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FIFA 23 Gameplay Reveal & Deep Dive Impressions

fifa 23 gameplay reveal

FIFA 23

FIFA 23 Gameplay Reveal & Deep Dive Impressions

The FIFA 23 news is starting to come in waves, so we’re covering the gameplay deep dive that EA posted on Wednesday afternoon in this FIFA 23 gameplay reveal. There is a lot to cover, so let’s jump into it.

FIFA 23 Gameplay Reveal

HyperMotion 2

HyperMotion is back and along with it comes some improvements. Introduced last year as FIFA 22’s marquee innovation, HyperMotion failed to capitalize on the hype as the “game changing” promises made by EA struggled out of the gates. That’s not an uncommon thing for new systems or engines. It usually takes a year or so before major game developers can iron out the kinks. Enter HyperMotion 2 stage right.

According to EA:

HyperMotion is the foundation for FIFA 23 on PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X|S, PC and Stadia. This technology is composed of two major anchors: Advanced 11-on-11 Match Capture and Machine Learning.

With HyperMotion 2 comes 6,000 new animations, some captured by professional players in Xsen suits playing competitive 11-on-11 matches and training scenarios — and both men and women who now have specific animations tied to their player types. The women, who we’ll get into later, play a deservedly large role in this FIFA 23 gameplay reveal video.

Back to HyperMotion 2, it’s the two main components that comprise HyperMotion 2, Advanced Match Capture and Machine Learning, that are intriguing.

Advanced Match Capture

Xsen suits are back, and this time EA captured twice as much data as they did for FIFA 22. EA does a good job at showing some footage from the training match, transitioning between animation renders and full-on FIFA 23 gameplay clips. It would have been nice to see a sequence where the training match footage is shown in animation render mode before transitioning into what the final game would look like, but nonetheless it seems to be logical step for motion capture. Hopefully the next step would be to mo-cap real players if you truly want a true-to-life Player ID model like vintage PES games.

Machine Learning

Not to be overlooked, Machine Learning is the component of HyperMotion 2 that uses the footage Advanced Match Capture provides and learns from it to create even more animations that play out in real-time. The first iteration of HyperMotion was supposed to help with this, but overall it didn’t replicate realistic animations well enough for me.

FIFA 22, much like its predecessors, struggled with selecting the right animation for the situation you’re in. While the end result, such as a goal, might still be the same, the visual animation that plays out diminishes the thrill of scoring far too often. For such as interesting concept, EA glosses over Machine Learning apart from teasing two new benefits from it: ML-Jockey and Technical Dribbling.

FIFA 23 gameplay reveal

Technical Dribbling

Even though the trailer skips ahead to the women’s game, we’re going to get into Technical Dribbling and Machine Learning Jockey (ML-Jockey) since they are byproducts of Machine Learning. First up is Technical Dribbling, which was said to be immediately different and noticeable when compared to FIFA 22. Enhanced responsiveness (uh oh) and better visual quality (how the animations look on-screen when executed) look like the main selling points, but anytime someone says FIFA needs to be more responsive I get a little scared. While I’ll always agree that button input should be responsive, it’s the locomotion system that needs to chill out.

FIFA often looks photo-realistic at a standstill (that grass looks good this year!) but once in motion you can quickly tell it’s a video game. Some of this is down to the graphical style, but a lot can be attributed to how players run with and without the ball. For me, eFootball 2022 is the gold standard when it comes to dribbling. There aren’t many areas of that game where you can say that, but the way players take touches and control the ball allowing you to beat defenders without skill moves is what FIFA should strive for. Perhaps, like they did with Power Kick, EA might have taken a page from Konami’s playbook here to go that route.

