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FIFA 21 news: What we know so far and what changes we expect for the next game

FIFA 21

Release date, demo, cover stars, PS5 and Xbox Series X consoles, Volta, Ultimate Team and even VAR – here's what we know about FIFA 21 so far

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With the next edition arriving mere months before two new consoles, FIFA 21 will be a hugely important edition of the most popular game in sport.

Just as FIFA was seizing a monopoly on the football gaming market, PES pulled off a major scalp last summer by acquiring the exclusive rights to Juventus, forcing FIFA to remove their official kits and call them “Piemonte Calcio” in FIFA 20.

What’s more, it feels as though FIFA’s two flagship game modes are under siege. 

While improvements to player and press interactivity and shaping potential added a glisten to Career Mode, there are rumours we could be due a major overhaul of the franchise.

The narrative around Ultimate Team, now comfortably FIFA’s most popular mode, has taken a turn – with some protests that buying packs is a form of gambling accessible for minors leading to it being deemed unlawful in Belgium.

Read below to see what we know about FIFA 21 so far and what which aspects of the game we think will be under changing:

When is FIFA 21’s release date?

For the last three editions, the latest edition of FIFA was released on the final Friday of September, and this year should be no different - putting its probable release date on Friday, September 25. 

When will the FIFA 21 demo be released?

The Demo is usually released two or three weeks prior to the actual game, so you can expect it in early-to-mid September. 

Who will be on the FIFA 21 cover?

FIFA 20 saw Cristiano Ronaldo replaced as the cover star by Real Madrid marquee signing Eden Hazard. But with Hazard struggling for form and fitness in his debut season at Madrid, we think it likely EA will look elsewhere.

Now PES have the rights to Juventus, it almost certainly won’t go back to CR7. Nor is it likely to be Messi, as Konami and Barcelona are partners. 

With Liverpool taking the Premier League by storm this season, one of Sadio Mane or Mohamed Salah is a decent bet - their teammate Virgil Van Dijk is already the cover star of this year’s Champions League edition.

Another potential option is Kylian Mbappe, especially if he gets a big-money transfer this summer. 

FIFA community website Fifplay is currently running a poll on who should be the cover star with the results suggesting somewhat of a regional bias, with Son Heung-Min and Espanyol’s Wu Lei currently fighting for the lead with 38% and 37% of the vote respectively.

How will the PS5 and Xbox Series X affect FIFA 21?

Considering that Sony and Microsoft’s new consoles aren’t expected to be released until late November, FIFA 21 should be released as normal on PS4 and Xbox One before being re-released on the new consoles with enhanced graphics before Christmas.

Will there be a separate release for EURO 2020?

Historically, there’s been a separate game to honour (or profit from) the EURO’s and the World Cup, although that has changed for the last edition of each tournament.

Konami acquired the rights to EURO 2016 and produced additional downloadable content for PES. EA retained the rights to the 2018 World Cup and also made additional content for FIFA 18, rather than a separate game. 

Konami has the rights to this summer’s EURO 2020, so FIFA fans cannot expect any additional content before FIFA 21.

What major changes are likely to be made?

Battles with Konami

One interesting note will be whether Konami wrangles any more exclusive rights away from FIFA - forcing them to name Juventus “Piemonte Calcio” was a successful PR stunt they’d love to repeat.

Another point of contention is the standard of FIFA’s graphics, with critics and gamers generally in agreement that PES’ graphics are far superior. It will be interesting to see whether FIFA manages to make up ground on PES in the visual department, perhaps using the high-performance 3D scanning system that makes its rival look so lifelike, or whether it waits for the new consoles to be released before making major changes.

New and improved Volta

And what of Volta? FIFA 20’s flagship new feature was a tip of the cap to fan-favourite FIFA Street, with added elements of futsal and the Journey. The Journey was billed as a trilogy, running from FIFA 17 to 19, and you can expect a more refined Volta to return next year with more arenas and (hopefully) a better storyline.

What will change about Ultimate Team?

The persisting question is whether FIFA will do anything about the “pay-to-play” element in Ultimate Team. 

In response to wide-ranging gambling complaints, this year they’ve included pack probabilities, which tell you how likely you are to receive players of a certain standard. 

While this may have deterred some players from spending copious amounts of money on packs only to find their best new player was Granit Xhaka or Troy Deeney - players who haven’t spent money still routinely face players with expensive supersides. 

What FIFA 21 truly needs is a fairer matchmaking system, so players go up against similar teams, instead of ones they can’t beat simply because their pockets aren’t deep enough.

Will VAR be in FIFA 21?

FIFA remains a facet of football still untarnished by the brush of the endless VAR debate and complaints. At present, there’s no evidence that it will be included, but whether they do eventually implement it will be a telling insight into where they see the line between fun and realism in FIFA.

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