EA FC 24 review: Laying the foundations for a new era

EA FC 24 review: Laying the foundations for a new era
Images via EA Sports

Written by 

Harry Boulton


2nd Oct 2023 09:00

A new year has rolled around and a new FIFA has arrived with it, although things are admittedly quite different this year as the game has a new identity - EA FC. Well-publicised was the departure from the FIFA moniker that has made the series one of the most recognisable in all of video games, but could this be the perfect opportunity to take the fresh face and bring a new identity to a series that has perhaps played things a little too safe over the years?

Regardless of where you stand, there is undeniable excitement every year as September rolls around, with new teams, a new look, and new features to enjoy. While we are still in the early days, EA FC 24 feels foundational for the series, proposing many key changes and additions that feel like a big step in the right direction and perhaps the most important game in the series for years now.

While some frustrations do persist from previous years - with a few new ones cropping up here and there too - there is a lot to be excited about if you're a football fan, even if it doesn't quite reinvent the wheel.

GGRecon Verdict

There still remain many of the progression problems with Ultimate Team that are likely to never leave though, and while we are all used to them now, it doesn't make it any less frustrating to deal with as a 'free-to-play' player. Menus are also a big sticking point that I hope improves soon, and fans of Career Mode and Clubs will once again likely feel left out in favour of the bigger brother that is Ultimate Team.

New faces (quite literally)

Image of Mia Hamm in EA FC 24
Click to enlarge

Arguably the biggest addition to the game in years is the inclusion of women in the ever-popular Ultimate Team game mode, marking the first time that you have been able to have mixed teams in the game.

While women's national teams were added all the way back in FIFA 16, and clubs just last year, Ultimate Team is undoubtedly the biggest mode in the game and thus this has an incredibly significant impact on their visibility and the overall gameplay.

It can only be viewed as a positive change for the game, as not only is there a massive injection of excellent players into Ultimate Team (the biggest the mode has seen since its launch) but it is perhaps one of the best ways to get players invested and involved in the women's side of the sport.

We might have to wait a while to see which cards rise to the top of the meta, but there is nothing more exciting than having a new set of players to try out - especially when they broadly offer a completely different style of play to what we are used to.

Evolving the formula

Image of the Golden Glowup Evolution in EA FC 24
Click to enlarge

Alongside the introduction of women to Ultimate Team, the next biggest new feature is what EA is calling 'Evolutions' - and it feels like something that could (or should) have been in FUT since the beginning.

This allows you to boost the stats and features of a player, so long as they fit into the pre-determined parameters that EA sets out. The dream - and supposed purpose of Ultimate Team - has always been to craft your ideal squad, so finally having the ability to actually include your favourite players is a feature that truly feels like it changes the game.

Release Date:
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Even in the opening weeks of the cycle, there are Evolutions that boost Bronze cards into meta centre-mids, good strikers into great ones, and slow centre-backs into speedy ones. I truly cannot wait to see more of what EA decides to do with Evolutions and integrate all of my favourite real-life players and in-game cards into my team through this.

Moving in motion

Image of Vini Jr doing a flair rainbow in EA FC 24
Click to enlarge

The more I played, however, the more I realised that the moment-to-moment gameplay in EA FC 24 offers a drastically different - and improved - experience over past FIFA titles. 

One of the biggest points of frustration for me in previous FIFA games was the almost mechanical feeling of everything. Animations were somewhat limited so that they would feel predictable and jarring, and you never really got a sense that the player and the ball were independent entities, so to speak.

With EA FC 24 though, things are completely different. The new Hypermotion V motion-capture technology has introduced an incomprehensible number of new animations to the game, which not only keep the visual side of things fresh but also give you new ways to play and keep things closer to a simulation.

This is abundantly clear from the moment that you first reach the main menu of the game too, as Norwegian superstar Erling Haaland's in-game model stands to the right. After standing around like normal, he will suddenly whip out the exact same acrobatic shot that you probably remember from the Manchester City vs. Borussia Dortmund game last year, followed by the sliding poke that saw his team go 3-0 up against Man Utd nearly a year ago.

It is this bridge into the familiar that truly feels like a significant step up - where real-life actions can finally be replicated in a football game, giving way to a seemingly endless reproduction of the beautiful game.