There’s a mention of foot planting in the trailer, but it still isn’t evidenced in this Thiago clip I grabbed from the video:

ML-Jockey

I preach balance when it comes to soccer games and here to balance out Technical Dribbling is ML-Jockey. Only available on Next-Gen, Stadia, and the PC, ML-Jockey seems like an odd feature if I’m being honest. Don’t get me wrong, I like the idea of jockeying, and when combined with timing for putting in a tackle, it’s a feature that makes sense. However, after watching the video, it seems like it focuses more on the end product, the tackling animation, than it does the actual jockeying that has been in FIFA for as long as I can remember. The deep dive goes into more detail, specifically how ML-Jockey ties into the defensive awareness rating. In general, defensive awareness is:

Previously known as marking, it is the ability to track and defend an opposing player. In other words, it is your player’s ability to stay close to an opposing attacker and stop him getting to a cross/pass from a teammate. Also contributes to tracking runs. AI players will do this off the ball, and when you’re in control of a defender their Defensive Awareness stat will affect how good they are at containing.

Remember that because EA takes all of that and adds this to it in order to implement ML-Jockey:

The Defensive Awareness Attribute impacts the following aspects of Jockeying:

    • The max speed while Sprint Jockeying.
    • The Sprint Speed Attribute does not impact Jockey speed.
    • Transition speed between Jockey and Sprint Jockey.
    • How much speed and acceleration are maintained when exiting Jockey into Sprint.
    • Acceleration during Jockeying, along with the Acceleration Attribute

The higher the Defensive Awareness Attribute, the faster a player can perform the Jockey movements outlined above.

That’s a lot for defensive awareness to handle, especially for a game where your AI teammates don’t seem to have any, and from the looks of it, still won’t in FIFA 23.

Women’s Football Updates

fifa 23 women's football

A little known secret since FIFA 16, the women’s teams in FIFA often give you a much better game than the men. As EA gradually increased the participation of women in FIFA with their introduction in FIFA 16 to their inclusion in Pro Clubs last year for FIFA 22, this year EA captured two professional women’s teams. When combining that with the Machine Learning technology, specific animations for women look like they will be a success.

According to the trailer, this changed the whole women’s locomotion system. Cover star Sam Kerr will have player-specific movement visuals to go along with three different overall movement archetypes. It’s also good to see that the concept of archetypes introduced in Pro Clubs has made it into the greater game.

Accelerate

Piggybacking off last year’s explosive sprint command that gave us the ability to push the ball forward is Accelerate. Archetypes seem to be the trend this year, and this feature has three:

  • Controlled – Most players in FIFA 23 will fall into the Controlled type as they accelerate uniformly in a controlled manner.
  • Explosive – These are shorter and more agile players who are able to quickly cover short distances and get ahead of their opponents, even if that means slowing down after the initial burst of acceleration.
    • These players are quicker to start but their acceleration rate slows down.
  • Lengthy – Taller and stronger, these players need a bit more time to get going, but are able to catch up to anyone and even surpass them, provided they have enough distance.
    • These players start slower but will thrive over longer distances.

I’m a fan of differentiating players by traits, attributes, and so on, and this looks to be the reasoning behind EA’s inclusion as the three archetypes listed above are differentiated by ratings:

  • Explosive:
    • Agility >= 65
    • (Agility – Strength) >= 15
    • Acceleration >= 70
    • Height <= 180 cm (~ 5’11”)
    • Example player: Vinícius Jr.
  • Lengthy
    • Strength >= 65
    • (Strength – Agility) >= 15
    • Acceleration >= 50
    • Height >= 174 cm (~ 5’9”)
    • Example player: Virgil Van Dijk
  • Controlled – any player that does not meet the other two requirements above.
    • Example player: Son Heung-min

This is a nice addition, and it’s an area that might come in handy when scouting new players, especially wingers who tend to be high in agility and acceleration.

Attacking

fifa 23

Power Shots & Composed Ball Striking

Among the host of new attacking options added this year are Power Shots. Taking a page from eFootball 2022, this Power Shot supposedly requires more precision, whether it’s off the dribble or when taking a shot on the volley. With the animation taking longer to play out, there’s an element of risk/reward to be had here as to when to execute it and when to opt for a regular shot.

