When EA announced that it would be changing the title of its flagship soccer series from FIFA to EA Sports FC24, we all wondered: is this also the year that it finally takes a real step forward, out of the microtransaction-focused darkness and into the light of its full potential? The answer is a resounding "sort of". 

There are flashes of greatness in EA Sports FC 24, with many new mechanics, such as Evolutions and Tactical Views, showing that the series can evolve into something better. However, for every exciting improvement added, there are still many of the same problems, such as poor AI, that have frustrated me for years.

EA Sports FC 24 Game Review

Within the first few hours of playing EA Sports FC 24, everything feels familiar in terms of gameplay, for better or worse. HyperMotion V technology and the feedback from the PlayStation 5's DualSense controller return, making the matches realistic, with precise ball and player physics, noticeable wear and tear on the pitch and tactile effects that make the goalposts rattle. It's hard to deny that there's a lot of attention to detail in recreating a realistic soccer atmosphere.

Image: Reproduction

New overlays show useful statistics such as shot volume and player fatigue during the game, with various background interviews interspersed throughout the match day segments, before, during and after the game. Although they don't feature actual interactions with players and interviewers, it's one of many noticeable details that add to the atmosphere. 

If you commit a foul to create a free-kick, you'll even get an interesting first-person set-up from the referee's perspective, just like you'd see during a live broadcast. At the same time, the team entrances and ceremonial songs have unfortunately been cut, replaced by a few different shots of fans or players getting ready for match day. It's a shame that I can take a League Two team like Wrexham all the way to the Premier League and still not hear their glorious anthem or see them take the field during their debut on the biggest stage of all.

Hypermotion V's artificial intelligence doesn't live up to the hype

Unfortunately, the artificial intelligence part of the Hypermotion V technology, which was so widely advertised, doesn't live up to the hype. Although Kinetic Shielding provides some exciting battles, players still fall over each other in unnatural ways. Advanced machine learning, which is basically a fancy way of saying that the AI is constantly improving, is also a long shot. 

Your goalkeepers will sometimes stand aside and allow an easy shot or punch away a ball that could have been grabbed, AI-controlled teammates make terrible decisions in attack and defence that would make Harry Maguire blush, and you'll probably find yourself shouting about a misplaced pass more than once a match, despite knowing you've directed a perfect pass with the directional pads.

It's frustrating that these problems are still part of the series, but there are changes that help ease the pain of dealing with them, the most notable of which is Game Styles. As the name suggests, Game Styles customize the way each player plays to suit their specific strengths and weaknesses. 

As a result, no two players control each other in the same way, adding a fresh layer to the gameplay and the way you approach team management. It's genuinely impressive how EA has managed to capture the likeness of each player, as you can break down opponents and score with Erling Haaland's Power Shot or deliver pinpoint passes and free-kicks with James Ward-Prowse's dead-ball approach.

No two players control each other in the same way, adding a fresh layer to the gameplay

By creating your own personalized Player Style, you'll navigate through 32 skills distributed across six categories: Shooting, Passing, Defending, Ball Control, Physical and Goalkeeping. Although they may seem simple at first, each of them has several unique sub-skills to explore, which determine the construction of your character, making a big difference when it comes to adjusting your predefined skills to work according to your specific style of play.

As I always create an Advanced player who dominates the midfield, getting the Tiki Taka skill makes controlling the midfield with quick passes to teammates much easier, especially when combined with First Touch, which makes it possible to receive and control the ball for the first time under pressure. With the ability to control the ball perfectly, my character can open up the field with long passes that are played back to him or his teammates, creating many chances to score.

Play styles

Along with Play Styles, you can now access the settings and activate an option to control the direction of your passes and shots, replacing the previous Accuracy system. Shots are more precise when using the left directional pad to aim, and general passes and lobs can be directed to specific locations. Mastering these techniques won't come without a bit of practice, but they open up the possibility of creating creative moves, especially when working together with other players.

Fortunately, the updated training arena has more depth in EA Sports FC24 than it ever did in FIFA, adding Scenarios that newcomers and veterans alike would be wise to check out. You can try out specific moves here, or hone in on which Playstyle works best for you in training sessions or even full matches. Putting your pride aside and playing here to get the hang of controlled shots and passes pays off in the long run, as you can experiment much more quickly and efficiently than playing full matches, thanks to the sheer amount of control you have.

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October 06, 2023