If you read our FIFA 21 review for the PC, PS4, and Xbox One versions, you know we're not fans of this year's edition. Gameplay can feel a bit clumsy, the artificial intelligence is less realistic, and there's such an excess of controls that some buttons cause conflicts between different actions. We had some hope that the new PS5 and Xbox Series X|S versions could improve over the previous generation, but unfortunately, the only improvements are purely graphical.
In terms of gameplay, controls, modes, artificial intelligence, and interface, it's exactly the same game that we've seen in the previous generation, which means that our opinion and our rating hasn't changed. FIFA has had better years (FIFA 18 and 19 were highlights), and coming into a new generation, our demand has to be even greater, not only in terms of graphics, but also gameplay and features.
Alas, better graphics and instant loadings are essentially what you're getting in the new version.
FIFA 21 on PS5 and Xbox Series X|S presents a series of visual improvements, with better detailed models, an improved hair and beard system, better quality textures, and above all, a vastly superior lighting system. All this, together with a few more details, increases the image quality significantly, which is noticeable even during gameplay at 4K.
EA Sports also added new cinematic sequences to the game, for when teams enter the field (only in some stadiums) and for important goals (scored in the last minutes, against rivals, or in decisive matches). These are cool details, but they don't really add much, as you're likely to just skip most of it after seeing them a few times.
A great feature in this new version is the absence of loadings. Well, they're still there of course, but they are so fast that between pressing the button to start a match, and it actually starting, it's a second. You won't even go through the usual loading Skill Game unless you want to, such is the speed with which the new consoles load a match of FIFA 21.
Another new feature exclusive to this version is a new game camera, which is activated by default. This camera is positioned as to show more of the crowd, but even if that adds to the game's atmosphere, the camera is just not that practical, as in some situations we even stopped seeing the ball, especially when the players turned their backs to the camera. It might be an option for casual games, or for the first few matches, but we believe the vast majority will eventually change the camera.
If you have a PlayStation 5, there's one more new feature that is only available on the console - DualSense support. In terms of haptic feedback, you will have a better feeling for hard tackles, passes, and other actions, such as a side vibration corresponding to the foot used for the shot. As for adaptive triggers, the more a player is tired, the heavier the sprint button (R2) will feel. It's not a game changing feature, but between having the option to play with a DualSense or another controller, we'll prefer to play with DualSense and its exclusive features.
For all the criticism EA deserves, now we also need to praise two attitudes of the studio regarding these versions of FIFA 21. The first concerns the option to switch from PS4 to PS5 or from Xbox to Xbox Series X|S at no additional charge, if you already have the last-gen versions. This means that if you already have the game and have bought one of the new consoles (lucky you!), you will enjoy the improvements without having to spend more money. Another commendable attitude is the fact that the progress of Volta and FIFA Ultimate Team are shared between the two generations, assuming that you're are using the same profile.
These new versions failed to change our opinion on FIFA 21, an opinion criticising the new path the game is on, presenting a worse game then in previous years. And in terms of the new generation, we hope to see a lot more of new-gen features in the future, not mere visual improvements. That said, it is undeniable that these are the best versions of the game. If you already own FIFA 21 on PS4 or Xbox One, and you happen to get a PS5 or Xbox Series X|S, you will definitely appreciate the free upgrade.