Normally, while writing a review, I like to avoid sticking myself in the first paragraph to give you a breezy overview, a little bit of intrigue, and a neatly generalised opinion. FIFA 22 requires something a little bit different, though. A little bit of history to contextualise what is a huge mass of a game, played by a huge mass of very passionate people. I have played FIFA for years. In fact, I got into real-life football by becoming obsessed with the ins and outs of the digital game as a fourteen-year-old. I've been pretty good at times in my life, proving more than a fair match for most of my friends and normally managing to conquer at least Division 4 in Ultimate Team. In FIFA 22, though, all that skill is apparently for nought: I am truly bad at the game of virtual football this year. And yet, I could not be happier about all my many losses. For the first time in ages, FIFA's game on the pitch has made changes that make it the best at launch it has been since 2015. FIFA 22 requires relearning, retooling, and rewiring the dirtiest tricks of the ingrained skillset; but, make no bones about it, it is for the better. Game modes still generally deliver across the board, with Career, Player Career, Ultimate Team, Volta, and Pro Clubs all getting just enough of a facelift. But really, it is when you strap on the boots, hear the crowd chant over the commentary, and get that ball under the feet of your favourite midfielder that FIFA 22 begins performing at the series' peak.
We played on Series X for this review. There have been reports that the game is poorly optimised on Series S, with player faces looking like eldritch monsters and the game blurring until it looks like J. M. W. Turner's Departure of the Fleet painting (but less beautiful and rich with emotion, obviously). Thus, this review does not reflect the Series S version of the game in its current, unoptimised state.
FIFA 22 is a live-service game. That means this is a review of the state of the launch game; before a true meta is revealed, game-changing patches are implemented, FUT market values are set, and specific glitches are fixed. To accommodate the significantly changing landscape, we will be running follow-up articles in the future that address the ongoing nature of the game.
A General Overview
There is simply so, so much to cover it is untrue. Thus, each section of our review for FIFA 22 is labelled so you can pick out the bits you find pertinent. This opening is dedicated to the look and feel of the game. This is followed by a section on the gameplay of the new and old, before reviewing the new offensive and defensive phases of this edition. The final few sections offer up a review of each of the myriad game modes, so you can choose the ones that you play the most (or, just read all of them, I'm cool with that).
Let's start with the obvious. The game is nearly fully licenced and oozes authenticity. Players look like real-life counterparts to the point it is kind of an uncanny valley situation. Seeing Messi, Neymar, and Mbappe lining up for PSG and then be playing in the exact way we are used to in the game is bordering on the ridiculous, to be honest. Stadiums are bustling with activity: flags wave, the right songs are sung, and the atmosphere is electric. New introductory sequences before games and extra stadium details just keep piling up the authenticity of FIFA 22, though. This is a comprehensive footballing experience, no doubt.
This game is always pulling the authenticity strings, too. The delightfully cheesy opener sees you design your avatar for all the game modes of FIFA 22. It features David Beckham, Thierry Henry, Eric Cantona — feeding pigeons... because Eric Cantona — and more as you dribble through the streets of Paris. Then you see F1 champ Lewis Hamilton show up with boxer Anthony Joshua, and you realise that this game has a cocky swagger and it is ready to flaunt it at every moment, but it's got it for good reason. Safe to say, you don't have to worry about most badges, kits, and stadiums, but it is still a little sad to see some Serie A clubs decline to participate and a host of international teams missing. There is more than enough to make this a comprehensive an exceedingly realistic-looking experience, anyway.
The New and Old
What is new on the pitch this year? Well, the gameplay has been revamped in several marketing buzzword-filled areas. I'll try and narrow it down as concisely as possible. Hypermotion is the big one. A Series X|S-only feature, the dev team went out and used special trackers to capture 22 players playing full games of football. They have converted these into over 3,000 new animations — the biggest refresh in the series history. These are fluid and not canned because the game uses machine learning to seamlessly stitch them together on the fly for things like ball touches, body movement and language off the ball, taking balls out of the air, and heading. This also includes a rewrite of physical battles and the way keepers work. Detached from Hypermotion are the revamped ball physics and the improved AI, along with a host of other technical bits you can read in Pitch Note form, if you wish.
