Review – FIFA 21 (PS5)

Another brand new generation of consoles is upon us and you know what that means: EA has already developed a brand new version of their FIFA franchise to entice PlayStation 5 early adopters. After playing the Switch version of FIFA 20 last year, and loathing my time spent with it, I wanted to do the exact opposite this year. I wanted to play the most modern port of the game and see what EA could do with brand new hardware, features, and so on. Even though I know this is not going to be the face of FIFA for years to come, as I know they’ll put a bigger emphasis on these more modern versions once people actually manage to buy the damn consoles, I wanted to see if FIFA 21 was, at the very least, a passable sports experience.

FIFA 21

It sure looks good, but I know it can look even better in a year or two from now.

According to EA, the PS5 version of FIFA 21 boasts massively improved visuals over the PS4 and Xbox One versions, as well as some brand new gameplay features, but all in all, it’s the same game as its last-gen counterparts. Volta is still the highlight, with its emphasis on flashy, carefree street football, something that Street Power Soccer failed to replicate. Be a Pro is still the very slow, but rewarding journey centered on your own creation, this time without a bland plot to tie things together. There’s also a full-fledged licensed version of the Copa Libertadores, the South American Champions League, which is a plus in my books. Finally, there’s Ultimate Team. It’s still the same pathetic money-grabbing casino it has always been, and the less we talk about it, the better.

FIFA 21

Kak√° shows up in Volta’s “story mode”. Let’s just say that he’s a better footballer than he is an actor.

Graphically-wise, FIFA 21 did not impress me that much. Sure, it’s really good looking and it runs at a steady 60fps most of the time. However, this is far from the revolutionary graphical leap than, say, the PS5 version of NBA 2K21 over its PS4 counterpart. The lighting effects are still clearly last-gen, and players look way too “plasticky”, for lack of a better word.

Two things impressed me the most in here. The first one is the near absence of loading times. If there’s one game that uses the PlayStation 5’s SSD storage to its advantage, that’s FIFA 21. Transitioning from a menu to a match is basically instantaneous, making Demon’s Souls‘ already minuscule loading times look like Bloodborne back when it first came out.

Who would have thought that FIFA would have one of the best early implementations of the DualSense’s adaptive triggers?

What really impressed me in this particular version of FIFA 21 was its controls. Not exactly in the gameplay department per se, as not a lot has been changed when compared to FIFA 20 (then again, it’s still better than its predecessor). No, what I liked the most about it was the usage of the DualSense’s adaptive triggers and rumble. The controller will vibrate according to the chants and intensity of the fans inside the stadium, and the triggers (which let your player sprint) will become harder to press if your team is losing, reducing your player’s morale, or if you run out of stamina. These subtle yet smart implementations of the DualSense added a whole new degree of immersion to the game, and that completely caught me off guard.

Why am I playing as Giannis Antetokounmpo in FIFA? Not that this is a bad thing, but I’m just wondering…

I wasn’t expecting for the PS5 version of FIFA 21 to be an impressive technological showcase, considering the current world situation and higher percentage of last-gen consoles out in the wild. The graphical improvements didn’t exactly wow me, but I definitely did not expect for EA to come up with one of the coolest implementations of the DualSense’s adaptive triggers to date. It makes me look forward to what they’re capable of doing in maybe two years, when everyone will already own a PS5 or a Series X. As it stands, the PS5 version of FIFA 21 is worth checking out, with tons of modes, teams and licenses. But Ultimate Team still sucks.

 

Graphics: 7.5

Although the visuals look good enough, they do not feel like a massive improvement over the previous generation. The framerate is excellent, but some small drops occur every now and then.

Gameplay: 8.5

Though little has changed in terms of gameplay, FIFA 21 does utilize the DualSense’s triggers in a very creative and intelligent way. It increases their resistance whenever a player is too tired to perform a sprint.

Sound: 7.0

FIFA 21 features a much better soundtrack than in previous years. However, its narrators and Volta mode voice actors deliver a mixed performance at the very best.

Fun Factor: 7.5

FUT, FIFA 21‘s flagship mode, as usual, is still a microtransaction-infested embarrassment, but Volta, the licensed inclusion of the Copa Libertadores, and the myriad of teams to play as make up for it.

Final Verdict: 7.5

FIFA 21 is available now on PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series S/X, PC. and Switch (don’t bother with that last one, though).

Reviewed on PS5.

A copy of FIFA 21 was provided by the publisher.