The next-gen versions of FIFA 21 on PS5 and Xbox Series X|S have a host of new features hiding in their shorts – including realistically modelled muscle and ball deformation, more flexible animations, and a new camera angle.
EA Sports outlined the upgrades in a private livestream and a post on the PlayStation Blog.
The improvements are not backwards compatible with the current-gen versions of FIFA 21, meaning there will be no crossplay between the generations, but FUT and VOLTA progress will carry over when the new versions drop on December 4.
FIFA 21 Next-gen upgrades
EA Sports has angled the next generation upgrades to FIFA 21 around three main pillars:
The Move features are centred around lighting and the use of more granular technology to differentiate player physique and how they interact with the football.
Next-gen games in general have benefitted graphically from the better global illumination the new consoles can muster, but it’s not just the stadiums.
Many players with face-scans in-game now have realistically modelled hairstyles, with each hair of their quaffed dos and lovingly trimmed beards being treated as single strands. This means they waft and sway majestically as they’re totalled by a Sergio Ramos reducer, or skying a sitter after running onto a perfectly threaded through ball.
Below the belt, players will have their stretch armstrong limbs replaced by more true-to-life thigh muscles, which change and deform in response to leg position.
While more importantly for gameplay, the way players’ interact with the ball has seen a revamp.
Instead of the contact between the ball and a foot being limited to a single frame, this action can now take place over multiple frames, with the ball shape depressing in response to the force of the kick.
EA Sports hopes this will add a greater sense of weight to gameplay, affecting all kinds of passing and shooting.
On the “Feel” side of things, EA Sports has done some work on the pre-match and post-goal cutscenes.
Before a big game, you’ll see your squad file off the team bus, headphones in hand, and when you score a last-minute equaliser, they’ll be extra happy.
On top of that, there’s a lot more of what EA is calling “off-ball humanisation”, where players will fix their ponytails, blow their noses, and caress their newly discovered thighs while the action is elsewhere.
The on-the-ball animations have received a going-over as well, with EA trying to stop players getting stuck in canned animations. With the extra grunt of next-gen consoles, player animations can now last much longer, reducing some of the visible seams you see as they move from one to another.
FIFA 21’s engine on next-gen can also fluidly switch between animations with every new frame on multiple different players – which wasn’t possible on the PS4 and Xbox One.
EA hopes this will sharpen up the weirdness you saw in some physical battles, where incompatible animations jarred with each other and created unpredictable situations.
While it might also be time to wave goodbye to the trusty broadcast camera angle, with the next-gen FIFA 21 also introducing a new game-cam that pans side-to-side like a more real-life television screening of a match.
The “Play” pillar is a little more pedestrian, but will still come up all the time while you play.
We’ve heard a lot about the PS5 and Series X’s much mooted load times, but apparently loading into a game can take as little as two seconds.
While PS5 players will feel haptic feedback on their controllers during gameplay. This includes things like the sprint trigger taking more effort to press down if your clogging winger is blowing out of his arse with no stamina.