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EA hypes new AI tech in FIFA 22, but I expect another glorified update

If Euro 2020 broke your heart, EA is offering a rebound relationship: a new edition of FIFA with an AI-powered gameplay overhaul.

The gaming giant is heavily plugging the so-called “HyperMotion” tech, which uses motion capture and machine learning to generate new graphics.

The system was unveiled on Sunday in a shaky cam trailer for FIFA 22, which is out on October 1.

HyperMotion integrates motion capture of 22 professional footballers playing at high intensity. An algorithm learns from almost 9 million frames of capture footage to write new gameplay animations in real-time.

EA describes the system with the usual word salad of bold promises and buzzwords. HyperMotion, the company says, is “revolutionizing football gameplay,” and “unlocking the raw emotion, passion, and physicality of the world’s game.” The system is also apparently “powered by football,” rather than, say, cricket or marshmallows.

EA claims the system makes FIFA “more realistic and immersive than ever.” But as someone who’s been repeatedly disappointed by the franchise, I doubt that it will live up to the hype.

Now in its 29th edition, FIFA has become little more than an expensive annual upgrade.

At times, EA doesn’t even bother pretending they’ll be different. Take the FIFA 21 Legacy Edition for Switch, for example. The company said the game “will feature the same gameplay innovation from FIFA 20 without any new development or significant  enhancements.”

Essentially, the game was a $60 dollar roster update.

HyperMotion at least promises something new, but the gameplay footage shared by EA is distinctly unimpressive. It looks like the algorithm was trained on a team of crabs.

Some gamers won’t even get the revamp: HyperMotion is only available on PS5, Xbox Series X/S, and Stadia.

In another kick in the teeth of FIFA fans, EA will only offer a free next-gen upgrade to people who buy the $99.99 “Ultimate Edition” of the game.

Perhaps I’m being unfair; maybe HyperMotion really will “revolutionize football gameplay.” But I suspect that it’s more about marketing than substance.

As an incorrigible FIFA addict, I’ll probably end up buying the game again this year — and thereby encourage EA to repeat the same trick next time. At least I might be able to win something with England.

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