FIFA 22 had to target a lot with this overhaul. In the last three FIFAs — in particular, FIFA 21 — things had become tired and somewhat broken on the pitch. There was a very strict and set way to play, so everybody did exactly that. It was the same skill moves, the same teams and players, the same goals... over and over again. There was fun to be had, but it was always with an asterisk. The defensive AI was actually shocking, passes would go through opposition players, pace was king... so on and so forth. But the worst thing? Goals were no longer special: every game was a 6-5 blast-out.
The Offensive Game
No longer! FIFA 22 has made the changes needed by slowing the game down into a smooth, gloriously patient, and thoughtful time on the pitch. It makes for an experience that has just clicked every bit of footballing nuance together into a game that is coherent and fantastically fun. Hypermotion is certainly a little bit overwrought in the marketing, but it really does work as a tool to help the rest of the game shine. The animations it has added mean that there is barely any jank and literally everything looks like it is smoother than the top of Harry Maguire's forehead. In my entire time with the game, I noticed less than one weird animation a match. I can't think of a single time one of those altered the game negatively, either. That is pretty much unheard of for FIFA.
Not only that, the smoothness of that animation, on and off the ball, allows you to better calculate each move you make. It's a fluidity that helps hydrate your playing time by enriching every touch with a little extra body movement or micro-adjustment. Nothing looks rote anymore, making this occasionally so indistinguishable from the real game it becomes uncanny. Beautiful player models, energetic stadiums, and great hair (seriously) make this the best FIFA has ever looked. If I have one complaint, it's that the grass still doesn't look quite right — it is often a little flat and untextured, but that is a minor foible and it fades into the background quickly.
Two major improvements come from these changes. The quick and easy one to talk about is is the goalkeeper rewrite. They essentially make better decisions, save and catch without causing disadvantages, and their touches of the ball don't always ping to the attacker's feet. You will stop noticing it after a few games as it becomes natural for your keeper to just be normal, but it is a vital booster to getting fair football fun from the game.
Secondly, and much trickier to quantify, is that Hypermotion becomes the enabler for every other small — but often superb — gameplay tweak by slowing down the game. Movement is less like springing from the traps every time and down a railway line to the ball, and players can actually be properly controlled on the left stick and using RT to moderate pace, rather than playing out with those set canned motions like in 21. Actually touching the ball is given a fabulous sense of freedom because you can actually negotiate at low speeds as the machine learning adjusts the animations for each adjustment. It looks great, but it also requires you to be more precise in your play. You cannot just pass through defenders anymore, as we will get onto later, so you have to be using variety to break down the opposition. This will test if you know your basic pass, from your bouncing pass, from your chipped short cross, from your through ball, ad infinitum.
The team around you is also just so much smarter. Players now open up space in unique ways by no longer running in the stock patterns of old. For example, I played an Ultimate Team game where my left winger (Pulisic) and striker (Gabriel Jesus) both made twisting off-the-ball runs that killed the opposing defence and opened up space for a central run by my CAM (Havertz). It was beautiful and unique, feeling ergonomic and really well balanced. Player ratings have been carefully managed this year, though some younger players feel like they have been shafted. Picking suitable players based on position, role, and granular stats actually helps this year. You will need a solid variety of players in the custom team-building modes and some smarts in choosing which real-team roster to use in Kick-Off and Seasons mode. It's really rejuvenating to be able to use my favourite players, like Daniel Parejo, Lars Stindl, and Sandro Tonali, not as a token recognition of my possibly romantic feelings for them in my teams, but for an actual useful footballing purpose. It is also nice to be able to play as Valencia, Frankfurt, or Atalanta without fear of not playing into the meta.
The constant movement from a bounteous selection of different players in different systems and teams, slower pace, and precision play are all vital for dynamically creating scenarios with a genuine sense of variety, keeping the game interesting even after my 30-or-so hours with it. It gives the action on the pitch the depth it was lacking previously. The opposition AI, whether facing the CPU or another player, is similarly more natural thanks to improved defensive shapes and intelligence. There is a sense of actually being pressed by the team on occasion, or seeing space shut down quickly and your options disappear into oblivion as you realise you have walked into a defensive trap.
