Version tested: PC
We have reached that moment of the year when all fans of the iconic football management are thrilled to get their hands on the new iteration. SEGA e Sports Interactive. Football Manager 2021 once again allows you to fulfill your dream, to become the coach of your favorite team and lead them to win trophies and competitions that maybe they could not get in reality.
Starting already from the big stages, fighting against the most famous teams of their respective leagues to take home the title and participate in the best international competitions or select a team from the minor leagues and attempt the feat and get to the football that really matters?
A difficult decision, which requires weighing strategies, targeted purchases - depending on the available budget - and managing a whole series of parameters that could make the difference between success and inexorable exemption.
Football Manager is a huge cauldron of information and technicalities to keep in mind. Something that will surely make all historical fans happy but that could confuse those who find themselves for the first time to try their hand at football production. Fortunately, there is a profound and useful assistant that offers advice and opinions on how to get around the game. From purchases, to the owner training, passing through training programs, selection of observers and other important staff figures.
The tested version of Football Manager 2021 is basically a fully playable but not final Beta of the game. Several improvements will be added to the launch on November 24th.
Become a football manager
The manager is the beating heart of any football team. In Football Manager 2021, the management experience is more dynamic and true to real life than ever. The coach has all the tools at his disposal - which if used in the right way - will allow him to reach elite status. Managers also enjoy greater overall control, both on and off the pitch. With new game systems, a deep level of analysis and additional information and resources available.
With new methods of communication, reviews of existing systems and more varied interactions, communicating with readers and the media has never been so intentional, engaging and realistic.
The use of gestures allows managers to add impact and atmosphere to their words in conversations with players and the media.
The addition of the gestures in Football Manager 2021 allows managers to express themselves in more nuanced ways, whether in a face-to-face match, in the weekly press conference or while giving a team speech in the lead up to a crucial match.
The use of gestures is essential to involve players, team and press. Above all it is necessary to think about which gestures to use as they could have enormous repercussions on the psychological / moral state of the players or lead the media to "misunderstand" what we actually wanted to externalize.
Another big news for FM21 is represented by the quick chats which give coaches the ability to have short, informal conversations on a variety of topics that do not require a full, structured meeting. These can be done in person with club players or remotely with loan players, opposing managers and of course journalists.
Managers will note that existing interaction scenarios such as press conferences, team meetings and face-to-face meetings have been revised in FM21. The individual elements are arranged much more clearly. Players have more contextual information at their disposal during interactions and it is much easier to see the body language of those in the room as they react to what we are saying.
Before the match there is a need for preparation
The flow of data - ranging from the accumulation of pre-match information, to the training of the players, through the formation to be deployed, to the match and the implications after the final whistle - has been reinvented with the addition of new events and elements .
Before entering the locker room, you have the opportunity to make last minute tactical changes and lineup changes in the new pre-match tactical match. During this meeting, the backroom staff will present key analysis and tactical advice that could make the difference between winning and losing on the pitch. Once the team selections are confirmed, the coaches will be presented with the official team sheets for the match and will have the opportunity to change tactics in relation to the opposing formation.
New elements in the broadcast style
When the action begins, you get a better view from the bench with a redesigned user interface that places an emphasis on the action happening on the pitch. New elements in the broadcast style and new sideline assets such as crane cameras (to be clear, those positioned behind the goals) and steadicams add a real big match atmosphere. On the pitch, the action feels even more immersive thanks to improved lighting, cleaner textures, redesigned shading and smoother, more natural-looking animations.
Both during and immediately after the game, you can benefit from an impeccable analysis through the xG system. Now it is even easier to see and understand how our team has performed and the quality of the opportunities it has produced. A fundamental system that does not only concern the offensive aspect but also the defensive one. In fact, we happened to be very prolific from midfield upwards but to have huge holes in defense. By analyzing the data, we were therefore able to understand where the problem was and run for cover. This is combined with a smarter and more in-depth mid-game analysis by the backroom staff.
New encounters and interactions along with the introduction of a new staff role refresh one of the most popular and important areas of the game.
Le new recruiting meetings ensure that managers and their scouting teams are on the same page. Both to address areas that need immediate improvement and to ponder a long-term strategy on how the club should move in the transfer market.
These meetings are held in view of the transfer windows and allow managers to view reports, set assignments and prioritize their scouts and analysts in the next window.
Players also have greater interaction with player agents in FM21. Agents can be contacted to find out how interested their clients would be in joining our club and what conditions we would need to meet in order for them to be interested in our proposal and agree to sign the contract.
COVID-19 and Football Manager 2021
The developer has thought of everything this year, including the pandemic that unfortunately continues to characterize the lives of people around the world. The goal was to find the best possible balance between realism and evasion.
It is no secret that football clubs around the world are suffering financially. The absence of fans in the stadiums does not only mean a huge loss of revenue from ticket sales, but also from concessions and merchandising.
