Free-to-play football sim UFL will take aim at FIFA and eFootball’s crown this year – and here’s the promising first gameplay footage to prove it. Billed as “fair to play”, this soccer sim will allow you to build your own squad similar to FIFA Ultimate Team, but the trailer promises that players like Cristiano Ronaldo and Kevin de Bruyne will actually play like they do in real-life.

The trailer shows off some supremely promising clips, including some neat ball control and well-orchestrated passing moves. You’ll be able to play offline and online in both ranked and unranked environments, but the game’s flagship mode will be its global online football league, which the developer claims will deliver a “fair, division-based matchmaking system”. On paper it sounds like Division Rivals, but get the distinct impression that developer Strikerz has beef with FIFA, so presumably it feels like it’s come up with a more balanced alternative.

There’ll be roughly 5,000 real-life players in the final release, and with it being free-to-play, we’ll be shocked if there’s not some kind of gacha system involved when it comes to the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo. According to the Belarus-based developer, you’ll unlock players the more you play, and you’ll have opportunities to upgrade players you’ve got as well.

In addition to players like Romelu Lukaku, Roberto Firmino, and Oleksandr Zinchenko, teams such as West Ham United, Sporting CP, Shakhtar Donetsk, Borussia Mönchengladbach, Bayer Leverkusen, Beşiktaş, Monaco, Celtic, and Rangers have all signed up as partners. There’ll be a Team Pass – presumably a lot like a Battle Pass – to complete, and you’ll unlock customisation options like kits, items, and stadiums as you progress.

To be fair, it all sounds pretty good, but we remain sceptical. Sports games are incredibly expensive and challenging to produce, so while Strikerz is talking a good game here, it’s going to have to deliver the goods on the pitch. All that said, to butcher a classic Kevin Keegan quote: “I would love it if UFL beats FIFA. Love it!”