FIFA 23 marks the end of an era for the long-running series. After an almost 30-year partnership that began with players like David Platt gracing the cover, EA Sports has parted ways with football’s governing body over a licensing disagreement. Future games in the series will now drop the FIFA name in favor of a new EA Sports FC moniker. Not that you’d be able to tell from playing FIFA 23, mind you. Despite being the last game adorned with the household name, it’s business as usual both on and off the pitch for EA’s latest footballing sim. There are a few new additions spread across its various game modes–and Ultimate Team sees its most significant change in years–but for the most part, FIFA’s swansong is a game of minor iterations.
This begins once you step out onto its exquisitely rendered grass, with the introduction of HyperMotion2 ensuring that each and every match in FIFA 23 looks and feels more authentic and immersive. This innovative technology first appeared in last year’s game and allowed the developers to motion capture all 22 players in a real-life match. By capturing every minute detail and context-specific action across a full 90 minutes and implementing it into FIFA’s gameplay, there was a plethora of new animations that edged the simulation closer to reality. With HyperMotion2, FIFA 23 simply expands on its predecessor by obtaining even more data from both full-length matches and training sessions with professional teams. This means that players move across the pitch, collide with each other, and strike the ball with increased fluidity and an added sense of realism.
The impact this has on gameplay is palpable, most notably in regards to the game’s overall pace. I said the same thing last year, but FIFA 23 is considerably slower than its precursor. Fleet-footed players can still be devastating, but they work best in short bursts, using their acceleration to gain a yard of space or dashing past a static back line. For the most part, goals are created through sweeping passing moves. Picking out a teammate is more consistent this time around, and there’s a responsiveness and satisfying zip to passes that constitutes genuine excitement when you’re able to spray the ball around to create openings and eventually finish a move off with the ball nestled in the bottom corner. To counteract this, defenders feel more intelligent in regards to their positioning, and successful tackles frequently end with you actually regaining possession. Jockeying is also an effective avenue for winning the ball back, especially when using a stronger player who’s able to utilize their strength to great effect, and slide tackling finally feels viable again.