The king is dead, long live the king! The game series FIFA no longer exists for the time being. Developer EA lost the rights to the name of the game series last year. Yet this made little difference to the remaining rights of FC 24, the successor to FIFA 23. Every player you know is in the soccer game. From Ronaldo to Messi, from Robin van Persie to Wesley Sneijder. That base was at the beginning of a very nice refresh, after the last installment was mostly more of the same.
New game, new look
EA has done everything possible to make FC 24 feel like a new game, rather than a new volume of FIFA. Upon startup, you immediately notice that everything looks fresh. The menus have been completely redesigned, which also results in a faster workflow once you get the hang of it. It is a small detail, but it does make us feel like we are playing a new game. Behind the scenes, though, it is noticeable that we are secretly still playing FIFA. For example, I have had a bug in FUT for years where the game crashes when I turn in a player who is in my active team at an SBC. That bug seems to be account bound, as not everyone suffers from it. With me, the bug is remarkably present again in FC 24. Also, the new menus do occasionally cause the game to freeze or crash. This does take me out of the experience every now and then when I have to restart the game, especially since I am otherwise enjoying FC 24 as usual.
As I make my way through FC 24’s flashy new menus, in addition to the new layout, I also notice the addition of a new heading in Football Ultimate Team – formerly known as FIFA Ultimate Team. A handy name, by the way, because it allows EA Sports to just call it FUT. That new heading is called Evolutions and, along with PlayStyles (a type of perks for players), this is the biggest change in Ultimate Team. The real effects of this are still hard to estimate, but at least the possibilities with it are unlimited. With Evolutions, you can theoretically make any player who is unusable according to the meta, usable due to stats, Skill Moves and Weak Foot. Even PlayStyles can be added to a player. You do all this by completing certain challenges with a player, such as scoring in a FUT Champions match.
This should eventually allow for more creativity in teams. Last year, we already thought this was solved with the new chemistry system, but that turned out to backfire in the end. For example, the developer made the mistake of not allowing Icon players (legends of yesteryear) to be linked with players from all leagues, making them a lot less useful. Fortunately, that has now been fixed as well, perhaps making even the lesser gods among the Icons a bit more interesting again.
Playing with Evolutions totally brings back the fun in FUT
Playing with Evolutions totally brings back the fun in FUT for me at least, although I wonder how long this will remain fun when these types of cards are quickly surpassed by cards from the weekly promo. For now, I find that it also challenges me to occasionally try out modes that I might not have picked up very quickly before. Then it just happened that I didn’t play all week until FUT Champions started over the weekend.
A new target group
A number of new perks and the ability to evolve players as a type of Pokémon is not the only shocking change in FC 24. For example, players will also finally get the ability to put women on their teams, something that had been coming for some time. In late 2022, we spoke with a former PSG player, Laure Boulleau, about the possible addition of women in Ultimate Team. What still seemed like a dream to her and many other women at the time, is now a reality.
You can think what you want about it, but it ensures that a larger target group is addressed with FC 24. Even for us, it takes some getting used to when we suddenly see Sam Kerr dueling with Virgil van Dijk. For now, you can take advantage of them in FUT, because they are available a lot cheaper than the men in this mode. At least in terms of quality, they do not underperform, so the question will be how long that price difference will remain the case.
Dancing across the field
Let’s not talk about the countless different modes for a moment, but the glue that brings everything together: the gameplay. There can be so much to do, but if the game doesn’t play well, everyone will be done with it by Christmas. There are years where that was the case because certain mechanics in the game were way too strong. This can result, for example, in the whole year of only throwing crosses in front of the goal, instead of playing normal soccer.
FC 24 is a fast-paced game and that is due to some important adjustments. The way of putting pressure seems to have been changed, so players can no longer keep possession of the ball endlessly. You also have to be careful when playing with a lot of space at your back. Before you know it, the outfield players are gone due to the improved depth passes the game features.
In particular, a player like Martin Odegaard with an overall of 87 can take full advantage of this. This is because Odegaard features the PlayStyle+ Incisive Pass, which allows him to make more accurate depth passes. That’s not all, as his swerve passes (passes with effect) are also delivered with maximum curve and speed. So this is one such perk that makes Odegaard different from other players of generality 87. In total, there are 32 PlayStyles, four of which are for goalkeepers. If you include the plus variant then you end up with a total of 64 PlayStyles.
In FC 24, players are a lot more unique and you won’t easily feel like you are controlling players that resemble real-world players, but otherwise don’t feel like that kind of player. This is due to a new technique for recording players’ movements, which was not possible until recently. Overall, the biggest changes in FC 24 take place on the pitch, with a starring role for a new manual pass (found under the R1/RB button). We just briefly mentioned the swerve pass, this can also be performed using the manual pass. With this, it is finally possible to perform passes that do not go in a straight line, as Modric regularly does. FC 24 feels a little less like the game is on rails, as FIFA often did in the past.
A strong first impression
FC 24 makes an excellent first impression, where the details seem to match. The question with sports games is mainly whether that is still true after a more intensive look. We have been able to put in quite a few hours now, but how do the online servers hold up at peak times, for example? The game plays incredibly smoothly now but often enough it happens that the game starts to feel stagnant as soon as more people come online.
In addition, we will also be digging into the other modes such as Pro Clubs and Career Mode from head to toe in the coming days before making a final judgment.
FC 24 feels fresh so far, and the series desperately needed that. That’s not just because of the complete rework of the menus, which had been the same for years. Gameplay also feels fluid because of the speed and improvements in pressure and depth passes. Players feel more unique in the successor to FIFA 23 thanks to new movement technology. Manual passing and swerve passes add variety to the game and reduce the feeling of predictability. For now, it remains to be seen if the online aspect of the game will hold up during peak play times. We will also dive into Pro Clubs and Career Mode in the near future.