Late last week, 4th December to be more precise, EA Sports made the next-gen version of FIFA 21 available to players. For those in South Africa it took an extra day to become available at online stores, for both the Dual Entitlement and regular next-gen version of the title.
Before the next-gen consoles launched, EA Sports talked up the next level (sans vowels) that would be delivered for FIFA 21 and Madden 21 in particular.
We recently took up the Dual Entitlement offer to find out.
First things first, and downloading the PS5 version, which is the next-gen console we currently have in for review, will require roughly 55GB worth of space. Once downloaded, as with previous FIFA titles, you’re taken directly into a match to get a feel for things.
This PS5 version, however, is a little bit different. There is a fair bit of atmospherics at work here, as players are taken to Anfield to play as Liverpool against PSG in an opening cinematic (embedded below).
You start off looking at the event from the perspective of a young female player mascot, and then switch to the POV of a player on each side – Kylian Mbappe (the cover star) and Trent Alexander-Arnold.
All in all it is a rather striking presentation, and one that highlights the enhanced visuals on offer. That said, it does feel more like an ad, promo or trailer, than actual gameplay.
Speaking of which, not much has changed from a mechanics perspective. So the frustrations we experienced on FIFA 21 on the PS4 remain here. That’s to be expected though, as the changes that this next-gen version bring are visual and performance related.
On that front, things look great. Beads of condensation on player’s foreheads, grimacing after taking a tough tackle, blemishes scars and flowing hair – it’s all there, and from a visual standpoint at least, this version looks a fair few steps ahead of this year’s earlier iteration.
The action on the pitch also looks more detailed, as players look more dynamic and not as flat as they did previously.
While the enhancements are stunning, there are a handful of oddities. We spotted two occasions in particular where player’s hair had a weird grey highlight to them, which seemed like the lighting was acting up a bit.
To date it is the only visual issue we’ve spotted, but it warrants a mention regardless.
In terms of performance, things are quick. The game loads rapidly, switching between menus and modes shows no lag, and matches themselves take far less time to access.
A sign of this is the fact that the pre-loading training pitch that use to present in-game before a match kicked off is no longer there. Previously this feature was there so players has something to do while the match was being prepared. Now it literally takes three to four seconds and the match is ready.
As such it looks like the next-gen version of these games will see far less wasted time, which is always a good thing in our view.
Other little elements to let you know you’re in a next-gen version of FIFA 21 is the font style for headers, which is different compared to the previous gen version. The buttons are also in white now, as a little hint to the new colour option on the DualSense controller.
Speaking of which, the rumbles on the new controller are being used extensively for the PS5 iteration of FIFA 21. You feel it with every pass, cross and shot. It also intensifies given how long a button is pressed on to power up.
There are also other little touches like the controller rumbling three times to match the blast of the ref’s whistle at half and full time.
We also noticed that the pressure sensitive triggers require more pressure when out of possession compared to when you’re in possession, although we’re not to sure what the purpose of this is.
Does the next-gen version of FIFA 21 feel like a wholly new game? The short answer is no, but the visuals improvements do offer up cause for optimism for next year’s iteration, which is something we cannot say has always been the case in recent years.
The Dual Entitlement offer is freely available to those who have purchased FIFA 21 (physical disc or digital) from now until the time that FIFA 22 is launched later this year.