Pace isn't quite as effective a stat anymore, as the opposition can see you building up speed and will anticipate these simplistic offensive tactics of just run and hope, something I was continually guilty of during my initial hours. Timing when to move from a walk, to a jog, to bursting run is now an essential part of normal play... thank goodness. That means it is as useful to have, say, the technical dribbler Eden Hazard (or brother Thorgan Hazard) on the wing as opposed to the out-and-out pace-beast of Adama Traoré. This is, in part, because the new burst sprint (double tap RT) displays that acceleration is much more useful than just sprinting to get past a player. Likewise, skill moves are trickier to pull off every time. Those Elastico's, Rainbow Flicks, and cutbacks just don't cut it anymore, and your player will be pressed off the ball in no time as you make space for the move. That being said, dribbling still looks gorgeous, and nailing skill moves or beating a man is actually cause for celebration now.
Ball physics have a huge role to play too, as they were overhauled along with all the animations. This means it is so much better in the air than before. Vertical play is back and fully balanced for crosses and through balls in a big way. It just looks right seeing a ball actually have backspin as it soars, but the new physics help the game look just right as it skims the grass. It helps take the game off the rails a bit, but moreover, it is in keeping with the slower pace and more unforgiving nature of the game. I feel like I am selling the importance of this change short because it is hard to elaborate on, but know that it alters every moment in every match for the betterment of the general style of play.
Here is the most important fact about all of that detail: it makes goal-scoring satisfying and a cause for jubilation again. Likewise, it is devastating (in a good way) when you concede. Why? Because you know how much work it takes to get another goal, and the fact the opposition probably deserved whatever screamer, header, or cute finish they scored in that moment. It helps that the goal net ripples in a super satisfying way and the frame of the goal makes just the right noises as it tremors under the weight of a thunderous Iñaki Williams volley. I cannot stress this enough, I was reacting to goals like I was a teenager with FIFA 14 again, shouting at the screen and hollering at my players like an old man at a horse race.
All of this new stuff adjusts the game so substantially that it feels like a professionally refurbished piece of home decor on a TV show. It's still football, but now it is worth four times the value on the pitch with the amount of depth there is. Even now, I feel like my skill has dropped because I am having to forget all the tricks of the last FIFA to play a more natural game that is less reliant on skill moves, pace, cutbacks, and boring through-ball plays designed to exploit the underlying deficiencies of the game. Instead, I am playing with a more fluid system and one based on actually working out how to break the opposition down to get that satisfying result.
However, though the new offensive and defensive tactics in the menus are good, it just not a sufficient selection compared to its closest rival, PES 21 (forgetting eFootball a moment). The variety on the pitch makes up for tactical simplicity, and player roles combined with the new tactics do make a difference in-game, but you can't help but feel EA is scared of giving lots of tactical depth in case it breaks the flow of the game or a meta is easily found. It's limiting and a bit patronising, but at least it works.
As mentioned, for a few hours, I was fairly unsuccessful at getting any result. I lost again and again in every possible way. 3-0 leads went sour. I was decimated in ways that bring up a bit of PTSD. Please, I don't want to talk about the game where I had 22% possession, okay? But I finally feel like I am getting there with slower play, thoughtful passing, and longer recycling periods. It's honestly refreshing to feel the most pumped I've ever been while losing over and over. Knowing that each one was justified because of all the little details listed above are working in sync and in a way that always feels fair. It kept me on the hunt for improvement until I finally did it in incremental ways. For many out there, I think it will be the same way. This is a truly awesome time to be the team in possession on the pitch.
The Defensive Game
Defending is generally improved, too. Tackles and slides, when you do actually make them rather than intercepting or shrugging players of the ball, no longer ping the ball around (always at your rivals feet, it seemed). Instead, ball retention is much higher, leading to a cleaner time trying to get the ball away from your box. On the whole, defenders are better positioned and do press as a cohesive unit most of the time. However, I still think there are issues.
