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FIFA 21 Volta guide: 5 things you need to know

(Image credit: EA)

Street football is back for the second year running in FIFA 21 Volta mode. After a promising start, interest in the series’ new five-a-side option ebbed away at the turn of the year, but FIFA 21 aims to change that by taking its lead from Ultimate Team. A mechanic near-identical to Squad Battles should tempt FUT players into some park-based kickabouts, and earning iconic players such as Zinedine Zidane means potential longevity. What else is new? Find out in our FIFA 21 Volta mode guide.

1. Matches are speedier and more reactive

(Image credit: EA)

FIFA 20’s first crack at Volta offered a more sim-based kickaround than the FIFA Street games which inspired it. Things feel a touch more arcadey second time around. The on-pitch action has been sped up very slightly, new animations enable players to trap and pass the ball faster, and there’s much more of an aerial game, with cushioned headers and volleys used to recycle possession.

While that’s a big help from an attacking standpoint, it’s counterbalanced with more intelligent blocking abilities on the defensive side of the ball. Play against a van Dijk or Pique or Soyuncu and they correctly manoeuvre their bodies to try to block shots – with an outstretched toe, or dipped shoulder – rather than simply sticking a leg out at random. Volta still packs in plenty of goal-fests, but it means there’s a level of skill to unpicking a team with one or two out-and-out defenders.

2. Volta Squads adds co-op online play

(Image credit: EA)

Co-op has been completely reconfigured in FUT, as outlined further in our FIFA 21 Ultimate Team guide. For the first time you can team with up to three friends for a street- or court-based kickabout, or hang around in the lobby long enough to join a team of strangers, and then work together to score goodies. One-on-one matches are also available.

“Online play with Volta Squads is all about playing with friends and making connections,” says lead producer Jeff Antwi. “It was the number one requested feature so we really wanted to be able to deliver that experience. That said, you can play drop-in with the community, and we haven’t forgotten about solo play. So yes, you can play head-to-head one-vs-one, all within the same matchmaking flow.”

Whichever you choose, there’s excellent incentive for doing so. All gameplay builds up XP, which can then be spent on myriad new vanity items for your player. We’ve had a look at the Adidas selection on offer and it’s more comprehensive than anything you’ll see down the local JD Sports sale.

(Image credit: EA)

In recent seasons Squad Battles has been the key offline mode in FUT, and this year Volta looks to ape them via the introduction of Featured Battles. You play through a series of matches against community- or celebrity-created squads, in the process building towards fixtures versus real clubs (such as Real Madrid) or boss battles. So you might end a season by facing a team created by Zinedine Zidane, and then, by beating them, unlock the magnificent Frenchman to add to your own five-a-side unit.

4. The Debut makes its debut

(Image credit: EA)

The Debut replaces Volta’s story mode this year. It still features cut-scenes featuring real pros and names from the street scene, but is an “onboarding” feature which turns you from five-a-side nomad to ballet-toed baller, rather than a fully-fledged, multi-optioned tale.

I’ve played the first 20 minutes and it starts on a Sao Paulo rooftop in a tournament set up by Brazilian maestro Kaka. Your created character teams up with freestyle footballer Kotaro Tokuda for the competition, featuring four small-sided matches broken up by cut-scenes featuring that pair.

Following the competition you’re invited to a tournament in Dubai, which is where our playtest ends. It’s predictable yet fun, and I suspect it ends with you unlocking Kaka and Tokuda for use in your Featured Battles squad. If that’s the case it’ll be worth the minor time investment.

“The Debut is a free-form narrative experience,” says Antwi. “It’s going to be roughly two hours or so, depending on how long your matches take and how much training you want to put in. It’s not going to be like FIFA 20 when it was a longer cinematic experience, but it will be to the level of cinematic quality that we’ve come to expect.”

5. There are 23 Volta stadiums to play in

(Image credit: EA)

And below is a complete list of them all…

  • Default stadium
  • Sao Paulo
  • Milan
  • Rome
  • Sydney
  • Paris Streets
  • Dubai
  • Warehouse
  • Parking Lot
  • Tokyo
  • Amsterdam
  • Rio de Janeiro
  • New York
  • Buenos Aires
  • Miami
  • Los Angeles
  • Mexico City
  • London
  • Barcelona
  • Paris
  • Cape Town
  • Lagos
  • Berlin

I'm GamesRadar+'s sports editor, 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…