The game of football in FIFA 23 is great, but everything else misses the mark
- Realistic action on the pitch
- Stunning visuals (most of the time) on newer hardware
- Career mode is poor and lacks depth
- Goalkeepers prone to errors
- Platforms:PS5 (reviewed), PC, Xbox Series S/X. Also available on PS4, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch however the features and performance will vary
- Release Date:27th September 2022
FIFA 23 marks the end of an era for the iconic series as it’s the final title from EA Sports to sport the name.
I’ve grown up with the FIFA series, from unwrapping a copy of FIFA 2001 alongside a PS2 one Christmas to reviewing the first outing on PS5, I don’t think there’s been a year in the past two decades I haven’t spent numerous hours playing that year’s version.
So there’s certainly a hint of sadness from me about its demise. Of course, we’ll get EA Sports FC next year and probably a new FIFA game from a different developer, but this title does really like the end of something familiar.
So, after a disappointing outing with FIFA 22, does FIFA 23 bow out like a player retiring at the top of their game, or one that should have already called it quits?
- Players feel more realistic
- Keepers can often make bizarre mistakes
The gameplay is the star of the show with FIFA 23 and it’s the most fun I have had with a FIFA game on the pitch in a number of years.
The addition of an updated HyperMotion engine – a feature first introduced last year – improves the motion of players, giving lots of them distinct feelings and movement. The animations are far more varied than before, leading to a more realistic and authentic feel to matches.
There’s more realism in the way attackers clash and bounce off defenders, with limbs not as rigid as they were in previous years. General player movement is far better too, with more distinct differences between fast wingers and tough centre-backs,
I didn’t find the gameplay in FIFA 22 that fun, but it’s a different case here with FIFA 23. There’s certainly more of a slower pace now, allowing you to focus on smart build-up play. Starting an attack with a technical player like Kevin De Bruyne gives you greater scope to set up a realistic piece of play that feels like something you’d see live in a stadium.
There’s more natural movement in the goalkeepers too. They will stick out limbs to try and deflect a ball in more varied ways than before, once again adding to the realism. I have noticed a few instances of dodgy keeping though, with them moving out of the way of shots for no obvious reason.
Another new addition to the gameplay is power shots. These allow players to smash a ball into the top corner with a little exaggeration and a zoomed-in camera angle. You need to time these right, but when you do you’ll most likely score every time.
Women’s football is more of a focus this year, with club teams added to the previous selection of international nations. Playing as Chelsea FC Women, there’s a nice distinct change to how players feel especially from high-profile stars like Sam Kerr. It’s a shame these teams aren’t available in Career Mode, though.
Graphics and Presentation
- Looks great on the PS5
- Plenty of players’ faces recreated with lots of detail
- Disappointing commentary
I’ve been playing FIFA 23 on the PS5 and it looks and sounds great – most of the time. There’s a sheen here you expect from FIFA games, with accurate pre-match music and some fantastic chants from the crowds during games. Play as Leicester City and the spine-tingling ‘Vichai had a dream’ chant rings out around the King Power stadium as you attack from goal.
Popular players are rendered often with photo-realistic features. Jack Grealish’s frankly unbeatable hair flops about as he runs about and the two cover stars – Kylian Mbappe of PSG and Chelsea’s Sam Kerr – have been stunningly recreated.
Players now make visible marks on the turf after they slide into tackles on a wet day, adding another welcome layer of realism that genuinely adds to the immersive feeling of the game. Many stadiums look great too, and the detail in the team’s kits (even third-choice options likely never to be actually worn) is fantastic.
There’s realism in the movement of popular stars, too. You recognise Raheem Sterling hurtling into the box without spotting the name on his shirt, and it’s the same for Mbappe.
Move away from playing as the biggest teams and the most popular players and the experience sours. Players who clearly haven’t had a face scan (Arsenal’s Smith Rowe for example) continue to look poor, and playing as lower–level teams leaves players all feeling very similar to control.
Commentary is another sore point. Once again, Derek Rae and former Arsenal, West Ham and Coventry player Stewart Robson provide the English-speaking commentary and it’s mostly dull with very little actual insight and few interesting tidbits of fact peppered in. At least Alex Scott is included too to bring some actual enthusiasm to proceedings.