You can now click on the right stick during the defensive phase and it will let you flick the stick to pick the defender you want. Ideally, this would prevent the dodgy player switching of old. Indeed, it is good practice to click it in during most defensive actions, just in case. This would work much better if you could actually defend with your defenders. The truth is, though, that it is still easier to manually press the opposition by jockeying with your defensive midfielder and avoid breaking the defensive line by pulling one man out. This can be quite unengaging and is a hangover from the struggles EA has had in past years to make defending work for players.
The new limited press found on RB doesn't really work, either. As mentioned previously, the team shape is much kinder and will push to press as a unit. However, the RB one-man pressure should provide a limited push from an allocated player to hassle the ball carrying opposition. Too often, though, your player spends his limited time dawdling doing nothing. I've seen you run, Gabriel Jesus! Now get on your bike and nip at Thomas Partey! Likewise, the A button can be used to control one-man pressure and containing. It is useless and is a hindrance, I literally can't think of a use for it.
I've also seen the crime of AI players tracking runners breaking through the line by following them all the way, thus keeping everybody else onside and leaving you vulnerable for no reason. EA seemed to indicate that this was fixed with refined 'Defensive Intelligence' in the build-up to release, but sometimes it seems players revert for a split moment into total lunacy. It certainly happens with less regularity than FIFA 21, but it is irritating when it does happen. However, physical battles between defensive and offensive players are so much better. Heading feels absolutely great and a real battle of bodies. It is worth reiterating that it is much, much improved overall on the defensive end. I conceded a lot, but it was always understood where I had made the mistake, even if the above issues hadn't been present.
As mentioned, I was awful at FIFA 22 compared to games of old in the initial stages. I was worried this was affecting my outlook on the game in strange ways, not providing a proper balance of wins and losses. To help me dissect my own defects in my game this year and to ensure I was understanding what was happening on the pitch in this iteration, I contacted Sam Easton. His qualifications are that he has been battering me into a pulp every year since he introduced me to the game 10 years ago and is equally obsessed with the pernickety details. He played for 15 hours in total, mostly in FUT. Here is what he said:
"Bro, this gameplay is the best it's been in forever. It's way slower, it's way more precise, do you know what I mean? If you want to get good, you have to really think about what you are doing with your team and the way that you do your tactics. It's all about that good passing in midfield and the good attack positioning up top."
Intermission while Sam deals with a wild postman.
"What was I saying? Yeah, man, It's way less reliant on pace. So using a midfielder like Daniel Parejo with ridiculous passing stats, and offensive players like Suárez or Agüero with that nose for the right place is super essential. Like, that leaves you free to ping over pretty much and LB double-Y pass if you have made the space. But, it takes thought and practice. This is the best FIFA has been in ages. I'm actually having fun... smiling all the time, you know? Not just playing to get more football."
A few things around the pitch deserve mention, like the new deep analytics you can see in the image above. Things like xG (expected goals), heat maps, passing rates, and oh-so-much more are all now available to you after the match. It's super cool, but I wish you could access your historical data after several matches to help you pinpoint your strengths and weaknesses in a more longitudinal sense. At the moment, it is too much detail rammed into menus that are too easily breezed past and forgotten.
The commentary from Derek Ray is just about good enough, and new boy Stewart Robson — replacing the truly awful Lee Dixon — is still finding his feet with a few eerily scripted lines. Alex Scott is unfortunately sidelined as an 'around the grounds' commentator in Career Mode. I really wish she could have been the pre-and post-match commentator and it really feels like a waste of her talent.
The menus are adequate. It is much simplified and easily negotiable. But the grey background is pretty boring and not exactly inspiring a sense of footballing love considering you will spend many hours with it. It's cool seeing ambassador players pop up in the background, though. Things like Playtime counters are really neat and will be a great tool for parents and those who want to find some self-control. There are skill games and practice modes aplenty, though I haven't delved into these beyond those available in the other game modes. They are what you would expect, short simple tests measured by score. They are fun, sometimes tricky, and occasionally infuriating. It is addictive as always, though. There are more songs than ever before on this year's soundtrack, though. There is some amazing stuff, some average stuff, and some trash. You can turn off the ones you don't like in the menus, though, or turn it off altogether. It's honestly the best I can remember for a while, and you do start bobbing when you hear a favourite.
