First up was gameplay (here is our breakdown), now it’s career mode’s time to shine and we’re here to see what’s new for the FIFA 23 career mode. Let’s break it all down below.
FIFA 23 Career Mode Preview
Years ago, FIFA had one of the best features in quite some time, playable scenarios. Mainly featuring in World Cup Editions 2006 & 2010 to be exact, these scenarios, called Global Challenge, dropped you into certain scenarios where you had to try and change history or keep it true. Unfortunately, this is not what Playable Highlights are about.
In Playable Highlights, you take control of key moments in matches in an attempt to define their outcomes, specifically handling close calls that impact the scoresheet while leaving the rest of the match to be simulated by the match engine.
After introducing the Interactive Sim match engine a few years ago, FIFA 23 will drop you into specific scenarios, both attacking and defending, as generated by their “in-depth background system.” I’m all for new options, and I respect those folks out there who like to go full coach mode, but I have to seriously question why EA thinks this is good addition when there are so many other glaring holes in career mode.
This isn’t MLB The Show where the games can drag out. We’re talking about a a soccer game where you can play 6-minute matches! If you can’t get through a career mode playthrough because the matches are too long or too frequent, then perhaps career mode isn’t for you. I haven’t even talked about the sim engine, which any legacy FIFA players know is downright unpredictable. In past sims, I’ve seen teams in major European leagues run the table, teams play more than the allotted amount of matches, and a bunch of other tomfoolery that makes me question anything EA says about their sim engine.
When new menus are a talking point in a career mode-centric deep dive then you know we’re in trouble. Look, I’m all for revamped menus, but historically the beef with menus revolved around how laggy they are, not the user interface (UI). In other words, seeing EA highlight this certainly raises an eyebrow. From the looks of the early screens shown in the video, the overall menu looks the same with EA adding a sub-menu located at the bottom of the screen with shortcuts to menus that were previously hidden before. A UI redesign probably wasn’t needed, but bringing some of the sub-menus to the forefront is a good idea. However, the large blank central space is counterintuitive to what EA was trying to accomplish.
Dynamic Moments are:
“A collection of cinematics which will accompany your progression throughout the Career Mode experience in both Manager and Player Career, with the aim of making your journey more immersive and memorable.”
I’ve always liked cutscenes that help you connect with the game you’re playing. The problem with them has always been repetitiveness, which causes most folks to quickly skip through them after seeing them a few times. EA looks like they have added quite a few, in both career mode and player career mode, that trigger at different points of your save depending on your input. EA mentions “seven” dynamic moments, so hopefully the community won’t spoil them for us so we can experience them firsthand.
Preseason Tournament Format Change
When EA added the preseason tournaments a few years back, many including myself were excited. This was a good way to test out new signings, settle on a new preferred formation, and a host of other managerial tasks. While the execution of these tournaments were a little less than desired, they still offered a way to get some matches in with your squad before they actually counted — all the while earning a few extra bucks to throw towards your transfer kiddies.
Well, that looks to be changing as EA has tweaked the preseason format so that only the team that wins the tournament receives a prize.
If we’re equating this to real-life logic, that’s the recently played Florida Cup that included the likes of Chelsea and Arsenal, two huge clubs playing a preseason tournament with no guaranteed financial incentive. There’s no chance that these clubs would travel all the way across the pond to play preseason friendlies, risking injuries, for only a shot at a winner takes all tournament. This isn’t the TBT! Again, just like menus, another pointless feature that no one asked for here.
Save File Slots
So far, out of everything EA has blogged about, an increase in save file slots from 8 in FIFA 22 to 17 in FIFA 23 is the best improvement. The other added tidbits of information, such as the team you’re controlling and next opponent, are nice additions as well.
Career Mode Large Scale Updates
So far, we’ve covered a lot of tangential additions to career mode. These features, while nice to see, don’t necessarily have the impact that we’re looking for. It’s at this point in EA’s Deep Dive that they start to get into the thick of things with larger, more impactful changes to career mode.
Play As a Real Manager
Finally! With nearly all of the licenses at their disposal, it was a little perplexing to not have the ability to start your career mode as Jurgen Klopp or Pep Guardiola if you so desired to. EA added these managers a few years back and incrementally built up their involvement to include cinematics from the touchline, but in past FIFA games you were always required to create your own manager when you started a new save. From here, the question is will Pep still be on the sidelines in year 14 of your career mode? In either case, FIFA desperately needs some sort of Managerial Carousel (more on this to come).
If you’ve ever played fantasy football, your league might have something akin to EA’s new “Transfer Analyst” feature. Similar to a trade analyzer in fantasy football, this Transfer Analyst feature “will assess the financial and squad impact of your transfer business.” This set of checks and balances is nice in the virtual world, but unfortunately doesn’t correlate to the real transfer market where the value of your incoming/outgoing player isn’t set to some algorithm but judged over time.
The Transfer Analyst is a two-fold system. On the front-end, it helps to improve negotiations. On the back-end, it assesses the impact of the squad your new player will make with respect to your current options at that position. Now, that aspect of this new feature makes sense. Before you pull the trigger on a player, it’s nice to have a breakdown of who else is available at the position or to include youth prospects.
Beyond that, there is also a new “tension meter” to help you gauge the other club’s mentality. If you’re being a little too pushy, you can potentially scuttle the deal. Overall, these aren’t bad features, but given EA’s lack of success implementing logic-based improvements, the success or failure of this feature will come when we get our hands on FIFA 23.
