After 29 years, EA Sports and FIFA are parting ways, as the publisher looks to expand its sports sim, with a rebrand titled EA Sports FC arriving next year. When the news was first announced, many fans questioned what that would mean for the series going forward, and how it would impact the release of FIFA 23.
The series has long been a bastion for new talent and legendary figures within the sport, with cover stars, career mode and, most successfully of all, FIFA Ultimate Team (FUT, for short), paving the way for the future of the series.
EA Sports clearly has new ideas of where to take the series next, with media partnerships and updates that will likely be expanded in future releases. So, how has FIFA 23 distinguished itself before the partnership bows out?
FIFA 23 has introduced plenty of new features for players, making it one of the largest new offerings since the series first began. Of course, the introduction of women’s football teams will be welcome to any fans who may have been introduced to the sport during the Lionesses’ win at the Euros earlier this year, but there is still far more content to be found outside the introduction of new rosters.
While FIFA 23 will be the federation and publisher’s swansong partnership, it’s a fitting way to mark the end of an era for the world’s most enduring sports franchise. For our full review, keep reading below.
How we tested
Our experience with FIFA 23 is based on the Xbox series X/S version of the game. We spent time testing various game modes, online and offline, such as career mode, FIFA Ultimate Team, Volta and more.
‘FIFA 23’: £69.99, Currys.co.uk
- Rating: 4/5
- Platforms: PlayStation, Xbox, Windows PC, Nintendo Switch (legacy edition)
- Release date: 30 September 2022
- Age rating: 3+
Upon booting up FIFA 23 for the first time, players will have an opportunity to be “coached” by the game’s two cover stars, Paris Saint-Germain forward Kylian Mbappé, or Chelsea forward Sam Kerr, giving players a chance to play at club level for men and women for the first time.
While not as dynamic as other tutorials in the series (especially for newer players), it offers a rudimentary glance at some of 23’s niftiest features, such as updated “Hypermotion 2” visuals.
By using motion capture and machine learning, FIFA has been able to create more-fluid player movements, as well as reactions, to make each motion seem more organic. The new system has been expanded to feature motion capture from women’s teams as well as improvements to jockeying and ball strikes. Faking a shot on goal before transferring feet after the goalie has committed has never looked more natural on screen.
It isn’t without faults, however, as its procedural generation can often lead to some funky animations, with players’ knees wobbling out as if they were caught mid-Charleston on the receive.
Similarly, player likenesses can also vary in their degree of detail. Franchise players, such as Lionel Messi, Kylian Mbappé, Jack Grealish and even the cast of Ted Lasso have had far more generous renderings of their faces than the (ever growing) number of players that have been added to the series over the years.
While FIFA 23 has retained its most basic mechanics, with some improvements to shot trajectories and volleys, among the most significant additions to the game are “power shots”.
By holding down two shoulder buttons, the shoot button and manually aiming with the left stick, players can charge up their shots from further up the field, at the expense of time and precision. These require a careful balance of player positioning as well as making sure there is no room for defenders to reach the ball, as it leaves them vulnerable to interception.
Improvements have also been made to technical dribbling with pathfinding and directional changes much more responsive than in FIFA 22. Player switching has also been streamlined with the option of selecting players via the right analogue stick, meaning there is great control of field selection beyond cycling through button taps.
Over in career mode, players now have the option to customise their player’s personalities as well as being able to use their salaries to invest in skills and other attributes. Manager mode also offers players a chance to play as a licensed manager for their respective clubs, or even transfer to a different team. It’s more of a continuation to previous career modes than an outright overhaul, but it’s difficult to fix something that isn’t necessarily broken. Contract negotiations, transfers, training schedules and season planning will all appeal to long-time FIFA fans, and 23 is no different.
One big overhaul is to FIFA’smost popular game mode: Ultimate Team. A new chemistry system has been added to players assigned to different positions, based on their country of origin, club compatibility and even the leagues they play for. Shrewdly assigning compatible players in close proximity, it’s weighted out of a scale of three but helps to give players a better understanding of how their team composition can affect overall performance.
Further additions to FUT include “moments”, which act as exercises for players to attempt different challenges, often midway through matches, with a set time limit. They start off with simple passing and shooting exercises, before eventually graduating to player-specific case studies based on highlights from their career. It can be entertaining to try and pull off an elaborate set piece, but the short runtime and occasionally long loading period to actually play can lead to frustration.
Another new feature is the decision to combine Volta and Pro Clubs game modes to streamline progression across both. Being able to customise an avatar for one and being able to transfer it across both certainly makes sense from an efficiency point of view, but if you’re less of a fan of the arcade-y nature of Volta, you may find tying progression to both might seem like a confusing decision.
Buy now £69.99 Currys.co.uk
Verdict: ‘FIFA 23’
FIFA 23 could be seen as a statement of intent for what EA Sports FC will eventually become. Not only is it packed to the rafters with new and original content, its refinement of basic mechanics and animations make it one of the best looking in the series to date, as well as one of the most comfortable to play for veterans and newcomers alike, despite some small but noticeable flaws.
Want to play FIFA 23? Amazon is giving away copies for free with every purchase of an Xbox series S