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FIFA 21 release date, gameplay, new features, and more

FIFA 21 is the first game in the series for the PS5 and Xbox Series X|S era, so here's all the information you need.

While its arch rival Pro Evolution Soccer has managed to chip away at its monopoly ever so slightly, FIFA remains the undisputed top dog for soccer games. Out of the two, it is the richest in licences when it comes to clubs, leagues, players, and stadiums, it’s the most established as a competitive esport, and more importantly, it’s the most played.

The countdown to a new FIFA game is always exciting, and with FIFA 21 it was no exception. While FIFA 20 was certainly not without faults – from the perspective of both its gameplay and the increasing scrutiny of Ultimate Team’s addictive “gambling” mechanics – FIFA 21 still went down a storm.

FIFA 21 was first revealed during June’s EA Play online conference, although the trailer (which it shared with fellow EA Sports title Madden NFL 21) left fans exasperated at the lack of juicy info. However, it did flex the graphical muscles of the next generation of consoles with some striking visuals.

While the initial trailer left a lot to be desired, FIFA 21 eventually delivered. Here’s all the top-line info you need about FIFA 21.

FIFA 21 release date

The FIFA 21 release date was October 9, 2020 for the PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch and PC. A next-gen console version for PS5 and Xbox Series X|S was released on December 3, 2020.

However, some were able to play FIFA 21 earlier than that. Those who pre-ordered the Champions or Ultimate Edition of FIFA 21, got three days of early access, starting on October 6. EA Access and Origin Access players also got temporary access to the game on October 1 as part of the Play First Trials.

FIFA 21 PS5 and Xbox Series X|S upgrades

FIFA 21 arrived on the new generation of consoles with several exciting upgrades and improved visuals.

These include 4K 60fps gameplay, multi-touch dribbling animations, and more off-the ball animations for players to make things look more authentic.

FIFA 21 was also equipped with Dual Entitlement, meaning your current PS4/ Xbox One version of the game and your progress in some modes could be transferred over to a new-gen console for free.

“All progress you make or content you acquire within FIFA 21 Ultimate Team (including players, items, coins, FIFA Points, match record, and leaderboard placement), as well as all progression in VOLTA FOOTBALL will transfer from PlayStation 4 to PlayStation 5 and back, or Xbox One to Xbox Series X and back,” the EA blog stated.

“Progress within all other modes including Online Seasons, Co-Op Seasons, Career Mode, Pro Clubs, etc. will be specific to the console you are playing on and won’t transfer between consoles.”


FIFA 21 cross-play

While EA Sports said it was a “long-term goal” to add the feature to the game, FIFA 21 never got cross-play; not even across console families. This means players on PS4 and PS5 will not be able to play each other.

Cross-progression will be a part of FIFA 21 though, since Dual Entitlement (PS4 to PS5/ Xbox One to Xbox Series X) will ship some of your progress between consoles.

FIFA 21 trailer

FIFA 21 was first revealed by EA Sports in this joint trailer with Madden NFL 21. The trailer, which you can watch below, is solely a visual one and offers no information on aspects such as new modes or mechanics and doesn’t show any gameplay.

However it did get its own reveal trailer a few weeks later on July 23, which showcased a number of new features and was voiced by the game’s newest Icon, Eric Cantona.

EA Sports also dropped the FIFA 21 Ultimate Team trailer, showing off new features like FUT Events and co-op modes.

FIFA 21 gameplay

There are a number of new mechanics and features that FIFA 21 introduced. Three standout mechanics to highlight are Agile Dribbling, Positioning Personality, and Creative Runs.

Agile Dribbling delivered faster footwork and “more control and responsiveness in one-on-one situations.” There were also two new skill moves added: the “bridge dribble” and the “ball roll fake turn.”

Positioning Personality irons out some of the questionable positioning in FIFA 20. This mechanic ensures that world class players are right where you want them, with attackers holding runs and defenders in the right place to intercept passes.

Creative Runs give players “new options for influencing your team’s movement off the ball, revolutionising attacking build-up play.”

There was also a mountain of other small changes and new features to FIFA 21’s gameplay in this extremely long developer update article. To save you from the slog of reading it all, we combed through and picked out some key FIFA 21 gameplay changes that weren’t featured in the glitzy trailer above.

FIFA 21 Icons

FIFA 21 delivers another massive lineup of Icons for Ultimate Team players. The overall number of Icons reached the 100 mark in FIFA 21 thanks to 11 new additions.

The full list of new FUT 21 Icons can be found here, but the standout names include Nemanja Vidic, Ferenc Puskas, Eric Cantona, and Xavi. Nice.

The ratings for all FIFA 21 Icons can be found here.

FIFA 21 cover

FIFA 21 has just one cover star for all three editions of the game and that’s PSG’s Kylian Mbappe. It’s hardly surprising, with the Frenchman featuring in most of the FIFA-related footage in the EA Play reveal trailer.

The FIFA 21 covers also took a very different design approach to previous games, moving away from the simplistic head shots or action shots that the franchise is known for.

The Standard and Champions Editions both feature a montage of various shots of Mbappe, while the Ultimate Edition has drawn a lot of stick for its extremely simplistic cover.

It’s just a picture of Mbappe in regular clothes. Walking. And that’s kinda it. It’s an interesting design choice to say the least.

So there you have it, that’s all the FIFA 21 info you need.