You'll love it if:
- You are a fan of the EA Sports FIFA series.
- You are a huge enjoyer of football as a sport.
- You are looking for a great game to play with or against your friends.
Not for you if:
- You are perfectly content with sticking to FIFA 23.
- You can't look past EA cutting your chances of packing the best players in Ultimate Team in half.
One year after EA’s FIFA license expired, we’re back here again. If you thought that no FIFA license meant no more yearly football game releases by EA, then you must be new to these parts. EA is back with EA Sports FC 24, the first instalment in what will no doubt be a lengthy series of yearly football releases.
Make no mistake, the new brand name does not mean that the EA Sports FC series will have to start from scratch. What made the FIFA series so great for a lot of people is still very much here, and in some cases, better than ever. This is a fresh start in name only, and for most people, EA Sports FC 24 will be just another entry in their favourite series of football games.
EA Sports FC 24 proves to be a worthy successor to FIFA 23 in all regards. It’s a great single-player offering for those who love football and a familiar yet refined experience for those who enjoyed the FIFA series.
EA Sports FC 24: Visuals
The FIFA series has always been a looker, and that was one of our biggest talking points in our FIFA 23 review last year. Granted, it’s not difficult to achieve great visuals in a tightly simulated space, such as a football stadium. The all simulated aspects, such as facial expressions, hair, or even physics could look a little gnarly, and even out of place at times. These issues seem to have been addressed for EA Sports FC 24.
Total refresh, not just a fresh coat of paint
EA Sports FC 24 not only looks like it’s made for current-gen consoles, but it also completely feels like it. FIFA 23 was still held back by the constraints of last-gen consoles, which seems to not be the case for EA Sports FC 24. There have been a lot of changes under the hood, and although EA Sports FC 24 still runs on Frostbite, the underlying technology of HyperMotion seems to have received significant upgrades.
The game’s visuals are a lot more fluid overall with absolutely no stutters, something that was a regular occurrence for FIFA 23. Gone are the uncanny facial expressions and some less-than-ideal-looking player models. EA still has a long way to go in order to make faces look semi-realistic, but at least the animations are no longer a broken mess on Ultimate Team. Of course, in the offline, single-player modes, the animations always were top-notch, and that is also the case here.
I would go as far as to say that the total feel of the game has changed with the rebranding. Whereas the FIFA series was obsessed with making football in the game look exactly what you would get when watching on TV, EA Sports FC 24 seems to be more focused on painting a picture of what football is like behind the scenes. Don’t get me wrong, we still get all the fancy HUD-like visuals we’ve come to expect, seeing the biggest stadiums in the world lit up and top-notch TV-grade production.
I especially like all the on-pitch stats overlays added this year, it’s a nice touch. But we also get a peek at what’s it like behind the scenes, especially in the single-player modes with frequent dressing room shots and the gameplay getting a more tactical twist. With the FIFA license gone, you will notice that EA Sports tried to compensate by licensing companies that are actually vital for today’s tactical analysis of real-world football. Apparently, EA Sports FC 24 uses Opta Metrics to provide in-game analytics. For me, that’s a step in the right direction and shows actual appreciation for the game of football.
The menus have also been overhauled and are now easier to navigate than ever before. This, I bet, will be the most welcome change that EA Sports FC 24 introduces. Gone are the days of horizontal tiles. Vertical scrolling, with less visual clutter, makes for a better user experience, a cleaner interface and less loading time. We went years without EA actually bothering to change how the user interacted with their game, it almost feels like a dream now.
Someone who has really invested time in previous FIFA games will also be able to notice other small changes, like the complete absence of low-res images, which used to be present in various places around the interface, especially on Ultimate Team – a game mode that used to be so un-optimized it required a few minutes of loading time before logging in. It’s not nearly as bad now.
Believable physics go a long way toward immersion
Ball and player model physics have been completely overhauled for EA Sports FC 24. This year, we’re calling it the “HyperMotion V” technology. No idea what the V stands for, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s for Very good. Ball physics not only feel good, but also look very good in EA Sports FC 24. The infamous “FIFA touches”, which caused the ball to jump all over the place through random player touches look like they have been eliminated. The ball looks and feels like it’s heavier and more difficult to control. It’s much more realistic than previous iterations.
