We’re finally here. EA Sports FC 24 is now living and breathing in its own space, having parted from the FIFA branding, seemingly for good. While EA FC 24 might bear a fresh name, there are many things to note about its next chapter, that would appeal to new and old fans alike. While EA FC 24 takes some solid steps forward in terms of gameplay and overall depth, it still relies heavily on the flow and mechanics that have come before. But with deeper management and Ultimate Team modes providing some much-needed variety, it’s a good time to be a football fan.
Poetry in Motion
There’s plenty to talk about in this year’s newest football fiesta, but let’s address some of the most noticeable improvements and adjustments. EA FC 24 is now utilising the HyperMpotion V engine, and while we had covered this point in our EA FC 24 preview, we still feel this new engine’s description rings true here:
“Exclusive to current-gen consoles (sorry PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch), the technology has allowed EA to capture 180 matches worth of data to substitute traditional motion capture, giving players an incredibly accurate level of realism and detail in the way they move and react during games. While previous FIFA titles had touched on this through motion-captured players, there’s a certain level of authenticity and natural tenacity you get by recording candid in-game actions.”
It certainly works a treat and helps differentiate the playstyles of various players, both in terms of the skill level and how they react to the ball. Players like Kylian Mbappé feel light and athletic, attentive to the ball and responding with a strategic touch, while players like Erling Haaland respond more so with brute force and explosiveness. While it’s great to look at, EA FC 24 is ultimately familiar in the hands, given the previous FIFA iterations had put so much work into motion capture and player animations to begin with.
Newer features like in-game fatigue and first-person referee views when players commit fouls are also a nice touch, and go a long way in boosting the sense of realism and variety during gameplay. Unfortunately, players are still subject to some wonky animations. I can appreciate the sense of realism that comes from players colliding with the side fences, even if there’s some weird clipping going on between certain players when they clash or are caught in an awkward jostle that seems to hook them together when running opposite directions. It’s far from game-breaking but does momentarily disrupt the flow of a game.
Ball Skills and Playstyles
EA FC 24 might feel familiar at times, but it’s certainly trying to take some serious steps forward. The addition of the Playstyles feature allows players to customise and adapt to each player’s individual quirks, skills and star traits, adding to the fact that the majority of players rarely control the same way. While it plays more into the player-infused Career and Management modes, there’s a sense of purpose that comes with the progression, as you slowly piece together your favourite player with the shot of Haaland and the finesse of Messi. I guess one really can dream.
As you build the ideal Playstyle, you’ll come across 32 unique abilities laid out across six distinct categories, namely Shooting, Defending, Passing, Physical, Ball Control and Goal Keeping. Players can also utilise a range of sub-abilities, which act like smaller perks over those main abilities. I’m a sucker for the controlling midfielder in any situation, be it Pro Clubs or Career modes, and went straight for the First Touch ability, which allowed me to steer and direct the ball with more accuracy when receiving passes under pressure.
Play it Your Way
For as expansive and unique as the Playstyles feature is, it’s only worth it when you start applying them to your player within these dedicated modes. The Career mode provides a number of ways for you to begin your journey, through the lower leagues or straight into the big time, though the overall structure and pace feel relatively unchanged. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, but if PlayStayles had not been involved, you’d be sinking into the repetitive loop of training and playing all too soon. Certain additions like reward ceremonies, namely the Ballon d’Or, have now been added, which gives you something to strive for but rarely amounts to more than a fancy cutscene.
The real kicker here is the deeper Management Career mode. While you’ll deal with the ins and outs of the club as a business, from transfer windows, training sessions and strategies, to pre-game and post-game interviews, it’s simply the better choice because it feels like it has more to offer on top of the same gameplay that features in the standard individual Career mode. The aforementioned Playstyles feature isn’t necessarily the star of the show here, but variety certainly is.
Tactical Vision is applied instead of the individual Playstyles, which now applies to the whole team. You’ll also need to manage both player and team morale through carefully curated answers to interviews, which can ultimately affect how your players perform out there on the field. With the overall gameplay intact, that extra level of strategy and accountability feels like a more well-rounded approach to encapsulating everything EA FC 24 has to offer, both on and off the pitch.
The retuning Volta mode also feels familiar but in the best way. It’s a lighter approach to street football, that plays upon cheeky tricks and a more relaxed pace. That being said, it’s as fun as it’s ever been. With a new selection of stadiums on offer as well, I certainly recommend diving in at some point, simply to break up the overall gameplay.
As many would have expected, the Ultimate Team mode makes a comeback to EA FC 24, with some new and unique twists. While it’s still going to gouge at your wallet from time to time, its decision to mix both male and female players to create a dominating force feels like a nice touch. It feels like sporting games are always dividing the two leagues, and while they remain separate in other modes, it’s a welcome change here. You’ll certainly gain packs and players by completing single-player and multiplayer matches, the grind is never over unless you’re willing to part with some cash.
These modes all blend well online, and while Pro Clubs feels relatively unchanged, it also benefits from the new Playstyles feature, where teammates and friends can coordinate to mix and match their unique abilities, all inspired by their favourite players.
Look the Part
It’s worth noting here that EA FC 24 looks gorgeous, particularly on next-gen platforms. Player likeness is on another level, while stadiums and grounds benefit from some impressive lighting and textures. It also runs incredibly well, although I must admit, these games usually do anyway.
Given EA FC 24 has ditched the FIFA name, it’s not to its detriment. Over 19,000 fully licensed players are on board, along with 700 teams, and 30 leagues from women’s football, which is a huge plus. It’s also awesome that they share the same statistical effects as the men, so the best women in the world like Sam Kerr for example, are going to hold their weight against anyone on the pitch, not just the ladies.
EA FC 24 might feel familiar in the hands, but thanks to the Playstyles feature and newer HyperMotion V engine, the franchise is still on track to move things forward in new and exciting ways. While I wish some of the modes had been treated to a more significant facelift, there’s hope in the fact that EA FC 24 is arguably as strong as the franchise has ever been.
THREE AND A HALF STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
Highlights: Improved gameplay; HyperMotion V looks great; Playstyles add great depth to player individuality and customisation; Stellar presentation
Lowlights: Players still partake in weird interactions; Certain modes, while functional, could use a revamp
Developer: EA Romania, EA Vancouver
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Platforms: PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, Windows PC
Review conducted on PlayStation 5 with a code provided by the publisher.