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FIFA 22 release date, player faces, licenses, Elland Road and everything you need to know

FIFA 21
(Image credit: EA)

Across all of gaming, the least surprising announcement of this coming summer will be EA’s FIFA 22 unveiling. Since its 1993 Mega Drive inception we’ve received a new football game from the mega-publisher every year, and the advent of PS5 and Xbox Series X ensures that 2021 will be no different – although the series is sure to continue on PS4 and Xbox One for a while yet, too. What will it look like, how will it play, and when can we expect the FIFA 22 release date? Let’s set some speculative answers in place using GR’s everything-in-one-place FIFA 22 guide.

FIFA 22 release date: when can I play it?

FIFA 21

(Image credit: EA)

2020 was an outlier year for the FIFA series, thanks to both the pandemic and winter release of new consoles. From FIFA 11 to FIFA 20 each annual iteration emerged at the back end of September, but FIFA 21 was shifted into October last year on PS4 and Xbox One – and December 3 for the new generation of machines. Expect more uniformity this time around, particularly with Konami rival PES 2022 headed to PS5 and Xbox Series X for the first time. GR therefore anticipates a FIFA 22 release date of Friday, September 24 across all formats, with early access offered as a pre-order bonus, and kicking off earlier that same week.

FIFA 22 trailer: show me it right now

FIFA 21

(Image credit: EA)

I mean, we’d love to, but much like real football even the most effective tactic occasionally falls short. There’s no FIFA 22 trailer just yet, but with its publisher reportedly making plans to host a digital-only version of its EA Play Live summer spectacular, that will change in a matter of months. Expect the first video footage in June 2021, then, alongside a sneaky initial peek at helmet-sporting stablemate Madden 22.

FIFA 22 player faces: who are we still missing?

FIFA 21 Puskas

(Image credit: EA)

Likenesses are a massive deal within the FIFA community, and incredibly there are still 27 players rated 82 or above in FIFA 21 who don’t have their real faces in the game. I’ve listed the top 15 below. While many fans gave EA a pass last year due to pandemic travel restrictions, all of the below need imminent head scans if the series is going to challenge the likes of MLB The Show 21 and NBA 2K22 for cosmetic authenticity. Cross your fingers that this lot gets upgraded for FIFA 22.

  • Arthur (CM, Juventus)
  • Marcos Acuna (LB, Sevilla)
  • Robin Gosens (LM, Atalanta)
  • Martin Odegaard (CAM, Arsenal)
  • Diego Carlos (CB, Sevilla)
  • Thomas Strakosha (GK, Lazio)
  • Nicolas Tagliafico (LB, Ajax)
  • Alessio Romagnoli (CB, Milan)
  • Francesco Acerbi (CB, Lazio)
  • Renato Augusto (CM, Beijing)
  • Sergio Reguilon (LB, Tottenham)
  • Nelson Semedo (RB, Wolves)
  • Nicolo Barella (CM, Inter)
  • Wout Weghorst (ST, Wolfsburg)
  • Dakonam Djene (CB, Getafe)

FIFA 22 licenses: Will it have any new leagues?

FIFA 21

(Image credit: EA)

For two years in a row England’s fifth tier, the National League, has lobbied to be included in EA’s football behemoth, with zero success. Ahead of FIFA 20 it launched a fan petition which amassed 11,200 signatures, while the release of FIFA 21 was accompanied by its very own Ultimate Team, curated by former semi-pro footballer and current league ambassador Jeff Brazier. Teams such as Sutton United, Eastleigh and Boreham Wood will therefore hope it’s third time lucky for the Conference appearing in FIFA 22.

Otherwise, the FIFA 22 league list already seems well set. An independent FIFPlay fan survey lists the Greek Super League as the new competition fans want most, which would see second-placed (as I write this!) Aris added to the four sides already in the game – AEK Athens, Olympiacos, PAOK and Panathinaikos. Hondarun Liga Nacional is second in the fan poll, followed by the Algerian Ligue Professionnelle 1 in third.

One thing you won’t be seeing is FIFA 22 Juventus, as Konami still has at least another year to run of its exclusivity deal – meaning only PES 2022 can use that name, and FIFA owners will be stuck with Piemonte Calcio again. It’ll be a similar story with AS Roma, who’ll yet again be rechristened Roma FC in FIFA 22.

FIFA 22 Elland Road: will Leeds United’s home ground feature in the game?

Yes! There was a brouhaha upon the release of FIFA 21 when Leeds United became the first Premier League club in more than half a decade to have their stadium missing from the series. However, EA insisted that would be put right during the season, and as confirmed in our FIFA 21 stadiums guide the ground finally appeared in February 2021. Rest assured, then, that it’ll definitely be in FIFA 22.

If promotion contenders Brentford, Reading and/or Barnsley finish the season ascending from Championship to Premier League, expect those club’s stadia to be added to FIFA 22 too.

FIFA 22 cover: Lewandoswki, Rashford, Haaland, or someone else?

FIFA 21

(Image credit: EA)

Unlike Madden 22 and its predecessors, the FIFA 22 cover is impossible to predict. The NFL is a single league from a single nation, where in any given year only 10-12 players are true cover star contenders. FIFA features teams from 30 leagues and more than 700 club sides. Even the FIFA 21 TOTY (Team Of The Year) saw numerous elite players miss out. One thing is certain: the box won’t feature Cristiano Ronaldo, given Konami’s Juventus deal. Lionel Messi feels unlikely too, given recent question marks over his Barcelona future.

FIFA 20’s cover went to an established face, that of Real Madrid winger Eden Hazard, while the hottest prospect in world football, PSG’s Kylian Mbappe, fronted FIFA 21. If EA wants to follow the Hazard example and select an experienced name, Bayern’s Robert Lewandowski seems the clear-cut choice after banging in 9,286 goals (give or take a couple) across the past two seasons, as the Munich men stormed last season’s Champions League.

The natural successor to Mbappe would be Marcus Rashford, after a year in which his on-pitch excellence for Manchester United was coupled with transformative off-field work, earning him an MBE in the new year’s honours list. A standout striker from our FIFA 21 best young players guide, Dortmund goal machine Erling Braun Haaland, feels like the other key contender.

FIFA 21 PS5 and Xbox Series X: what improvements will we see?

FIFA 21

(Image credit: EA)

The leap to next-gen brought superlative aesthetic improvements to FIFA 21, such as a new wider camera angle, and stadium-specific intros upping the big-match atmosphere. However, in year two on PS5 and Xbox Series X gameplay must be paramount.

Details aren’t likely to drop until June, but player AI is sure to be high on the priority list. Some of the sport’s most intelligent players, such as Bernardo Silva and Thomas Muller, are rendered irrelevant by the existing engine because of the way in which pace and power are overemphasised. Slowing down the gameplay, and reducing the effectiveness of constant pressing, would allow those intricate link-up players more time on the ball, and make for a more realistic ‘sport’ – but it would also reduce chances and goals, and so might be considered unappealing.

It’s the age-old sim vs arcade debate, where some argue that there’d be no fun in emulating the chess-match-style approach of Serie A matches. But at the moment too many online contests feel more like basketball, with teams taking turns to attack and resulting in wild final scores such as 7-4 and 6-5. That must change if EA is to avoid another season in which the word ‘scripting’ is liberally banded about on social media to describe its flagship football series.

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…