FIFA 23 is the last game in the long-running Fifa series to be published by EA Sports under the FIFA banner.
- Platforms: In this review we used PS5 console. Available on Xbox Series S/X, PC. Also on Xbox One, PS4, and Nintendo Switch
- Release Date: 27th September 2022
- Genre: Sports / Football
- Improves the realism of the game
- It’s not uncommon for keepers to make strange errors.
- Power shots are another new addition part of the game.
- The PS5 version looks amazing.
- Many prominent athletes’ likenesses have been faithfully re-created.
- Commentary that isn’t very good
- There are just two replicated stadiums.
- FUT focus
- Career mode lacks
- World cup and Premier league modes
- The chemistry system has been changed.
FIFA is dead, but FIFA lives on! After a nasty public split with its licensor, EA’s huge football simulation game is back for one last hurrah. It’s now called “The World’s Game,” but coming next year it will have to change its name to “EA Sports FC.” But the tagline is more than just a bittersweet gimmick because, for all means and purposes, FIFA 23 does feel like the same game everyone has been playing for the past few years, with the same frustrations and reliable end-to-end gameplay.
Even though it’s the end of an era, EA’s FIFA 23 is another year of careful tinkering. It has a strong gameplay blueprint and a few changes to how it looks and how it plays. But it’s also a game that feels both good and bad because it’s part of Ragnarok. It grudgingly pulls down a ruby-red curtain as the football game genre falls apart.
Power Shots and other dramatic changes to the game make sure that the FIFA name goes out with a bang instead of a whimper. When you hold the bumpers and press shoot, your attacker becomes a raid boss with an attack that can’t be stopped. The camera pulls out of focus as they leather the ball, sending shockwaves through the PS5 controller speaker. If you miss the angle, FIFA 23’s better acrobatic goalkeepers may be able to stop the ball with their individually simulated fingers. This has happened to me a few times and saved the day.
This kind of meta-shaking shot reminds me of the good old days of early 2010s FIFA.
However, if the forward has enough space, the ball will likely finish up in the back of the net regardless of your distance. This meta-shaking shot brings back the glory days of Francesco Totti’s hit-and-hope long shots from the early 2010s FIFA. But don’t worry, fast wingers still pass the ball across the box on the break in online multiplayer. Why try to enjoy yourself, eh?
Even though the new FIFA 23 can’t completely fix the series’ problem of relying too much on fast players, it does reward players who do everything right. My fingers ache from pulling the triggers to initiate dangerous counterattacks, and the intensity of a pass must be finessed, which is difficult to master but rewarding when you strike the ideal through ball. Holding down the buttons for rogue hits for too long can lead to a dangerous, crunching commitment that sometimes pays off, but more often than not results in a nail-biting penalty. This makes tackling with the last man again a dangerous but exciting thing to do.
This makes tackling with the last man again a dangerous but exciting thing to do.
Because of these changes, FIFA 23 is much slower than FIFA 22, but matches are always about something important. There’s a lot going on in each half, and most single-player and online matches have more than one goal. There aren’t many 0-0 draws. In keeping with the dramatic theme, any goal worth its salt will also get a victory lap slow-motion repeat with stats on top. This will make sure that by the end of the year, hard drives and social feeds all over the world will be full of viral-friendly goal clips. Set Pieces are also believable, and you have more control over how your corners and free kicks curve and how much power they have. It took a while, but I finally came to like the free kicks, which are much more complicated and better than the stick-pulling chaos of years past. In the same way, penalty shootouts are like a fast-paced music game where the gods are in charge.
FIFA 23 also has a visual change, but it’s much more gradual than last year’s jump to PS5 and Series X. This year, the focus is on grass that gets dirty easily and hairstyles that bounce up and down. It’s mostly seen in the animations of the players on the pitch, not in their real faces, which still vary a lot between cover stars, normal players, and the cultish crowd. Keeping will dive to the ground when a defender blocks or fall backwards to smash a deflected ball, while defenders will wrap their leg around the back of a player they are pursuing.
Tiresome match commentary is back in full force, but after hearing “he dispatched it with aplomb” one too many times, I was relieved to be reminded that this year, you may turn it all off and try to repair the damage done by all the criticisms of your play style over the years. This unlocks the ability to play all of your favourite tunes, including recent hits by Bad Bunny and DOSS and Cryalot from the underground. The slog of a terrible Career Mode season is much more bearable when you put in a Bruno Guimares assist while listening to thumping German Drill.
There are a lot of new things to do in Ultimate Team, which has microtransactions.
FIFA 23 makes changes to the mode that makes EA the most money, which is what most people would expect. Ultimate Team has a lot of new features, but Career Mode and Volta Football barely get any attention, which says a lot about how EA has always felt about these modes, especially in what is meant to be the last FIFA game. The issue is the same as with Madden NFL 23 and NBA 2K23; we dislike the unfair advantage given to the highest bidder, yet enough people buy these games to force EA to continue making them instead of the more balanced games we would want.