This is reflected in the game, as the chosen club's finances turn out to be drastically worse than it should be when starting a new bailout. The most marked effect can be seen on transfers. In fact, in FM21 it will be even more natural to rely on “loan” offers rather than buying a player whose cost could impact the company's balance sheet. However, as things return to a semblance of normalcy, the transfer system will adapt accordingly.
Fortunately, the supporters - unlike what happens in reality - are present in the stadiums of FM21. The additional revenue generated by fans attending matches will help clubs return ahead of time in good financial health.
Furthermore, the start dates of the respective league have also been changed to reflect the real ones, at least in the first season. The transfer windows have also been differentiated for the first season, but will return to "normal" in the second season.
Analysis and statistics
Managers can benefit from significantly more reporting and data visualization in Football Manager 2021, including monthly reports from the new Performance Analyst which reflect the data that real managers receive on a regular basis.
New graphs and data maps give “virtual” managers an even clearer view of the team's strengths and weaknesses, while the addition of a wide range of new stats provides a complete statistical overview of the entire field.
A season to remember
Coaches can relive their season and their successes. Fans and the media have shorter and shorter memories in modern football, but Football Manager 21 offers the opportunity to celebrate and reflect on the results before next season.
The celebrations on the pitch have been completely renewedand through improved trophy presentations including podiums, confetti cannons and the most important aspect: trophy lifting. After the game there is also more media attention and hype.
Whether the coaches added an extra trophy to the bulletin board or avoided relegation due to the broken cap, at the end of each season they will be able to enjoy a brand new seasonal review that presents them with the highlights both on and off the pitch.
Match Engine AI
The engine behind Football Manager 2021 is the smartest in the series to date. Improvements to player decision making mean that while players used to make decisions every quarter of a second, they are now able to change their minds mid-decision if they think a better option is available.
This leads to a more nuanced defensive awareness with defenders more attuned to the threats arising from the opponent's attack and able to pick up and pass marking tasks to another defender more quickly.
The defensive line acts as a whole and tries to isolate - to the best of its ability - the opposing threats, preventing the wings from dribbling or that crosses can easily reach the area.
The game has been further refined with a greater number of movements through the central areas. A greater amount of direct passes attempted in the midfield areas and more interceptions and blocks by defensive players in the center of the field.
In the last thirty meters, there is more movement with players trying to create space - which will be simplified if you have a talent in your team capable of making perfect long balls - and attempting to put defenders out of position, through even more realistic decisions and convincing. The choral action translates into an improved attacker AI, especially in the small area. The attacker is even smarter and able to decide when and where to place the ball.
It is not uncommon to see the attacker "dips" at minimal contact or even without any defensive intervention. This is also reflected in the use of the VAR itself. Whereas previously referees relied solely on the VAR to make a decision, this year they can decide to act on their own. This is much more likely when compared to what happens in real games.
The goalkeeper now makes the difference
Goalkeepers in Football Manager 2021 are also more responsive and react promptly to opposing raids and shots. Like the other players, even the last bastion of our team is more aware of its role. When the attackers are close to the penalty area or have unfortunately already managed to get past our rearguard, the goalkeeper will keep an eye on the attacker as he prepares to bag the ball and will respond accordingly.
It was not uncommon to be face to face with the goalkeeper (and vice versa, to find the opponent attacker in front of our goalkeeper) and miss a sensational opportunity. Not for the offender's demerits but for the goalkeeper's “cat” skills.
In addition, goalkeepers turn out to be smarter in other situations as well, for example in the air conflicts that arose from an opponent's cross or if the weather conditions are rough (maybe windy or rainy), they will very often try to fend the ball back and not attempt to catch - this will depend on the basic attributes they possess. Of course, they are also subject to many debacles, such as unprepared exits or misreading of the opponent's action. In short, just like in real football.
Technique and graphics
Technically we found some bugs from the Beta version. For example game freeze and crash of the same resulting in inability to save and several translations, despite having set the game in Spanish, missing. Especially during the interviews, some questions were in English but the answers in Spanish or the question was in Spanish with answers in both Spanish and English.
Nothing that can particularly affect the gaming experience, as long as you remember to save after each game, otherwise you will end up in the same way as ours, or having had to face again about a week / ten days with different consequences than what happened previously.
Graphically, the game is cleaner, with greater realism during sim games and with slightly more intuitive and captivating graphical interfaces.
PS a note also to the 3D scan system for the creation of the virtual alter ego. It's really impressive how it allows you to scan yourself carefully and features a good editor with several customization options.
The new chapter of Football Manager branded once again SEGA e Sports Interactive, raises the bar even more of the football managerial simulation experience. The new additions, including gestures, the new way to interact with staff, players, journalists, greater decision-making responsibility, will make you feel even more part of the team.
In addition, the improved artificial intelligence makes every match even more realistic and dynamic. All this is accompanied by a new set of animations, even more fluid and by a very engaging broadcast-style camera system.
There are some bugs to fix but for the moment - waiting for the complete package - we would like to promote Football Manager 2021. Every fan of the football sim should buy it and try to bring their favorite team to success and maybe in competition that would hardly succeed. to reach in the real world.