This does not just extend to the wonder of seeing real-life animations either, as players move more fluidly, actions are more deliberate, and things like shots, passes, and crosses are far more situationally adept - leading to a much higher success rate if you know what you're doing. There was always that barrier before of knowing what you want to do but not being able to pull it off in-game, and this has never been closer to being broken than now.

Investigating the meta

Image of Kyle Walker in EA FC 24
Click to enlarge

Of course, with a new way to play likely comes a new meta, and I feel that - at least in the early stages - this is some of the most fun that I've had with a FIFA/EA FC game. It feels like there is a very heavy emphasis on clever passing this year - with a significant improvement to crossing and the introduction of the Precision Pass mechanic.

There have been so many instances in the past when I've just wanted that KDB or Messi-esque curved through ball to unlock a tight defensive unit, and now with Precision Pass I finally have the tools to do so (if I'm good enough, that is).

Controlled Sprint is also an incredible introduction to the game, as it gives players a mode that is slightly slower than a full sprint but with the ball control of a jog. It has always been difficult to get that balance right, where jogging would let defenders come up behind and tackle you easily, but sprinting would be too haphazard in possession.

Instead, now you're able to properly weave through a defensive line with tight but speedy dribbling, or turn a defender on the byline and rush down for a cross. It really does feel like a completely new avenue of play has opened up, and I couldn't be happier about it.

One of the biggest points of contention post-release though is the new defending mechanics, which place a much larger emphasis on manual control as opposed to the more automatic assistance that we have had in previous years. This has been something that the player base has been requesting for a while, and it does significantly raise the skill ceiling - but is it too much?

In all honesty, I am currently terrible with the new defending system in EA FC 24. I'm constantly missing tackles, jockeying too far past a player, and forgetting to block shots that fly past; and yet, I'm loving it. More than ever before, defending actually feels like a skill - and one that feels rewarding as I almost relearn everything that I have been relying on for far too many years now.

Games do feel far more transitional so far though, and that is only a natural consequence of everyone having to theoretically learn how to walk all over again. However, this should naturally iron itself out over time though, as players become more proficient with their defending players.

One aspect that doesn't feel too great right now though is the goalkeepers. While I would prefer them to swing on the weaker side of things rather than strong - as nobody enjoys having every shot saved - there are far too many instances right now where a simple shot in the box wafts straight past your keeper, leading to inevitable frustration.

This is not just an early-game weak goalkeeper scenario either, as it occurs on both ends of the spectrum equally - leading me to wonder why I wasted all of those coins on an expensive card when there seems to be no difference.

This is, of course, something that can be adjusted and tuned over the course of the game, but right now it is frustrating to have a hard-earned lead thrown away by a shot that had no business going in.

PlayStyle progression

Image of PlayStyles in EA FC 24
Click to enlarge

I highlighted it in my review in progress for EA FC 24, but one thing that really continues to impress me in the game is the introduction of PlayStyles. While they might seem just like beefed-up traits at surface level - which didn't really affect most of the cards in the game - PlayStyles, instead, fundamentally alter how every card feels to use, and is an absolute game-changer in practice.

The defending woes I mentioned earlier? Helped greatly with the Jockey, Block, and Anticipate PlayStyles - making players feel far more unique than their stats might reflect. The same is true for attackers too, with PlayStyles like Quick Step making cards feel much faster than others, even if their pace attributes are technically lower.

It completely evolves how we should view players in Ultimate Team, and is an incredibly positive change that will help the health and variety of the game in the long term. It was far too easy to fall into the trap of using the same 20 or so cards before, yet now a whole new pool of potential cards have opened up, each with their own specific benefits that you might not get elsewhere.

Building a career

Image of the Career Mode menu in EA FC 24
Click to enlarge

While Ultimate Team definitely remains the primary game mode in EA FC 24 - and the one that I admittedly play the most - there are some exciting changes brought to Career Mode that will pique the interest of seasoned managers.

Training is one area that has seen a significant improvement, offering depth that we have not seen before and allowing you to develop your players even further. You can now invest in coaches to improve certain positions, giving your players stat boosts to help them grow as your club progresses. This is an excellent way to keep players in your squad and maximise your team's potential, as it is all about the story you tell - especially with RTG saves.

This can become a little too easy though, as picking up top coaches can be done without too much spending in the lower levels, allowing you to grow your players faster than some might like.

There are also a number of quality-of-life changes that have enhanced the overall Career Mode experience. New search functions allow you to find potentially world-class players more easily, and information is relayed in a much clearer manner when fast-skipping on the calendar.

