Hitting the PlayStation Store a day earlier than expected, the PS5 version of FIFA 21 is now available, whether you’re a new player or upgrading your existing last-gen copy for free.
For the most part, it’s the same game. It’s noticeably prettier, the grass on the pitch standing out now and everything looking cleaner generally, but it’ll play the same for the most part. The impressive atmosphere remains, as do the gameplay flaws and everything else you’ve come to love or hate about FIFA 21 since it launched in early October.
If you’ve picked the game up for your new Series X or S, you won’t notice that many differences, but PS5 players might struggle to come to terms with how the game utilizes the DualSense’s haptic feedback features.
Your controller will vibrate lightly as you run around to close down opposing players and more so when you’re passing the ball yourself.
It’s almost constantly reacting to something you’re doing, rarely staying motionless for more than a fraction of a second. It’s certainly more immersive, adding real feeling to even the smallest of inputs.
The impact of the adaptive triggers implementation is far more noticeable and somewhat off-putting.
Essentially, the R2 trigger is affected by stamina. As your players’ stamina reduces, the trigger gets firmer and tighter. When, say, a winger picks up the ball and starts running down the wing, the first press of the sprint trigger feels as you’re used to, but let go and do it again and you’ll have to fight it down.
It can make sprinting to get past a player, particularly the double-tap sprint boost, harder to pull off than it is in the last-gen version. If you’re quickly switching players, rotating positions, and sprinting on and off, it can really feel like you have to fight your DualSense.
The R2 trigger also gets tighter as your player gets tired throughout the game. Towards the end of the first half, and throughout the second, the trigger will feel extremely tight, fighting back at you as you try to sprint.
You’ll also notice changes in the L2 trigger in FIFA 21 on PS5. If you use it to jockey while defending, you’ll feel a click of tightness when changing players sometimes. Pressing it starts soft before almost clicking into tight – it’s a strange sensation, but does impact the effectiveness of over-using that defensive tactic.
It’s a really smart implementation of PS5’s unique feature that really draws you into your game management and is a tangible way to feel how a game is progressing.
You can actually feel how tired your players are and the feature has the potential to impact how the player base manages stamina in the PS5 version.
That being said, it’s somewhat distracting at times. In the latter stages of halves, the adaptive triggers are so tight to a degree that it’ll affect your play. While nothing has actually changed in-game, movements will feel sluggish as you fight the DualSense. It’s like an intense finger workout at times.
While you’re able to turn the feature off to make the game feel more like the last-gen version, to do so you have to turn all DualSense features off via the PS5’s system settings. It’s a case of all or nothing, which is frustrating.
Since the PlayStation 5 version of FIFA 21 doesn’t allow for cross-gen play even in the same families, which brings up its fair share of matchmaking issues anyway, everyone you’re playing will have the same controller experiences (so long as they haven’t turned them off completely), so you’re not going to have unfair match-ups, but the adaptive feedback features certainly need balancing to feel more natural and less overwhelming.
Elsewhere, the other next-gen exclusive features are more a question of taste. The new EA SPORTS GameCam tries to recreate the television experience, but it’s too low for me, obscuring my view of the far side of the pitch.
In Rivals, the matchmaking hasn’t been great so far either. I’ve repeatedly matched players 200-400 Skill points off my own level, making for unfair games.
Before you get to any of that though, you’ll have to see the next-gen version’s new intro video. It’s a strange celebration of Liverpool FC (which I hate for purely personal rivalry reasons) but it’s a decent showcase of the visual upgrade the new version has received.
It might just be a case of having to get used to the new features over time, and the matchmaking issues should balance themselves out as more and more players upgrade, but as it is, I’m not going to have to go to the gym tonight after playing FIFA 21 on PS5 this morning.
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