Game review: FIFA 23
It’s official – the relationship between EA Sports and the FIFA franchise is now into injury time.
This time next year will see the release of EA Sports FC – the first time in 30 years that the California-based publisher won’t release a game with ‘FIFA’ in its title. There will, however, be another ‘FIFA’ game launched under a new company – yet to be announced.
FIFA 23 is the last title in the long-running franchise, and it fittingly comes in the same season that will see the World Cup take place in the middle of the football season – rather than at the end in the Northern Hemisphere summer.
So, how does EA Sports’ final instalment of the FIFA franchise game fare?
The all-new HyperMotion2 technology adds unparalleled realism for a football game and is by far the most significant change for FIFA 23. EA Sports has spent the last year gathering data from motion capturing real life 90-minute games, leaving over nine million frames to utilise. This ensures the game feels even more lifelike and immersive than its predecessor.
The FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 and FIFA Women’s World Cup Australia and New Zealand 2023 are both included as tournament modes in the game. Women’s club football is also included for the first time, which is a welcomed addition. Female football star Sam Kerr also sits proudly as a cover star next to Kylian Mbappé.
There has been a significant overhaul of the popular FIFA Ultimate Team mode, namely to its chemistry system to allow players to customise their teams like never before. More on that later.
FIFA 23 includes more than 19,000, 700 teams, 100 stadiums, and 30 leagues.
How does it play?
FIFA 23 sees the biggest update to a FIFA tile for a long time, and it takes some getting used to. The gameplay feels much slower and, in turn, much more realistic.
HyperMotion2 introduces AcceleRATE which has somewhat ‘nerfed’ the ability to give the ball to a speedy forward, such as Mbappé, and run in behind the defence for an easy goal. Instead, slower strikers like Harry Kane and Robert Lewandowski are much more usable, as are defenders like Ruben Dias. Taller, stronger players now have a good chance of keeping up with their smaller, more explosive counterparts.
Stats like passing and defending are now much more prominent within gameplay, meaning you’ll really feel the difference when using a silky passer like Trent Alexander-Arnold and a player less blessed in that department. It’s also now much more difficult to spam the pass button and ping-pong your way up the field – it’s much more beneficial to take the extra touch to ensure your pass goes where you intended it to.
Set pieces have had an overhaul for 2023, and the new systems feel much more satisfying when your plan comes to fruition. Freekicks have a more arcade-like element to them and allows for much more variation.
Player animations look great and incredibly close to the real thing. The data collected from EA Sports really plays dividends, and the differences in feel between the men’s and women’s game can really be felt.
Overall, FIFA 23 is just a much more satisfying game to play. Yes, there are faults – it’s by no means perfect. It can be frustrating, particularly in online modes, when the game feels like it’s giving you nothing compared to your opponent, but, maybe I’m just a bad loser.
FIFA Ultimate Team
It wouldn’t be a FIFA review without touching on the polarising FIFA Ultimate Team (FUT) mode.
As mentioned, the chemistry system has been updated so you now don’t have to rely on having players of the same nation or league next to each other on the field, instead, players can have a maximum of three extra chemistry points each, and they attain these depending on how many linkable players you have in other positions in your starting 11. Players now don’t get minus chemistry for starting in the wrong position, but they cannot get any additional chemistry, either – no matter who else is in the team. It can be a lot to get your head around after a decade of the old system.
A collaboration with Marvel sees ‘Super Hero’ versions of ex-players available to help you create your (truly) ultimate team. There is also a partnership with Apple TV+’s Ted Lasso, which allows you to customise your team with AFC Richmond kits, badges, or you can even hire Ted himself to be your manager.
The new ‘Moments’ mode allows the player to partake in a variety of different scenarios, allowing you to collect stars to exchange for rewards, such as packs. Speaking of packs, microtransactions are still a thing, sadly, and it seems like EA Sports are trying to push players to buy packs given that most packs you now earn in the game are untradable.
FIFA 23 is the last hurrah for EA Sports, and it must be said that they’ve done a pretty good job. No doubt we’ll see patches over the next 10 months or so to fix any major issues, too.
On the PS5, the gameplay feels fluid and more realistic than ever, and many of the previous gripes about the franchise, such as the need to rely on pacy players, have been ironed out.
As the fulltime whistle blows on EA Sports’ relationship with FIFA, it’s quite emotional to think back to how far the franchise has come in three decades. Many of us grew up with this game and would buy it religiously year in, year out.
It’ll be interesting to see if loyal fans will follow the FIFA name to its new creator in 2024 or stick with EA Sports, but for now…just enjoy FIFA 23. It’s the end of an era.