EA Sports’ Fifa franchise is back for the final time with Fifa 23.
From next year, it will be known as EA Sports FC as the curtain comes down on the partnership between the developer and footballing body, which has lasted more than 30 years.
And, before the final whistle blows, The National was given a sneak peek of the PlayStation 5 version ahead of the game’s launch in a couple of months — an exact date is yet to be confirmed.
While there are a few more things we can’t tell you just yet, we have been hands-on with the match action and can reveal what’s different on the pitch.
Who’s old enough to remember the game Adidas Power Soccer on the first PlayStation console? It featured an arcade mode where players could perform a super-powerful "predator" shot, which was largely unstoppable.
Now, more than 25 years later, a similar style of mega-strike has been brought in.
A word of warning though — to those envisaging scoring a hatful of goal-of-the-season contenders — it’s not very easy to perform.
It has a long animation sequence, which means your players need to be in metres of space before defenders move in to dispossess you.
The other sticking point is you need your player to be facing in exactly in the right direction, otherwise your shooting will be on the wild side, as mine was.
This is an interesting addition, though how effective it will be remains to be seen.
Ebb and flow
The general gameplay isn’t a big step away from Fifa 22.
It is, from the beta version I played, more difficult to string together attacking moves.
Time and again through balls rolled out off the pitch, defenders read situations where normally they would be bypassed or side-stepped and shooting required more than just facing the goal and pressing the shoot button.
In fact, the main difference here was a watering down of the finesse shot — a technique usually so effective in Fifa 22 where almost any player had the ability to bend a curling shot into the top corner from outside the penalty area.
Instead, my finesse shots were ending up in the crowd, or trickling through to the keeper, especially if on a player’s weaker foot.
EA made plenty of noise during its showcase event about a more intuitive dribbling system. I didn’t notice any real difference to Fifa 22 here, though it should be noted that I’m more of a pass and move-style player than a Neymar-esque dribbler.
Also, my typical patterns of play and movements from Fifa 22 were only getting me so far in Fifa 23. I was playing against the AI on World Class level and was finding it tough to break down the opposition as well as stop them from scoring. Normally, World Class would be a breeze.
Set pieces have been given a welcome tweak. Now, you are given a visual arc of the ball’s trajectory when taking a corner so you can actually line up where you are going to cross it. Free kicks, too, have had a makeover giving you more control over your attempt to bend it like Beckham.
Paris Saint-Germain and France star Kylian Mbappe is back on the cover and this time he’s joined by Chelsea women’s player Sam Kerr.
This is the first time a female athlete has ever appeared on a Fifa cover.
Is Fifa 23 going to be a big jump forward from Fifa 22? It’s a hard one to call at this stage. I do recall playing the beta version of Fifa 22 and feeling it was a significant enough step forward, though I haven’t had the same feeling this time around — yet.
It must be noted this isn’t the final version of the game and Fifa games traditionally show their true colours after a few months and hundreds of matches worth of solid play. Plus, this is just a look at the on-pitch action and not an assessment of the overall package.
It can at this stage also be confirmed the game will include a Qatar World Cup mode, which should be fun when the tournament comes around in November.
Scroll through the gallery below to see more of the World Cup 2022 stadiums in Qatar