Football Manager 2021: Xbox Edition joins Xbox Game Pass this week, so we've put together this little mini review so you know what to expect. The Xbox Edition is playable on Xbox consoles and PC with Xbox Play Anywhere.
We're willing to bet if you're reading this review, you've know at least something about Football Manager. You've probably heard the stories about players getting utterly addicted and sinking hundreds, if not thousands of hours into it. And the best thing we can say about Football Manager 2021: Xbox Edition is it's absolutely possible to have the same kind of immersive and utterly thrilling experience on Xbox as you get with the standard PC version, but it'll take a little more patience to get there.
Something you need to know is that Football Manager 2021: Xbox Edition isn't the full fat version like you get on PC, but is rather modelled around Football Manager 2021 Touch, which removes certain features such as pre-game team talks in favour of speeding up the game and making things a little more intuitive for first-time players. It's actually a good thing in some ways, especially considering you're playing with a controller, but Football Manager veterans may be disappointed with some of the absent features compared to the main PC game.
Outside of that though, it's still the same great game people know and utterly adore. For the uninitiated, it involves taking control of a team from one of hundreds of leagues across the world, and attempting to achieve glory by setting up the perfect tactics, keeping your team happy, signing and selling players, and much more. The graphics aren't great - they've never been a selling point of Football Manager - but the sense of immersion and attention to detail you get is ridiculously far ahead of any other sports game on Xbox. Don't expect a FIFA-like experience on the pitch though, as this is a purists' management sim, and it's absolutely packed with depth and replayability.
The actual gameplay is fantastic on Xbox Series X, with superb loading times and performance even when playing online with friends, so the biggest downside here is the control scheme. Football Manager was made for PC, and while efforts have been made to adapt the UI to the Xbox controller, it definitely takes some time to get used to. In fact, we found the button-focused system far too difficult to use, opting instead for the virtual mouse pointer which is a far easier-to-grasp alternative. Strangely, there's no official support for USB mice yet, and that's a shame.
Ultimately then, you're going to need a little bit of patience with Football Manager 2021: Xbox Edition, whether you're brand-new to the series or a PC player looking to transition to console, but once you've spent a few hours with it, the control scheme becomes much easier to wield. After that, you're free to enjoy the best sports management sim on Xbox by a country mile, and a game that football fans owe it to themselves to try at least once, especially now that it's available on Xbox Game Pass. Watch out, you might get hooked!