'Fifa 23' review: the beautiful game and one final hurrah — but how does it compete?

EA Sports and Fifa aimed to leave nothing left on the pitch — and they've (almost) put in a man-of-the-match performance

Kylian Mbappe in 'Fifa 23' — the final edition after 30 years of releases. Photo: EA Sports
Beta V.1.0 - Powered by automated translation

Football has been full of memorable partnerships over the years — from Pele and Garrincha in the great Brazil teams, to Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez for Barcelona in more recent times.

In the gaming world, EA Sports and Fifa have been working in tandem for almost as long as Messi has been alive, but, like great teams and their player partnerships, things have to eventually come to an end.

And so, Fifa 23 is the final kickabout between EA and the governing body (it will be called EA Sports FC from next year), and, thankfully, they have almost conjured a man-of-the-match performance.

Here's how and why they've come up trumps:

Gameplay

First, there's the all-important action on the pitch, for which EA has been criticised over the years by regular players for not evolving sufficiently.

It isn't a major divergence from Fifa 22, and it's actually difficult pinpointing exactly what has changed — but there is something.

There's a little more smoothness in the players' actions, which are now subject to what EA calls Hypermotion 2 technology with new motion capture and animations.

It feels like a more physical match, with rugged tackles and player collisions creating a more unpredictable encounter. At first, it seems slightly clunky, but once you get used to the responsiveness, you'll be carving open defences like in any other Fifa game.

The players now have three different running attributes rather than the previous two, making their movement more individual.

Shooting has a new addition in the form of a power shot. This requires time and space to allow for the full animation to play out, and while it's a move away from Fifa's promise of "ultra-realistic gameplay", it is fun, though I haven't managed to score one yet.

Still, I'd like to see more variety in the goals scored, particularly scrappy ones. I find myself saying every year that not every goal in football is a netbuster — though it almost always is in Fifa.

Set pieces have been overhauled, meaning more spin and curve can be added when taking a corner. It's a bit fiddly initially, but a welcome addition.

A final word on the on-pitch action is the graphics, with the whole visual experience proving, as usual, fantastic. It has the greenest football pitch I've seen on a video game.

Ultimate Team

This is why everyone buys the game, right?

The card-collecting, pack-opening beast is back and it's undergone some changes.

Team building has been altered through a new method of calculating chemistry, which has done away with needing to link players by their position. While it takes time to get your head around, I've found it to be more rewarding as there's scope for a more varied squad across both leagues and nationalities. Well done, EA.

Also new is FUT Moments, in which you are given bite-size challenges, such as overturning a 2-1 lead, to complete in exchange for rewards.

There are new Icon and FUT Hero cards to collect, and receiving packs to open as a reward for winning matches – especially against online opponents – and finding a beaming Mohamed Salah card staring back at you is a joyful moment of video gaming.

Squad Building Challenges are back, and have, so far, proven quite tricky. They remain a fun option to do on the app while out and about, as is the transfer market which is a living, breathing economy available at the tap of the screen.

What else is there?

Sam Kerr, part of the women's club football that has been added. Photo: EA

Women's club football has come to Fifa for the first time, with Chelsea's Sam Kerr appearing on the cover alongside Paris Saint-Germain's Kylian Mbappe.

There's a typically brilliant soundtrack, this time featuring 99 songs from artists such as Jack Harlow, MIA and Bad Bunny.

Cross-play is available for players on the same platform generation. PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X|S, Stadia, and PC versions of Fifa 23 will be cross-play compatible with one another, and PlayStation 4 and Xbox One versions of Fifa 23 will be as well.

Also, Ted Lasso and AFC Richmond from the Apple TV hit series Ted Lasso are included. Lasso can be used as your playable manager in Career Mode, or you can manage AFC Richmond by swapping them into the Premier League or any other playable Career Mode league.

Overall

It's not a perfect game of football, but it's certainly the best out there on the next-generation consoles.

Long-term players would welcome a total refresh of the game engine, though for now it's an enjoyable kickabout and, certainly in Ultimate Team, a rewarding one given the amount to do away from the pitch.

EA know how to fully immerse players in the sporting arena and they've done it again this year with an excellent presentation and a swansong that will have gamers all around the world competing against each other.

Updated: October 04, 2022, 11:58 AM
MORE FROM THE NATIONAL