Yes, after 30 years of EA's all-conquering FIFA franchise, it's finally time to bid farewell to a series that's been a constant companion to footie-loving gamers since all the way back in 1993 (as of next year, EA has confirmed its football games will be known as "EA Sports FC"). It hasn't always been top-flight stuff, there's been plenty of ups and downs in terms of quality over the years, but thankfully we're going out on a proper high here with a slick and feature-packed entry that plays a very entertaining game on the pitch.
Of course, there's nothing outright revolutionary to report with FIFA 23, but the changes that have been made are definitely some of the most meaningful the game has seen in quite some time, with FUT in particular benefitting from a raft of positive additions that make this absolute juggernaut of a mode the best it's ever been.
The most notable of these changes is the all-new Moments single-player content within FUT. Moments gives players a ton of solo shenanigans to dig into that teaches them how to play the game, dishes out plenty of challenges to sink their teeth into - with superstar-specific scenarios to work through - and, more importantly, pumps out plenty of rewards that can be redeemed for goodies in the game's store.
The dynamic scenarios in particular here are a highlight so far, with lots of famous historic moments from the history of the sport to recreate, but this is also a mode that's incredibly useful for just digging into when you want to hone certain aspects of your game through Pitch Perfect training, mini-moments and daily challenges. Every objective you complete within Moments earns you stars, and these can then be used as a separate currency from coins and FIFA Points to grab yourself some packs or items from the Moments Star Gallery. With new content due to be added on the regular, this is a new mode that seems as though it could really have legs, and we're absolutely all for more single-player content to satisfy those amongst us who just do not enjoy the multiplayer side of FIFA.
Away from Moments and the other big change to FUT is in its approach to your team's chemistry. The mechanics here have been completely revamped and overhauled and it makes for a team-building experience that's far less rigid. Instead of forcing you to carefully position associated players in strict lines in order to build up your chemistry, you can now take a team-wide approach that gifts players benefits regardless of whether or not you've got them linked up right beside each other. Get a Bayern Munich player in defence and one up front, for example, and you'll see improvements to your overall chemistry. There's definitely a little bit of learning involved to get your head around it all at first, and the game's tutorial on the new system is severely lacking but, once you start to get a handle on it, it's a massive improvement on what came before.
The overall effect of chemistry seems as though it's been toned down this year too, so you never have to feel as though you can't just drop a superstar who bears no relation to the rest of the team into the mix in order to make use of their match-winning talents. Got a team composed entirely of players from the Scottish league but just unpacked Mbappe? Get him stuck in there, there's no big negative involved in doing so.
What you've got as a result here is a far more flexible and relaxed mode that feels as though it's removed the shackles somewhat so you can get down to having much more freewheeling fun in creating the squad of your dreams. It's just a real shame that FUT still has the considerable shadow of microtransactions hanging over it, and we're not sure that's a shadow that's going away any time soon, but putting this one constant negative aside, this is 100% the best this mode has ever been. Even as FIFA fans who don't particularly concentrate on FUT, we can see ourselves playing a lot more of it this season.
FIFA 23 also sees some positive changes on the pitch that make this year's action feel fresh and far more liberating than the rather stodgy FIFA 22. The pace of the game is still relatively slow overall, but players have more space to manoeuvre, more time to consider how they want to move forward, and you'll find yourself appreciating the extra time on the ball when stringing together passes and building up your attacks. All of this is helped along by improved physics that give the matches here a much more unruly, physical and unpredictable feel. Things really can get quite chaotic, the ball pings around in a much more realistic manner and collisions between players are more crunching than ever.
There's also the surprisingly arcade-like addition of power shots, which are pulled off by holding in both LB and RB whilst unleashing a strike. Pulling off one of these bad boys sees the camera zoom right in on the action in anticipation of your shot (which in our experience then ends up in the crowd). It feels like a very unexpected mechanic to find in FIFA, almost silly even, but it just works, and we'll undoubtedly see committed players hammering complete screamers home with it in no time. Of course, it also remains to be seen if it's gonna turn out to be an overpowered aspect of the game in the long run, but for now we're having a lot of fun attempting to burst our opponent's net with an absolute cannonball.
Set-pieces have also seen a rejig, and now you've got far more information on the screen as you take free kicks and corners, with a little icon appearing to show you where you'll make contact with the ball and what type of shot it's likely to result in. Move the cursor down to the bottom of the ball and you'll chip, to the sides and you'll curl, and so on. It takes a little getting used to, especially in free kick scenarios, but even early doors it feels like an improvement that should see players able to really work free kicks and corners the way they want to.
Away from these new mechanics, Career mode has had a nice revamp, you've got the very welcome introduction of women's club football - although it's only two leagues so far, so still plenty of work to be done here when EA Sports FC lands next year - and Volta makes a strong return for another season. It's a big package then, jampacked full of ways to play both on and offline with the actual on-the-pitch action feeling like a noteworthy improvement over the past few years. It may be the end of an era, but at least EA's FIFA franchise is hitting the showers on a high.
FIFA 23 marks the end of a thirty year era for EA and, thankfully, it does so by sending this long-running series off on something of a high note. FUT has seen some excellent changes in its chemistry mechanics and the addition of single player Moments, whilst on the pitch this is the best the game's felt to play in quite some time. Women's club footie finally arrives on the scene, set-pieces have seen a slick revamp, power shots are a fantastically arcadey addition to the action and overall this is just a hugely engaging and generous package that's stuffed full of ways to play on and offline.