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FIFA 23 Review - Sorry Ted, I Don't Believe

FIFA 23 to Feature Ted Lasso

FIFA 23

FIFA 23 Review - Sorry Ted, I Don't Believe

FIFA 23, the last of its name, is a unique moment in history where nothing will probably change but yet this will still be the “last” EA FIFA game. With that in mind, are the new changes such as HyperMotion 2 and power kick nothing but hype, or are they actually nice improvements upon last year’s game? With more ways than ever to play, I’ll focus the majority of my review on gameplay and off-the-pitch areas while leaving deeper dives into modes such as career mode for a later date. With that in mind, let’s get into my FIFA 23 review.

FIFA 23 Review

FIFA 23 review

What I Like

Visuals, Audio, And Non-Gameplay Areas

Visually, FIFA 23 is stunning. Player faces, stadiums, and the pitch look absolutely beautiful, even down to the shadows that dominate the stadiums during mid-day matches. Players, due to the outstanding face scans, look realistic and allow you to easily recognize them even on the new default camera. Pre-match cutscenes look nice albeit a bit repetitive, but the real enjoyment comes when the match starts and the stadium comes to life. Even the audio presentation seems to have improved with Stuart Robson providing some commentary based off what actually was happening on the pitch as opposed to canned lines that don’t fit into the action. Even the new stat-packed replays are very well done and display the kind of advanced technology that has creeped into the modern game.

What I Don’t Like

There isn’t much I don’t like when it comes to the FIFA off-the-pitch. Perhaps the menu structure, which has been revamped, is something I am not particularly fond of but this could simply be a case of patience as I get acclimated to a new navigation system. I do love the inclusion of more women’s teams but the inability to play anything outside of a tournament and friendlies is a bit disappointing. Hopefully in the future we’ll get more clubs and a league structures where we can actually win trophies. Speaking of trophies, it’s long past time for EA to include some sort of trophy room or way to keep track of your accolades. Unlike Tottenham, I have plans to fill these cabinets with trophies.

What I Like

FIFA 23 online friendlies

Plethora Of Modes

FIFA 23 is a complete game, not in the sense that it’s perfect but more so in how there’s a mode for everyone. For those like to play against the AI, there’s exhibition mode and career mode. For those who like to test their skills against other humans, there’s Seasons, Ultimate Team, and online friendlies. There’s Pro Clubs for those of us that enjoy functioning in a team environment while Volta calls back to the FIFA Street days. While most folks only play a handful of the modes available to them, the options we’re given in how to play the game are vast and generally well thought out. There’s even a bigger stride towards diversity and inclusivity with how the women’s game has been expanded upon over the years. Furthermore, the addition of cross-play helps to bring players together across multiple devices.

What I Don’t Like

Why No Cross-Play For Pro Clubs?

The chaotic and lovable game mode that I have spent the most of my FIFA time with lately is the lone omission from cross-play. Uh, what? This mode desperately needs cross-play, and without it that means the number of created clubs you will face is severely limited for folks like me who game primarily on the PS5. The backlash for this omission was so strong that game design director Richard Waltz had the following to say:

“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,” Waltz said. “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-plat 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.”

The Pro Clubs community deserves better!

Playable Moments

While this is not necessarily a new mode, it’s a new feature that just misses the mark for me. Soccer is a game of ebbs and flows, and because of these swings, being thrown into the action via Playable Moments just doesn’t do it for me. For starters, how the game decides which moments are playable is a mystery as my first go-around with it threw me into a moment where the score was already 2-1. I would have rather played those decisive moments instead of a few other situations that seemed like glorified training scenarios. Overall, I had no real feel for the match. RedZone options work well for NFL football. For the beautiful game, they just feel off.

What I Like

fifa 23 breakdown

Pace Of The Game On Normal Speed

Apart from overpowered ball passing speed brought about by driven passes, the pace of the game has a really nice ebb and flow on normal speed. The bursts of speed and acceleration you can perform have a nice look to them visually while also feeling adequately tuned. Seeing as though I spend the majority of my free time enjoying the Premier League, the breakneck and frantic action that is so common throughout the league resembles what we see with FIFA 23. Sure, I would love more midfield battles but overall the game follows a mostly realistic tempo considering we’re condensing 90 minutes into much shorter match lengths.

Defenders Play Passing Lanes & Tackling

While midfielders still don’t defend as actively as I’d like, they and their defenders do a better job cutting off passing lanes by sticking out a foot. This makes passing more risk/reward and offers a way to get those passing percentages down to a more realistic level with a little enforced passing error. I still feel like blocking shots in and around the box is overpowered, but when it comes to passing it’s a welcome resistance. By actively sticking out a foot, the overall match pace feels like a more realistic simulation — although as you creep up the difficulty levels the passing becomes more automatic by the AI.