According to the Deep Dive, these shots will take into account your aim, which is a nice way to limit abuse in case it’s overpowered out of the box. For me, Composed Ball Striking seems like another feature EA borrowed from PES as pressing R3 allows you to flick the ball up to yourself to get a shot or pass off. It’s another nice-to-have feature but certainly one that’s not game-changing by any means.

Set Pieces

There’s a mention of now being able to lay down behind the wall when defending free kicks, and the majority of the attention here goes to penalties and free kicks overall. Introducing a much more intuitive aiming system for both PKs and free kicks, you can now control your trajectory better in the case of free kicks. When it comes to penalties, there’s an added element of composure now that utilizes a bar to help replicate the sense of pressure that often accompanies kicks from the spot.

Defending

Not to be outdone by the new attacking features, the defensive side of the game sees a new feature added in the form of Hard Slide. Like many of you, I sat a little perplexed and dumbfounded as EA attempted to explain the benefits of this slide tackle on steroids as it was marketed as some sort of counter to Power Shots. For me, there’s no more waste of a button than the slide tackle in FIFA. Due to how responsive the players are and how hard it is for you to get close to attackers, the normal slide tackle was fine as is.

There was a mention of elite defenders now having new animations — such as stepping across attackers, toe pokes, and standing tackles — but it’s what’s missing or rather unchanged, that’s of much more concern.

Also, yup, the lack of midfield resistance due to your AI teammates not even trying to engage attackers unless you switch to them is on full display:

Not only do midfielders still not actively defend, the space in-between the defensive lines is shockingly worse than last year from what I could see. Just look at the picture above and how Mason Mount is in acres of space at the top of the eighteen. Five Spurs defenders across that backline marking one Chelsea attacker. Also deeply concerning is this from Sam Rivera in a hands-on preview with HyperMotion 2:

I also noticed I wasn’t feeling as crowded in the box by the computer opponents. When I ask about this, Rivera attributes it to smarter AI. “With the position changes that we’re doing this year – they weren’t even mentioned in the presentation – we are making the defensive positioning a bit wider and we are creating a lot more runs in the box, because it was too crowded,” he says. “Also, we are reducing the amount of offside runs.”

So the answer to your defensive line dropping back too deep and EA purposefully amping up blocks in FIFA 23 is to make defensive positioning even wider? No! Take a look at most professional matches from the top leagues and what you’ll see is compact defenses when the ball is near their goal, which makes it harder to attack in the center of the pitch. Unfortunately, FIFA 22 let you walk into the box because of the midfield issue, and FIFA 23 looks to have even less resistance.

Goalkeepers And Physics

Physics are an important part of soccer games. The impact they have on all aspects of the game often go unnoticed, but a floaty shot or passes that roll perfectly along the grass don’t fly anymore in 2022. Well, thankfully EA has given us goalkeeper physics so we can see the impact the ball has on their fingers. Again, this is good overall but not something that I would particularly emphasize in a gameplay video considering you can only see these new physics in replay mode since no one plays on the super close CGI-infused cameras we see in EA trailers.

The deflections when defenders stick out a leg do look good, but we need to see them in action and figure out whether or not scripting sees them fall perfectly to the AI more often than not.

Bottom Line

FIFA 23 Juventus

EA does a great job at saying all the right things and hyping up the next iteration of FIFA. Their communication through Pitch Notes and their Deep Dives should be the norm for all companies. Unfortunately, most of the hype I feel when reading these are quickly diminished once I see the game in action. Out of an 11-minute gameplay trailer, only two minutes or so were actually 11-on-11 gameplay clips. This makes it extremely hard to judge the game.

The closed beta will give us a better idea, but the clips I did see did little to show me that the areas where FIFA 22 struggled have been addressed this year. Instead, it seems like they were pushed aside for new flashy marketing slogans and features the community didn’t necessarily ask for. It’s time for EA to forsake some of the new features and fix what currently ails the franchise. Until they take that approach, FIFA will be a shiny new Mercedes with the engine of a Chevy Nova.

