FIFA 21 Career Mode: What to expect in EA Sports’ biggest FIFA update in recent times

August 17

The highly anticipated trailer for FIFA 21’s Career Mode has officially dropped, with a host of new features coming to the popular game mode, including an interactive match sim, team schedule planning and new transfer options and improvements.

EA have clearly put a huge amount of effort into trying to improve this aspect of the game. In fact, they claim to have put a bigger focus on Career Mode this year while delivering some of the key features they know the FIFA community have been asking for.

“The Career Mode is very important for this year.”, EA vice-president Nick Wlodyka told Goal.

“We’ve really made the biggest investments we’ve ever made to make sure we’re delivering exactly what our players are asking for. We’ve had so much feedback over the past few years from our players wanting to see more things they can control in career mode.”, he added further, before concluding:

“We listened to what they want to be able to do, things they haven’t been able to do in the past.”

Check out the new FIFA 21 career mode trailer right here:

So, what features can we expect from FIFA 21’s career mode?

Here is a breakdown of all the key features – you can also check out the full Pitch Notes information on EA’s official website.

Interactive Match Simulation

Interactive Match Sim is a new way to experience matches in Career Mode. You can now take a step back from the traditional gameplay and focus on the bigger picture. Interactive Match Sim enables managers to adopt a more tactical and faster-pace approach to matches, making all-important decisions from the touchline and watching their impact on the pitch from a top-down view.

In the Interactive Match Sim, the match plays out at twice the speed of regular gameplay. Out of play match moments are automatically skipped, ensuring that you’re always looking at meaningful events.

Instantly Jump in or out

The Interactive Match Sim allows you to jump straight into action at any given moment, giving you a traditional gameplay experience.

Whether you only like to intervene when your team goes down, or you prefer to jump in whenever your team is within shooting range, the Interactive Match Sim allows players to experience matches exactly how they want to. You can also jump back out of gameplay and watch the rest of the game play out in Interactive Match Sim or skip straight to the final result at any time.

Both jumping in and out of the game, and jumping to the end result are accessible at any point during the match, regardless of whether the match started as regular gameplay or in sim mode.

Image: EA Sports

A New Way to Experience Match Gameplay

Whenever you’re inside the Interactive Match Sim, you see the players attempt to implement your Game Plans and have all the tools needed to reorganize them on the fly if needed.

You can interact with Team Management, change Game Plans, and monitor your team’s and your opponent’s information in real-time. The following tabs are available:

  • Fitness – gives you an idea of which players might run out of Stamina first.
  • Player Ratings – summarizes which players are performing well and which players are struggling.
  • Match Stats – provides an instant snapshot of both teams’ performance.
  • Game Plan – shows the systems the teams have adopted on the field.

The Interactive Match Sim also features audio commentary and stadium atmosphere throughout the match.

Player Development

With the new Player Development feature, you can now grow your squad and make the most of it when possible.

Players can be developed and specialized in various roles based on their playing position, and the attributes that best fit your style of play improved upon. Whether you favour playing out from the back, possession, or fast counter-attacks, you can instruct your players to focus their growth in the direction that you want.

Player growth is determined through XP accumulation. Based on how well they do in matches (their form) and their potential to grow, they will gain more or less growth XP. That XP is distributed to their Attributes, determining Attribute growth over time. By default, all players are placed on a Balanced Plan, meaning that the XP is distributed evenly to all Attributes.

When setting a custom Development Plan for each position as Active, you can choose a set of player Attributes and features to get all XP growth. Rather than “wasting” XP on Attributes you’re not interested in; the growth plans focus that XP towards:

  • Major Attributes (Attributes that generate the OVR of the player for their current position)
  • Skill Move/Weak Foot ratings (especially for attacking players)
  • Attacking/Defensive Work Rate
  • Attributes that fuel specialization (Attributes that may not contribute to the current position OVR)

Much like in real life football, the speed at which players develop depends on their age, abilities, potential, form, and playtime. Give a young player with great potential a few games and help him perform, and he will turn into a better player at an accelerated rate. Keeping him on the sidelines for too long can have the opposite effect, so it’s up to you to make the decisions that work best for your team.

Player Position Conversion

You now have the ability to train players in other positions. As part of Player Development, players can now be converted to other positions, allowing for more freedom and control to manage your squad. Position Conversions can also give a new chance to players that fall out of favour in their original role, giving you more flexibility with each player.

Image: EA Sports

New Active Training

With Development Plans now focused on the long-term Attribute growth of your players, our new Active Training system is focused on the overall match readiness of your squad by making use of an all new player performance modifier called Match Sharpness (covered in more detail further below).

The Active Training system introduces the concept of a Training Day which can take place on any day of your calendar, with the exception of Match Days:

  • Each Training Day will feature 3 distinct training session slots, each focusing on a specific training Drill and specific players.
  • Multiple players can now participate in each Drill, depending on the Drill type, allowing you to involve up to 15 players in each Training Day.
  • Every session consists of diverse Drills and various scenarios focused on improving a specific area of the game: Defence, Passing, Dribbling, Shooting or Set Pieces.
  • Training Days will always be pre-populated with the appropriate Drills and players based on the active Team Sheet, but you can always take control and edit them should you wish to fine tune your Training Day outcome.
  • Changing your active Team Sheet will also give you the ability to instantly update the Drill and Player selection for your Training Day, allowing you to train an entirely new set of players (for example: your reserves team sheet), assuming that you haven’t consumed your training slots.