Tackling is one area that has also seen improvements, in both the standing and sliding variety. While I particularly think the new hard slide tackle is a waste of a feature, the tackling buttons are much more responsive, which actually allows to you take the ball off the AI in 1-on-1 scenarios. Now if only my AI teammates put in a challenge every once in a while.

What I Don’t Like

Goalkeepers

Let’s start with the folks between the sticks. The last line of defense has seen many different levels of effectiveness over the years. Some years keepers are super-human, capable of pulling out ridiculous saves that defy gravity and the law of physics. Other years keepers are worthless, getting beat near post while also being unable to stop shots hit directly at them. Unfortunately, this year keepers lean more towards the latter despite improvements touted by EA. Impressions on the beta regarding keepers were mostly bad, so it’s disappointing to see the game release with them in this inconsistent state.

As has always been the case with FIFA, the outcome of a shot is predetermined (unless you make a block), which leads to ugly keeper animations where they perform saves that they shouldn’t and let in goals that they should easily be stopping. Here’s to hoping the next patch addresses them and improves them.

Midfielders

And here we are once again in a position where the lack of effort by midfielders impacts the game in a way that forces you to manually defend at all costs. This FUT-like approach defies all footballing logic as you can visually see midfielders and even attackers reach a certain point of tracking back where they literally stop and refuse to engage. HyperMotion doesn’t do us any favors here with its strict adherence to maintaining a uniform line when defending as evidenced by seeing your midfield in a perfect horizontal line when there is a need for one or more of them to close down. With the ball speed on passes at times bordering on insane, the ability to break lines (bypass the midfield) contributes to the high score lines and bursts of end-to-end action.

HyperMotion 2

In its first iteration for FIFA 22, HyperMotion was supposed to revolutionize the way the FIFA played. It has done that but only in a negative way. I mentioned earlier how HyperMotion dictates your defensive lines and the positioning issues it causes, but visually it has also made the game worse. There is no game, regardless of sport, that has gotten foot-planting down 100 percent. That said, FIFA 23 takes it to a new low with movement that is so “on skates” at times that it’s hard to tell if you’re playing soccer or hockey.

The unnatural movements, warping, and general odd sequences make FIFA 23 look arcade-like in motion, a stark contrast to its graphical beauty when at a standstill. I’m not someone who actively looks for warping on replays so when you can see them during the normal course of action it’s disheartening and off-putting for a game released on superior hardware in the year 2022. I gave HyperMotion a pass last year as it was the first go-around for EA so the kinks and bugs were to be expected. However, this is year two and it appears it’s nothing but a fancy marketing pitch that hurts more than it helps.

Game On Slow Speed

For the second year in a row, FIFA is nearly unplayable on slow game speed. For reasons unknown, the AI has a hard time adapting to the challenge of a slower pace, especially on defense. With scorelines inflated on half lengths greater than five minutes, slow speed just exacerbates the issues, which have already plagued FIFA for the past few iterations. In addition to these AI issues, the highly touted HyperMotion 2, just like its predecessor, struggles to maintain the same levels of smoothness and fluidity that normal speed brings out. Perhaps it’s the core mechanics or the nature of motion capturing through the help of these new Xsens suits that doesn’t translate to slowing the pace down, but unless you tinker with sliders the slow speed should be avoided at all costs.

The Game Is Tuned For Short Match Lengths

FIFA 23 issues

There’s no beating around the bush, the scores in any match above 10 minutes — and without the help of sliders — are greatly inflated. As of right now, the game is tuned to cater towards online play where five-minute halves (or less) are being used. The lack of defensive resistance by midfielders and backline defenders that move too deep and are too spread out allow for onslaughts on goal. Sliders and manual controls can help reduce these scorelines, but that’s still no remedy for a game that plays in this manner on default.

Bottom Line

FIFA 23 Trial

When it’s all said and done, FIFA 23 feels a bit different from its predecessor. The change to its dribbling system does open the game and give you more freedom on the ball. At times, the AI can be challenging and slowly but surely EA is making AI players actually take you on in 1-on-1 situations. Unfortunately, the legacy issues that made FIFA 22 nearly unplayable for hardcore sim players are still there. Lethargic midfielders, poor backline positioning, wonky keepers, and ultra-responsive players that skate across the pitch are just a few of the issues that are holding back this game from being a realistic simulation of what we see on TV.

HyperMotion 2, EA’s latest and greatest headline feature, has failed to deliver on its promise of revolutionizing the game and instead has made the game worse. Perhaps it’s the overall engine that is holding this game back, perhaps its poor legacy code that was migrated over. Whatever the case may be, there are some serious issues that should not require the use of sliders to correct. Until EA makes the decision that there might need to be two separate gameplay experiences (simulation & arcade/FUT), EA will seemingly continue to cater to its moneymaker, Ultimate Team, while the rest of suffer.

As usual, FIFA 23 was reviewed on default sliders against Legendary AI

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