EA Sports was kind enough to provide us with an early copy of FIFA 21, so one of our writers took it upon himself to re-visit an old relationship. Here are his first impressions of FIFA 21. A review in progress of sorts.
Hello FIFA, old love. Here we are again. It’s been about 7 months since I last put my hands on you. Now I’m ready to start another year and embark on yet another love or hate story with you. I hope it’s the former and not the latter. I’ll be honest here: I dropped your old self when your career ambitions weren’t exactly what I’d hoped for and it seemed you were all about spending money on gold packs and you believed money could get you further than discipline and dedication. Now, you’re here for another go around and…
Actually, it’s really hard to write a whole article this way so let switch games-journalism mode: Our friends at EA Sports were gracious enough to let us in on the FIFA 21 experience well before release. Yes, that means: I played it, you didn’t.
Don’t sweat it though, #sharingIsCaring and I want to share my first impressions with you. Step. By. Step.
FIFA 21 - Review-In-Progress: Gameplay
43 GB file size. Ok. Alright. Just give me and my slow Wi-Fi half a year to finish that download. But: Patience is king if you wanna play FIFA early, so after I hacked my neighbor’s much faster Wi-Fi, I hooked the PS4 and FIFA 21 up at our EarlyGame offices.
Anyone that’s ever played FIFA, knows what comes first when you boot up the game: EA Sports, it’s in the game. Catchy as ever, and, right on cue, we were in the game just seconds later. FIFA 21 immediately starts you off by making you replay a weird version of either this year’s or last year’s Champions League Final: PSG vs Liverpool. It’s probably because Konami bought the FC Bayern license. But, no matter: As a man with of somewhat French descent, I’m sitting there ready and thinking ‘please let me control PSG, please, pretty, please’ and… sure enough I do. Cool. Pad in hand, I feel right at home despite my long FIFA absence and breeze through the defenders because the game is set to amateur by default- peanuts for a veteran like me. Immediately I notice that the players feel heavier and movement is slower than in previous FIFA entries. In fact, everything seems more… deliberate. Less arcade-y. Until now, I am not sure if the feeling of added weight is a good thing, but it doesn’t stop me from breezing through defenders:
I soon find myself in front of the Liverpool goal, controlling FIFA 21 cover-star Kylian Mbappé. I shoot and… it’s a cross. Yup, FIFA and PES veterans know: I forgot to set the controls to Alternate and hitting square in front of the goal on Classic sent my shot right into out of bounds and kept me from taking the lead...
It’s ok, cause one setting change later and the AI difficulty on Amateur is still a joke, so its 3-0 at half time: Square to shoot and shoot to win.
I finish the game and definitely notice that, yes, the whole game felt weightier, but it still felt… good. Really good actually. I enjoyed myself. Granted, this is just one game. I’m not aware of repetitive annoying bugs yet or anything that you notice with prolonged play. We all know that FIFA is the type of game that only shows its brilliance or lack thereof once you’ve really gotten into it and invested some time.
FIFA 21 - Review-In-Progress: Graphics, Menus & Volta
Graphically speaking… let’s just say that the big jump will probably happen from one system to the next. That is to say that, maybe, the PS5 version will wow us, but FIFA’s visuals on the PlayStation 4 are nothing to write home about. At the same time though, they are also not negative in any way.
The mandatory first & automatically queued FIFA game in the books, navigating the main menu was up next. No changes here. Everything looks and feels familiar. From here I clicked my way through and into the Volta mode and was delighted by good customization, a story that seems to have decent acting and characters that I think I might actually like. Hard to say after the first four practice matches, but Volta seems like something I definitely want to play through and it’s always been a game mode that intrigued me - I see huge potential here, but the gameplay needs to be better than what it was last year.
And, yes: It’s still cringey-ish and tryhard cool, but… it’s Streetball, so… that’s kinda cringe-y and tryhard cool by default anyway.
FIFA 21 - Review-In-Progress: Verdict-In-Progress
Guys, we’re not gonna get ahead of ourselves with mere first impressions and claim to know it all after just a couple of hours. What I can tell you here and now is that my first 2-3 hours with FIFA 21 were serious fun and I want to play more. I am hopeful that this time, EA Sports properly retakes its crown and delivers a Champion-level game.
Stay tuned for our FIFA review which will be coming on release day!