Play-by-Play: FIFA 22 gameplay reveal shows off new animations, improved AI, and more

By Kes Eylers-Stephenson,
EA has released a gameplay trailer for FIFA 22 that explains the ins and outs of what the new edition of the football sim will look like. The 30 minute-long stream talked about animation, improved AI, air control, and more... This is a Play-by-Play of the event that breaks down the new features and assesses where they will stand when the new game launches.


There are five key areas to cover, so let's break this down into neat categories.

HyperMotion and improved animations

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The HyperMotion system is essentially the computed data of a real game of football. The dev team stuck trackers and sensors all over a team of players and then asked them to play. This gave them plenty of data that will now be used in over 4,000 new animations that should change up gameplay a bit. Notably, these should be most felt in terms of stride changes adjusting to where the ball is positioned and how players interact with either open or closed pitch space. As a next-gen exclusive feature, it uses machine learning to constantly adapt to any gameplay situation. A concerning note — I'm sorry, I can't help it — was that when asked about how that changes the way the game feels, one of the panel responded by saying it changes the way the game looks. Hopefully, the new system has more to offer than an aesthetic.

Team intelligence

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This basically makes the players way smarter, so each player can make six times more decisions on the fly. In the more recent editions, teammates have been more static than ever and seemingly incapable of making runs or tracking other players. EA appear to have been working on fixing this. The defensive code has been totally re-written, apparently. This means more zonal marking and defending as a unit, perhaps eliminating ridiculous one-man 'offside traps that just beg to be sped past by a flying Timo Werner. Changes to the way you can tactically set out your chance creation and build-up play mean that you will be able to, hopefully, make a difference from the menus on the pitch. Of course, this makes us giddy at TA because we love nerdy little details.

Kinetic Air Battles and Composed Ball Control

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Contested headers look better without removing player control. The team has revamped the dribbling mechanics by introducing multi-touch animations for when a player brings a ball down from the air — from head to foot to ground — along with sharp direction changes or control under pressure. This could be great to look at, but also a bit of a nightmare for competitive play. Long, canned animations are the bane of fluidity in FIFA and often make you feel like you have less control over what is happening. Hopefully, rather than playing out as something canned, these are muti-touches that can be altered in motion through your input. There are 400 new animations in total and one of the devs did say that a player can transition out of them, so let's hope that that is truly the case.

Humanisation

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This seems to be mostly visual. Basically, FIFA 22 adds loads of visual off-the-ball cues as the AI organise themselves. This revolves around passing, defending, and movement, but it can't be helped that we kind of shrugged our shoulders and thought: "okay? what does it do, though?" Free kick opportunities will provide more options, but it seems that this is less of a competitive thing and more of an immersive career mode opportunity. This was particularly showcased with unique animations for certain star players, like Haaland's bear-rampaging-through-woods style of running.

Other stuff

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Goalkeeping is stated to be much better, from the animations for playing away, catching, and smothering the ball to decision making. Apparently, this is one of the first things you will notice, so this is pretty exciting and maybe one of the most important changes this year. The devs also talk about True Ball Physics, which we swear we have heard before from a few years ago. In essence, friction has been adjusted which totally morphs how the ball moves. Hangtime is higher and low passes have zip. Explosive Sprint allows you to perform a boost of speed, which initially sounds a bit dodgy considering the years of legging it past people being the most important tactical asset. Instead, though, it seems that this boost is all about making sure you think about when you start sprinting because otherwise you might overshoot the ball or lose control. Even so, one has to imagine this will be the most adjusted feature in the lifespan of the game. There was also a long section focused on feedback. This is actually one of those things that doesn't sound like a lot, but should be exciting you to your core. Getting players in and amongst the development team at an early phase can be game-changing, so let's see how it has affected the final product.

There are currently a few other things coming up. Pitch Notes will be accessible and tell us all about new stuff, so we will bring them to you as soon as they release. Across the web, GInfinity, Eurogamer, and IGN have put out gameplay impressions, which we will have for you on TA as soon as possible too.

What do you think of the changes? How is the Play-by-Play format treating you? Let us know down below!
Kes Eylers-Stephenson
Written by Kes Eylers-Stephenson
Hey, I'm Kes! I'm a Staff Writer, and I've been here since 2021. What do I like? The Outer Wilds is top notch. The Witcher 3 blew my mind over the course of five years completing it. I want Burnout back — I really miss crunching mechanical wonders into walls to the sound of Guns N' Roses. Cool, now we are acquainted, I'll see you around.