EA Sports FC 24Xbox Series X/S, PS5/PS4, Xbox One, Switch, PC ¦ sport
One of the most recognised video gaming franchises globally has to be EA’s FIFA series. So much so that despite being the name of the International Federation of Association Football (Fédération Internationale de Football Association), the governing bodies name has becoming synonymous with the video game, so much so that it would be simply referred to as playing FIFA.
Or it was at least, as all that has changed now. Despite the franchise being around since 1993, EA’s relationship with FIFA recently broke down, irreconcilably it seems, with FIFA demanding a far larger share of the profits. But when EA decided it was too much, FIFA took their licensed branded ball away, thus FIFA the game is no more.
So in its place is now EA Sports FC 24. A time to possibly re-boot the franchise, which in recent years, has been basically the same game with a few minor tweaks. Or if you were unlucky enough to be playing it on the Switch, exactly the same game year after year with no tweaks whatsoever.
So after a 30 year relationship with FIFA, what is EA Sports FC 24?
Well, it’s FIFA 24, by everything but name, so if you were expecting a whole new gaming experience, that’s not the case. In fact, in terms of controlling players and the matches themselves, it’s a seamless transition, so much so that, on the surface at least, it doesn’t feel a million miles away from FIFA 23.
So one of the biggest changes in game is a name change; the very popular and highly lucrative FUT (FIFA Ultimate Football) mode, with all its tempting micro-transactions, has been re-branded to UT, which meant the marketing team didn’t give an F about putting some thought into it. It’s still the same con it’s been for a number of years, whereby if you want the best players, you’re going to have to pay for them, one way or another. But as long as you’re not obsessed with filling your team with the likes of Messi, Mbappe and the like, you can still get along fine in this mode without dipping your hands into your pockets.
If you’ve played this mode before, it’s the same old, same old, with one difference – women players are now also included. This isn’t necessarily an issue, except perhaps when you get a reward and you’re only offered female players, none of whom you are likely to have heard of unless you follow the women’s game. Now some may see this as far from being a reward, but perhaps its EA’s way of promoting the women’s game, which if is the case, you have to give them some credit for.
The fact is the female players included are rated exactly the same across the board as their male counterparts, so an 80 rated female player will be on par with the same rated male. And this is somewhat of a niggle. For a game that is supposedly a sports sim, it seems to be entering the world of fantasy. Let’s say in the real world, you took ten random wingers from the Premier league, and raced them against the ten best female wingers in the world. Both science and logic dictates that all the men will finish in a 100 metre sprint ahead of the women. That’s just fact. But not in EA Sports FC24, as females can not only match your speedy players but surpass them. And although this encourages players to have female players in their teams, which is no bad thing, it is not representative of real life scenarios on the pitch, which the franchise has been keen to promote over the years, with their most ‘realistic’ physics engines. If that means most realistic ponytails, of which there are a fair number swishing about – for both men and women – then sure.
We would have preferred a women’s only league, or even bringing back the inventive single player campaign with a female character, which then could have been a great way to illustrate the differences between the two games.
But other than that, there are no major changes. There’s career mode, for both player and manager (although not the opportunity for being a player manager which there has been in the past, which is shame), as well as tournaments, seasons, etc.
This was the first season we dipped our toe into the world of Volta, having never really been keen on it previously. And there is some fun to be had here, but much of it relies, as does much of the game itself, on who you’re lucky enough to get teamed up with for matches. We have kept away from all online matches for a number of years now, just because of the huge number of unpleasant beings you come across, and sadly that still appears to be the case.
In three different matches we had a player on our side who wasn’t even slightly interested in being a team player, who hogged the ball incessantly. It got to the point where we joined the opposition in tackling them, just to make a game of it. And this sadly, isn’t an isolated case, as anyone who plays online will know.
One other gripe is the interface, which is one of the worst in recent years, which can make navigating around unnecessarily awkward at the best of times. Of all the things to tinker with in a new iteration...
The fact of the matter is, that despite the very small changes, EA still have the best football game out there, especially since Konami’s effort has virtually withered away without a trace since going free-to-play.
And although there’s not much change for the current gen consoles, there’s good news, of sorts, for Switch owners, with this version for the system being an improvement – it actually has a version of UT for instance, which it never has before – but reviews haven’t been glowing, with its 30FPS and performance issues, so it should only be picked up if it’s your only choice.
Things may change if FIFA manage to sell their hefty rights to a studio that can afford them, as well as know their way around the sport itself, which we hope they do because any kind of competition for this genre can only benefit consumers.
But until then however, EA’s latest effort will have to do. It’s just disappointing that there was a real opportunity to re-boot the franchise, which has looked more and more tired over the years, but the truth is, this is exactly the game we would have got if EA held onto the FIFA license anyway.
And it’s unlikely that the change in name will make much of a difference, in fact it’s very likely it’s achieved the same kind of status as Hoover, Aspirin and Chapstick, where the brand name has replaced the name of the product, with players still asking their mates if they fancy a game of FIFA, despite the name change.
It’s still the beautiful game, but you just know there’s potential here to make it even better.