FIFA 21 is coming soon, and this time around it’s arriving on next-gen consoles as well as the PS4 and Xbox One, with free upgrades to the next-gen versions for players who buy it for their current console.
We now know when FIFA 21 will launch (at least on current-gen consoles), and how the upgrades to the next-generation will work, but we’re still waiting to find out exactly when the PS5 and Xbox Series X versions will launch.
However, we do now know much more about the game, with a host of features announced alongside the first trailer. Here’s what you need to know.
When will FIFA 21 be released?
FIFA 21 will launch officially on 9 October, and you can pre-order it now.
If you pre-order the FIFA 21 Ultimate Edition or Champions Edition you can play a little early on 6 October. And if you’re a member of EA Access on console or Origins Access on PC you can play the game even earlier, on 1 October.
What platforms will FIFA 21 be on?
There are a few caveats to be aware of though.
First up, the PC version of the game will be the same as the PS4 and Xbox One versions, and not the upgraded next-gen console versions. That means PC players with high-end hardware won’t really be getting the most out of it. At least it will launch on Steam in addition to Origin, giving you more options on where to buy it.
The Switch port will once again be a Legacy version, with updated club kits and rosters for the current season, but an outdated set of features and gameplay modes.
Since the PS5 and Xbox Series X likely won’t be on sale by 9 October, there’s no set release date for those versions, but anyone who buys a PS4 or Xbox One copy of the game will be entitled to upgrade for free – more on that later.
Finally, the Stadia version is also due later than the others. No specific release date has been set for that version, and EA says it will release more details on the Stadia version of FIFA 21 later this year.
Watch the trailer
So far there’s just the one proper FIFA 21 trailer, which premiered in July 2020. The two-minute clip doesn’t reveal much with regards to gameplay, but we do get a look at the stunning graphics that will be coming to the PS5 and Xbox Series X.
Previously, we got a briefer look at the game on next-gen consoles via a flashy joint teaser with Madden 21:
How to upgrade FIFA 21 to next-gen consoles
EA has confirmed that anyone who buys FIFA 21 for the PS4 or Xbox One will be entitled to upgrade to the next-gen version for free, in a scheme it calls Dual Entitlement, but it’s a little more complicated than that.
First up, you’re only eligible to upgrade the game up until the release of FIFA 22 – once that game is out, the free upgrades will stop working.
You can also only upgrade within each console line. So if you want the PS5 version, you have to buy it on PS4 first. And if you want it on Xbox Series X, then buy it for Xbox One first.
You can upgrade from either a digital or disc edition of the game, but there’s one big catch: you can’t upgrade from a disc version to a discless console like the PS5 Digital Edition. So if you think you might get next-gen hardware without a disc drive, it’s probably best to buy a digital copy of FIFA 21 just to be safe.
Any progress or purchases you make in FIFA Ultimate Team or Volta Football will be carried over to the next-gen console, but any progress within other modes like Online Seasons, Co-Op Seasons, Career Mode, and Pro Clubs is specific to the console, and won’t carry over.
What’s new in FIFA 21?
In addition to the usual kits and squad updates, EA also revealed a host of new features that are coming to FIFA 21.
Improvements to career mode
For years, there have been calls for significant improvements to career mode, something which many feel has been neglected by EA in recent years. That will hopefully change on FIFA 21, with players able to ‘take their team to the top by managing every moment, with new innovations that create additional depth in matches, transfers, and training’.
However, there were only two specific enhancements mentioned. An ‘interactive sim’, will aim to take away some of the lottery of a simulated match, while the player growth system has been redesigned to be more realistic.
New VOLTA modes
VOLTA was added to FIFA for the first time last year, offering a slice of the classic FIFA Street experience from within the main game. There’ll be a greater focus on multiplayer this year, with VOLTA SQUADS allowing four players to join forces as a street football squad.
This looks to be the street equivalent of Pro Clubs, so it’ll be interesting to see what it brings to the table.
There’s also set to be a new story-based mode known as The Debut, while Volta Kick-Off will allow you to choose the settings for a one-off offline game.
Rarely does a year go by without significant improvements to Ultimate Team, and this is no different for FIFA 21.
Again reflecting EA’s emphasis on multiplayer gaming, FUT Co-op will let you team up with friends and compete for rewards across multiple modes. Ultimate Team was previously very much a single player mode, so it’s a welcome introduction.
This is always an area of focus for EA, but there appears to be special focus on it this year. Among the improvements are a new agile dribbling system, control over runs off the ball and a ‘reimagined player collision and movement system’.
It remains to be seen just how much of an impact they’ll have when playing the game.
Eric Cantona ICON
How could we leave this one out? Cantona has been one of the most requested ICON players in recent years, and his heavy involvement in the first trailer all but confirms that he’ll be one of the new ICON cards in Ultimate Team.
Oh, and Kylian Mbappé is the FIFA 21 cover star, if that wasn’t obvious from the trailer. At 21, the World Cup winner and multiple Ligue 1 champion is one of the youngest players to grace the cover of the game.
New (and removed) celebrations
Celebrations are getting tweaked too. First up the shush, regarded by many as the most annoying of the bunch in online play, is out. So is Dele Alli’s ‘challenge’ celebration – this isn’t seen as toxic, but the similarities to the OK symbol, now used extensively by white supremacists, might have something to do with it.
A few new celebrations are coming in to replace them though, including one that’s sure to be controversial: Kylian Mbappé’s cry baby.
Improved match flow
In addition to removing the shush to speed up time between goals, EA has made a few other changes to keep matches moving quicker.
The walk back cinematic after goals will be cut from online matches, and all celebrations will be quicker too. The game will also sometimes auto-skip animations when the ball goes out of play during online matches.
Time-wasting is also being cut down. Rather than giving players 30 seconds before set pieces, they’ll now have 10 seconds for kick-off; 12 for throw-ins; 15 for goal kicks, corners, and penalties; and 20 for free kicks.
No VAR, full crowds
Finally, two things that aren’t changing. Once again EA has decided not to include VAR in FIFA 21, explaining that since the game itself knows what’s a foul or not there’s not really any point.
The biggest impact of coronavirus won’t be felt either, as matches will still have full crowds in attendance, with not a face mask in sight.
Our FIFA 21 wishlist
Despite the official reveal, EA hasn’t delved too much into the actual gameplay that we can expect on FIFA 21. We don’t even know what next-gen consoles will bring to the table beyond “blazing fast load times, deferred lighting and rendering, enhanced animation technology, off-ball humanisation, and more.”
So, before anything about the new game was revealed, we made a list of things we want to see in FIFA 21. Full details about the game are yet to be confirmed, so there’s still a possibility some of them will make their way into the new game:
- Make Ultimate Team less ‘pay to win’ – Unfortunately, there is currently a strong correlation between how much money you put into FUT and how good your team is. Having more of a progression-based focus would encourage players to put more time into the game.
- Improvements to AI goalkeepers – As the goalkeeper is the one player you have no control over, it’s important that they have some level of consistency. Currently, decision making is erratic and you really can’t rely on the last line of defence.
- Return of Juventus and the Camp Nou – While FIFA has been top dog in terms of licencing for many years now, these two omissions stand out. Adding the Bianconeri and Barcelona’s iconic home back into the game would make it feel much more authentic.
We’ll update this article as soon as we know more about FIFA 21, but in the meantime check out more of the best upcoming games.