FIFA 22: The most exciting, and most worrying, gameplay changes for Ultimate Team players

By Squawka News

FIFA 22: How the gameplay changes will affect competitive play in Ultimate Team

Published: 16:25, 5 August 2021 | Updated: 10:45, 3 October 2022

We’re now under two months away from the release of FIFA 22 and the excitement is ramping up.

On top of the usual anticipation, EA Sports are adding fuel to the fire by slowing release “deep dives” into content changes for the game including Pro Clubs, Career Mode and other trailers. The biggest information dump so far, however, has been a look into the gameplay changes that will take place across all game modes.

Some detractors like to point out the lack of changes with each passing FIFA, but FIFA 22 has undergone serious changes from the previous edition, including a rejig of the settings used for online play and tactical alterations.

The question is, how will these changes affect the average and competitive FIFA players? We asked competitive FIFA player Josh Buchanan* – who you can find on Twitch here – to get his opinions on the biggest changes coming to FIFA 22.

*Josh Buchanan is a FIFA Ultimate Team Verified Player on Xbox who has twice achieved a Top 200 finish on FIFA 21 Weekend League, regularly hitting Elite by recording 23 wins or more.

How do you think the changes to Competitive Settings, making things more manual, will affect Weekend League and pro tournaments? Will it make it harder for casual players to make that step up and compete in FUT Rivals and FUT Champions?

First of all, I’m certain it will make it difficult for the casual player to step up. By making the game more manual, it’s creating a skill gap that players will need to learn and adjust to and I imagine a lot will find it difficult.

The majority of players are used to the game assisting them in some sort of way, I am in some parts of my game as well. Put it this way, there will be a lot of practice in Competitive Friendlies.

I think though a lot of the competitive players will adjust relatively easily as it’s giving us more control of the game, which I think we all want. For example, there’s nothing worse than when your defender clears the ball with no one around them.

via EA Sports

How will the Tactical AI alterations change the way the competitive Ultimate Team works, if at all?

The big one that stands out on Tactical AI alterations has to be that placing any player that is not a centre-back at centre-back will negatively affect their defensive positioning.

The majority of the FIFA 21 meta has been playing wing-backs at centre-back, which the whole of the FIFA scene seemed to be doing, including me. With this alteration, it will make everyone rethink their backline.

How do you think the additional attacking tactics, and new player instructions, will change Ultimate Team? Do you think you will make the most of them, or stick with what worked for you in FIFA 21?

I do like the fact you can now create 16 different attacking tactics. However, personally, I don’t think it will have too much effect unless you’re losing and need to go all-out attack to put pressure on your opponent. A lot of attacking tactics always leave you open to be counter attacked. The only attacking instruction I apply in-game is on my wingers, which is be get into the box for crosses.

What type of player you are will influence your play styles but I prefer to manually control my players so I will always start on Balanced from kick-off, triggering runs using L1/LB and call players to me using R1/RB. It’s what I’m most confident with on FIFA 21, so I’ll stick with it for the time being.

Are you pleased to hear about the reduction of automatic blocks’ success after the frustration in FIFA 21?

YES!!! I think I speak for most when I say how frustrating it is to see Raphael Varane or Virgil Van Dijk’s leg just appear out of nowhere when it feels like there is a clear strike at goal.

But, again, the game is becoming more manual so it’s going to affect the lesser-skilled players as a lot more chances will rightly go in. I do still think there will be some questionable ‘automatic blocks’ on FIFA 22 though.

Depth and width sliders will now range from 1 to 100 for defensive and offensive tactics. Is that a good or a bad thing?

I think it will be a good addition to the competitive scene and the game all around in some respects. When competing it comes down to small margins and having the ability to have that little bit more control of your depth and width could give you that little advantage in-game to win. If this means dropping your team back, for example, 25 instead of 20, or 30 might at some point make the difference.

via EA Sports

What are your thoughts about the balancing of Skill Moves, particularly the removal of the Skill Move Cancels for La Croqueta, Elastico, Reverse Elastico and Scoop Turn?

I can see why they have taken some Skill Cancels out as a few were extremely unrealistic and overpowering. It most definitely has created a bigger skill gap between competitive players and casual players, but I do personally enjoy the skills cancels it takes a lot of skill, time, practice and knowledge to know when to implanted them.

The La Croqueta, for me, was one of my favourite Skill Cancels to do so I will miss that. It’s good to see them add some other Skill Cancels such as the stepovers and the drag backspin though.

Will you be making use of the new player switching options or sticking with what you already do?

I will 100% be trying this. I do think it’s always best to give new additions to the game ago because you never know how much it can improve your individual game.

But for me, I already use the Right Stick to flick quickly to which player I want to use whilst sometimes using L1/LB. Using the RS allows you to anticipate and read where your opponent is going to pass the ball, enabling you to win it back quicker and set traps, I feel I’ve mastered this pretty well over the last two years or so.

The new addition does feel like it could be complicating it more than it needs to be by having to click then flick instead of just flicking into the direction originally intended, but you’ll never know how effective this could be until you try it.

What is the gameplay change you are most looking forward to as a competitive player and why?

There are a few at first glance but the one that stands out is the first touch skill. It adds more attacking incentive to the game, giving us better chances and options to beat an opponent around the box. In previous FIFAs I would naturally do a standing fake shot into a skill move, now this won’t be needed and I will be able to catch my opponent off guard by instantly performing the skill. I really like this addition.

What gameplay change is the most worrying for competitive play and why?

It’s not so much that I’m worried, but the heel-to-heel is a big part of my game I do without thinking. Of course, it’s all personal preferences but I think is one of the most underrated skills.

They are making it harder to perform, it might not affect it too much but who knows. A lot of competitive players, myself included, use this skill consistently around the box to make space for ourselves and create better angles at shooting.