FIFA is dead. Long live FIFA. No, I was not affected by the recent death of Queen Elizabeth. EA Sports' FIFA series, 28 years after the release of its first game, is dropping the credits and preparing to enter a new cycle without the rights to use the famous federation's name. This, since it does not affect the use of other brands and names within the game, rather seems to be the relief of an unnecessary burden and at the same time an exit for EA Sports, which has no need for any sports federation to advertise its product. Especially now that it is literally playing alone in the football video game arena.
The last title with this name and the question is of course whether FIFA 23 manages to close this cycle in a way worthy of its history or if it's just another addition to the series, with the main changes to the roster of the teams. The short answer could be "Yes, but...". For the more detailed one, you'll have to read on. Of course, the final conclusion is, among other things, comparative in terms of development from FIFA 22.
The truth is that EA rarely gives us earth-shattering changes. Mostly they make various small additions every year and every few releases they will show us their teeth by tidying everything up and presenting a complete product. Especially in the last few years these changes mainly concern the visual part, with the emphasis falling on the goldmine of the Ultimate Team. And admittedly, when you know that this is the latest edition of their partnership with FIFA, you're a bit cautious, thinking that they're going all out on their first EA Sports FC title.
This year we saw two big changes. First, the addition of a woman on the cover, Sam Kerr from Chelsea FCW along with the usual suspect, Mbappé. More importantly, however, I think is the completely overdue addition of the women's leagues. So this year we get to experience some of the madness of the Barclays FA Women's Super League and Division 1 Arkema. Of course these additions alone are not enough, but in any case they are a good starting point for a more broad representation of women in future editions. But keep these two leagues because we will need them below.
What almost always counts in every title and is a hot topic of discussion is the pace of the matches. To achieve the perfect pace, you want on-screen speed, not too heavy a ball and beautiful player folding. In this year's version, and while I was beginning to think the game was getting sluggish at first, along the way I unlocked my players' magical flowing ability and noticed a turnaround to the old days. Strikers can occasionally get away from defenders more easily, players open up more properly and the handling went from where it was finger twisting to a slightly more arcade version. Also, although there is a perk involved, there is a natural tendency for several goals to be scored in the final minutes of the game, further adding to the players' anxiety, especially during crucial matches.
Another factor influencing this year's version is Hypermotion 2, which really gives the game a different feel. We're talking about a fully integrated version of EA's idea from last year, both in terms of the plausibility of the players' movements and the choice of moves we see, often influencing the outcome of, say, a match. AI seems to be taking full advantage of this technology and this is particularly evident in the women's teams which rely more on this technology. In this case the result is so spectacular that at one point I became fully committed to the women's league. Spectacular because many times we will see perfectly executed dribbles but also because the body movements are almost completely realistic.
Small but not so interesting changes will also be found in the career mode. Once again the emphasis is on the player's career where the ability to shape our character as an individual has been added as well as the ability to use the money we earn by buying things. Of course, we're talking about such shallow additions that the emulation they're trying to achieve doesn't pay off in any way and can be completely ignored. On the flip side, the one with the coaching career, things are as we knew them and what remains is mainly dealing with a team in a general context and having fun playing the games rather than coaching them.
In the online section, things are exactly as we left them, with the minor interventions being considered at least positive. First of all, the pace dropped a bit in VOLTA, which helped me to adapt more quickly to this year's league and now the game has escaped a bit from last year's panache and came closer to the image I had in mind for FIFA Street. In Ultimate Team, it seems that there have been moves to balance the cards. As a result of this, with a weaker roster one can have a chance of advancing in the various categories. Also important in the above is the slight easing of the unlocking of new cards with the drop rate clearly improved. It is nevertheless still a casino of cards and players.
If I had to rate FIFA 23 as a single release, it would definitely get a very good score for all that it has accomplished and offered this year. But on the other hand, if one also owns last year's version and one's involvement with the series is casual and purely for light entertainment, there is no reason to invest in this year's version. Better to wait for EA Sports FC, which is expected to offer more innovations and changes. Certainly the graphics and new technologies on display here take the game up a few notches more than usual, but if one's ardent desire isn't women's leagues, then the game's starting price is in no way justified based on the above.