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FIFA 21 features: 9 key changes it needs to make according to fans

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Ask the community to come up with a FIFA 21 features wishlist and the response is near-infinite: this is the most critiqued, and criticised, series in sports gaming. Although, FIFA 20 was actually very good - save for a borked career mode - and with the series shortly heading to PS5 and Xbox Series X, there’s much to be positive about. Below we’ve combed social media and reputable forums for the best fan suggestions for FIFA 21, from general gameplay to Ultimate Team to - gulp! - VAR. Here’s your not-quite-infinite (thankfully!) FIFA 21 features wishlist. 

1. Get career mode right from day one

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We have to start with career mode because EA made a mess of this in FIFA 20, and so owes fans a complete turnaround when the next game lands in September. Developer EA Canada doesn’t need to look far for some excellent suggestions as to how this might occur: the official FIFA forum is a hotbed of neat ideas. “Realistic Transfer Offers,” writes TeamExtreme17. “My first three offers for my Man Utd Career were Liverpool wanting Lindelof, then Liverpool wanting Sanchez on loan, then Man City wanted Lingard!? Can you please disable rivals making offers for our players! It’s unrealistic! Or at least make it 100-1 chance.”

More opportunity to give young players experience also ranks high on the hit list. “The ability to use young players in a U19 or U23 team would be great,” writes Steffolovitch. “Then they would have regular game time at this level, and you could pick some out to play with the senior squad on occasion. You could have running dialogue with the youth coach about whom to play, and when. [At the moment] you have 16-17 year olds being unhappy about playtime, when they're not even close to being good enough. And of course your youth coach, training ground, scouting etc could be upgraded using your hard-earned money.”

2. Retool gameplay yet again

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Every FIFA produces a tactic which gets overused in Division Rivals and the Weekend League, and is therefore downgraded in the next edition, to the overall detriment of the game. In FIFA 19, it was crossing and heading - meaning that even with Andy Robertson crossing to Raul Jiminez and Tammy Abraham, my ability to score headed goals in FIFA 20 is non-existent. And it’s the same for all.

RexAnglo1066 on the official EA forum agrees that this needs fixing: “Crossing must be a viable attacking method next game, and it must also be viable to defend crosses too. Heading in general is woefully inadequate and it shouldn't be.”

“Personally, as someone who runs a 3-4-2-1 by default, and consequently use a lot of wing play, past games allowed me to play crosses in and it was a tactic I utilised to good effect,” he continues/ “Like everything, however, it wasn't finessed into a nuanced gameplay mechanic, but, instead, was nerfed into complete irrelevance.”

3. Add more Ultimate Team filters for Special cards

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This actually made our FIFA 20 features wishlist, but was completely ignored by EA - so we’re repeating it because it would save huge amounts of time when buying players in Ultimate Team. Essentially, Special cards shouldn’t all be grouped in one category on the market: like in Madden, it should be possible to search for FIFA 20 Shapeshifters, FIFA 20 Future Stars, and so on. An idea proposed by TheTinRam on Reddit this time last year remains relevant too: “The filter I [want most is] the “not from” option, so when I search for a gold French GK I can filter out all from Ligue 1. Let me see all GKs from other leagues at once rather than one at a time.”

4. Scrap TOTW rewards in Ultimate Team

With all the new types of Special cards now available in FUT, receiving a TOTW item as a reward for competitive performance feels hugely outdated. FUTDonk on Twitter puts it best:

5. A new era on next-gen

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The switch from PS3 and Xbox 360 to PS4 and Xbox One saw the surprising demise of some popular features, such as the Creation Centre, never to return. It’s paramount that PS5 and XBox Series X’s arrivals don’t go the same way, and official EA forum poster Fab provides some compelling ideas to herald a new era. 

“[Let’s have a complete graphical overhaul,” he writes. “New-gen consoles will provide much more power for EA to provide us with an excellent looking game. I expect every face in the crowd to be visible and not just a pixel blob. Better connection, too: EA has been investigating connection issues for the past five years, so I'm confident that they'll be implementing a better infrastructure to start out the new console gen with a BANG!”

He goes on: “A Pro Clubs overhaul, too. It’s the best mode this game provides - real [fans] know. After multiple EU countries ban FIFA Points, Pro Clubs will be the new powerhouse and take the e-sports scene by storm.” While Belgium have banned FIFA Points, that latter point feels a touch ambitious - although Pro Clubs still has a highly committed audience which mustn’t be forgotten in the generational leap.

6. New icons

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For better or worse, legendary players have become the focal point of Ultimate Team since FIFA 18, when they stopped being exclusive to Xbox. As such you can expect another round of new oldies this year - and according to a vote on fifauteam, these are the ten most wanted:

1. David Beckham (England)
2. Xavi (Spain)
3. Franz Beckenbauer (Germany)
4. Francesco Totti (Italy)
5. Samuel Eto’o (Cameroon)
6. Cafu (Brazil)
7. Eric Cantona (France)
8. Oliver Kahn (Germany)
9. Philipp Lahm (Germany)
10. Ferenc Puskas (Hungary)

7. More intricate details, like players being booed

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The magic of MLB The Show and NBA 2K is that they get all the incidentals right, in addition to excellent gameplay: lifelike crowds, TV-style presentation, unmatched depth across the board. While EA does a tremendous job of packing in real teams and kits, there’s still scope for improvement, as outlined by RYAN_BENJAMIN on Reddit.

“[I’d like a fully licensed EFL,” he writes, “and real youth team players – a database of 200 real players aged between 16-18. I don’t care about the youth development objectives [in career mode], and the fake players are the reasons why. Kits, too. Specifically, more third kits, especially for teams who have similar looking home and away colours. Also, alternate kits: Man Utd having the option of black shorts and socks, or white socks with white shorts, etc.”

“I haven’t seen this happen on FIFA 20 yet, but someone mentioned a former player going back to their old club and getting booed when they touch the ball,” he continues. “I’m sure this used to happen on XBOX 360 titles?” He’s right, too - I interviewed FIFA mastermind David Rutter many years back, and one feature he was proud of was Carlos Tevez getting booed by Manchester United fans when playing for Manchester City. That lost feature really should be back for next-gen.

8. Scrap FIFA 21 and replace it with merely ‘FIFA’

The boldest idea on this list - but this, from Sean Eubanks, really would herald that next-gen new era:

9. VAR - so long as it’s implemented correctly

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The Premier League’s implementation of VAR has hindered rather than helped referees this season, but its inclusion would enable EA to herald the apparent realism of FIFA 21 - and feel like a major new next-gen feature. Perhaps surprisingly, it’s a topic which the FIFA community discusses in a balanced fashion, rather than going to war over. 

“VAR will require EA to change how referees work,” writes dumbwatercba on Reddit. “At the moment referees make no mistakes, according to the rules of FIFA. Referees will have to make mistakes [in-game] for VAR to matter.” “I don’t really know how they could implement VAR, seeing as there isn't any human error in games,” adds coffeedrinker356.

“Pretty easy no?” counters pizzadojo. “Handballs in the build-up to a goal can be detected and checked. A certain margin of offside can be allowed to play on – as it is now before being called back. Penalties might be a bit trickier.” If major leagues continue to implement VAR through next season and beyond, it’s guaranteed to appear in FIFA at some point. Let’s hope the community remains this sensible about it when it does.

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I'm GamesRadar+'s lead sports writer, obsessed with NFL, WWE, MLB – and very occasionally things that don't have a three-letter acronym. Namely: Bill Bryson, Pitch Perfect, and the Streets Of Rage series. I have two kids who aren't quite old enough to play Madden yet. Soon, though…