There are also a number of pre-baked custom tactics to use for your squad if you're not too familiar with tactical styles, letting you easily set up your squad with 'tiki-taka', 'counter attack', or 'park the bus' tactics with ease.

Largely though, Career Mode remains the same as in previous years. While there are a number of small improvements to help any dedicated players out there, this year's edition is certainly not going to turn anyone around, and it still very much feels like a secondary game mode to Ultimate Team.

The same rings true for Clubs too - and while the addition of crossplay is extremely helpful if you've got friends on different platforms, it is still very reliant on having a pre-made squad and isn't much fun going in on your own.

Pack luck

Image of the Relentless Winger Evolution in EA FC 24
Click to enlarge

Unfortunately, there are also a few steps back when it comes to Ultimate Team, where the game feels continually tailored away from players who don't want to engage in microtransactions.

FIFA had an infamous history with microtransactions and loot boxes, being one of the first games to popularise the system with decisions each year that make the experience more hostile to the 'free-to-play' user.

There appear to be almost no tradeable packs to earn in the early stages, and they even took away the ever-helpful five-game coin boost from the Season Progress path - my precious coin boost! There are good rewards to be found within the Season Progress, and it is a small reprieve, but largely you are still far too dependent on luck to get going in the early game - and luck that is rare to come about if you don't buy packs.

I was incredibly lucky enough to pack Caroline Graham Hansen when she sold for 750,000 coins, and that was just enough to fill out around eight positions for a meta squad. For someone who literally never buys packs with real money, packing a player of that value is a huge deal - and has fundamentally changed my Ultimate Team experience, but it is still not really enough to rely on something that has only been eclipsed in value once before in my 14 years of playing Ulitmate Team.

I feel like I am ahead of the curve with my team right now, but there are plenty of players out there who aren't anywhere near as fortunate as me and can quickly get left behind if they aren't already.

This is going to be a problem so long as packs continue to be in the game, but it does feel distinctly more hostile in some ways to be playing without the boost of FC Points and the packs that they unlock.

Menu migraine

Image of the SBC menu in EA FC 24
Click to enlarge

In my review in progress, I mentioned how the menus seemed like an improvement over previous FIFA titles, as they allow you to quickly switch between sections without having to back all the way out and navigate.

While this is still very much true, and a positive step away from the user-unfriendly tile-based menus of yesteryear, that is unfortunately where the positives end. Actually using the menus for player searching, squad building, and SBCs was a chore at best and rage-inducing at worst.

So many times would I have to wait at least a second for the game to register my inputs or catch up to what I was doing - and that was if I was lucky enough for it not to freeze up entirely. It is such a polarising situation to find yourself in, where in theory the menus should be so seamless, but it feels like you're fighting against the system every time you use them - especially on a console that is capable of utilising an ultra-fast SSD.

Hopefully, this is improved with stability updates in the future, but at the moment it nearly enough puts me off buying new players or building concept squads, as it is taking about three times as long as it should.

The Verdict

Overall, EA FC 24 is in my eyes one of the best 'FIFA' games released in recent years, bringing a number of game-changing improvements to the formula that has proven to be so successful already. Evolutions and PlayStyles are instant home runs, and the introduction of women to Ultimate Team is one of the most refreshing additions in the mode's history.

The game feels excellent to play on a moment-to-moment basis, with deliberate and varied animations that really do reward clever thinking and well-thought-out movement. While defending will definitely take some time to get used to, it is the right move for the series that should hopefully make skill gaps more apparent and players less reliant on RNG to go in their favour. I hope that this doesn't change with a big first patch either, as it would be a shame to see a change so refreshing be reverted.

There still remain many of the progression problems with Ultimate Team that are likely to never leave though, and while we are all used to them now, it doesn't make it any less frustrating to deal with as a 'free-to-play' player. Menus are also a big sticking point that I hope improves soon, and fans of Career Mode and Clubs will once again likely feel left out in favour of the bigger brother that is Ultimate Team.


Reviewed on PS5. Code provided by the publisher.

Harry is a Guides Writer at GGRecon, having completed a Masters of Research degree in Film Studies. Previously a freelance writer for PCGamesN, The Loadout, and Red Bull Gaming, he loves playing a wide variety of games from the Souls series to JRPGs, Counter-Strike, and EA FC. When not playing or writing about games and hardware, you're likely to find him watching football or listening to Madonna and Kate Bush.