Player movement has also been improved across the board. Movement is fluid, but also differs from player to player, depending on the body type. Animations feel more natural and slow players down, meaning that you won’t be able to pull off a Rabonna while full-on sprinting. Of course, don’t expect this fluidity to last for long, especially on Ultimate Team as IF cards usually overload the system’s animation department to compensate for the 99-rated stats.
Replays in slow motion are more dramatic than ever and do a great job of showcasing the spectacle that FrostBite is capable of producing. Crowds look more dynamic than ever, though honestly, I fail to see how anyone would care about that. All in all, the presentation is superb, as you would expect from EA’s first shot at a new major series like this one.
EA Sports FC 24: Gameplay
Now, FIFA games are made with two different audiences in mind: the casual gamer/avid sports enthusiast who wants to enjoy some couch co-op with friends or play some career mode taking his favourite club to the pantheon of digital football and the people the gamers with a crippling addiction to Ultimate Team. What do these different demographics have in common?
They both hate the game. Or more accurately: they love to hate the game. Getting frustrated at the ways your opponents may cheese the game is part of the FIFA charm, and yearly releases aside, no one can deny that EA Sports has been consistently putting out quality releases for a long, long time. EA Sports FC 24 is no different.
Picking up right where we left off
Last year’s FIFA 23 left us with an excellent impression, as clearly stated by the over 200 hours of game time I clocked in that game. This year, EA Sports FC 24 takes an already good recipe in terms of gameplay and improves on it with out-of-the-pitch details. Having figured out and addressed all of HyperMotion’s growing pains in last year’s release, EA Sports needed only to add a few finishing touches in the gameplay section.
We already talked about how the updated physics impacts visual presentation, now let’s talk about how it’s used to improve moment-to-moment gameplay when on the pitch: first of all, and most importantly, the amount of randomness is significantly reduced. The ball will behave like you expect it to, only reacting to player touches and gravity. During testing, I didn’t notice any random bounces or unexpected loss of possession.
The players move slower compared to last year, in single-player modes especially. Defending when out of possession is much more difficult, but very rewarding as counter-attacking seems extra effective in EA Sports FC 24. This means that when you’re on the attacking side, you’re severely punished for your mistakes. One wrong touch and possession is lost. At the same time, scoring goals is way easier compared to last year.
It feels like you have a fair chance if you don’t mess up, with most of the chance now coming down to each player’s shooting stat rating and your placement of the ball. Controls are solid, with players feeling a bit on the heavier side of the spectrum compared to FIFA 23 and even FIFA 22, but that’s not a bad thing. Ball control is super tight and first touches are vital. Even the tiniest movement can be make-or-break for your offensive chances when playing seriously.
Details maketh manager
EA Sports has been consistently delivering the best career mode in any arcade sports game (Football Manager not included) for years, and that’s not changing with EA Sports FC 24. While there are not many changes in the on-the-pitch aspect of the game, there are significant improvements in the Manager Career mode that allow you to fine-tune your managerial experience.
As a manager, you can now implement your own playstyle for your team, ranging from Parking the Bus to Gengenpressing, and hire coaches who are experts in that particular playstyle to make sure that the team is ready to follow your vision. You can set fitness and training programs for each individual player on your team that will directly affect their on-pitch performance. Morale, Fitness, and Sharpness work just like last year and are influenced by training regiments, player contracts and press conferences. All in all, not a whole lot of changes in the Manager mode, but the added complexities are more than welcome.
The Player Career mode, on the other hand, sees plentiful additions that make the mode more interesting than ever before. The familiar RPG-like levelling system that was originally introduced in Pro Clubs is back, and your player can level up through on-the-pitch performances and training sessions, and earn skill points that can be used to unlock new on-the-pitch abilities.
Personality traits are one of the new features that EA Sports FC 24 introduces. Personality is split into three paths: Maverick, Heartbeat and Virtuoso. You can amass points for each path by making post-match decisions, dialogue choices in press conferences as well your investments and lifestyle activities. Personality paths can sort of paint a picture of your player profile and thus allow you to create a more personalized version of yourself or your dream player in this fantasy football league. Great stuff, honestly.
Ultimate Team is… expanded?
