‘FIFA 22’ first impressions review: minor tweaks result in some fresh thrills

FIFA 22 is the latest instalment in EA’s iconic football series and, while hardly a huge departure, it offers enough new material and tweaks to keep things feeling fresh.

What can I tell you about FIFA 22 that you don’t already know? Chances are, if you’ve clicked through onto this page, that this isn’t your first rodeo – and that means that you already know what to expect.

FIFA 22 doesn’t reinvent the wheel, and that’s probably a good thing. Jumping into a new FIFA game is like starting a new season of real life footy; the rules are all the same, the faces too, but for some reason everything seems a whole bloody lot more difficult than you remember. That’s right, you are now shit – all over again.

Fret not though, that’s all part of the appeal. Each little tweak in FIFA 22 has a way of levelling the playing field. The strategies and tricks that you had all figured out might still work, but chances are they will require some retooling.

Pace for example, while still deadly, doesn’t seem to be quite as overpowered as it was in FIFA 21. Despite their lesser pace ratings, defenders have a new dynamic sprint ability that allows them to do a respectable job chasing down even the most blistering of attackers.

That said, Kylian Mbappe and the other superstars are still going to shred you 9 times out of 10.

fifa 22 gameplay
Image: FIFA 22 / EA

New features in FIFA 22

Now first of all, this is a first impressions review. While we got a prerelease copy of FIFA 22 we weren’t able to try out the online features in too much depth – they were still rather deserted. And as we all know, this is ultimately where the real draw of a football game is these days.

Nonetheless, the physics on display were responsive and more lifelike (for better and worse) than any past iteration of the game. Close control dribbling and tackling felt on point, and shooting was as temperamental as ever.

The defensive AI definitely feels a little more solid too, less easy to pull out of position and quicker to close you down when you manage to find some space in a dangerous position. This is where skills and dribbling play a big role, as otherwise you will see the majority of your shots blocked by a last ditch tackle.

Image: FIFA 22 / EA

Career Mode

The manager Career Mode, at least the version that appears offline, is rather similar to those that came before it, and I’m still not a huge fan of the convoluted Transfer Hub system.

However, FIFA 22 is the first instalment in the series to give you the opportunity to create your very own football club, something which I have yearned for since I was a kid. While this feature doesn’t change much in terms of the actual gameplay, it is undeniably a bit of fun.

fifa 22 management
Image: FIFA 22 / EA

My only criticism with this feature is that you must start with a bunch of computer generated players in your squad; although they can be easily replaced in the first transfer window if you give yourself a healthy budget.

I should note as well that the player development system has received a bit of an upgrade, incorporating ‘development plans’ so you can tailor which characteristics and skills improve at a faster rate. For example, a midfielder can be given a balanced plan, or be trained specifically to improve abilities associated with playmakers, box-to-box midfielders, or ball winners.

transfer hub
Image: FIFA 22 / EA

Closing thoughts

I need to spend more time with FIFA 22 before I can really make a solid call, but this latest instalment appears to be a nice update to the classic formula. The newly tweaked gameplay mechanics make it all feel fresh again, and should level the playing field somewhat online.

The thing is, FIFA 22’s online experience is going to be better, because that is where all the players are going to eventually end up. So if that’s where you get your enjoyment in a FIFA game from, then FIFA 22 is most certainly worth the price of admission.

FIFA 22 is coming to PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, and Nintendo Switch on October 1st, 2021. Pre-order your copy here.