Let's (finally) talk game modes, shall we? The big one every year is the money-churning FUT, or Ultimate Team. I have surprisingly little to say, here. The formula is the same as it has always been. Construct a team from cards, then play games against other players or in Squad Battles. It is hard to get into the specifics of things like the card market or the viability of packs at launch because it isn't really working as it would in a post-release environment. I will keep track of it in my update articles in the coming months. However, rest assured the core of the process is unchanged and is fiendishly moreish, and being built on the best gameplay foundation in a long time makes this even more apparent. I haven't had this much fun in FUT in years.
The structure of the player-vs-player Division Rivals has changed. It is simplified to the wins you have accrued. Sometimes you have to win a few in a row to climb the ranks and get to a checkpoint, with losses setting you back a stage. It is a smart reformulation of the same system that bins the mysterious point totals of old. I haven't got that far yet, but it is no doubt going to be a long road to Division 1 if you are so inclined. FUT Champions, a limited weekend mode, is easier to access than ever and less time-intensive. I can't wait to give it a real shot in the future. There is still non-competitive Friendlies that will be inevitably used to help you get special players without affecting your win/loss rate, and Squad Battles for those of you who want the FUT experience without playing against real people, but against less infuriating CPU opponents. It's a good mix and will prove to be a life-drain for many, but these small tweaks help present a more manageable experience.
On a quick note, there have been no cards that I've seen thus far that have been overpowered, and no ridiculous and samey in-forms that break the game. This is early stages though, so we will have to wait and see. Packs are more free-flowing than normal and coins are easier to gather. However, I did get a ludicrous amount of points to spend on packs and lubricate the market economy, which on the first time I played only had 400 cards for sale (it is now around 1.1 million). So I can't speak to how a starting player will find their feet in this new marketplace.
The inclusion of Preview Packs is good for all though, and particularly though those who might struggle with managing the "just one more" nature of them. It allows purchasers to see the contents before deciding to spend the money, with a 24-hour timer which resets the contents once you have seen it. Likewise, pack odds can help you make an informed decision about if you want to spend in-game or real-world money for a 2% chance at an in-form or whatever special card is available that day. I know this is a touchy topic, but I do just want to say that for most players, there are now the tools to make informed choices. There are a host of other issues to have with this kind of system — and trust me, I feel pretty unhappy about the fact they are in a game rated 3+ in the UK — but, generally speaking, this is the best microtransaction packs have been in FIFA. I also seem to have lied about saying I had little to say about Ultimate Team, sorry about that.
Career Mode features Manager and Player Careers. This is really the bread-and-butter of most folks' experiences, regardless of what other modes you play: everyone has a save file for a single-player career. In Manager Mode, you can now make a custom club, there are new contextual stories based on career milestones, and there are new animations in the transfer meetings. Building a team is honestly super cool. It uses most of the tools from elsewhere in FIFA, like the Pro Clubs kit maker and Ultimate Team's editable stadiums, to essentially design a club from the ground up, from name to club expectations, to your position in the league and the songs your fans sing. It gives you true ownership over a club, though a more normal career mode with a traditional club is available. I built a team called The Buccaneers, who play in The Galleon stadium, garbed in black, white, and red with pinstripes (like the Jolly Rodger flag covered in blood... gruesome). Seeing my team stride onto the pitch, with the crowd screaming "seagulls, seagulls!" was too good. I started in English League 2 with an archetype of a young team and a small club mentality, but you can customise this to change your objectives season on season and your starting budget. I scraped into the playoffs after a dreadful start and managed to win it, so next season The Buccaneers are off to play in League One, ready to be slain by the mighty Sunderland. Every moment and achievement is suddenly given a sense of pride because you really do feel ownership over the boys on the pitch. It's immersive and it is a really great time that puts down a new marker for the staple mode.
