FIFA 23 review: A fine farewell

A potentially final FIFA title improves just enough over last year.

FIFA 23 Screenshots
(Image: © EA Sports )

Windows Central Verdict

FIFA 23 is a step up for the FIFA series as far as gameplay and in-game elements go, and the tweaks to gameplay and addition of new modes does help the game overall. However, microtransactions remain one of the biggest stains in this series, and oftentimes outshine even the good.

Pros

  • +

    + Near lifelike simulation of soccer

  • +

    + Tweaks to gameplay make things feel even better

  • +

    + Changes to game modes add fun new ways to play

Cons

  • -

    Reliance on microtransactions in core game modes continues to be a huge problem.

  • -

    Some modes had surprising lack of updates

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FIFA 23 represents the final chapter in the long-running Electronic Arts france, as the last in the series, following a split between EA and FIFA. The partnership ended in a very public breakup, seeing EA lose rights to the FIFA name as the international body searches for future gaming partners. The next game is set to adopt the name "EA SPORTS FC," starting with its future 2023 release.

While FIFA developer, EA Sports, could have used this last entry to offer an experience more or less identical to its predecessor, it delivers more than fine tunings. Instead, FIFA 23 represents the franchise's solid continuation of the slow and steady rise out of the mud, ongoing since FIFA 20.

I've been hands-on with the game over the last couple of days, and in a bittersweet finale, it's pretty clear that this might be one of the best entries yet. However, a looming shadow over most EA Sports products returns, bringing down an otherwise fantastic foundation for soccer fans.

Disclaimer: This review was made possible by a review code provided by EA Sports. The company did not see the contents of the review before publishing.

FIFA 23: What's good

FIFA 23 Screenshots

(Image credit: EA Sports )

When you first play your first game in FIFA 23, it's once again obvious how incredible this game looks. Unlike other blockbuster games that may chase larger annual changes, FIFA (and sports games in general) can only iterate so much between installments. However, that doesn't mean FIFA 23 hasn't improved where it counts.

Soccer — or football, as it's known throughout the world outside of the U.S. — is known for its incredible gameday atmosphere, and that's represented beautifully. FIFA has always been a striking game visually, but things look even more realistic and inch as close as possible to watching a real soccer game.

Ads scroll by on giant digital banners along the pitch, crowds serenade the players with songs and roar to life as you get closer to the goal. Even the announcers sounds are conveyed in a realistic fashion, and while these factors may not be big to some, it's great for fans of the sport or anyone looking to recreate the pitchside experience.

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CategoryFIFA 23
Developer EA Sports
Publisher EA Sports
Genre Sports
Install Size 37.35 GB
Players Single-player, local/online multiplayer
Playtime 25+ hours
Release dateSeptember 26, 2022
Retail price $70
Platforms Xbox, PlayStation, Nintendo Switch, PC
Xbox Game Pass No
Reviewed on Xbox Series X

FIFA 23 also nails how the game plays, as well. FIFA has always felt relatively great in how it handles the more subtle aspects of soccer, like moving with the ball or sending a booming crossing kick across the pitch. 

With the latest console systems like the Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5, players are treated to an entirely new animation package dubbed "HyperMotion 2." Similar to what its name suggests, HyperMotion 2 uses advanced motion capture and machine learning to deliver improved animations for players on the ground. This results in probably the smoothest playstyle of FIFA yet, with each player offering distinct movement and traits when you're not in control.

Outside of the animation changes to FIFA 23, there have been some new gameplay tweaks. While the soccer players don't necessarily have hyper-unique styles, they do have different skill sets, all of which are now represented thanks to FIFA's "AcceleRATE" system. This expansion to the player movement system gives players unique archetypes of Controlled, Explosive, and Lengthy. 

Now, players who are explosive will push the ball much faster down the field, while those known for their finesse and control easily get past defenders.

FIFA 23 Screenshots

(Image credit: EA Sports )

Other aspects of gameplay have also been addressed, with a slight tweak to the shooting system found in previous FIFA titles. Now, the game includes something known as "power shots," which are a skill-based mechanic that can add power and accuracy to a kick, but will result in a loss of time to shoot and higher degree of input precision. 

While this can be a bit tricky to get used to at first, you'll see an improvement in control and scoring ability with enough practice. When it comes to placing kicks, set pieces — events like free kicks, corner kicks, etc. — have also been redesigned in FIFA 23. Now, players have way more control over how they're able to take a free kick, penalty, or corner kick.

Unlike past years, you're able to now place where exactly on the ball you want to make contact, which can change things like its direction, trajectory, or curl. It's another feature that takes some time and practice to master but will result in huge boost in your capability to nail a certain shot.

The latest HyperMotion 2 animation system makes playing games even more enjoyable.

