Off the pitch, EA Sports FC 24 struggles to establish an identity, but the addition of HyperMotionV and key upgrades to fan-favorite modes including Pro Clubs and Ultimate Team make this franchise-starter an objectively better football game than its de facto predecessor.
The best FIFA graphics ever
Pro Clubs cross-play
Integration of women into Ultimate Team
License-free menus feel soulless
Familiar microtransaction onslaught
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Platform reviewed: PS5
Available on: PS5, Xbox Series X|S, PC, PS4, Xbox One
Release date: Early access: Sept 22, regular release: Sept 29
EA Sports FC 24 is the football video game phoenix that has risen from the ashes of the FIFA series. It feels to akin its predecessor and introduces some bold new features, but first, it’s worth remembering how we got here.
In brief, EA cut ties with FIFA in 2022 after the latter demanded a reported $1 billion (One. Billion. Dollars.) for the continued use of the 'FIFA' moniker in EA’s long-running video game series, with FIFA 23 marking the last in a thirty-year run of FIFA-branded EA titles.
EA opted to forge ahead with a new, FIFA-free version of its annual soccer simulator in 2023, and the result is EA Sports FC 24 – a rather ugly-sounding name for what the developer is describing as the “most true-to-football experience ever.” But is EA’s first solo project – which I’m now calling FC24 for the benefit of both my typing fingers and your eyeballs – really anything more than a FIFA clone in different clothes? Or has EA here crafted a markedly different offering from the new-but-not-really-new FIFA entries we’ve become accustomed to habitually buying in recent years?
Well, for starters, neither Messi, Ronaldo nor Mbappé adorns the cover. This year’s poster boy is Norwegian soccer cyborg Erling Haaland – and after several hours spent scoring goals, conceding (even more) goals, and applying undue pressure to the grips of my DualSense controller, I’m happy to report that the changes in FC24 don’t stop there.
An even more beautiful game
FC24 runs on a refreshed Frostbite graphics engine that provides the perfect foundation for EA’s latest buzzword-y feature, HyperMotionV. This is the third iteration of the developer’s motion capture technology, with volumetric data (hence the ‘V’) now on hand to deliver even more motion-based realism than we saw in FIFA 23. EA says it gathered this volumetric data from more than 180 real-life professional football matches, and the in-game improvements are plain to see from the moment you set foot on the grass.
Players now move in a way that more closely resembles their flesh-and-bone counterparts; individual muscles flex, hair strands dance in the wind, and kit fabric ripples when brushed by an overzealous defender. Strikers will fall into shots, bundling the ball over the line when it's been zipped in with too much speed to control properly, and defenders will visibly grimace when lunging in for a last-ditch block (they’ll also be aggressively congratulated by their teammates if that effort prevents an opposition goal).
HyperMotionV is best demonstrated through players with distinct movement types: for example, as in real life, Riyad Mahrez remains noticeably upright as he dribbles, while Phil Foden slaloms between defenders by dropping his shoulder to the floor. That said, some neat AI wizardry applies the benefits of EA’s new technology to every player in the game, so a local, regional derby in the North of England looks just as convincing as El Clásico.
FIFA 23’s HyperMotion 2 technology brought noticeable improvements to peripheral areas of the pitch – the net, the turf, the crowd, and so on – but HyperMotionV represents another genuinely palpable step up in FC24 (it’s worth noting, though, that this feature is exclusive to the PS5, Xbox Series X|S and PC versions of the game).
Dripping in finesse
There are some neat new additions on the action front, too. This year’s headline feature is PlayStyles, an Opta-optimized attribute system that supplements players’ existing skill sets with style-specific boosts – it’s essentially a replacement for the old Traits system.
There are 32 PlayStyles in total, split across six categories – Shooting, Passing, Defending, Ball Control, Physical, and Goalkeeping – with the very best players also benefiting from PlayStyles+, which are basically enhanced versions of a certain PlayStyle. Players known for curling in shots from a distance might be equipped with the Finesse Shot PlayStyle, for instance, which allows them to perform finesse shots faster and more accurately than those without it.
The world’s very best long-range ball curlers, like Heung-Min Son and Mohamed Salah, are equipped with the Finesse Shot PlayStyle+, which gives them maximum curve and exceptional shooting accuracy. These boosts really do translate into superior in-game performance, and players in traditionally unglamorous footballing roles, like holding defensive midfielders, feel much more valuable to the team than ever before (top tip: the Intercept PlayStyle, boasted by the likes of Aurélien Tchouaméni and N'Golo Kanté, is pretty much a cheat code for automatically regaining possession).
FC24 also introduces new passing mechanics. There are now three different Precision Pass styles: the standard Precision Pass, the Precision Lob, and the Swerved Precision Pass. As with FIFA 22’s timed runs mechanic, these button combo-induced passes are tricky to master – and they definitely don’t work every time – but they’re a nice new option for skilled players who enjoy the challenge of beyond-the-manual controls. Controlled Sprint – another new FC24 mechanic that lets you run with the ball much closer to your feet by simply holding R1/RB – will definitely be a more welcome addition for casual players.
FIFA 23 added the ability to exert more control over how the ball travels to its target from a free kick or corner, and thankfully, the same mechanics are present and correct in FC24 (although, somehow, EA has managed to make the free kick interface appear ever more frightening than before).