Image: EA Sports

Player Sharpness

Sharpness is an all-new indicator that helps indicate how ready a player or a team is for a match. A sharp player will have their main Attributes boosted and will perform better on the pitch.

Sharpness ranges from 0 to 100.

  • Sharpness at 50 means the player is at average Sharpness. They will not receive a boost nor will they incur a penalty on Attributes. Think of 50 as the baseline.
  • Sharpness between 50-100 means the player is sharper than average and their Attributes will be boosted. Max sharpness (100) sets a Max Attribute boost.
  • Sharpness between 0-50 means the player is below average Sharpness and his Attributes will be reduced. Min Sharpness (0) will determine the Max Attribute reduced.

Image: EA Sports

Team Schedule Planning

With Team Schedule Planning, you can now control what your players do every day of the season in order to be able to build their match Sharpness, but also to manage their Fitness levels and Morale.

Balancing Fitness, Morale, and Sharpness is key to achieving any long-term success, and this process adds a new dimension to the man-management aspect of the Career Mode experience.

You can set 3 distinct types of activities daily, each with their own clearly defined role:

  • Training Day – as covered in the Active Training section, this is focused on improving match Sharpness at the cost of Fitness and Morale (if it’s being overused). Fitness consumption is directly tied to Training Day activities, while Morale… well, no player enjoys not having any days off, and is affected if a player is trained excessively.
  • Recovery Day – this is focused on regaining the most amount of Fitness for your players, but it also decreases Sharpness the most.
  • Rest Day – regains less Fitness than Recovery Day, but has a smaller negative impact on Sharpness while also boosting Morale a little.

When going about the planning, you can either operate changes at a daily level, choosing what you want for that specific day, or use Schedule Rules to establish patterns for pre-match days, post-match days, and any other days in between matches for 2 weeks in advance.

New Transfer Options & Improvements

The modern-day transfer market has been going through some changes in recent years and it has been well reflected in the game. Here are 3 improvements that have been made in this area:

  • Loan to Buy – instead of making risky transfers, you can now loan the players you desire first, with the option to make the transfers permanent when or if they live up to your expectations.
  • AI Player Swap Proposals – while Player Swaps were introduced to Career mode a while back, you might have noticed that AI was still preferring old-fashioned, cash-only transfers. The AI will now make player swap proposals with players of their own. When you attempt to buy a player from another club, they can propose a swap as well, asking for one of your players in return.
  • Contract Renewal Improvements – The AI-controlled clubs have been given the ability to perform contract renewals based on the players’ rank in the club, so you will usually not see the top players in a club become Free Agents. It can still happen in some cases, as top players might not always want to accept contract renewals.

Established Youth Academy

When you take on the manager of a club you no longer have to start setting up a Youth Academy by yourself. The club will already have a youth scout hired and a number of players already recruited into the Youth Academy. The number varies based on the importance of the Youth Development rating, and there’s also a chance that one of those players is going to have the potential to become one of the world’s best.

Homegrown Talent

If you pre-order or purchase the Champions or Ultimate edition of FIFA 21, you will be entitled to a Homegrown Talent player as part of your Youth Academy. When you create your Career Mode save, this player will have the same nationality as the club, and news stories around his performance will call out his upbringing as a local player that grew up close to the club. An online connection is required when you initialize a Career Mode save to check your entitlement for the Homegrown Talent player. Once your save is set-up, you don’t have to worry about your online connection and you can keep playing offline should you wish to, just as always.

Financial Takeover Setup

Within the setup of a new Career Mode save you can set the amount of cash you want your club to receive as part of financial takeover. Whether you want to give your club a whopping 500 million or start with next to nothing, you can customize your experience how you want to.

Negotiation Strictness

Some people always enjoyed the fact that we let you build a star-studded team without any limits, but for others this might feel like breaking authenticity or immersion. Instead of picking one of the two approaches, we figured that the best way to go is to allow you to choose how you want to set-up your Career.

Strict negotiation means that:

  • Clubs won’t be interested in taking offers from a rival club.
  • Players won’t be interested to move to a lower ranked league or club that they have a grudge against.
  • Players with the One Club Player Trait won’t be interested in joining another club.
  • You won’t be able to approach players that signed to a club for less than a year.

When the negotiation is set to ‘Loose,’ all of the above limits are off so you can make these transfers without any of the above-mentioned restrictions. You’ll no longer have to play for a season to be able to get the players that recently transferred in the football world.

Board Objectives

Some changes have been made to Board objectives to make their requirements clearer, especially around the Brand Exposure objectives. The objectives around match attendance and season tickets have been replaced with milestones that the fans would love to see in a club. These milestones include reaching a certain number of wins in a season, a winning streak at home, a run of unbeaten games away, and many more. We’ve also changed the requirements to give youth players playtime to two seasons in order to make sure there’s plenty of opportunities.

To read more about other features, including loan and transfer negotiations, broadcast improvements, player retirement and more, visit EA’s pitch notes in FIFA 21.

FIFA 21 will be released worldwide on all good consoles on 9th October.

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