFA 21 cover star
EA Sports has recently confirmed that, just as some people suspected, PSG’s French start Kylian Mbappe is the cover star for FIFA 21. Unlike previous years, he’s also on the cover for every edition of the game.
He’s one of the biggest superstars playing right now, and young enough to still have loads of years at the top of the game left in him, so it’s a sensible choice from EA.