The customisation really does a lot to cover up the cracks. Sure, new animations and cutscenes are great, but they aren't exactly qualitative in terms of what the gameplay loop offers. The new milestones are relegated to a paltry news item, with a line in the on-field commentary. It's a bit disappointing, really. Likewise, the training system and match sharpness need a rejig. It is too much useless busywork. It took me nearly an hour to set the club up as I wanted, and another to set up players with training regiments and position changes, along with scouting networks, tactics, and so on. Being able to denote what each individual player trains, thus improving their stats in specific areas, is good; but there is no true depth to it — you just click a role and wait. I wish EA had implemented the RPG-like branching points allocations like in Pro Clubs or Career mode to create meaningful player development decisions with hard choices over the path they take. Especially since it is already present in the game in other modes and the system that currently exists is ageing out already (it was introduced last year). Likewise, match sharpness says it keeps your players fit on the pitch, but I genuinely can't feel that when I play. You can actually turn off notifications for match sharpness and fitness regiments and auto-sim it (thank god) as you skip through the days. There is just too much shallow micromanagement at play here, and that isn't helped by a glitch that sometimes causes players to spam you with the same emails over and over.
Don't get me wrong, Career mode is still fun, but it struggles to offer depth to the systems it is trying to put in there. If anything, it feels like this is the beginning of something more for next year... but it has felt like that for a few seasons. The custom club really buoys the experience, though.
The Player Career is much improved as it is much more in sync with its own systems, but still missing a little something. You put either your pro into a team of your choice, or select a real player. You are given a skill tree, where you allocate points to a tree (passing, shooting, and so on, just like Pro Clubs) given by experience gained after matches and training. You can pick archetypes if you fill out a tree, like an Architect archetype to increase the passing of my 6'7 CAM, and perks to provide specific boosts, like precision long-range shooting or passing boosts after getting an assist. As you play matches and participate in skill games in training, you get closer to starting for the team. I was a starter straight away for my League One club, Sunderland, but that is hardly a hard task as much as it pains me to say so. If you were to start for, say, Arsenal, then you would get special cutscenes showing you on the bench waiting to play as you work your way through being a reserve, bench, and first-team. This progression is made more likely if you complete objectives in-game, like having a good dribble success rate or scoring a goal, and works really, really well.
I genuinely don't have any problems with any of the specific systems — it is a cohesive whole and you feel progress with every game. However, it does feel like a proper story (in the vein of Alex Hunter's The Journey from the past) was primed to be dropped into this mode, but then had to be cut. That is only speculation, but it is weird how your player is fully voiced in the introduction scenes, but never speaks again. At the moment, you play, you train, you allocate points, and you play again. There are really detailed interstitial cutscenes that look great, but the story to contextualise it all feels somewhat conspicuously absent. That leaves Player Career feeling rich in gameplay systems, but shallow in terms of offering a true footballing narrative even if you make one up for yourself (we all do it).
Volta and Pro Clubs
I've bundled these two together because I have the least experience with them, both of which felt like were not my fault. I literally couldn't find any online matches over several days, and Pro Clubs isn't available in single player. That means I'm not going to count them as part of the review score total, but I'll give you an overview of what is going on in the modes. Volta is mainline FIFA's version of the FIFA Street series. It can be played as a 3v3, 4v4, or 5v5 in a variety of game modes.
You build up your player avatar's skills by playing games on small pitches, with small goals, but plenty of close control and skill. The experience is largely the same as last year, but I really didn't play anything of it previously, aside from the story mode from FIFA 20 which I quickly realised I couldn't stand. I know FIFA 21 had a story mode as well, called The Debut, but again, I stayed away from the mode. All of that seems to be stripped this year, with no story mode insight. Instead, you can play in an online bracket that is very similar to Ultimate Team's competitive structure, or offline against pre-built squads. There is also an Arcade mode that is reminiscent of Kick-Off's fun game modifiers, with Dodgeball modes and Football Tennis all on the cards. This provides a variety of experiences, but if you are a Volta fan, it must feel really gutting to not have that Story mode present.
