FIFA 23 Review

The final whistle.
FIFA 23 Women's Super League Header

FIFA 23 marks the end of an era. Whether you are a fan or not, EA’s FIFA games have been a constant for nearly 30 years. I played the first ever FIFA on Mega Drive when you could run away from the referee to avoid a booking, and spent at least a little time with each of the releases since. It’s come a long way since then with immeasurably more advanced graphics and gameplay, but perhaps the biggest was Ultimate Team. Even as the FIFA era ends, EA has made more changes here, setting out the foundations for what EA Sports FC will be next year.

Power Shots of Gameplay

The most fundamental part of FIFA 23 is the action on pitch, with the implementation of HyperMotion2 for both men and women’s games – the women’s game has significantly more representation this year with licensed domestic leagues and this tailored HyperMotion2 support. HyperMotion 2 using motion capture of full 11v11 matches to capture animations. It’s another step forward in areas that it targets, though there are still several instances with players tripping over each other while trying to get possession of the ball. The speed and direction of the ball itself can be a bit wild as well, causing some chaos and a few own goals.

Another introduction is the Power Shot, giving more power and control to the player. The trouble is that they take time to power up, and most times a defender will have closed you down to either tackle you or block – you may as well try a regular shot from outside the box or work your way closer to goal. Cutback and tap-ins are still relatively easy to pull off, but defence has seemed to be improved a bit to block these with keepers also being more reactive.

FIFA 23 Power Shot

FIFA 23 strongly encourages you to do standing tackles through its training mini-games and the fact you are barely ever booked for them, compared to sliding tackles. The bar just seems to be higher for sliding tackles. Even when you win the ball there is still the risk of play being stopped and players getting booked.

Free kicks and corners have been overhauled to let you pick the point of contact, so give the kick an inside curve, outside curve, chip, or knuckle. The ball path indicator also shows part of the curve that will occur depending on how you hit the ball, making it easier to place corners and get free kicks on target. Penalties also seem simpler to get on target instead of firing them wide or over.

My Player Career

While EA has tried to improve the player career mode, but with this mode the focus of much of my review time, it is still far from perfect.

Starting from near the bottom with League Two side Gillingham, but custom central attacking midfielder’s career began as a reserve, not featuring in every match. When not in the match the game is quickly simmed, while you can play as either the team or the player when you do get onto the pitch – that requires you improve the manager’s rating of you by performing well in training drills to improve stats. You also have to complete match objectives which could be anything from winning the match, being involved with a goal, or completing passes in the opposition’s half.

FIFA 23 Ted Lasso Richmond

Having finally got the nod to feature in the starting eleven and getting a number of assists and goals, the manager suddenly decided I was not part of his plans. Less than six months into my career and as one of the league’s leading players, I was on the transfer list. Of the offers available, I signed for Fenerbahçe, but suffered a season-ending ACL injury that meant I never saw the field for them and was shipped off again, this time to Sporting, and suddenly getting the opportunity for being subbed on late in Champions League matches. Another quick transfer after the season meant I’d gone from League 2 to the Turkish Super Lig, to the Portuguese Primeira Liga, and now the English Premier League with Everton in two years.

The main issue is the player rating system is heavily impacted by the manager objectives instead of what you actually do on pitch. Even when I scored a hat-trick and got an assist, my rating was just an 8.2 because of missing a couple objectives. You can slide to the subs bench despite playing lights out.

Your player will fall into one of three personality types. Mavericks are the players that look to go on big runs and net the most goals, Heartbeats are the core of a team taking on leadership roles and attempt to stop opposition attacks, while Virtuoso’s are the ones that try to be playmakers and get assists. Your player personality can change depending on the choices you make through your career and also by what you decide to buy. You can also unlock perks to equip your player with. Each one impacts a different part of your player’s game from making them better at poaching goals to be able to defend better.

While on the surface FIFA 23’s player career mode looks like it has a lot more going for it, it is all a bit superfluous. The personality types do not really seem to have an impact in matches themselves, the way the rating system works despite your performance on the pitch is not well implemented, and being moved from club to club every six months at the start every few months just feels a bit bonkers.

FIFA 23 Volta

Volta & Pro Clubs united in FIFA 23

Volta is back again this year for those of you who are looking to dive into the tricks and skills of street football. You have the option of joining others online to play in teams against other players, though so far I have found my team mates are ball hogs who fancy trying to do tricks and score, resulting in them losing the ball nine times out of ten. As you go through tiers in Volta you will unlock new customisation items. The gameplay in Volta is faster than in the traditional game due to the smaller team sizes and pitches so you will always have to be on your toes.

What I did like about Volta is the new Volta Arcade, a series of minigames in which you compete with three other players. These mini games include dodgeball, hitting the ball at a wall, and stop go which is basically Red Light, Green Light but with the added issue of guiding a football through a maze and scoring a goal. I can see myself going back to this mode over and over again when I want a break from the main game modes.

FIFA 23 makes Volta one side of the same coin as Pro Clubs. Your virtual pro is improved and levels up through both modes, there’s shared Season progression, and plenty of common ground between them.

An Ultimate Team chemistry set

Over the last decade, Ultimate Team has become the main focus of FIFA, both for EA and players drawn in by the allure of opening packs and building fantasy teams. EA has long deflected the comparisons to gambling, but only really made token changes. You can see the probability of what a pack could contain, and you can even preview the contents of a pack before buying it, though the preview pack stays in place for a while before being replaced. Otherwise, off you go to buy packs without knowing what you will get in them.

FIFA 23 Ultimate Team Chemistry

Moments are the new bitesized addition to Ultimate Team where you can play different scenarios and complete challenges. If successful then you will earn rewards to help improve your team or stadium. The chemistry of teams has also been overhauled and simplified, so instead of chemistry focusing on neighbouring players, it applies to a team as a whole. Regardless of their positions, the more players you have from the same league, same nationality and same clubs improves team cohesion.

Earning coins (and not paying for things) means completing matches and objectives, or selling on players and items. Objectives can be quite easy, but tedious to claim their rewards, which are then untradeable. They also tend to digital tat like stadium themes and decorations, building up to an untradeable gold pack for completing a family of objectives. If you want the best players you will have to grind to earn those points to buy packs as they are not that cheap. You might get lucky, but you can feel the friction that’s trying to lure you to spending real money.

When playing online you now have access to cross-play with those on the same generation – PS4 and Xbox One together, and PS5, Xbox Series X|S and PC together. There were a few initial hiccups when first going online but things seem to be running fine now. The cross-play functionality applies to all online modes bar co-op matches.

Summary
FIFA 23 is the most expansive game in the series' long history; women's football has never been better represented, there's fun new activities like Volta Arcade, and there's still all of the classic modes. Still where FIFA 23 takes steps forward in some areas, it could still be better in others. The action on the pitch is fun and engaging, but the user interface can be clunky, and modes like player career mode feels like an afterthought with largely superficial changes, compared to the investment in Ultimate Team. FIFA 23 is the end of an era and goes out on a high, but still has the hallmarks of the series' gradual yearly evolution.
Good
  • Volta Arcade is really fun, like a football themed Mario Party
  • Much better representation for Women’s Football
  • Free kicks and corners are much better than before
Bad
  • Defending still feels hampered with sliding tackles being a too high risk option
  • Player career still feels like an afterthought
  • Too many submenus and frictions that nudge toward paying for FUT coins
8
Written by
From the heady days of the Mega Drive up until the modern day gaming has been my main hobby. I'll give almost any game a go.