Ultimate Team is the main reason most of us – myself included – buy the yearly
FIFA FC releases from EA Sports. Love it or hate it, there’s just nothing like it, whether you’re a football fan or just like weird little pay-to-win card games. In EA Sports FC 24, Ultimate Team remains largely the same in its core aspects: it’s still about collecting cards and building the best team possible. SBCs, Weekly Rewards, and Objectives, it’s all the same.
What has changed though is the pool of available cards. This year, there are also female players included in Ultimate Team. Nothing wrong with including female players, I’m all for it. Except for the fact that they’re in the same pool with male players when it comes to pack openings – actively cutting your chances of getting the player(s) you’re looking for from a pack opening in half, and they were already slim enough, to begin with.
Added to that, the physical stats of female players do not even come close to those of male players, resulting in male players literally bulldozing them in Rivals, thus putting you at an instant disadvantage if you use female players. I’m all in for inclusion, but it has to be done correctly. In EA Sports FC 24, it’s half-baked at best and makes grinding for (or God forbid buying) packs a bigger gamble than it already was.
New additions in terms of Ultimate Team gameplay include Playstyles, with some cards having unique perks that are tied to certain players (or cards, you never know how these could develop with IF cards). It’s a nice touch that really helps differentiate players who are in good form or are legends of the sport – but that’s also the problem.
Playstyles immediately render certain players head and shoulders above the competition and make these cards insanely expensive on the transfer market. But, that’s one way to control the market economy, I guess. Card evolutions is also a new addition and is basically a way to level up your Gold cards by completing a set of challenges. It’s fun, engaging, and makes Gold cards viable for longer.
Moment-to-moment gameplay in Rivals gets pretty much the same as in Kick Off. Very enjoyable, no connection issues whatsoever and thankfully match momentum seems to be significantly nerfed this year. Meaning no random goals in injury time just for the shits and giggles. Very happy about that.
EA Sports FC 24: Audio & Music
EA Sports always spoils us in the sound department, so no surprises here. Commentary is exemplary, with a new pair of commentators added alongside Dereck Rae and Stewart Robson, Guy Mowbray, and Sue Smith, with Alex Scott and Geoff Shreeves making frequent appearances. In fact, I would argue that the commentary has been significantly improved this year, with the commentators reacting to moment-to-moment action in the match, cutting conversations short but not abruptly, and picking up where they left off afterwards. Really helps the immersion.
Stadiums can sound deafening at times, and the crowd cheering you on as you mount a counter-attack is a feeling I’ll never get bored of. Overall audio design is impressive, and I’ve tested it with both a headset and the SteelSeries Arena 7 speakers. A player’s foot smashing the ball in the net, the referee whistle, fans cheering – everything sounds so crisp. Your ears will love EA Sports FC 24, just like mine did.
EA Sports TRAX is back baby
Last year, I just wasn’t feeling it with the tunes in FIFA 23, I thought they were just missing that oomph that EA Sports games are known for. And apparently, that’s what everyone else thought as well, as EA added a playlist of their best tracks of all time as soon as the World Cup mode was added to the game.
This year, the soundtrack is filled with bangers, I couldn’t be happier with the selection. From Major Lazer to K.Dot, they’re even split up into regular tracks and Volta, with the Volta soundtrack offering a more urban vibe. My personal favourite is the Phone by MEDUZA.
EA Sports FC 24: Verdict
All things considered, EA Sports FC 24 is a solid game. It’s still very enjoyable in terms of gameplay, it’s got a top-notch presentation and audio design and offers huge replayability value through the Career, Clubs, and Ultimate Team modes. Sure, it might be another yearly FIFA release under a new name, but there’s so much content on offer that makes EA Sports FC 24 not a bad deal at all. Most importantly, this release keeps in touch with its core audience and knows how to keep them invested. In short, if you liked FIFA 23, you’re going to like EA Sports FC 24 too.
Sure, EA made some decisions like one player pool for all genders in Ultimate Team, and that’s a big problem in my book. But most people are not going to care, aside from posting some rants on social media, and they’re certainly not going to stop playing UT. Women’s Football Leagues have to be funded somehow, and EA licensing is good money, so I’m not going to insist on this one. Let’s just hope they release some better cards for female players in future content drops… or at least get it right next year.
We would like to thank Bandai Namco Europe for providing the review unit we used.