It’s the beginning of a new era. FIFA is gone and EA Sports FC is here. But if you look under the hood of this new car, the engine remains the same – albeit with a fresh lick of paint thanks to a flashy new menu interface.
Compared to last year’s FIFA 23, however, it still runs more or less the same. Developers EA Sports have introduced enough tweaks to keep things interesting – but nothing to reinvent the wheel.
Fans of this franchise will be pleased with the slick gameplay on offer here – supercharged by thew new HyperMotion V technology. That means the world’s top players exhibit more of their own personal skills, including the way they dribble, shoot, pass and move. EA are calling this ‘the biggest step forward in authenticity and realism to date’, using volumetric data of more than 180 top-tier matches.
Before we get stuck in, a bit of context about why this game is no longer called FIFA – for those who don’t know. EA Sports had a long-running deal with the football’s chief governing body stretching back to 1993 with FIFA International Soccer. In time – after 325million copies sold – it would become the best-selling sports video game franchise in the world.
But last year it emerged that FIFA was seeking £815m ($1billion) to renew its licensing agreement with EA Sports, which led the developers to decide it would drop its partnership – after its CEO claimed the deal only gave them ‘four letters on the front of a box’.
EA Sports FC 24 is a solid addition to its popular football game series having revamped from its traditional FIFA series
Instead, EA branched out on their own to strike individual agreements with teams and competitions to ensure they keep the authenticity they are renowned for.
So, how have they fared out in the wilderness? We’ll break this down into core gameplay before discussing the various different modes that players love.
The first thing to note is that this game looks beautiful. When I was a kid, my dad used walk in while I was playing FIFA and thought I was watching a real game of football. Now people will genuinely struggle to tell the difference.
The upgraded FrostBite engine, which scans in all the world’s top footballers to create an uncanny resemblance, cranks up the realism even further. Players really do look striking in this edition – even if some models have clearly been left neglected.
Last year there was outrage over EA’s recreation of Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta, who looked absolutely nothing like him on the touchline. Gunners fans will be pleased to hear he looks more like himself this time – but you can say a few faces at Tottenham have been ‘done dirty’. Spurs goalkeeper Guglielmo Vicario is completely bald – and his face is totally different too. As for manager Ange Postecoglou, the less said about his build, the better.
With HyperMotionV, EA have levelled up from FIFA 23’s HyperMotion2 technology. It might sound like mumbo-jumbo on the surface, but you will notice a zip in gameplay and an added umph when it comes to one v one battles. When going in for a tackle using Aaron Wan-Bissaka, I noticed an extra crunch in my challenge as the right-back fully extended himself and sent his opponent tumbling over on the byline.
New technology has been introduced to make visuals look more impressive and give gameplay an added zip
The new ‘PlayStyles’ feature means the best players are given unique skills – such as Erling Haaland’ acrobatic ability
Added to the enhanced realism is the introduction of ‘PlayStyles’. Again, this is not an Earth-shattering addition to the series, but it’s a nice touch that helps make every high-profile player feel unique – and further brings out their individual abilities.
Previously, players had their own traits, but with PlayStyles you will really feel their strengths come to the fore. So Erling Haaland leaps up and goes for acrobatic volleys and bicycle kicks more often – and he’s very good at it. Kylian Mbappe has the ‘quickstep’ style, so you’ll enjoy dancing around players as he burst past them with his raw pace. Jude Bellingham has the ‘relentless’ style – allowing him to drive forwards in midfield and cover massive distances without getting too tired.
There are 34 different PlayStyles available in the game, though only the best players – including the ones mentioned above – have PlayStyles+. That means when you pick a team with a star player like Mohamed Salah or Vinicius Jr, you will notice their increased power to give your team an advantage.
There are also some nice new animations on show. In the build up to a game and during half time, you’ll see players chatting and preparing in the dressing room – and you’ll see the manager giving instructions on his tactical board, as well as pundit Alex Scott talking to the camera on the sideline.
In the gantry we have new recruits too. In addition to commentators Derek Rae and Stewart Robson, EA have added legendary broadcaster Guy Mowbray and Sky Sports pundit Sue Smith. The two pairs will alternate between your matches.