A nice touch is the addition of Richmond FC, most of the players and Ted Lasso himself from the popular Apple TV Plus series. As you’d expect, the player faces and likenesses look great, especially for Lasso himself, Jamie Tartt and Roy Kent. I would say the players are a little overrated – I think Tartt is around an 85 at the start of the game, which seems generous for a Championship (at least in season 2) striker. Still, it’s a nice touch.
- Focus remains on FUT
- Career Mode lacks depth
- World Cup mode with players and teams
Considering the success of the Football Manager series, it baffles me year after year how little effort EA Sports puts into the FIFA Career Mode – an area of the game I would happily sink many hours into if it was any good.
There’s a fresh coat of paint for sure, but the lack of depth in FIFA 23 makes this mode get tedious after a couple of games. For starters, the transfer market is broken and the rating system that gives you grades for how successfully you negotiated a player’s fee looks to have no actual meaning.
Players on the whole are either massively undervalued and tend to sign for any club willing to stump up the cash. I resigned Fofana, an 80m player, back for Leicester for 25m and picked up Benjamin Sesko and Harvey Elliot, two of Europe’s hottest prospects, for less than 10m.
After each signing you’re given a grade and a score on how well the deal was negotiated. Bagging an exciting signing for below his asking price and a drawn-out haggle over his price will score you an A grade – but aside from a flashy animation, these scores make absolutely no difference.
EA Sports has also tried to liven up Career Mode by adding the ability to play as an actual manager. You can, if you want, manage West Ham with the titular star of Apple TV’s Ted Lasso. Sadly, the lack of voice acting means this is very underwhelming.
That underwhelming feeling continues with the new cutscenes that happen whenever a player is signed or sold. Problem is, they’re all the same – sign ten players and sell another ten and you’ll be so tired of the same cutscene you’ll want to play something else.
In a decidedly consumer-friendly move, the World Cup add-on is included, rather than being sold as DLC or separately, and it’ll cover both the men’s and women’s tournaments this year and in 2023.
The first of these modes, for the forthcoming men’s World Cup, is available now and it comes with a number of neat additions. All the qualified teams, with their latest kits, are included and there are new commentary soundbites and cutscenes between matches.
You can jump straight into a match – be it a group stage tie or the final – or work through the whole competition with a chosen team. There are some FUT additions too, and when the tournament starts you’ll be able to play out live matches as they happen.
It’s a fairly in-depth mode, at least for one that’s not paid DLC. But it does feel a little shallow in some areas. Only two stadiums have been recreated and the extra cutscenes are lacking much atmosphere.
Ultimate Team will be the reason many people buy this game and they won’t even venture out of it. That’s fine, and in some ways I can see the pull of the card-based game. The chemistry system has been reworked slightly this year and it’s less restrictive. You don’t need to, for instance, keep all your high chemistry next to each other to reap the rewards, letting you have more fun with your starting team.
The mode remains focussed on getting you to spend money on card packs to really compete though, and this still puts me completely off. I also dislike how the focus on Ultimate Team seems to have once again taken focus completely off other modes and I can’t see this changing next year with the amount of money Ultimate Team makes for EA Sports.
Should you buy it?
Gameplay is king: There are enough improvements on the pitch to make this a worthy purchase, especially if you weren’t of the previous version.
Career Mode is what you’ll spend the most time in: From the odd transfer system to the repetitive cutscenes to the pointless progression, Career Mode needs a huge rethink.
FIFA 23 is a modest final hurrah for one of the most iconic game series of all time. It feels like EA Sports is saving the big advances for its EA Sports FC replacement coming next year, with FIFA 23 only offering marginal flourishes of something great and a lot of repetition.
On the pitch, the game of football is good – better in many ways than FIFA 22. Animations are smooth and varied, there’s more free-flowing action and more variety in player types. Yet, everything else feels half-baked.
Career mode is, to put it mildly, awful and Ultimate Team remains a cash grab that’s only for those willing to put far too much into it. The commentary is equally terrible, and while the larger focus on the women’s game is great, it‘s too limited.
How we test
We play every game we review through to the end, outside of certain exceptions where getting 100% completion, like Skyrim, is close to impossible to do. When we don’t fully finish a game before reviewing it we will always alert the reader.
Played through all modes
Tested online and offline
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