In keeping with their schedule, EA dropped another trailer, as well the Pro Clubs and VOLTA deep dive highlighting all the upcoming changes that can be found in FIFA 23. With the career mode updates being less than stellar, let’s see what EA has in store for my now favorite mode, Pro Clubs.
FIFA 23 Pro Clubs Impressions
Seasons Mode is a welcome addition to Pro Clubs. These six week mini seasons are vital to modes like FUT and eFootball‘s Dream Team because they help keep things fresh by enticing players to come back again once they’ve reached their desired level. I’m curious what took EA so long to implement this, but it remains to be seen what happens with player progression. Will it reset some or will it be like in FUT/Dream Team where you drop Divisions when the season resets? Either way, it’s a very important tweak made by EA this year.
I might be one of the few people who really enjoys Skill Games, so naturally I am excited that they have been included in Pro Clubs. Previously, they were offline and/or included within career mode, and the scores would be compared to your friends if they had also played the same Skill Game. Tying Skill Games to weekly XP is a good way to entice players to participate and play Pro Clubs, even when your mates are offline. Capping them on a weekly level is a smart move by EA, so as to not let people exploit them by leveling up too quickly.
Speaking of leveling up, EA finally made changes to their leveling system. Last year, it was far too hard to level up once you hit a certain level. This caused many players like myself to nearly give up as I was stuck on the same level for what seemed like months. The same frustration was had with Perks, and while I liked their introduction last year, it felt like unlocking them was far too hard. The knock-on effect there was it made folks not want to experiment with a variety of Perks.
This year it looks like EA has raised the maximum number of levels from 25 to 100, which means that you should level up much quicker. It also does well to align with their ratings system, which also maxes out at 100. Additionally, Perks can be fully unlocked once you reach Level 25, meaning that you could actually have to put some thought into selecting them, especially as you start unlocking new Perk slots. Speaking of new Perks, EA has added four new ones:
- Poacher – Increases your all-round finishing (including boosts to Volleys, Finishing, and Heading Accuracy) when inside the box.
Chance Creation Perks
- Light Passes – Increases your teammates’ ability to trap and control your passes.
- Interceptor – Improves your ability to intercept & disrupt your opposition’s passes & shots when defending and in close proximity to the ball.
- Chase Down – Increases your pace when defending immediately following a loss of possession. The perk will deactivate after 40 in-game seconds if you have not regained possession.
The Chance Creation Perk is nice as it puts your team over the individual, but the Interceptor Perk is completely unnecessary and should be a byproduct of pressing the tackle input while also using your own anticipatory skills to put yourself into a position where you can intercept a pass.
Drop-in games are one of the worst experiences you can have in FIFA. Not only are they comprised of a collection of players who are only out for themselves, they’re usually end-to-end affairs where you don’t really get better at the game or the mode, but instead just kill time while you wait for your clubmates to join online. So what does EA do, they go ahead and shorten the halves to four minutes. Similar to the “Playable Moments” introduced in career mode, shorter games are perhaps a byproduct of the perceived impatience of gamers now, but the thinking behind this just let’s you know that FIFA is a casual game aimed at casual fans whose attention spans might not make it through a real 90-minute match.
Further updates like including eight different stadiums that rotate, as well as new kits, are good changes but make me wonder why they took this long to get into the game. I do like that there is extra time should the match be tied at the end of regulation, but penalty kicks would have been a nice way to practice them and also create some memorable moments with your buddies.
When FIFA Street released way back in 2005, it was a nice alternative. Capitalizing off the popularity of games like NBA Jam, FIFA Street was fun with its smooth gameplay and infinite levels of tricks. Fast forward to 2022, and it’s not a mode that I really want to play, especially when there are modes like Competitor Mode where the AI breaks out all the ridiculous tricks at their disposal. Now seeing VOLTA updates lumped in with Pro Clubs (or vice versa) seems a bit lazy and a sneaky way at trying to get fans of one mode to care about the other.
Here’s a newsflash EA, if Pro Clubs players want to play VOLTA, then they will on their own accord. I don’t know the stats in terms of play hours, but this tie-in seems like a way of keeping VOLTA afloat by trying to draw some people in.
Cross-play is one of the priorities for FIFA 23, yet it’s absent once again in the mode that needs it the most. With FIFA players split between PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, and PC, opening up Pro Clubs to full cross-play would bring so many more teams into the mix. When it was leaking earlier that Pro Clubs wasn’t going to be cross-play compatible, the community was very upset. This led to Pro Clubs gameplay designer Richard Walz leading off this deep dive with the following statement:
I share your desire to see cross-play in Pro Clubs, and understand the frustrations for not seeing it included in the launch of FIFA 23. While we’re excited with the first steps to bring new cross-play features to FIFA 23, we also recognize what cross-play functionality could mean to the Pro Clubs mode with the potential for improving matchmaking and allowing friends from different platforms of the same generation to play together.
With the scale of such an important feature, our goal is to bring you the best possible experiences. As we look at our cross-play future, we’re focused on matchmaking in Pro Clubs, VOLTA, and FUT Co-op, as well as cross-platform lobby invites and ultimately cross-platform Pro Clubs.
We’re eager to provide updates in the future as the team continues to execute the plan for the future of cross-play. We love the passion of our community, and you help strengthen our resolve to push the mode forward and to bring quality changes for you to enjoy as players.
EA knows how valuable cross-play would be as an addition to Pro Clubs, so hopefully we’ll only have to wait until next year.
“Hey y’all, what minute are you all in?”
“OK, just let me know when the match is over so I can join up.”
Unfortunately, there’s still no way to join a game mid-match in Pro Clubs. You know those things that real managers use, I think they’re called substitutions? Yeah, they would be nice to have in Pro Clubs.
What happened to the EA Game Face feature that was so popular during the PS3/PS4 days? This feature seems like something that would make too much sense for Pro Clubs and VOLTA where the entire premise is based upon your playable character. You would think that with the popularity of games like NBA 2K, this feature would be one of the first to be introduced into Pro Clubs.