Visuals look better than ever thanks to an improved FrostBite engine and enhanced lighting
A beloved feature of past FIFA games that seemingly gets a little tweak each year. In recent editions we’ve had the added animation of player negotiations – which sees your manager meeting up with your counterpart in an office or restaurant to discuss the transfer fee and other bonuses.
It seems like each year EA is going for the ‘Football Manager’ feel and that’s even more the case this year after the introduction of the Total Management System. This allows you to set your ‘tactical vision’ – just as you do in the FM games. Are you setting up like Pep Guardiola with tiki-taka, Jurgen Klopp’s gegenpress or Sean Dyche’s route one?
Once you pick a vision, you’ll then have to hire various coaches that will help you execute it. The more experience they have, the quicker your players will adapt to your methods – but experience costs and you’ll have to adhere to your staff wage budget. Or you can do what I did and give yourself a Newcastle style big-money takeover so you don’t have to worry about budgeting!
Career mode now allows players to set their ‘tactical vision’ to stamp your own unique style on a club – and you can hire coaches to help you implement it
Player career allows you to work towards winning the Ballon d’Or and also work with an agent
There are also new features like going on the open-top bus parade when you win a trophy and attending to the Ballon d’Or ceremony during your individual player career to see if you can become the world’s best. The player career also gives you an agent throughout your journey, advising on you on what moves to make and helping you negotiate deals.
A game mode that could be sold on its own, without the rest of the title. Ultimate Team is so popular these days that some people solely play it – neglecting the other features. So it only makes sense that EA would put most of their chips into UT and bring about enough changes to entice players again.
There are two big additions to UT this year – and the most talked about feature will be the ability to field both men and women on the same team for the first time. Women’s football is getting more and more publicity and after the Women’s World Cup this year, the game is finally garnering the attention it deserves.
EA Sports started implementing women’s teams in the game a few years ago and Ultimate Team allows the game to showcase the world’s top female players and allow them to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the men’s stars. You’ll be able to select the likes of Sam Kerr, Lauren Hemp and Alexia Putellas and mix them with Haaland, Mbappe and Kane. EA say they thought ‘deeply’ about this new feature that was aimed towards inclusivity.
Men and women can play in the same team for the first time on Ultimate Team
‘It’s something we really thought deeply about,’ chief Jon Shepherd said. ‘We feel we can play a really important role in the growth of that sport in introducing it to all of our fans. We just have this conviction that we believe we want to unite the world around football.
‘Ultimate Team is a great place for that. It is a mode where you can build your fantasy team with different nationalities, different leagues, different clubs. And so it felt like a great spot to be able to do that.’
Elsewhere in Ultimate Team, gamers will be pleased with the introduction of ‘Evolutions’, which allows you to take players and level up their overall rating by completing various objectives during matches.
This is a good alternative to buying and selling players when you want a stronger team. If you have a player that you like but one who isn’t at the level you want, you can stick them in the team and gradually increase their abilities. I had a player who was 79 and thanks to an evolution I took him to 83. It should be noted, though, that these evolved players canno be sold. So you won’t be able to start a side-hustle offloading players with jacked-up stats for vast sums of coins, unfortunately.
You can also evolve players on Ultimate Team and level them up instead of buying new ones
EA FC 24 ensures that this is still the very best way to experience the beautiful game on a video console. After years of battling with PES – now known as eFootball – there is no competition when it comes to the best football game title.
If we’re judging this on changes compared to last year’s FIFA 23, there isn’t much more to that’s new to see. It’s disappointing to see that no story mode has been added. We last got The Journey – featuring the fictional story of Alex Hunter – in FIFA 2019 and the game lacks a similar unique offering to make this worth the £63 it will cost you for a physical copy and £70 for a digital edition. But players will certainly feel the added power through technological upgrades from HyperMotionV and FrostBite.
But the main minute-to-minute experience remains exciting with each player given their own unique realism and style, while passes and shots are given an extra dose of zip and power. In the other modes, there have been just enough tweaks to keep things interesting. This marks a great start to life in a new era for EA Sports, but certainly plenty they can build on.