A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this game.
Games focus on athletic play, competitive good sporting conduct in matches, and promoting national pride for squads playing international matches. Games also highlight racial and gender diversity in Volta mode, with intergender squads playing with and against each other.
Positive Role Models
Characters look like their real-life counterparts, and are generally positive role models. The characters in the Volta mini-story of The Debut are competitive, but supportive of each other, regardless of their team or location.
Ease of Play
FIFA 21's controls are easy to pick up and learn, although players need to spend time learning the new crosses, directed runs at goal, and other skill moves. The game gives plenty of tutorials in the form of mini-games and skills challenges, but ultimately, success comes down to how frequently you practice with these skills, and how well you know the players on your team.
Violence & Scariness
Some tackles may look painful, but no blood's shown, and the point of games isn't to foul or attack other players.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Violence & Scariness in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Online chat isn't moderated, which could expose some players to inappropriate language.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Language in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Products & Purchases
This is the latest chapter in the long running FIFA franchise. Players are covered in logos for various companies and products depending on the kit they wear. Stadiums are also frequently broadcasting ads on the sidelines. Players can earn credits for the Ultimate Team squads by playing matches, or can pay real money for new gear, players, and items. Three different versions of the game provide varying content for the Ultimate Team mode, and content can be carried over to next-gen systems.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that FIFA 21 is the latest chapter in the long running soccer franchise for the PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, Nintendo Switch, and Windows PCs. The title keeps the focus from the previous two year's titles, with a street soccer element bolstering the professional soccer league gameplay. There's a hefty amount of promotional material for companies thanks to the many billboards around arenas, as well as the logos on player kits (or uniforms) that can constantly be seen in close up shots and replays. The game's also sold in three separate versions, each of which provide varying amounts of content for the Ultimate Team mode. The Ultimate team mode also allows players to purchase credits for this mode through the store using real money or lets players earn it by competing in matches by themselves or with other gamers online, which can be redeemed for new gear, athletes, and items. Online play is unmoderated, which could expose players to inappropriate content, but otherwise, there's nothing offensive to be found within the game.
Is It Any Good?
Even though there are some tweaks that have been made to the gameplay, it's hard to not get over the feeling that this is practically the same experience as last year. FIFA 21 presents three distinct segments of gameplay with its career, Ultimate Team, and Volta modes, but these are almost identical to last year's title. There are slicker overlays for menus and tutorials, and a larger focus on co-op play across virtually all modes, but for the most part, gameplay's the same as it's been in the past few years. For example, the career mode has some new visuals for managers to sim matches, but in many ways, the player and career mode have the same schedule micromanagement, skills games, and gameplay. By contrast, the adjustment to Volta, the street game, feels anemic because its storyline is, at best, about three hours long before you're essentially pushed into the action of online play, or trying to hunt for athletes in the Featured Battles mode to add to your squad while completing challenges to unlock new clothing options for your team.
At least play on the pitch has some improvements that are pretty useful. Players can now directly control teammates making cuts towards the goal, allowing them to create their best attack scenarios with strikers or wingers. There's also been some additional tweaks to ball control thanks to the new Agile Dribbling system, which makes it easier to make cuts and keep the ball away from defenders. While these two enhancements do improve the gameplay, this, along with new crossing options for the passing game, imbalances the action significantly towards the offensive side of the ball, leading to a large number of goals being scored. It's not perfect – both your players and the opposing AI will still cause a significant number of offside calls to be made when they're starting their attacks – but defenders often have to rely on the perfect tackle or the best player having the best position to effectively counter incoming strikes on goal. Ultimate Team has also received new adjustments as well, especially in the form of a customizable stadium that will allow you to build out your home arena's chants, tifos, and even celebratory fireworks. Even better than crafting your home stadium is the elimination of some elements that just weren't useful, like training and fitness items that just felt like a chore for this mode. That way, you can focus solely on building your squad, partnering with other players, and accomplishing seasonal goals. It's still the mode that most players will dedicate the majority of their time to, and there's lots of content to sink into, unlock, and play. The next-gen versions of the game are visually striking, with the almost non-existent load times and visual fidelity of cutscenes standing out, especially if you score a go ahead goal in the last minute of play and you watch your team erupt in celebration. But playwise, there's nothing new here. The haptic feedback on the PS5 is a nice touch, particularly when it comes to having a sense of a shot that clangs off a post or you feel the heartbeat of a player as they're running, but if you were looking for new gameplay content, there's nothing to be found, which feels like a slight incremental update to this popuilar franchise. Overall though, while FIFA 21 is still a fun and enjoyable chapter of the Beautiful Game, it's hard to not shake the feeling of déjà vu when you step onto this virtual pitch.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.