We’re nearing the release of EA Sports’ FIFA 21, which — as is the case with each new edition in the franchise — will be one of the most significant sports video games of the year.
By this point, fans of the series have a fairly good idea of what to expect, from game modes to player and club updates. But as we inch closer to the release (expected on 24th September), it’s time to look at some of the exciting things we know about this particular instalment.
1. Kylian Mbappé is on the Cover
As our look at the FIFA 21 cover announcement noted at the end of July, French national and PSG superstar Kylian Mbappé has been named as the cover athlete for the game. In fact, he’ll be on the cover for all three versions of it. This is an interesting move by EA Sports in that it positions the game particularly well with young, international audiences. Mbappé was the breakout star of the 2018 World Cup, and remains one of the true bright young stars in the game. It’s possible that millions of more casual football fans who got to know Mbappé in 2018 will be drawn to the game in part by this cover choice.
2. Gameplay has Been Improved
Gameplay improvements are expected with each new version of FIFA, and the same is true for this forthcoming release. We’re making note of these improvements here though because they’re really what stand out in several of the early write-ups of the game. Better ball control in one-on-one situations, smarter AI opponents, and more versatility in developing players for different positions have all been talking points so far. By the sound of things, this is going to be the most sophisticated football gameplay we’ve seen yet.
3. Ultimate Team has a new Co-op Mode
The “Ultimate Team” mode in FIFA has been a feature that both delights and frustrates players. On the one hand, it’s a fun and exciting game mode in which players can piece together dream-team rosters of past and present footballers. On the other, progression can be an ordeal, and some ultimately find the mode frustrating. For FIFA 21 though, it’s getting an upgrade. A piece about the changes to Ultimate Team by The Loadout outlines that we should expect to see co-op gameplay within the mode — a first for the franchise. We don’t yet know exactly what this will look like, but it’s possible that Ultimate Team will be all the more enjoyable when players can enjoy it with friends.
4. The Game Could Take Over Esports
This is somewhat more speculative, but it’s an interesting point to consider when you think about FIFA’s place in the eSports world. Bwin’s virtual football guide reveals that upwards of three million people follow FIFA games on Twitch, and major events (like the eChampions League or eWorld Cup) yield hefty prize money. The guide also calls the FUT Champions Cup (FUT meaning FIFA Ultimate Team) the “most regularly contested tournament.” Consider all of this in the context of current times — with more people stuck at home gaming, and the aforementioned Ultimate Team upgrade on the way — and it’s easy to imagine FIFA 21 attracting unprecedented eSports activity for a sports game.
5. It’s an Unofficial Flagship for Next-Gen Consoles
It’s also important to think about FIFA 21 with regard to the fact that next-gen consoles are just around the corner. Typically, you will not see the game listed among either forthcoming console’s earliest releases. Inverse’s look at PS5 launch titles focuses instead on games like Outriders, Godfall, and even NBA 2K21; Xbox Series X launch titles are expected to include Scorn and The Medium among others. But we also know that FIFA 21 will be immediately compatible with the new consoles. And even though it releases before said consoles, that sets it up to be one of the most popular games playable on them in the early going.
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