Player Career has a new personality system that lets you act as your favourite football player with the most dramatic air quotes. For me, this was the same as buying a “High-end Hybrid Mattress” for a Serbian scorer in the K-League and getting 25 “Maverick Points” in return, so you can guess how long I stayed with that.
Now you can choose between a real boss and Ted Lasso.
Manager Career now lets you play as a real manager (or Ted Lasso, depending on how real you think he is), but unless you want to cosplay as a mute Jason Sudekis or dress Eddie Howe in a lovely jumper vest, there’s not much to do besides stare at the awkward moments. The time spent bringing in AFC Richmond for a short-term novelty could have been better spent on other things, like adding Women’s Club Football to Career Mode, which is still missing. It’s too bad, because the women’s game is a great example of how well EA’s HyperMotion motion-capture technology works, with real-life animations that make the game feel more realistic.
This year, Volta Football and Pro Clubs were combined into one area, and it just so happens that they both have the same problems. We all know that hell is other people, and nowhere is that more clear than in Pro Clubs, where drop-in games are full of wingers who make ridiculous calls to pass the ball to the AI and make it impossible for it to play. Making your Create-A-Pro look like a Shrek-esque goal monster with a wardrobe full of ridiculous hats is entertaining, but when your progression is dependent on your in-game rating, you’re more likely to do skill move runs that not even Saint Maximin would bother with.
It looks like EA heard me when I asked for a better Volta Arcade, so I get all the credit.
Unfortunately, Volta, FIFA’s street football game, has the same problem, as shown by the new ‘Take Flight’ Signature Ability, which makes you a master of the air. Because the power comes from crossing and working as a team, most people just pick Power Strike and hit the ball randomly after a run for fame. The good news is that EA seems to have heard me when I asked for Volta Arcade to be improved, so I can take full credit for it being turned into a battle royale mode with silly minigames and obstacle courses that remind me of the best parts of Fall Guys. Even so, I still think it’s wrong that it’s only open on weekends.
Ultimate Team has gotten the most attention, which is no surprise, and FUT Moments is the team training mode I’ve been looking for for a long time. Moments gives you small bits of FIFA gameplay in the form of fun tasks that test your fitness and help you figure out how different cards work with each other. It’s still early, but there’s a lot of potential for this mode to tell the stories of player lives and re-create iconic moments in football history. The current selection includes moments from Jurgen Klopp and Kylian Mbappe best years, but it would be great to see what EA’s team can do with Pelé and “King” Kazuyoshi Miura in next year’s game.
In other places, there are big changes to the way science works. No longer does a player’s place in the formation affect how they get along with the other players. This change allows for more variety across leagues and countries. Adding wildcard players and having additional means to connect them to first-team players is a pleasant perk, but I doubt it will really alter anyone’s strategy. Finding the right midfielder to get that desired ’33’ chemistry feels like a Squad Building Challenge now, which seems to be on purpose. While the Squad Building Challenges remain a fun way to kill time, console players are better off playing EA’s “sudoku for football nerds” on the mobile companion app.
Finding the right middle to get that sought-after ’33’ chemistry feels like a Squad Building Challenge.
This year, FIFA lost the J1 League licence, which meant no more King Kazu. This is a bad sign for the future of football game licences. As a result, the fearsome strike force of Hibs winger Martin Boyle and the appropriately named David Ball formed an exciting Bronze and Silver Australian A League squad. Like last year, my tiny team made some people with million-coin teams quit in a rage, showing that Ultimate Team is a gilded joke. When the pros found out, I still felt the deep shame of a double-digit beating. When more people showed up, I quickly realised that playing with three defenders is a quick way to go down 3-0 if the opponent’s wingers are fast, which they normally are. Overall, the online multiplayer is the same as usual, with twitching fingers and high feelings everywhere. It’s the FIFA we know and love, at its most frustrating.
Even so, the main thing you do in Ultimate Team, which is buy and sell silly little guys, is still hard to suggest. Even though I still have a little fun with it every year without paying, the fact that you can quickly go into debt by going full Gollum with one last precious player pack is a sign of how cruel it is. Aside from merging the transfer markets, EA’s questionable approach to microtransactions hasn’t changed much. However, I did notice that scores are now slowly going up during the big reveal, which makes it feel even more like a one-armed bandit.
FIFA 23 is the last game in the series (at least under its current name), and it has a lot of theatrical flair, which is a welcoming change. FUT Moments, action clips, and changes to the game that make it more likely to go viral, like Power Shots, make it a more thoughtful and memorable simulation of football with a lot of drama and goals. But EA’s Spartan approach to modes that don’t make money makes FIFA 23 too similar to games from previous years, and Ultimate Team’s negative focus on microtransactions continues to take a lot of the fun out of it.