When my Watford side took on Wolves in FIFA 22, there was a bizarre Eureka moment that highlighted all the good that EA’s annual soccer giant has done on the pitch. The fierce Adama Traore, roaming down the left wing, takes a pass with his back to goal and gets past my full-back to create a little space. He turns, foot on the ball, then flashes it past climbing Kiko Femenia – not a slouch himself – and thunders down the wing into space… before galloping to the baseline and slamming an erratic cross into the sidenet .
You can’t help but giggle. The sequence was oddly spooky, like you’ve seen over and over again on Match of the Day. FIFA has long been known for capturing the intricacies of the world’s elite, but that has more to do with recreating their tattoos, perfecting the flop of their coiffed hair, or capturing the unique way they gallop. And while every installment of the game places a lot of emphasis on player ratings – found in elaborate YouTube videos of footballers grumpy about their sprint stats – replicating their behavior in games has remained rather elusive.
So here’s EA’s best effort yet. But let’s not get carried away, FIFA 22 is an impressive incremental improvement on the pitch, but not a huge overhaul. Instead, it’s the result of minor tweaks working together to create a better, and dare I say more “realistic” representation of the game. The Traore moment was the first, but you notice the details everywhere. Liverpool’s front three gave me a hot time, Mo Salah edging into his preferred position on the right side of the box before whipping the ball into the far corner. Luckily, the improvements go beyond stars.
The back of box switching is an animation supported for the first time by motion capture of full 11v11 matches. Combined with the improved AI, you can see the natural touch this brings to a game as players jostle and move into position with much more cunning. The ball itself feels heavier and less magnetized. Again and again I gave the ball away because I was trying to steer the ball properly through an opponent instead of it hissing to my team-mate anyway. There’s nothing like an honest improvement in a sports game to highlight the weaknesses in your own game.
https://www.telegraph.co.uk/gaming/features/fifa-22-review-significant-improvement-pitch/ a significant improvement on the pitch