Release Date : 29 September 2023
Developer(s) : EA Vancouver / EA Romania
Publisher(s) : EA Sports
Platforms : PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, PC, Nintendo Switch
2023 marks the start of a new era for EA Sports’ leading sports simulation. After a financial disagreement with the International Football Federation, FIFA decided to change its name, and is officially launching EA Sports FC 24 next week. But has FIFA’s soul really gone? We’ll give you our answer in this review.
PS4 and Xbox ONE versions?
This review was performed on PS5 and Xbox Series, but we also tested the old-gen versions of the title on PS4 and Xbox ONE. Both versions feature the same content, and the difference in gameplay is now quite minimal, which is a great thing. As for the content, it’s identical, which means that the two versions have the same score despite the inevitable longer loading times on the old-gen consoles.
Fifa Has Lost Its Name Only
Players can rest assured that losing the FIFA license, and therefore the name, doesn’t mean losing any team licenses – quite the opposite, in fact. The team roster with all the right names and uniforms is all the same, from the 4 major European men’s leagues to the exotic leagues, including the famous Saudi Pro League and its stars like Ronaldo and Benzema. However, in Italy, we still have no licensed Napoli, AS Roma, or Atalanta Bergamo.
Unlike last season, the title integrates the American NWSL, one of the world’s biggest leagues when it comes to women’s soccer, a great addition to those already in place (English, French…). We can imagine that the dispute with FIFA will limit EA Sports’ license when it comes to setting up game modes related to the World Cup, but we’ll have to wait 3 seasons before worrying about that.
Gameplay: Delightful In-Depth Performance
A new gameplay identity! Like the game’s menus, which are less square than usual, EA Sports FC 24 has changed its approach on certain points. While animations are still vibrant, thanks to the Frostbite engine and Hypermotion technology (to capture players’ movements and reproduce them in the game), they are supported in the gameplay by “Playstyles”.
These are actually abilities for certain players, unlockable during a match if they perform particular actions, and activating them shows that the player has an edge on that point. For example, Haaland has an acrobatic playstyle, and scoring or shooting in a spectacular way is more effective and makes him a monster in the field. So, once we’ve been informed of the 34 playstyles available, we’ll adapt the way we play with a given player according to his or her playstyle.
From a team perspective, speed and deep play are much more effective than in previous years, which will not please defenders! It’s now much harder to catch Vini Jr. at full speed, whereas it was easier in other years, not to mention that it’s difficult to manage the placement and timing of the standing tackle against a dribbler. On the other hand, the defensive system leaves less space in the back to compensate, and pressing enthusiasts will love the recovery play in the middle, which is intuitive enough to cut off passing lines. This means that midfield architects will have to redouble their efforts to create a clean attack.
This year, we’re back to powerful shots, the terrible type of shot that’s harder to measure and slower to shoot. Once the shooting button has been pressed with the controller’s first triggers (L1+R1 or LB+RB), a camera animation is activated (zooming in on the player) to prevent the shot. It’s well calibrated, as are the more precise and exhilarating set-pieces with the system retained from FIFA 23: visual indications, stats and foot placement on the ball are displayed, a real treat.
Ultimate Team Expands and Increases the Number of Cards
What about the license’s top mode, FIFA Ultimate Team? Already well reinvented in FIFA 23, the formula has been revolutionized this year with a major addition, and a new name to match. It’s still called “Ultimate Team”, to keep in line with EA’s other sports simulations (Madden, NHL), and now includes all the female player cards available in the game. Knowing that these players are rated according to their hierarchy in women’s sports and not in comparison with their male counterparts, this gives the game a perfect balance and a new step forward in gender equality. And for that, thank you EA Sports!
Ultimate Team 2023 represents the most varied and comprehensive edition to date, and retains the system of links between players introduced last season. Players from the same league, nation, or club only need to be in the starting 11 to improve the collective. But you have to be sure that the position is exact or equivalent, so that the player doesn’t have a null collective ( marked by an exclamation mark on the map). On this point, the title is more transparent, allowing you to search for equivalent cards on the market or in the collection, rather than just exact ones. In addition, upgradable cards are introduced, like NBA 2K’s MyTeam mode, and can be upgraded by completing objectives.
Careers: Ballon d’Or Well Deserved?
Ultimately, the small disappointment of the game is the lack of new content in the Career, which is certainly complete, but with very few innovations, unlike last season. In the Manager’s Career, specific coaches can now be assigned to various positions, in an attempt to match the system of playing as a coach.
For the Player’s Career, an agent is now used to set “objectives” for transferring or renewing a contract. By reaching these objectives during the season, the star player can easily change the team or extend his contract, and the more you ask for in salary, the higher the targets. Salaries are useful for off-field activities between matches (paying for the team bus, buying ties, donating to animal charities) and for unlocking personality points to improve your player through a three-way archetype: Maverick, Virtuoso, or Heartbeat. But these objectives are sometimes far from being realistic, which is a little disappointing (Score 5 volley shots during the season… sorry what?).
The ultimate prize is the Ballon d’Or (Golden Ball), the greatest reward for a player, licensed this year and therefore available at the end of each season! But that’s a poor consolation for a mode struggling to reinvent itself on EA Sports FC 24. We would have liked to see the possibility of starting a career with a female player or manager of a women’s team, for example, like the efforts made by NBA 2K with The W on this subject.
Clubs Pro Is Now Clubs, With Extended Lifespan
Once again this year, the VOLTA game mode, similar to FIFA Street in the good old days, is connected to the Clubs mode, previously known as Clubs Pro. After creating an avatar that can be customized from head to toe, the player enters one of the two modes. A store for adding customization elements to the avatar links the modes: clothes for VOLTA, tattoos, or hair for both modes. In Volta, nothing changes in terms of content: between arcade mini-games, matches against AI, or online games with teams of 3, 4, or 5 on the world’s most beautiful street pitches, we’d have liked a little personal touch to revive Street Football on EA Sports FC.
On the other hand, Clubs is moving in certain directions, and for the better! Much appreciated by the players, where you only control your personal character in a team of 11 vs. 11, it adds the option of crossplay so you can play between consoles of the same generation. Unfortunately, at launch and at the time of writing this review, the free matchmaking system on Clubs (matchmaking with 3 other players to compete against up to 4 others) is unstable, and some players find it impossible to start a match with crossplay enabled.
We’ll be waiting for a fix on this point, as it’s a real plus. When you join or create a team with friends, you play a series of games to move up from one division to the next, with this year’s qualifying games, championship phase and finally the Playoffs: draws are impossible in this phase, so there’s more extra time and even more memorable penalty shootouts. A team member can still control the non-human players, who can also be customized as desired. Clubs is a strong content, improved by small touches year after year, and 2023 is no exception.
FIFA 23 was certainly the most complete title in the franchise under the old name, and EA Sports FC 24 goes one step further despite the name change. While the title doesn’t really change the furniture when it comes to career modes (either manager or player), it does increase the variety of Ultimate Team mode significantly, with the addition of women’s soccer cards and the concept of upgradeable cards. The gameplay has been improved compared to last season, with deep runs and fast players benefiting from a clever construction and pressing system. The new visual identity of the menus is also noteworthy, as are the additions of new stadiums to properly introduce EA Sports FC as the new leader in football games.