16 Comments

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  1. HyperMotion 2: Electric Boogaloo. EA's solution to everything always seems to be "Let's just make the game faster, physics be damned!" Might as well go ahead and partner with SEGA to bring in special FUT Sonic the Hedgehog and Tails cards to help them with their primary goal of enticing the kids into spending their parents' money on packs.
    Zheroen
    HyperMotion 2: Electric Boogaloo. EA's solution to everything always seems to be "Let's just make the game faster, physics be damned!" Might as well go ahead and partner with SEGA to bring in special FUT Sonic the Hedgehog and Tails cards to help them with their primary goal of enticing the kids into spending their parents' money on packs.

    Yeah cuz the whole transition to next gen focused on making the game faster, not more realistic and slower...... It always surprises me why people that hate on fifa continually come here to say out of touch nonsense every year.
    The real problem here is highlighted clear as day: the AI defender issue remains. Another year where AI teammate defenders will back off and allow the ball carrier to waltz right in unless you take control.
    Everything else sounds great, but this is just maddening. Sure, I can manage it. I can switch to players and defend, but the reasoning is stupid because it's INTENTIONAL. This isn't a problem with coding, it's done on purpose. You can do a Player Career and watch your teammate defenders perform perfectly fine.
    EA does this garbage on purpose and it's unbelievably stupid that we don't have a simple setting for this. You want the online / FUT people to manage that stuff? Fine. But give me the option!
    Broncos86
    The real problem here is highlighted clear as day: the AI defender issue remains. Another year where AI teammate defenders will back off and allow the ball carrier to waltz right in unless you take control.
    Everything else sounds great, but this is just maddening. Sure, I can manage it. I can switch to players and defend, but the reasoning is stupid because it's INTENTIONAL. This isn't a problem with coding, it's done on purpose. You can do a Player Career and watch your teammate defenders perform perfectly fine.
    EA does this garbage on purpose and it's unbelievably stupid that we don't have a simple setting for this. You want the online / FUT people to manage that stuff? Fine. But give me the option!
    Will continue to stick to PES 2017 at this rate.
    Sent from my Redmi Note 9S using Operation Sports mobile app
    PhillyPhanatic14
    Yeah cuz the whole transition to next gen focused on making the game faster, not more realistic and slower...... It always surprises me why people that hate on fifa continually come here to say out of touch nonsense every year.

    Yeah, maybe the defensive awareness, but that's about it.
    If you think FIFA 22 remotely resembles realism in football, then I think you watch significantly more NFL than the sport that this game purportedly represents. It was a good game for the first month or so, but after subsequent patches and by the end it was a mess of juiced up floating/gliding across the pitch with no foot planting and weirdly sped-up animations in the name of "responsiveness" so that it could satisfy the skill-move spamming ADHD Twitch streamer base to which it caters. Or maybe zero midfield pressure realistic in your eyes, in which case there's no point in continuing this dialogue.
    Zheroen
    Yeah, maybe the defensive awareness, but that's about it.
    If you think FIFA 22 remotely resembles realism in football, then I think you watch significantly more NFL than the sport that this game purportedly represents. It was a good game for the first month or so, but after subsequent patches and by the end it was a mess of juiced up floating/gliding across the pitch with no foot planting and weirdly sped-up animations in the name of "responsiveness" so that it could satisfy the skill-move spamming ADHD Twitch streamer base to which it caters. Or maybe zero midfield pressure realistic in your eyes, in which case there's no point in continuing this dialogue.