I’ve always straddled the fence when it comes to the financial side of career mode within FIFA. As a manager, should I really be concerned with the finances? Certainly this is a job for the Director of Football or some other front-office position. As a manager, I should be primarily focused on my squad, with my scouts responsible for identifying talent, and the board responsible for generating a profit. It seems as if FIFA straddles that line between whether or not I should be a manager or high ranking front-office person.
Player Career Mode – Player Personality
Last year saw big changes to player career mode. The introduction of archetypes, managerial ratings, and a host of other additions made one of my favorite modes better. While the performance on the pitch leaves a lot to be desired, the lack of emotion tied to this mode was very apparent. It’s with that in mind that EA has introduced some personality into the mode.
There are now three tiers when it comes to personalities:
Mavericks are aggressively chasing goals and acting on intuition, seeking stardom on and off the pitch. They’re more individualistic in general, focusing on their own achievements. They’re ambitious and will pursue their objectives without hesitation. Apart from their drive for achievements, a more lavish lifestyle can be generated by a Maverick’s aura, but this of course takes nothing away from their flawless professional athlete lifestyle.
Virtuosos are skillful and intelligent, relying on their ability to change the course of matches in the blink of an eye. Completely focused on their performance, they are also ambitious, but most of their battles are internal. They aim to demonstrate they are capable of putting their stamp on the game while achieving their goals. They are rather humble, focusing their finances and influence towards getting to their athletic goals more efficiently.
A Heartbeat player is like the pulse of a team, reading the game ahead of their opponent and dominating through willpower, determination, and resilience. Their top priority is to be sure that the whole team benefits from their presence, they’re not caring so much about personal awards on the shelf, but more about trying their best to fill the team’s trophy cabinet. They are always ready to help, give advice, and leave no one behind. Finances and influence are often used for charitable purposes.
Playing more matches means you accrue more points, which can be used towards these Personality Points. The more points you get, the more attribute bonuses you get. Each position now has specific personality points, with a position-specific spectrum to apply them too. It’s unclear, but I would assume that you can’t switch personality’s after you select one.
Off the Pitch Activities
Along with more cinematics and player personalities, EA seems to have focused their attention on creating more storylines and some much needed emotional connections for the career mode. Featured outside of matches and training, these new activities include personal choices like the one pictured above. Tying back to personality types, your answer is vital to not only earning points but also your team morale.
Investments & Shopping
One of the most meaningless things in past FIFA games when it came to player career mode was money. Simply put, wages meant nothing because there was nothing to spend it on. Here’s where the new shopping aspect comes into play. Charity donations, flashy purchases, and equipment upgrades are all mentioned as ways to splash the cash. But again, these tie back to your player personality, so it behooves you to spend wisely. Overall, I’m liking how all of these new actions tie back to your personality, but it remains to be seen how well EA implemented these new features.
The Gameplay Elephant Stomping Through The Room
So this sums up all of the new features in career mode, but what about those gameplay clips we saw during the video? Well, if the gameplay from the official reveal trailer was a little concerning, what we see in these clips helps cement that concern. The midfield, which has been a source of confusion in its absence when it comes to defending, is still evident:
We also have the dreaded jogging/hitch animation that Chelsea’s N’Golo Kante displays here when he just decides to inadvertently pause for a second while in pursuit:
We also have the back four/five still holding an arbitrary line when it comes to defending, allowing for strikers to receive the ball to their feet and thus putting your defense in a bind:
We also have whatever this is:
And we finally culminate with FIFA On Ice with players skating and sliding all over the place, something that HyperMotion 2 was supposed to help with:
Look, I understand just enough about game development to recognize gameplay builds can vary wildly from one another, and there’s also a chance this footage was taken from a much earlier build of the game since the focus was on career mode elements not gameplay. However, we also have a FIFA track record to consider here, so I’m concerned.
For starters, the online career mode we’ve been requesting for who knows how long isn’t going to come this year. Perhaps crossplay is the first step towards achieving this, but I would also assume that’s an independent effort as I certainly wouldn’t expect cross-system online saves. Playing as a real manager is nice, but if there’s no Managerial Carousel what’s the point when we all know that by the time this article is published there’s a good chance that Watford has already sacked their manager.
And last but certainly not least, the biggest net positive I would have seen from this deep dive would have been to fix the bugs currently found in career mode, and none are as game-breaking as the AI’s poor roster management. From playing people out of position to stacking players at certain positions while also wholeheartedly ignoring other positions, the way the AI puts together a roster in FIFA would make Ed Woodward cringe. Despite all of the gameplay flaws, this is the one area of the game that kills any sense of immersion for me. I cannot enjoy a career mode where horrible transfers lead to sides like Man City sitting in 9th because they have an outfield player in goal. I know “Fixed Legacy Bugs” isn’t a catchy marketing ploy, but truth be told, this would get career mode players more excited than new menus.
With each bit of information EA drops regarding FIFA 23, I see less and less to get excited about. Perhaps it’s a system/engine limitation, and years of bad code over top more bad code that has finally gotten FIFA to a point where it is today. Perhaps it’s the actual game development team being overruled by higher-ups focused on the bottom line. Perhaps it’s a combination of the two, but one thing’s for certain, the direction FIFA and soccer games in general are heading is a scary one for those who want something that even slightly resembles the beautiful game.