This year they added a skill gauge that adds up based on all of your flair moves, like wall passes or fancy LT lay-offs. In time, it will fill to increase the value of a goal up to four. So, if you do enough skill moves, fancy passes, and tricks, you will be rewarded for it. It's a cool system that makes players consider playing Volta the way it should be, with flair. It might not be for purists, but it does bake in a hard in-game decision to make: go for a simple goal or build that bar? Signature Abilities have been added that allow you to increase your power in shots and passes, your pace, or your tackling for a limited time with a tap of RB. Again, it kind of works to ensure that each player can specialise and make themselves feel unique. But it does feel a bit broken to just press RB and hammer a shot into the goal from anywhere.
Ultimately, this is seriously stripped back compared to last year. I think if you're a Volta fan, you will be grateful for the new modes, but you will probably be a bit put out by the lack of a story mode and the disappearance of proper squad-building like in Ultimate Team. It is a great place to test and improve your close control and skill, but it feels like the mode is already on the verge of retirement in this year's iteration.
In Pro Clubs, the changes are mostly cosmetic. You can now play as a female player, which is awesome. Likewise, there are more hairstyles and skill tree paths and perks mentioned in the Player Career mode section of the review. Drop-in matchmaking has been changed to make it easier for you to group with your friends, and you now have access to proper stadium customisation if you are playing in a club. These are all welcome additions.
Achievement ListIf you have played FIFA before, you know this list and you know the stupid length of time it takes to complete. I unlocked 11 out of 37 achievements, though before you guys kill me for it, please bear in mind the time it takes to do a full season in Career mode, complete 20 matches in Ultimate Team (and set the thing up), finish half a season of Player Career, mess around in Volta for a few hours, do some Kick-Off stuff, and more. The list is mostly fun, requiring you to explore every game mode to its fullest. Getting to level 25 in Player Career will probably happen over a single season, that is fine. Getting to 90-rated in Volta can be cheesed by playing single-player rounds and boosting to four-goal multipliers, with a skill point per round for your 2-minute effort (thanks, neeker75). There are two returning achievements that might cause trouble. The first is the Pro Clubs-related achievement for completing a cup match as part of a Pro Club. The matchmaking is never populated, so use those TA sessions, people! The achievement for getting to Division 4 is skill-dependent, but you bet your life it will be a rough road full of highs and lows for most. If you are not good at the game, and it seems I am one of those people this year, there is fat chance of this happening. Listen, it is doable if you are so inclined, but it will take a bit of Liverpool-style work ethic along the way for most players.
Looking at our review scores and descriptions, I really do think that FIFA 22 matches the description of an eight to a tee. FIFA 22 is the best on the pitch it has been in years, but there are still a few setbacks that just keep pulling it back, a la Chiellini on an amazing Saka run. Hypermotion has smoothed the game out, helping expose a gloriously slower pace of game where smaller details can shine. With the freedom of the on-pitch simulation, every layer of authentic look, sound, and feel makes for a fun and proper football experience that is brimming with variety and exciting play. There are defensive issues still, but much like Messi destroying Jérôme Boateng, it doesn't matter about the defence when the prevailing attacking game is so strong and the midfield battle so compelling. This provides the foundation for better executed, but sometimes stripped back, game modes. Improvements in FIFA Ultimate Team will undoubtedly rope in players by the millions. In the initial stages, it feels like it has a better underlying competitive system that is less reliant on occupying every minute of your life. Manager mode gets by with the Create-a-Club feature that is genuinely amazing, but the mode is still struggling to juggle some tiresome managerial busywork. Player Career is infinitely better and more cohesive, but is a bit starved of a true journey for your player and is almost certainly being readied for something bigger next year. Volta is in a similar boat, feeling a little bit robbed of the story in this year's iteration. I await the chance to actually play Pro Clubs before giving a verdict on the game mode. On the whole, though, the value for money here is ludicrous and every mode provides a different slice of footballing simulation goodness. Beyond all that, though: FIFA 22 is just a fun time. The game will change with patches eventually, but right now, it is the best at launch that FIFA has been in a long, long time. It leaves you with a smile at every small touch and with a satisfied feeling and you ping a cross-field ball. FIFA has finally brought it home.
* Kes put all his gusto into losing FIFA matches across as many game modes as possible for 32 hours in total on Xbox Series X. In the process, he unlocked an embarrassingly low 11 of 37 achievements. A review copy was provided by EA.