What have Tyrone Mings, Reece James and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain all have in common? They were all born in 1993, the year that the first-ever FIFA football game came out. 1993 was a great year for established footballing talent, too, with Roberto Baggio, Dennis Bergkamp and Peter Schmeichel all in their prime.
In the 29 years since the arrival of the EA Sports’ franchise, FIFA has gone through myriad transformations. From its Mega Drive origins, to the brilliance of FIFA 98 - The Road To The World Cup. Then there were the classic teams you could play in FIFA 2000, FIFA 08 debuting on the PS3, FIFA 15 kicking its way on to the PS4 and FIFA 22 debuting on the PS5.
And now we are at FIFA 23, which signals the end, in name only, of the best-selling sports video game franchise in the world. Next year we will have the FIFA-less EA Sports FC to look forward to.
So, is FIFA 23 a fitting end to this brilliant, sprawling franchise? Here are five things to know…
1. FIFA 23 goes out with a bang, not a whimper
When we heard that FIFA was making way for EA Sports FC, we feared the worst. Having witnessed the demise of rival franchise PES, it was great that EA put out a notice that its relationship with FIFA is coming to an end but what we know of the game will not.
And if FIFA 23 is anything to go by, then the future looks very bright for the franchise.
Case in point is the new animation and physics system, HyperMotion 2.
EA Sports has managed to mix motion capture with AI fantastically well, which makes the football playing feel more grounded. Well, as grounded as it can when you are playing millionaire footballers in their prime, kicking a ball to one and another.
Couple this with tackling that doesn’t feel like we are just sliding in for a card and the brand-new Power Shot which is gimmicky but brilliant fun, and what you have is one of the most playable FIFA from the get-go.
If you are playing on the PS5, as we were, then EA Sports really has focused making the controller the centre of things. F
rom super-strong haptic feedback to the DualSense acting like a portable speaker, firing out sounds like the ref’s whistle and the like. We were impressed, but it might be a little too much immersion for some.
2. Women’s Super League is a welcomed, essential addition
There really is no understating how important it is to have the Women’s Super League in FIFA 23. It cements the brilliance we have seen from the women’s game, having the likes of Sam Kerr, Wendie Renard and Ada Hegerberg getting their own ratings is, frankly, the least that could have happened after what has been a sensational year for women’s football.
Football is for all and having this as a focal point for the millions that play FIFA is well deserved.
3. Ultimate Team is more refined, just as addictive
We’re not as addicted to Ultimate Team as some, but we can appreciate this side of FIFA that seems to have taken over everything.
Its Pokemon-style ‘gotta catch ‘em all’ approach to card gathering is still there, with curating the perfect team as impressive as ever. Interestingly, there’s less onus of making sure your team gels (the chemistry factor) which means you can take a few more risks on your way to stardom.
It’s still a micro-transaction minefield, though, so if you are all about paying once and once only then this is one area of FIFA 23 to avoid.
4. Career mode gets the star treatment
One of the best teases for the new FIFA 23 was the introduction of Ted Lasso in Career mode. It’s a brilliant, fun addition to the game and being fans of the show this was the first thing we did when delving into career mode.
Aside from this, the addition of skill trees and the ability to jump into key moments in matches, makes this mode feel far more expansive than it did before.
Couple this with some great animations when something big and dramatic happens and this is one area of FIFA 23 we spent a good bit of time with.
5. Yes it’s iterative but it’s still essential
EA Sports doesn’t overhaul but tweak and tweak it does with FIFA 23. The game feels more nuanced, but easier to play if you are a complete newbie to the franchise.
Cross-play works well and the look of the game is refined - play it on a PS5 and it truly looks next-gen, from the divots in the pitch to the immaculate hair of some of the players (we’re looking at you, Mr Grealish).
FIFA 23: Final Verdict
FIFA 23 is an end of an era - and a classy one at that. It’s not perfect, but it’s a shining example of how far the franchise has come in its near-30 years.
What will EA Sports FC bring? Well, nobody knows but this is one franchise that has outgrown its brand and will no-doubt shine without its big-name backing.
- These are the best football video games of all time.