Old modes, new tricks
The playable modes in FC24 are nigh-on identical to those in FIFA 23, and, as we’ve come to expect from EA, some of these modes have clearly had more attention paid to them than others.
The biggest shake-up comes to Ultimate Team, which now combines male and female players for the very first time. The ratings awarded to the latter are relative to the competition in which they play, but on the pitch, their attributes are worth the same as their male counterparts (so Barcelona star Alexia Putellas has a similar Ultimate Team card to Kevin De Bruyne, for instance).
Unsurprisingly, some have criticized EA for gender-blending in what is indisputably its most popular mode, but the logic behind the move is clear: the inclusion of women in Ultimate Team will have a meaningful impact on the prominence of the game’s best female players. Besides, why wouldn’t you want a 90-rated Sam Kerr leading your forward line? I’ve been playing FC24 for about a week now, and I’m already familiar with the names, faces, and attributes of three times as many female players as I was before I picked up the game. The naysayers will naysay, but EA is using its considerable cultural power for good here.
Hitting my first successful Precision Pass to split open my opponent’s defense in a way that hasn’t been possible before. I struggled with this mechanic at first, but after practicing the required input combinations in the Training Hub, Precision Passes became a powerful tool that I’ll continue to use regularly with the right players (looking at you, Trent Alexander-Arnold).
The aforementioned PlayStyles system adds a new dimension to Ultimate Team, too. As part of a new Evolutions feature, you can improve a qualifying player’s stats, overall rating, PlayStyles, and card design by completing objectives. In other words, you don’t need to wait for EA’s typically ridiculous seasonal cards to drop before transforming, say, Richarlison into a striker who can actually score goals. Evolutions are split between those suggested by EA and those you create yourself. Though, of course, the developer has also introduced a pay-to-win element here: you can speed up a player’s ‘Evolution’ for the princely sum of 50,000 coins (or 1,000 FC Points).
Career mode has also received some welcome updates, but they’re not nearly as significant as those in Ultimate Team. The bottom line: there’s now a focus on tactics over training. Once you pick a team, you’re encouraged to select a tactical vision – the options are standard, wing play, tiki-taka, gegenpressing, park the bus, counterattack, or kick and rush. You then need to hire coaches to implement your chosen tactical vision, and these coaches grow in rating (as players do) when you win matches by using those tactics successfully. To be honest, it’s all pretty surface-level stuff – this is FC24, not Football Manager – but since your tactical vision can be changed at any time, it’s fun to experiment with team sheets and try different tactics against different teams.
Mercifully, EA has finally done away with those annoying daily training sessions in Career mode, but that doesn't mean there’s now no control over how your team prepares for a match. As before, you can put individual players on specific training plans to suit their play styles, but now your assistant coach will advise (read: tell) you when to do this for certain players. Oh, and if you really do want to play coach, career mode has a new (albeit crushingly boring) tactical view option that lets you watch matches from the dugout.
Seasons, Tournaments, Online Friendlies, and Volta remain largely unchanged from FIFA 23, but Pro Clubs has been rebranded to Clubs, and EA has finally added generation-specific cross-play to the latter mode, too. The Clubs progression format has also changed; now, each calendar month represents a season, with seasons split into a League phase, a Promotion phase, and a Play-off phase. I haven’t had a chance to jump into a Clubs match with friends yet, but it’s good to see EA finally showing this fan-favorite mode some real love.
If I’ve got one real criticism of FC24, it’s the game’s aesthetic. Or rather, how everything looks off the pitch. The entire menu system has been redesigned compared to previous FIFA entries, and although, after some practice, it’s quicker to navigate than before, the whole thing feels strangely soulless and sanitary, like something assembled by a corporate committee.
This isn’t helped by the odd color palette EA has opted for – the Ultimate Team interface, in particular, looks like something designed by Willem Dafoe’s Green Goblin. The FIFA games looked much more inviting (dare I say, fun?) by comparison, and although this is certainly not a big enough criticism to warrant not buying the game, FIFA’s absence from FC24 is palpable in this respect.
But despite losing its star license, EA has again set the benchmark for what current-gen football simulators should look and, more importantly, play like with FC24. This is a game that’s both fun for newcomers and optionally challenging for skilled players, and FIFA loyalists will be grateful for the impressive number of meaningful updates made to the series’ most popular modes. The name is terrible, but FC24 is a strong start for EA’s new footballing franchise.
FC24 features the usual suite of EA accessibility options, all of which can be found in the dedicated Accessibility Settings tab. These options include color-blindness filters, the ability to increase the size of the player indicator, subtitles and stick remapping.
How we reviewed EA Sports FC 24
I played EA Sports FC 24 for around 20 hours on PS5, spending significant time in every mode but Clubs. I started a Career mode save as the manager of Chelsea FC, built (and played several matches with) a mixed-gender Ultimate Team squad, and tested various PlayStyles in Kick Off.
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Axel is a London-based Senior Staff Writer at TechRadar, reporting on everything from the latest Apple developments to newest movies as part of the site's daily news output. Having previously written for publications including Esquire and FourFourTwo, Axel is well-versed in the applications of technology beyond the desktop, and his coverage extends from general reporting and analysis to in-depth interviews and opinion.
Axel studied for a degree in English Literature at the University of Warwick before joining TechRadar in 2020, where he then earned an NCTJ qualification as part of the company’s inaugural digital training scheme.