On Sunday, EA SPORTS gave us the first look at FIFA 22. The 90-second trailer doesn’t go into too much detail showing off in-game action but it teases their new capturing system, called HyperMotion Technology. Now, they are recording real-life players playing a full match. If this is more than just a cool term, it could change the development process of not only the sports game genre but all games in general.

How games are made moving forward

Most games, but sports games especially, require using motion capturing to help animate player movement. At EA Canada’s offices in Burnaby, BC, they have a massive hangar where they record real athletes performing different actions for multiple games. While the hangar is big, it’s not the size of a football pitch, so you can’t have a proper 11 v 11 session to get footage. Instead, they focus on smaller scenarios and then build a game from there.

But what EA is touting with HyperMotion Technology is the ability to capture footage of two full squads playing a match. In theory, that should mean that they are able to record not only those closest to the ball but how players who aren’t necessarily involved in the play would move and react.

One of the many problems with FIFA 21 and previous games in the series, it never felt that the players not within a certain radius of the ball were reacting properly. The players further away wouldn’t really do anything until the ball got within a certain distance. Because of that, you easily lost the immersion that is so crucial in these kinds of games.

Reworking the Entire Game – or, so they say

A FIFA 22 image feature a Real Madrid player heading the ball away

The marketing for FIFA 22 is really pushing how HMT changes the game and that it results in a complete reworking of the game. We don’t get a lot of gameplay with this in action. Their website also doesn’t share too much information and the images shared don’t paint the entire picture. So, we’re left with having to guess and waiting for more footage.

HMT is the kind of thing that EA should have announced in a much more focused approach. I am under the belief that during EA Play Live, EA will go much further into this tech. There is something planned for July 20 that focuses on Sports games and I suspect we will see more around HyperMotion Technology.

Considering that Madden NFL 22 doesn’t mention HMT in their marketing material, I suspect this isn’t a feature we’ll see in that game. However, that’s not to say that it won’t come to Madden NFL 23. NHL 22 could really use this as its community has often been critical of how players without the puck react on the ice. I could also see it being helpful in racing games and even NBA Live if that ever makes a return.

This isn’t IGNITE

I was at EA when they pushed the IGNITE Engine for their sports games on Xbox One and PlayStation 4. This isn’t that, nor is it even a new Frostbite Engine I was hoping we’d hear about. While HMT isn’t a new engine, if done correctly, it could change the development process for sports games moving forward. I firmly believe that other EA games could benefit from this. Imagine DICE being able to simulate a massive war-like scenario and track how each soldier moves on the battlefield? (no pun intended)

An image from FIFA 22 featuring the back of David Alaba of Real Madrid following his teammates in a match

Hopefully, we learn more about HyperMotion Technology next week. I also hope we get some long-form gameplay that really highlights how athletes who are away from the play behave. If it works as intended, FIFA 22 could actually be a game I look forward to playing.