Football Manager 2022 has arrived and we lucky Xbox gamers can download the Console or PC version at no extra cost with Xbox Game Pass on day one. After a hiatus of 13 years with Football Manager 2008 being the last time the series hit Xbox on the 360, we finally saw the much-anticipated appearance of the 2021 edition last year.
We all know that these games are best experienced on PC using a mouse and keyboard, but the series has found success on mobile devices and Nintendo Switch in functional but still intriguing watered-down versions.
Does Football Manager 2022 improve on last season’s appearance on the Xbox family of consoles? Let’s don our coaching badges and tracksuit and take a look.
I’ve been plugging away on football management simulation titles since I was old enough to understand the beautiful game. Sure, you can absorb yourself in the FIFA or Pro Evolution games and play for real if that’s your preference. But for some, there is nothing more satisfying than taking to the touchlines in an attempt to lead your club of choice to glory. Year after year it shows that it is the best at what it does and no other title in the genre comes remotely close. The Football Manager team work hard all year round with a team spread across the world collating data and ensuring that this sim is rich in accuracy and rife with interesting statistics.
It’s fair to say, Football Manager 2022 has built on the foundations of last years outing. Based on the popular “Touch” version of the game which is present on both PC and Nintendo Switch, the Xbox edition echoes these values and adds a little more.
Whilst you are trading a little depth for speedier seasons, the content on offer here is not too far off the full PC version of the game. With more than 120 football leagues from around the world to choose from, with thousands of players in the database, it is clear to see Sports Interactive haven’t skimped on the console version.
Functionality and Navigation Improvements
Football Manager 2022 features Microsoft’s play anywhere functionality. This allows you to kick-off your career on console and then pick it back up on a Windows 10 PC if you wish. The game also features smart delivery across the Xbox family of machines which is super handy if you switch consoles often or upgrade in future. Also if you make the most of XCloud then you’ll be able to pick up and play from any compatible device or browser so long as you have a stable internet connection. So, with so many options and possibilities to play this from the comfort of your couch or even on the toilet, how has it improved?
Sports Interactive have revisited the user interface and have focused on improving controller functionality when progressing from screen to screen. The 2021 version was noticeably clunky and difficult to get to grips with. Thankfully though you can change to a cursor with the click of the left analogue stick which can then be used to navigate. New sound effects have been added so that clicking on information and tabs provides a sense of affirmation. The game does support mouse and keyboard on Xbox, but I haven’t tested these controls for the purpose of this review.
What has changed this time round?
Probably the most notable addition this time around is the all-new Data Hub. This is the home of all your analytics and where you can gain insights and advice from your backroom team that can boost your chances of success on matchday. From data on your team’s overall performance to individual player analysis that can influence how you manage their development, there is more information that can shape how you get the best out of your squad. You can also access new data visualisations such as pass maps and momentum graphs that make it clearer where things went right or wrong for your team over the course of the 90 minutes.
Transfer Deadline Day has also been expanded in FM22 Xbox Edition to include more of the excitement, speculation and intrigue that surrounds one of the most dramatic days in the football calendar. You’ll be more informed of done deals as they happen as well as deals that are under negotiation and players that have just become available on the market for you to snatch from under a rival’s nose. For me Transfer Deadline Day is perhaps the most interesting and exciting part of managing a club, trying to grab that one landmark signing for your squad before the window slams shut.
Another new feature specifically built for FM22 Xbox Edition is News Effects. This gives you clear feedback on how player morale or player attributes (such as Passing or Tackling) have been impacted by your actions or events at your club, for example, if you comment on transfer speculation relating to a particular player in your squad. They’re displayed along the bottom of relevant news items with positive effects being reflected with a thumbs up and a thumbs down displaying if the player or group of players have been negatively affected.
How does it perform on console?
You may not think so, but Football Manager is a very demanding title in terms of processing power. Many will be left wondering how this will handle on their Xbox. With players still not fully submerged in this current generation, not everyone has a next-gen console. Fear not though, FM2022 is accessible to all whether you own an Xbox One or Xbox Series X. Limitations on the experience vary here depending on the machine you’re using.
Xbox One along with the S and X can cater for 5 selectable nations from across the world. Xbox Series S/X can handle a whopping ten with no downgrade on graphical fidelity. Xbox Series X provides native 4k resolution whilst the Xbox One S/X and Series S are upscaled.
You guessed it, Xbox Series X is the absolute best place to play FM2022 – at least on within the Xbox family of devices. This doesn’t mean the other versions will differ in content and will all still handle superbly on their respective machines albeit with a lower selection of leagues.
For this review I played using Xbox Series X and performance is exceptional with virtually no loading times between screens and almost instantaneous transfer from day to day operations. It felt much more fluid to play than the 2021 edition with more depth and information than ever before.
Graphics & Sound
Visually FM2022 is neatly presented with an all-new theme in dark purple, hot pink and lilac. Information is displayed clear and concise and is easy to read. For the most part, there isn’t much difference in terms of graphics from season to season when spending most of your time looking at screens full of data. What is noticeable though is that there are new animations from players on the pitch in the 3D match engine. So whilst improvements are subtle and may not slap you in the face at first glance, they are there.
Sound has always been super minimal in this genre of games. There is no in-game music, but as I said earlier in the review, the new additions of sounds when clicking on elements of the game are satisfactory. The only other present audio is the roar of the matchday crowd in the 3D match engine. This is the perfect game of my choosing when I want to kick back and relax and listen to my favourite gaming podcasts.
Something for everyone…
With a variance of modes on offer here, there is something for everyone. When booting the game up for the first time you’ll have a choice of selecting Career, Create-A-Club, Challenge, Online Career, Fantasy Draft and Versus.
Career mode is the full-featured simulation experience, allowing you to manage your team your way. Create-A-Club is the same premise with the customisation of your entire operation from the team name down to your squad. Challenge mode throws you into scenario-based stints of gameplay such as surviving relegation within eight games or winning a trophy in a season for example. Online Career allows you to host or join an online game and play with friends and other football managers around the world. Fantasy draft permits you to build the team of your dreams and compete with your friends whilst versus gives you the nod to take your career team online to play against others.
Football Manager smashes it year after year. Consistently ticking off every box in the genre, always improving and excelling. If you’ve never played a game in the series and are a fan of football, then there is no better time to give this a go. With the game now present in the Xbox Game Pass library, there is no financial risk even if it isn’t for you. Be warned though, it is highly addictive and hours can feel like minutes. It is clear that FM is here to stay on Xbox – as deep, rich and filled with as much content as the PC iteration. Do you have what it takes to lead your club to glory or survive relegation?