EA and FIFA have ended their long-standing partnership, and the annual FIFA franchise has undergone some significant changes with its newest instalment- well, on the face of things, if nothing else. With EA no longer having access to the FIFA license, its changed the name of its juggernaut franchise to EA Sports FC. Sadly, however, that is also the most meaningful change that this year’s game makes. EA Sports FC 24 is, as has become traditional for this series over the years, yet another iterative upgrade that doesn’t make nearly enough changes and improvements to a tried-and-tested approach to making football sims. That, of course, means that the on-pitch gameplay is solid, as it tends to be every year- but if you were looking for any major departures or radical improvements, you won’t find them here, while even the changes that have been introduced are ultimately not much to write home about.
I’ll start off by giving credit where credit is due, because EA Sports FC 24 is, unsurprisingly, a lot of fun to play when you’re actually on the pitch and controlling your team or your player during a match. That rock solid foundation of tight, responsive, and enjoyable moment-to-moment action is something that FIFA games have always been able to fall back on regardless of any other strengths or any deficiencies, and that doesn’t change with FC 24.
"The on-pitch gameplay is solid, as it tends to be every year- but if you were looking for any major departures or radical improvements, you won’t find them here, while even the changes that have been introduced are ultimately not much to write home about."
Once again, EA is touting improvements to its HyperMotion technology. Dubbed HyperMotion V this year, it brings even more fluid and lifelike animations to the table, and the effect is as granular you might think. This was an area where FIFA 23 (and FIFA 22 before it) already had a steady foundation in place, and FC 24 doesn’t mess with that an awful lot. Signature run styles for a number of players have been added in this year, so you’ll be able to see and feel the difference between the sprints of say, Marcus Rashford or Vinicius Jr., but again, it’s a marginal improvement.
The other big improvement that FC 24 touts is PlayStyles, which allocates players specific attributes (from a pool of over 30) based on their strengths and specialties, so Erling Haaland, for instance, has the Power Shot PlayStyle, while Bruno Fernandes has the Pinged Pass PlayStyle in his locker. Players in FIFA games have had specific attributes based on their real-world skills for years, though the new PlayStyles systems is a neat twist on the concept, and if nothing else, makes it much easier to clearly identify the parts of a game a player is good at when you’re building your team.
On the whole, the on-pitch gameplay in FC 24 is quite similar to FIFA 23. Like every year, some changes have obviously been made to the pace of the game, and this year, there’s a clear emphasis on attacking, with defensive gameplay being pushed into the background a little bit more, but by and large, you’re not going to notice any other major changes.
One area where you will instantly notice the changes are the menus and the entire UI. To go along with a new brand identity, FC 24 has completely revamped many of its menus to give them a cleaner, sleeker look. Meanwhile, also on the more cosmetic front, on the broadcast side of things, the game also introduces new pre-match, post-match, and half time cutscenes for when you’re actually playing matches, showing on-pitch presenters having interviews with players in the aftermath of a match, teammates talking with each other in the dressing room at half time, commentators analyzing the match in the gantry, and more.
"On the whole, the on-pitch gameplay in FC 24 is quite similar to FIFA 23. Like every year, some changes have obviously been made to the pace of the game, and this year, there’s a clear emphasis on attacking, with defensive gameplay being pushed into the background a little bit more, but by and large, you’re not going to notice any other major changes."
It’s not as cool as it sounds, though, because there’s little to no interactivity and no unique audio or VO, so it comes across as little more than fancy new set dressing. The new cutscenes don’t really add much of value beyond the initial novelty of watching them for the first time, and to make matters worse, FC 24 has entirely removed pre-match walkouts and lineups, which means match build-ups are now just a couple of brief cutscenes that don’t really feel much like an actual broadcast. FC 24 might have a leg up over its predecessors where flash and pomp are concerned, but when it comes to successfully replicating the actual matchday experience, it feels like a significant step back.
The game stumbles with a few of its other headlining changes as well. Take the Career Mode for instance, which has already been neglected and left to stagnate far longer than it should have. Each year, the series introduces changes that are made to sound like a far bigger deal than they end up being, and what we’re left is with the exact same framework we’ve had for years on end, with a few bells and whistles added on top as little more than distractions. That’s very much the case in this year’s game as well.
As you begin a new Manager Career, FC 24 tells you that it’s incredibly important to build the right coaching staff- for the first time ever, you’re responsible for scouting and hiring coaches, making sure that they have the right attributes for the kind of football you play, and ensuring that you have as many coaches (and different kinds of coaches) as your squad needs, depending on its size and composition. But none of that is ever actually put into practice. Beyond that initial setup where I hired a few members of my new coaching staff and assigned them to different areas of the pitch, I hardly ever paid any attention to the whole thing, even when I was technically falling short of how many coaches my squad needs. It had minimal impact on my team and its performance, if that.
Career Mode in this year’s game also introduces training plans, which require you to keep tinkering with the training schedule not only for your squad, but even individual players, with the ultimate goal being to properly manage their load so they can remain at peak fitness and sharpness from weak to weak. But that, too, is implemented in the shallowest way possible. Ultimately, it boils down to simply swapping between one of five options for a player’s training plan when you get an inbox message from your assistant that tells you exactly what to do, which happens quite often. It’s plain old busywork, nothing more, nothing less, and it also gets incredibly annoying, because every time you do change a player’s training plan, you get a message from your assistant telling you to stop changing your training plans all the time. Every. Single. Time. You’re the one who asked me to change it in the first place, man. What the hell do you want from me?
"Each year, the series introduces changes to Career Mode that are made to sound like a far bigger deal than they end up being, and what we’re left is with the exact same framework we’ve had for years on end, with a few bells and whistles added on top as little more than distractions. That’s very much the case in this year’s game as well."
Another new feature in this year’s Career Mode is being able to participate in one-off training sessions before matches by having a select few players from your squad run through different training drills. This, however, is little more than a reskin of the minigames you played before every match in previous FIFA games, just presented in different wrapping. Yes, successfully completing a drill does grant the players who have participated (who are automatically picked for you) temporary PlayStyles for the next match, but that’s hardly enough of a difference. The other facet of pre-match preparation is looking at a scouting report of your opponent- though it’s less looking at a scouting report and more looking at the team’s lineup that doesn’t really say much about how they actually play. Not that you would ever really need that information to win a match- Football Manager this is not.
And that’s really the story of FC 24 in its entirety. EA had the perfect opportunity to significantly shake things up for the series to go along with its new name, but once again, it has decided not to rock the billion-dollar boat. For the umpteenth time in a row, the series has failed to make enough changes and improvements, and the majority of the ones it has made don’t work out nearly as well as they could or should have, for one reason or another. It feels like an incredibly granular and half-hearted update, if you want to call it that, and while that’s ever been the way of the FIFA – now EA Sports FC – series, those issues sting a little extra this year. It’s a good thing that the on-pitch gameplay remains as solid and fun as it does – thanks, ironically enough, to the fact that it’s largely the same as last year’s game – because outside of the pitch, there’s plenty to be disappointed by in FC 24.
This game was reviewed on the Xbox Series X.
On-pitch gameplay is as fun as ever; Looks good and runs well; Sleek new menus.
Doesn't make any meaningful changes or improvements; The changes it does make are granular at best, and even most of those don't work out very well.