When you're already the biggest sports game on the planet, what do you do for an encore? If you're the FIFA series, you get set to roll out FIFA 21 on next-gen consoles. And honestly, the arrival of new systems couldn't come at a better time, as reviews for EA's mega-popular soccer (or football, for those of you who call the sport by its correct name) have been trending ever so slightly down over the past few years.
What will the FIFA 21 release date be for current consoles?
FIFA is an unusual beast in that its annual release doesn't come before the beginning of the sport's season — at least in terms of club soccer for the majority of the world. Leagues like the Premier League kick-off in August and go to May, but EA generally drops its newest game in September, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic and general state of disarray the world has been in throughout 2020, EA Sports pushed things back by about a month.
FIFA 21 will be launching worldwide on October 9, 2020 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. Information about when FIFA 21 will launch on PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X are unknown as of now, but EA Sports has said it will have more information on that later in the year.
Who will the FIFA 21 cover star be?
It's arguably tougher to predict who will make the cover of FIFA than any other EA Sports game. Win the Ballon d'Or? Good for you, but that doesn't mean you're going to be featured on any video game packaging. Generally, though, EA Sports loves to focus on the young and rising stars of any given sport, and they've done that yet again with FIFA 21's cover star, Kylian Mbappe.
The 21-year-old French superstar is no stranger to accolades, having already won a World Cup and a French league title in his young career. A member of Paris Saint-Germain, Mbappe grew up playing FIFA, and now gets to call himself one of the few who graced the cover of the game.
Will FIFA 21 be a launch title for next-gen consoles?
As of now, the release dates for the Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5 are still unknown. The only launch window information Microsoft and Sony have revealed is that both systems are arriving at Holiday 2020, likely meaning sometime between Thanksgiving and Christmas. But the big question for soccer fans is whether we'll be able to play FIFA 21 on them right away, potentially even getting the game bundled with the consoles at some retailers.
The answer is ... probably. The last EA soccer game to cross existing and brand new console generations was FIFA 14, and sure enough, it was a launch title on Xbox One and PlayStation 3. There's no reason to expect anything different seven years later, so the expectation is that FIFA 21 will be available to play in September and then make its next-gen debut a few short months later.
Is FIFA 21 going to get any Career Mode improvements?
Following FIFA 20's career mode, which was filled with bugs and led to various criticisms from fans, EA Sports announced a handful of key changes to the upcoming FIFA 21 Career mode. These changes mainly focus on the management side of the mode, but do show that EA Sports was listening to the feedback for the fan-favorite mode.
In total, there were eight changes made or added to the upcoming Career Mode, including:
- Interactive Match Sim, which allows players to jump in and out of matches to take advantage of the more key aspects of a game, like penalties or free kicks.
- A revamped growth system, which will let you swap players to new positions, or begin developing them in certain areas as they come up through your system.
- Match Sharpness is a brand new attribute in FIFA 21's Career Mode, and shows you how well a player performs in crucial moments of a game. Players can upgrade this via the new Active Training System, which lets managers schedule group training sessions to improve players attributes.
- A brand new Activity Management System has also been included, which lets managers decide when to train and rest players during any given week. Finding the right balance will be key to how well your players perform during games, as well.
- Enhanced opposition AI means that opponents will make much better in-game decisions, including when it comes to tackling, passing, and dribbling.
- New ways to sign players have also ben included into Career Mode, with players now able to make loan to buy offers with optional or mandatory future transfer fees in order to grab the talent you're after. Players can also now respond to AI manager-initiated player swap proposals, which can help you dominate the transfer market.
- Finally, brand new initial set-up options have been added, giving players the ability to make FIFA 21's Career Mode even more realistic.
Will VOLTA Football return for FIFA 21?
One of the more popular additions to the FIFA series in recent memory was VOLTA Football, a street football mode with short-sided teams of three to five players and an emphasis on flashier dribbling and passing moves. It was something of its own career mode in FIFA 20 as well, complete with a lengthy story, appearances by famous footballers, and tons of gear to unlock with nary an IAP in sight.
We don't know yet if VOLTA will return for FIFA 21, but because it was so well received, it would be surprising to see it taken out. Indeed, it's more likely that it will be expanded in some way. A popular rumor/theory is that VOLTA could be incorporated into Football Ultimate Team in some fashion. Expect to see some info about VOLTA Football as soon as FIFA 21 is officially announced.
Could VAR make it into FIFA 21?
There aren't many topics in soccer that get fans more riled up than the video assistant referee, better known as VAR. Now present in most prominent top-flight leagues and international football competitions, VAR can help officials on the field decide whether a goal should stand, whether a penalty should be given, determine the severity of a card, and clear up cases of mistaken identity for yellow or red cards. If EA's famous "It's in the Game" motto is taken literally, VAR really should be in FIFA 21.
The problem would be how to implement it. VAR in multiplayer games would be a ticket to immediate outrage, so the guess here is that EA would only insert it into single-player modes. But then one starts to wonder if it might cause a stir in solo FUT games as well, so that might mean limiting VAR only to seasons or Career Mode, and you quickly arrive at a "Well what's the point, then?" conclusion. It's worth tucking this away in the back of your head and pulling it back out once EA starts sharing more FIFA 21 details.
Prepare for the game
FIFA 21 promises to deliver another year of excellent soccer simulation. With the game set for launch later this year, you can secure your copy now.
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