EA Sports FC 24 preview: New name, similar game for FIFA successor
With a new name comes a time for EA to carve a fresh identity with EA Sports FC, but some might be concerned that it'll be Groundhog Day again despite the fresh green grass. However, things are looking positive with EASFC 24, and while it is still the same FIFA we all know and (mostly) love, there's very little wrong with that.
Like a stadium getting an extra stand bolted on, it's all about shoring up the foundations, and it doesn't get much more foundational than the Kick-Off mode we've had access to for the last few days.
Old dog, new tricks
While EA Sports FC 24 does follow the same structure as we are all used to, there are a number of new tricks that seasoned players will certainly want to be excited about.
While the enhanced control and curve of the Precision Passes were perhaps more immediately alluring to me, it was in fact the Controlled Sprint that emerged as perhaps the more important of the two.
One of the biggest travesties of the FIFA series is that we've never felt close to being able to capture the magic of Lionel Messi, as the ceiling of his talents - especially his dribbling - was largely unable to be replicated within the game.
However, the Controlled Sprint feels as close as we have ever gotten to the Argentine's mercurial dribbling - so, of course, it comes at a time when he's moved away from the height of his powers in La Liga.
Adding style to your play
Another significant new addition to the game is the various PlayStyles, which act almost like juiced-up traits and serve as a means to make the top players feel distinct beyond their stats alone.
For example, while any player can be fast, only those on the level of someone like Kylian Mbappe can have the Speed Dribbler PlayStyle, propping the top players onto another level and making them truly feel like the best in the world.
While it was quite restrictive to test out considering the limited number of players we had access to in our preview, we did very much get a sense that these PlayStyles could really impact how good a player feels - which makes them especially proficient within a mode like Ultimate Team where you can truly craft your ideal squad of players.
Perhaps one of the most subtle improvements that I noticed when playing EA Sports FC 24 is how much more responsive it felt compared to last year's entry. It wasn't necessarily that the game moved at a 'faster' pace, but instead that there was less of the sluggishness that you typically find in the limbo between your button presses and the in-game actions.
I found myself able to pull off those quicker shots, those millisecond passes that would have otherwise been intercepted, and make those micro adjustments when dribbling slightly better than I previously could.
Of course, it is not going to be enough of a game for many beyond the most dedicated to really notice, but it certainly contributed to making the game feel fresher in the hands of someone who has perhaps played far too much FIFA to notice these things.
Animations, not visuals
One of the biggest talking points to come out of the reveal of EA Sports FC 24 was unfortunately the less-than-ideal Ultimate Edition cover, which was the first time that in-engine models have been thrust to the forefront and there was a rather unsavoury reaction.
Thankfully the game doesn't look anywhere near that when you're actually playing - if not at the very least because you're much further away from the players. There's also what EA is calling 'Ground Truth Ambient Occlusion' (GTAO), which looks to enhance the overall lighting of the game and bring it closer to photorealism.
The game undoubtedly does look good, and you can notice an improved level of depth in the lighting - especially when it comes to harsher lighting like floodlights - but it does feel as if we've reached a roadblock at this point with the improvements to fidelity on a year-by-year basis.
Instead, where they can improve is from an animation perspective, with enhanced HyperMotion technology and muscle rendering to make each player move in a more realistic manner, which at this point will offer a far more noticeable improvement than any graphics will be able to.
While EA Sports FC 24 is not going to draw back any players who have fallen off the FIFA train as it is largely the same game despite the name change, there is certainly plenty to look forward to for the many who play it every single week.
We, of course, only got to grasp how the game feels in a standard match setting, but there is so much that we're looking forward to diving into within EASFC 24's other marquee modes like Ultimate Team and Career Mode. The core experience is certainly taking a step in the right direction though, and we hope that everything around it falls suitably into place too.