When you’re already the biggest sports game on the planet, what do you do for an encore? If you’re the FIFA series, you get set to roll out FIFA 21 on next-gen consoles. And honestly, the arrival of new systems couldn’t come at a better time, as reviews for EA’s mega-popular soccer (or football, for those of you who call the sport by its correct name) have been trending ever so slightly down over the past few years.
What will the FIFA 21 release date be for current consoles?
FIFA is an unusual beast in that its annual release doesn’t come before the beginning of the sport’s season — at least in terms of club soccer for the majority of the world. Leagues like the Premier League kick-off in August and go to May, but EA generally drops its newest game in September, and that should once again be the case this year for Xbox One and PlayStation 4.
Let’s see what we can do to narrow down the exact FIFA 21 release date. The last three FIFA titles have been released on the last Friday of September, which is as consistent as a schedule gets. With that in mind, it would be silly not to think that FIFA 21 will release on Sept. 25, 2020 for current-gen consoles, though we’ll learn for sure this summer.
Who will the FIFA 21 cover star be?
It’s arguably tougher to predict who will make the cover of FIFA than any other EA Sports game. Win the Ballon d’Or? Good for you, but that doesn’t mean you’re going to be featured on any video game packaging. Making things even murkier is the fact that Konami’s PES series has exclusive rights to some teams like Juventus, so their players are out of the running.
All we can really do is take a stab at guessing who EA might choose based on what’s going on in the soccer world. With Liverpool making a dominant run at the Premier League title, leading scorers Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mané would both make some sense. Robert Lewandowski of FC Bayern would be another solid possibility based on his goal-scoring exploits over the past year. And what about Carlos Vela for rewriting the MLS record book? Also, keep in mind we likely will have multiple cover stars for different editions of FIFA 21.
Will VOLTA Football return for FIFA 21?
One of the more popular additions to the FIFA series in recent memory was VOLTA Football, a street football mode with short-sided teams of three to five players and an emphasis on flashier dribbling and passing moves. It was something of its own career mode in FIFA 20 as well, complete with a lengthy story, appearances by famous footballers, and tons of gear to unlock with nary an IAP in sight.
We don’t know yet if VOLTA will return for FIFA 21, but because it was so well received, it would be surprising to see it taken out. Indeed, it’s more likely that it will be expanded in some way. A popular rumor/theory is that VOLTA could be incorporated into Football Ultimate Team in some fashion. Expect to see some info about VOLTA Football as soon as FIFA 21 is officially announced.
Will FIFA 21 be a launch title for next-gen consoles?
As of March, the release dates for the Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5 are still unknown. The only launch window information Microsoft and Sony have revealed is that both systems are arriving at Holiday 2020, likely meaning sometime between Thanksgiving and Christmas. But the big question for soccer fans is whether we’ll be able to play FIFA 21 on them right away, potentially even getting the game bundled with the consoles at some retailers.
The answer is … probably. The last EA soccer game to cross existing and brand new console generations was FIFA 14, and sure enough, it was a launch title on Xbox One and PlayStation 3. There’s no reason to expect anything different seven years later, so the expectation is that FIFA 21 will be available to play in September and then make its next-gen debut a few short months later.
Is FIFA 21 going to get any Career Mode improvements?
To put it bluntly, FIFA 20’s Career Mode was not pretty when the game launched. It was buggy, the AI was embarrassing, and while it wasn’t completely broken, it may as well have been considering the backlash it received at the time. The devs were able to fix it with patches, as is the way of things these days, but for many FIFA players, the damage was already done.
That means that gamers are going to be hanging on any potential news about improvements to Career Mode for FIFA 21, and there is both good news and bad news on that front. The good is that the extra power of the Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5 will allow for all kinds of tinkering. On the other hand, it’s not very common for wholesale changes to sports games to happen until a new console generation has been around for a bit. In other words, hope for the best for Career Mode this year, but don’t be shocked if this same question is relevant for FIFA a year from now.
Could VAR make it into FIFA 21?
There aren’t many topics in soccer that get fans more riled up than the video assistant referee, better known as VAR. Now present in most prominent top-flight leagues and international football competitions, VAR can help officials on the field decide whether a goal should stand, whether a penalty should be given, determine the severity of a card, and clear up cases of mistaken identity for yellow or red cards. If EA’s famous “It’s in the Game” motto is taken literally, VAR really should be in FIFA 21.
The problem would be how to implement it. VAR in multiplayer games would be a ticket to immediate outrage, so the guess here is that EA would only insert it into single-player modes. But then one starts to wonder if it might cause a stir in solo FUT games as well, so that might mean limiting VAR only to seasons or Career Mode, and you quickly arrive at a “Well what’s the point, then?” conclusion. It’s worth tucking this away in the back of your head and pulling it back out once EA starts sharing more FIFA 21 details.