Since its inception in 2015, the Axis Football series has been slowly making a name for itself as an alternate football title. With only a small development team behind the game, the upgrades and improvements have come at a reduced pace. Over the years, Axis Games has delivered on the promises of bringing season mode, graphical modding, and franchise, but for Axis Football 2023 the message was clear and the developers were transparent. This was the year where the focal point would be on the on-field action. In order to create a more fluid and realistic sim experience consistent with today’s standards of other football titles, Axis set out to focus on the gridiron. With that in mind, let’s get into my Axis Football 2023 review.
Axis Football 2023 Review
What’s New With Axis Football ’23 (According To The Devs)?
- Completely overhauled several aspects of gameplay to create a brand-new playing and viewing experience
- Redesigned the entire tackling system, adding over 300 different tackles
- Implemented momentum and physics-based tackling
- Redesigned the entire defensive back logic and animation system, adding over 200 different interceptions and pass deflections
- Added primary and secondary precedents to zone coverage
- Redesigned the entire pass-catching system, adding over 400 different catches
- Implemented diving, jumping, and sideline catch
- Added new route running, pivot, and cutting movements
- Redesigned the entire QB throwing system, adding over 50 different throws
- Implemented a massively flexible pre-snap motion system for the offense
- Redesigned the UI animation system for cleaner UI navigation
- Massive optimization allows for easy-to-achieve 60 FPS
- Six new stadiums: Cleveland, Buffalo, Houston, Indianapolis, Pittsburgh, and Denver
- Auto-substitutions due to fatigue
- Logos can now be placed on helmets in the team creator suite
What I Like
New Gameplay And Physics
I have played every Axis Football and have seen and experienced the improvements over the years. Some years have felt highly impactful, and in other years the upgrades were more an “under the hood” type scenario.
After spending multiple days with the game, I can safely say that the improvements in Axis Football 23 on the field are tangible and deliver the best on-field experience to date in the franchise. In-game improvements that hit home almost instantly were the new player movement, which does sound generic but will be easily recognizable for veterans of the series.
In the past, players would drift across the field in an unnatural motion. Collision detection was frequently off, and the animation package was minimal. Now, in Axis Football 23, the improvements help mitigate the issues from the past, although not entirely, which I’ll get into later.
Running back animations are smoother, QB throwing animations now play out better, and the catching animations package has improved a significant amount. An offensive player attempting to make a catch will adjust in the air to see the ball and make the reception.
I mentioned earlier that the hit detection in previous versions was sub-par, and while understandable for a newer series with a small team, improvements were needed. Thankfully improvements have been made in the form of better gang and wrap-tackling, better offensive and defensive line interaction, and sideline awareness. The bottom line is that while there is still room for improvement in the animations department, Axis developers have delivered a substantial upgrade from previous iterations.
I played both the beta and retail versions of Axis Football 23 on a relatively “beefy” gaming PC, which always helps. Still, the visual improvements for this year have been substantial, which is noticeable. From the initial flyover of the stadiums, six new ones this year, to the new real-life backdrops of each stadium, the Axis development team is making presentation count where they can.
The stadiums are filled with authentic details, and while they are all fictional, the designs create a wonderful sense of size and depth by replicating many of the features you see in an actual pro stadium. While the player models still have room for refinement, they have been updated and look solid this year, and the crowd fully animates in 3-D.
Yes, there is still room for growth with both the visuals and the presentation, but improvements have been made and they’re making a difference.
In the past, the league was designed with a tiered system — with teams playing in tiers based on how good they were. In Axis Football 23, that has changed and now the in-game system allows you to create divisions just like in the NFL.
I bring this up because every year I download Axis Football, and then I inevitably run multiple game mods that let me recreate the current NFL, NCAA, USFL, and more. It is one of my favorite aspects of PC sports gaming, and the developers have given complete and easy access to mod the files of Axis Football 2023.
If you are new to modding games on PC, the community does a beautiful job of helping, including a Discord channel and videos to help download and install the many mods available.
What I Don’t Like
Glitches And Errors
Even with all the improvements on the field in Axis Football 2023, I still experienced a questionable amount of issues with the game throughout the beta, which is to be expected. However, I also expected a lot of the same issues in the final retail release, which is not.
Issues like my Xbox controller no longer working and field art not appearing on screen for player assignments. I also occasionally lost the ability to choose my defensive player to control until post-snap. I was forced to scramble to pick a player once the ball was transferred from the center to the quarterback.
I also occasionally dealt with menu lag and game freezing, which should never happen on my gaming PC considering my specs.
None of these issues happened enough to be considered a game killer by any means, but I did experience them, and they did alter my experience more than I liked. The Axis developers, while a small group, have always been excellent about addressing minor glitches and errors like the ones I listed above quickly and openly, and I’m sure many, if not all, of the minor quirky issues will receive the same attention this year as they have in the past.
Player Weight And Momentum
I have already spoken about the improvements seen all over the field regarding player movement, animations, tackling, collision detection, and general ball and player movement.
There is a caveat to all of that: the lack of player weight and collision impact. When I move a player into position or attempt to make a play, the player feels light and lacks accurately defined weight behind each movement. I can best describe it as though my player is on ice skates.
This also comes into play when collisions occur on the field on either side of the ball, and the lack of natural player weight reduces the authenticity and the level of immersion. This is extremely important in any sports game, especially in football. Once the developers can add an improved version of player weight and momentum, it will create a higher level of top-end gameplay, allowing for a more authentic experience with the Axis Football series.
Whenever I review an independent sports title, I still try to hold it to the same standards I would a bigger game. If you come into the world of Axis Football hoping to see the same presentation and shine that you would see in, say, EA’s Madden franchise mode, you are setting yourself up for disappointment.
Axis Football offers a different type of experience, one that sometimes is frustrating but is often fun and addicting. The game still has occasional glitches and issues. Still, the developers are always willing to have open discourse and are transparent about their immediate and foreseeable goals.
The improvements by the team on the field have created an experience drawing nearer to a solid PS2 scenario. While some may find that humorous in 2022, they would do well to remember the amount of time and resources it takes to build a whole AAA sports gaming experience.
If you’re looking for a football experience on the PC that gives you the chance to create a fictional world or can be modded to replicate an NFL or college experience, Axis Football 2023 delivers on all fronts. Plus, the new gameplay additions and physics tweaks have brought a more realistic gridiron experience into the world of Axis Football.
For a current price of $19.99 on Steam, Axis Football 2023 delivers a fun and exciting football game that allows you to play in a world of your creation.