The release of FIFA 23 marks the end of an era for EA Sports’ long-running football simulation. After 30 years, the partnership between EA and FIFA ends, with the title set to be renamed EA Sports FC from next year, as per the official press release. Naturally, there’s an element of sadness among gamers since many of us – this author included – grew up playing the FIFA series. But is this the send-off the popular game franchise deserves, or does it scuff its final shot?
An interesting discussion took place in the Fortress work group the other day. One commentator stated FIFA 23 looks exactly like FIFA 22, even down to the menus and modes such as FUT and Volta. While there’s no denying that looking at the game on the surface it appears the same as its predecessor, the changes are largely under the hood. Yes, the game receives a paint job in terms of stadiums, kits, new player models, and updates to the likeness of football figures, but the biggest changes take place in the mechanics – the nitty-gritty of the game.
FIFA 23 introduces HyperMotion2: a game-changing and revolutionary feature. This technological advancement allows for unprecedented authenticity, as it utilised machine learning to capture pivotal data from actual the pitch while pros kicked a ball around. As a result, there are 6,000 animations that impact the movement of the players in game. Even the dribbling has been redefined, which will be music to the ears of online players who have grown frustrated of their opponents loading their team with speedsters and just abusing the sprint function. Now, as an example, a player – depending on skill level – might lose close control over a ball if they opt from pure speed, which makes sense from a physics point of view.
While the FIFA series has allowed players to play as international women’s teams, FIFA 23 boasts the inclusion of women’s club football. The English and French leagues are available at launch; however, EA has indicated there are plans to add more leagues with future updates. Additionally, the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup will be available as a mode, as will the 2022 FIFA World Cup on the men’s side in due course.
The career of players and managers
The Player Career mode includes a Personality RPG-like trait now. It’s up to the FIFA player to decide how they shape their player’s personality through decisions taken in the game. It’s a little similar to Football Manager in the sense that the chosen answer will impact the player’s perception among his teammates and manager.
Speaking of managers and Football Manager, FIFA 23 features over 350 authentic football managers in the game. It adds yet another realism to the franchise as it allows you to walk in the shoes of your favourite managers and experience the coaching side of football – including all the highs and lows that come with it.
Developers are struggling to keep up with the cross-play demands of gamers, and FIFA 23 provides something of a mixed bag here. As per EA Sports: “Cross-play will be available at launch in FUT Division Rivals (except Co-Op), FUT Champions, FUT Ultimate Online Draft, FUT Online Friendlies (except Co-Op), FUT Play a Friend, Online Friendlies, Online Seasons (except Co-Op Seasons) and the Virtual Bundesliga competitive game mode that is available to players based in Germany.” EA Sports has stated it will be expanding on cross-play abilities later on.
Unfortunately, if you’re still stuck on a PlayStation 4 and your friend has a PS5, you won’t be able to challenge each other. Cross-gen play seems to be out of the question for EA Sports, with only players on the same generation of consoles being able to play against each other, i.e., Xbox Series X and PS5.
Online gameplay still rules in FIFA 23
Of course, the biggest draw of FIFA 23 is the online option, so that you can match your skills against others around the world. While it’s still early days, there was only one day where latency issues were experienced. Besides that, it’s been all systems go and there’s been no struggle to find worthy opponents.
A nice touch – which features in all modes and not just online – is when a team scores a last-gasp winner or goal in the final moments that changes the complexion of the match. The goalscorer erupts into a celebration as their teammates and coach surrounds them. Anyone who watches football will relate to this euphoric feeling. For the opponents, though, it’s a bitter blow to watch this – again, just like football.
For the casual gamer, they might not notice much of a difference between FIFA 22 and FIFA 23. Football lovers, though, will pick up on the subtle nuances that add that extra bit to the game. With so many official licenses, the latest kits, and player and stadium likenesses, it contains everything players want for this football season. It’ll be interesting to see if EA’s next football sim will be able to capture the same magic in the future or if it’ll suffer like Pro Evolution Soccer did without the support of the football governing body.