    #1 - lol
    #2 - Are you even playing on next gen?
    #3 - Your impressions lead me to believe you're playing on professional, semi pro or something worse because that's not even close to being accurate.
    PhillyPhanatic14
    #1 - lol
    #2 - Are you even playing on next gen?
    #3 - Your impressions lead me to believe you're playing on professional, semi pro or something worse because that's not even close to being accurate.
    Hello, I also think the games animations are to quick and skatey. Could you tell me what sliders and settings you use as I'm always keen to try other people's ideas
    Sent from my VOG-L09 using Operation Sports mobile app
    Rivera attributes it to smarter AI: "With the position changes that we’re doing this year – they weren’t even mentioned in the presentation – we are making the defensive positioning a bit wider and we are creating a lot more runs in the box, because it was too crowded"

    Everything you need to know about Fifa 23 is EA taking a long hard look at a game with no defending & midfield, coming to the conclusion that the defense was "too crowded", making it even worse and calling the AI "smarter" in a single sentence!
    They sure are very creative when tasked with making a game even worse, just when you're thinking "surely it can only get better from here".
    Amazingly, this game has a default gameplay & a competitive mode even for offline. If anyone is in a position to ask why this "no AI defending" garbage, is forced upon everyone & is not behind the competitive mode option only (when it's 100% something that only the online fut crowd asked for), I would love to know the answer. Do they not know that offline is all about playing with the best possible AI, otherwise there's no point to it? It's really quite ridiculous.
    The whole reveal feels like them really leaning in to what the game has been for the past few years. They are more interested in placating people who played last year's game and were mad that they couldn't dribble by defenders and shift momentum as quick as they wanted in a FUT match.
    If Efootball ever adds some decent offline modes that will be the go-to game for anyone looking for a decent user-vs-cpu experience because the gameplay has already been there for a while now. FIFA is just all about online play, and it really sucks because they have the presentation and modes but offline play is fatally flawed.
    Chrisx
    Everything you need to know about Fifa 23 is EA taking a long hard look at a game with no defending & midfield, coming to the conclusion that the defense was "too crowded", making it even worse and calling the AI "smarter" in a single sentence!
    They sure are very creative when tasked with making a game even worse, just when you're thinking "surely it can only get better from here".
    Amazingly, this game has a default gameplay & a competitive mode even for offline. If anyone is in a position to ask why this "no AI defending" garbage, is forced upon everyone & is not behind the competitive mode option only (when it's 100% something that only the online fut crowd asked for), I would love to know the answer. Do they not know that offline is all about playing with the best possible AI, otherwise there's no point to it? It's really quite ridiculous.

    What I don't get is if you apply the same FIFA-defensive logic to other sports
    Imagine a
    Basketball game where your 4 teammates don't play defense
    Madden where your 10 other defenders don't play defense
    Why is it OK for a soccer game but not other sports???
    KG
    What I don't get is if you apply the same FIFA-defensive logic to other sports
    Imagine a Basketball game where your 4 teammates don't play defense
    Madden where your 10 other defenders don't play defense
    Why is it OK for a soccer game but not other sports???

    Only thing I can think of, it's a different mindset in the communities. EA didn't make this change in 20 out of nowhere, it was one of the biggest toxic subjects with many FUT players raging over the AI intercepting a pass (instead of realizing that they made a bad pass/mistake).
    If these are the people paying for packs & you want to expand your market to include people who only just watched a couple of games on tv because Ronaldo was playing, you do stuff like this.
    Even if they think it's a design choice that makes sense in a 1v1 competitive setting, fine, I'm past arguing about it, I have better things to do. But it sure doesn't make any sense in any other game mode. It's 2022 and we're playing (well, I'm not) a sports game with no defensive AI by design! lol
    That deep dive pitch notes they posted is something else. Machine learning algorithms, neural networks, etc. From what I gather all that terminology boils down to making player movement smoother and more responsive (ie faster, let's be honest), but possibly without faking it with skating and other jenky looking shifts of momentum as much. Having every match play out smooth and connected without the annoyance of realistic momentum changes and midfield scrappiness.
    I can't help but notice the irony of all this machine learning and AI talk when it's clear as day that the user vs CPU isn't the focus at all lol. It's all about seamlessly connecting one animation to the next, logic be damned.
    PhillyPhanatic14
    #1 - lol
    #2 - Are you even playing on next gen?
    #3 - Your impressions lead me to believe you're playing on professional, semi pro or something worse because that's not even close to being accurate.

    World Class on PS5. I'm happy that you are content with the appalling defensive AI, and wish that I could see past that myself.

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