Is Career Mode in FIFA 21 any good given its new features?

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Last week Friday, when many of us were exploring the different elements of FIFA 21, EA Sports released a press statement confirming that 3.6 million players have already experienced the game.

The developer also highlighted the new features added to Career Mode as a particular reason for the title’s early commercial success, so we decided to look at the features in-depth, and weigh in on whether they are indeed making the overall Career Mode experience better.

One of the most notable new features is that of Player Development, which kind of has two elements to it.

The first is the ability to “mould” the player into different play styles within a particular position. A winger can be moulded into a wide playmaker, inverted winger or support winger, depending on what type of style you want your team to play in. The different play styles take varying amounts of time to achieve, with player performance (form) being a contributing factor too.

On the whole, we really like this feature, but it is not the aspect we’re particularly interested in. The one that piqued our interest, and which has shown in detail in the FIFA 21 Career Mode trailer (pasted below) before launch, is changing positions.

Unlike the Edit Player feature of previous iterations of the title, here you could choose a far wider range of positions.

Like the play style developer, the position one is dependent on what part of the field a player already plays in. Therefore it will take a holding midfielder far longer to develop into a centre forward than it would a winger, for example. Again, form also plays a part in how quickly this change happens, with the change in position also resulting in increases/decreases of specific player stats relevant to the spot on the field.

Here, there is plenty to enjoy here, and while it is not full blown Football Manager vibes, there is definitely more of a hands-on approach added to Career Mode that we think players will enjoy.

As we noted in our review of FIFA 21, while Player Development is great, some of the new additions are a bit more frustrating and confusing.

Here we are talking about the new metrics that feature for the squad-specific aspects of Career Mode. While some make sense and impact actual gameplay, like sharpness, which is influenced by form and how much game time the player has under their belt, in general these elements feel unnecessary at times.

This plays out during the days in between matches or events, with training now interrupting days that would have normally been simulated in previous iterations of Career Mode.

These training sessions allow you to hold group activities based on what player development plans you may have for them.

While we tried this out a handful of times at the beginning of our coaching career, they quickly become an annoyance that we also ended up simulating. You can got into your calendar and change actions on training days, but that seems equally laborious.

As such, it may be a new feature, but is quickly discarded in our view.

One of the other new features, which clearly draws some inspiration from Football Manager and Madden, is additional functions when simulating matches.

You can do the usual quick sim, which takes less than 10 seconds to perform in order to determine the outcome of a match fairly painlessly, but the interesting new feature is the ability to simulate matches in full (however long you’ve set in-game matches to last).

Much like Football Manager, you can watch the actions being played out via the pitch map showing the different players, their numbers, positions, movements and the ball itself. You can also jump in during decisive moments like penalties, or take over when the result is looking a little iffy.

It is a nice feature and one that should have been added a long time ago.

All in all, the new features added in Career Mode for FIFA 21 are welcome, with the Player Development one in particular getting high praise from us. The larger issue, in terms of the gameplay, pricing of the title and little to no visual changes, cannot be papered over by these new elements, however.

As such, we need to see EA taking the same care that they’ve done in Career Mode for FIFA 21, to all elements of the game, because it is in dire need of a shake up.

Robin-Leigh Chetty

Robin-Leigh Chetty

When he's not reviewing the latest smartphones, Robin-Leigh is writing about everything tech-related from IoT and smart cities, to 5G and cloud computing. He's also a keen photographer and dabbles in console games.