Rugby 22 opens like most games, with a tutorial – a great start. In I go to learn the basics, but it turns out a lot is going on, even in the basics! Timing passes – using a hold response on the shoulder buttons left or right to determine the length of the throw – is quite tricky to master initially. Luckily, in the tutorial, you’re running through and passing into spaces with no markers, so it’s all a little slower than usual, and the mannequins don’t tackle back.
The gameplay can come across as a bit stiff and linear initially, however, the more you play and start to invest in this game it does become that little bit more enjoyable. As previously stated, the initial game tutorial isn’t particularly helpful and so you have to get your hands dirty and just play. A helpful tip is to navigate to the control’s options and select the controls menu to get a detailed explanation of each and every action.
Much like a more seasoned rugby player, Rugby 22 has definitely benefited from mistakes in seasons gone by. The general gameplay is much faster, more fluid, and feels more like a rugby game. Whereas previous games looked and sounded like rugby video games, they sure as hell didn’t play like a real match of rugby, leaving players to bend and break the game to their will in order to achieve some sort of a backline movement or defensive strategy. Rugby 22 has changed that, and while there are some blemishes, this latest entry does require you to actually play some rugby.
Career mode is as it sounds, you manage a team and try to take it to the top of the league and ultimately be the best squad around. There are mechanics for finances for player signings, training sessions, and upgrades, along with a budget and a schedule.
Rugby 22 offers a fun but not super addictive experience. It is a game for the hardcore fan of the franchise and not anyone else, in all honesty. The initial experience is a bit confusing and thus maybe a little off-putting to the casual player looking for a new and fun experience. That being said, I believe the hardcore fan will get a great many hours of fun with this title.
Rugby 22 may not be the definitive rugby game we’ve been waiting for or the spiritual successor to Rugby 08 that so many gamers want, but it’s a different spin on the rugby sim genre, giving you a lot of tools and customisation to play a tactical game of rugby and will scratch that itch of true rugby purists. If you’re willing to give it a try and have some patience with its mechanics, there’s a lot to enjoy with Rugby 22.
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