EA Sports FC 24 doesn’t entirely reinvent the wheel in its first foray away from the official FIFA branding. That’s not a bad thing though – the array of gameplay tweaks and additions to key modes, combined with some well-needed refreshes to the game’s presentation and menus, has made my time with it more than enjoyable.
If you’ve been a dedicated player of EA Sports’ FIFA titles over the last few years, jumping into FC 24 isn’t going to exactly surprise you. All of what made the former titles so great (and stale at times) is still here, revamped with new branding and some nice new menus. While they are flashy and relatively nice to look at, the actual navigation of these menus is a little finicky – I’m still finding myself following old muscle memory movements to navigate around, but as time goes on that’ll fade away.
As a Career Mode aficionado, I was anxious to spend my first few hours with the game checking out everything new on offer. Yet sadly, there’s not a whole lot of new at all. That said, there are some notable small additions that I’ve enjoyed playing around with.
The first of these is having your team adapt to your Tactical Vision. These are specific tactics that your team will work towards performing out on the pitch. They range from focusing on soaking up pressure and playing on the counter, to playing Barcelona-esque tiki-taka football. There are a decent amount of Tactical Visions to pick from, and I like how they give your team a particular identity while they’re out on the pitch.
In order to have your team successfully play your preferred tactic, you need to hire coaches in each main positional department that excel in that tactical style. They’ll then instruct your players in those positions on how to play that style, developing their game to suit your vision. It’s a relatively deep and welcome addition that genuinely does change the way players develop over the course of a season.
Each team’s associated with a certain Tactical Vision, and you can scope these out in the new pre-game preparation screen. This enables you to finally look at relevant stats as you come up against an opponent, like their last five results, what kind of tactics they play and key players to keep an eye on. As someone who loves their statistics while playing through a career, I absolutely adore this addition. And hey, you can now equip glasses when customising your coach! Finally.
When it comes time to actually lace up the boots and kick a ball, there’ve been quite a few changes made to the gameplay in FC 24 to get used to. First and foremost, the introduction of PlayStyles alters the way particular players ply their trade. Rather than just having traits that do little to affect the way a player actually performs, PlayStyles (and PlayStyles+) directly affect certain attributes and abilities. Players with the long-range finishing PlayStyle, for example, will get a better and faster connection on the ball when taking those particular shots. Continuing to dominate with a particular PlayStyle will see that player gain the plus version of the PlayStyle, which will make them even better when executing that move.
I was particularly impressed with the game’s graphical presentation and general production values, too. HyperMotion V makes player interactions look more believable than in previous entries, and players tend to look and feel a bit more like their real-world counterparts this year.
As well as this, I’m a big fan of the way statistics are used on the field during a game. Whether it’s showing shots on target over the last five minutes or stamina drain on each player – having these little statistical packages pop up every now and again enhanced the experience a lot for me. It’s unique in its own way and ultimately quite a neat addition to the presentation of the game.
My only major gripe with the game so far has been encountering some fairly annoying bugs. I’m hopeful these will be addressed relatively soon, but there’s been a few occasions where I’ve had to reset my game as it locked up within menus. The biggest culprit so far is when trying to fire a coach in Career Mode. The game completely locks up and you’re forced into resetting the game (thankfully, autosave usually comes to the rescue). This was on the Xbox Series version of the game, so perhaps be wary when dealing with tactical coaches until a patch comes along.
There have been a couple of significant updates to Football Ultimate Team (which feels incredibly weird to write) that make EA’s cash cow game mode better than it’s ever been. The most prominent of these is the introduction of female players. Even as someone who has a particular disdain for Ultimate Team’s microtransaction-heavy model, this change has made me want to dive back in more than I ever have in previous years.
There’s so much more versatility when it comes to creating teams this year, and I’ve had a blast crafting teams around professional national leagues rather than just focusing on the men’s leagues. It’s unfortunate the vocal minority of the community have taken an immediate distaste to this change, but for me it’s been the one key reason to return back to Ultimate Team every now and again – it’s a great move that changes the way you build out your squad.
As well as this, FUT also introduces Evolution Cards. These cards allow you to upgrade the attributes of a base card, making them better and more purpose-built for your needs. In order to upgrade Evolution Cards you have to meet certain challenge criteria, like playing a certain amount of games with them in your starting lineup or assisting a handful of goals. Fulfilling each challenge criteria will allow you to then level up the card, upgrading the overall level of the card and its attributes. It’s a neat change that allows you to finely tune players that fit within the evolution criteria, and I enjoyed having some extra objectives to work towards during my time in Ultimate Team.
FC 24’s career modes have been my other main go-to throughout my time with the game. As I noted earlier, I’ve had a great time playing around with the new tactical visions in Manager Career and seeing them play out. It’s been a nice change to assess how each team I’ve come up against play, and how I’ve then had to adjust my thinking to be aware of their style of play.
Unfortunately, I didn’t find Player Career all that compelling this time around. Having your agent choose target clubs to work towards earning a contract with – and completing objectives to secure a contract – is arduous at best. I’m also confused as to why I couldn’t request to go out on loan or even submit a transfer request anymore. The new system can be fun enough, but taking core features away from the mode makes Player Career feel quite boring when compared with everything else on offer in FC 24.
After years of relative neglect, FC 24’s Clubs mode has finally been given a hit of life. Crossplay has been introduced, along with a new progression system that focuses on reputation. Every time you play a match, you’ll gain fans that ultimately contribute to your club’s overall reputation. Leveling up will give you more skilled AI teammates, along with new stadiums to make use of and FUT-styled vanity items to decorate your stadium with.
The Clubs League has also been reworked as well, taking away the punishment of being relegated in divisions and giving teams an unlimited number of matches to gather the points required to get into the Playoff phase. It’s a nice change that takes away some of the stagnation that can be often felt in this mode, and I’m particularly pleased to not have to go through the stress of dealing with relegation and working through a lower division all over again.
Unfortunately I can’t say too much has changed in FC 24’s street football mode, Volta Football, though. As has been the case for a few years now, the mode’s been rinsed and recycled with very little added. I’ll say it every year – there’s a serious missed opportunity here, as even after no major changes for years Volta is still a lot of fun as a getaway from the main 11v11 modes. Just don’t expect much in the way of change.
Even so, FC 24 does shine where it matters most and that’s in its gameplay. It feels better than it ever has, and I’ve enjoyed my time playing around with the new tactical options on offer. Speaking of, the newly-added ‘tactical’ camera is excellent, giving you a wider view of the pitch. This view allows switches of play and intricate movement to look and feel particularly good to pull off properly, and I’d definitely recommend giving it a go.
Similarly, I’ve really enjoyed the new presentation packages that play out in each mode as well as the added commentary from Guy Mowbray and Sue Smith, which offer a nice change of pace from series veterans Derek Rae and Stewart Robson.
While it isn’t the reinvention some may have been hoping for, EA Sports FC 24 is a great footy sim that nails the fundamentals. The additions to Football Ultimate Team are good, Career Mode feels fresher than it has in a while and the general gameplay is better than it’s ever been. There’s still no better football game out there.
EA Sports FC 24 doesn’t go out of its way to change too much, but it doesn’t need to – the additions to Ultimate Team, refined gameplay and nicer presentation packages make it a great football sim.
Great, refined gameplay
PlayStyles and PlayStyles+ are nice additions
Presentation packages are top notch
Female players in Ultimate Team is a hugely welcome update
Ultimate Team is, as always, filled with microtransactions
Player Career is a slog
Volta Football is left to fend for itself as usual