While the big changes in FIFA 23 focus on the more secondary aspects of the game, the fundamental aspects of playing soccer have also been tweaked. Shots now have trajectories added to them, allowing players to see how a ball will travel slightly before taking the show.

Likewise, passing has a clearer line of sight to see how a ball will move, and a handful of new passing types (outside of foot passes, fancy off-the-back passes, and volley passes, and more) have been added to the game.

Skill Moves, something that has been in the FIFA games franchise for a long time, also got a much-needed and overdue revamp. Four new Skill Moves have been added to the game, giving players much more control over how they can fake out players with the ball.

Left-footed Skill Moves also debut, fulfilling a long-awaited request, with a new setting that allows for more control over how to swap between players on the pitch, making tracking down players a little smoother.

FIFA 23 Screenshots

(Image credit: EA Sports )

Like any sports game, FIFA 23 isn't just about playing simulated soccer games. Outside of its core exhibition modes, FIFA 23 sports a handful of game modes, one of the biggest of which is its Career Mode, which allows players to take over franchises as an owner or manager, with an improved player mode too.

In past FIFA entries, the player-specific Career Mode has been a little lackluster. While training and upgrading your player was possible, there wasn't much else you could do in terms of building a character.

However, new to FIFA 23 is the personality engine, allowing players to align themselves with one of three different archetypes. These archetypes can be upgraded by doing training drills, playing games, and other activities. 

It's not a huge change to the Career Mode as a whole, but it makes playing the game more fun and rewarding. Unlike past iterations, where it felt like a chore going through training drills, there's now much more reason to actually want to try out new drills, and hit in-game goals for as many points as possible. 

FIFA 23 Screenshots

(Image credit: EA Sports )

Elsewhere in FIFA 23, small modes like Volta and Pro Clubs are back and have new changes that make it worth diving into. New Volta games, including six new arcade games, have been added to the title, making it an even more attractive option for those looking for a much looser, more arcade-based style of soccer. 

The game's most popular mode, and by far the biggest mode of its kind, FIFA Ultimate Team, is also back. And while some things inside of FIFA Ultimate Team — known as FUT — have changed for the better, there's still one large shadow that looms large over the entire franchise as a hole. 

FIFA 23: What's not good

FIFA 23 Screenshots

(Image credit: EA Sports )

The primary criticism facing the FIFA franchise (or any sports game, to be fair) continues to be its microtransactions, which gatekeep content every year. Unfortunately, that hasn't changed too much when it comes to the highly popular FIFA Ultimate Team.

Positive refinements include changes to Chemistry, now streamlined and easier to understand. However, it's hard to feel like the Ultimate Team remains bottlenecked unless you plan to spend some real-world cash on the mode.

Once again, microtransactions dominate every aspect of FIFA 23's Ultimate Team mode, muddying an extremely fun mode.

For those unaware, FUT's bread and butter is in how it allows players to build a fantasy team of sorts via card collecting. Unfortunately, many of the better cards in the game can only be obtained by spending what should bexcessiveed by many as an exorbitant amount of money. To compound things even further, pack odd transparency — the odds of what cards are in which pack, and something that fans have been hoping to see changed for years now — remains opaque.

This means it's all but assured that those who spend the most money will have the best teams. If you can look past that, though, the mode is still incredibly fun and packs all the best parts of FIFA 23 into one mode, letting you play with all the legendary players the game has to offer.

FIFA 23: Should you play it?

FIFA 23 Screenshots

(Image credit: EA Sports )

Much like other sports titles, whether or not you should play FIFA 23 really boils down to how much you love the sport. If you're a huge soccer fan, then this is likely the best FIFA has been in a long time and some of the most fun you can get in a soccer video game. Even if you're someone new to the series or looking to return, this is likely the best jumping-in point, and since it's the final EA Sports title bearing the FIFA name, is more than worth playing. 

However, it is important to note that, while some modes of the game are completely not reliant on microtransactions and free to explore, that isn't the case everywhere. If you're looking to get the most out of FIFA Ultimate Team, you'll have to be prepared to either spend money or be happy with a slightly worse team than anyone else you might encounter. 

Outside of that one very large caveat, however, it's hard to deny that FIFA 23 is one of the best entries in the franchise's long history. It's a fine farewell to the series before Electronic Arts moves onto its next phase of virtual soccer. 

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FIFA 23 

Step into one of the most realistic soccer simulations ever created and craft your own legacy, or simply play around with your favorite team. 

Buy from: Xbox (opens in new tab)

Anthony Nash has been writing about games and the gaming industry for nearly a decade. When he’s not writing about games, he’s usually playing them. You can find him on Twitter talking about games or sports at @_anthonynash.