EA Sports

FIFA 23, we've already played it! Impressions after the first matches

Here are our first impressions after playing an early press version of EA Sports FIFA 23, which is scheduled for release on September 30.

FIFA 23 has already passed through our hands. In our visit to EA Vancouver we were able to play the first matches in an early media version. EA Sports describe it as "the most ambitious" of its career to date, a last dance of the collaboration with FIFA that promises significant developments in terms of gameplay. We tell you how the ball rolled at the start of the virtual preseason.

Strength on the pitch

After the first play, we noticed a significant change in the weight of the players. They feel a little heavier, more forceful. The control responds in a more efficient way when dribbling, or in the body of the players in front of a divided ball. Improvements to the HyperMotion2 animation engine allow FIFA 23 to deliver a more natural feeling soccer.

One of the new features behind these sensations is the technical dribble. It allows players to perform these special movements with the ball closer to the pitch. This improvement revolves around the left stick, which acts more accurately and realistically to the actions we seek to execute. Depending on the related attributes, such as ball control or reaction, it will be more or less effective.

The ball's physics remains similar to last season, but not all aspects are related to the players' bodies. The goalkeepers, for example, finally approach split balls taking into account the opponents around them. Some of the outings are completely similar to situations we have seen in real-life matches.

What we would like is to slow down the pace of the games. We noticed that it is a constant back and forth where the flanks become very important. It is appreciated that among the improvements of HyperMotion2 is a better support of the team's lines without the ball. The defense and midfield are not as easy to disassemble as after FIFA 22's last patches.

New attack and defense mechanics

This forcefulness to which we alluded is transferred to two new mechanics. The first one is focused on defense. Holding the R1 (RB) button while pressing the sliding tackle button we will perform a new type of tackle dedicated on taking the ball with force to the opposite side of the foot. Performing it has its risks since it is the typical tackle in which a center back pulls with his whole body in an abrupt way. If you want to control the situation it is a good option, but if you don't manage the timing you will end up being booked.

The second has to do with the much-talked-about power shot, which will be present in both the last and the current generation. If we shoot by holding down R1+L1 (LB+RB) we will make a powerful shot that requires a few seconds of preparation. We will know that we have done it when the screen zooms in on the person controlling the ball, who will then spend a few seconds to arm his leg against the opponent's goal.

There are several factors to take into account that help to balance it. While preparing the leg we will be exposed to defenders who can block or steal the ball in a positional way, that is, using the tackle button. It is very easy to cancel a dangerous action of this style, but at the same time, it is also easy to score once it has been executed. For the striker, the aiming will become manual during this time, so you have complete freedom to place the ball wherever you want.

In 1-on-1 situations in front of the goalkeeper, it completely breaks up duels. In our experience with this early version, all the duels we had ended with the ball in the back of the net. Situations such as Mbappé-style counterattacks eliminate the use of other shooting tools, such as the quality shot or the lob. There is room for improvement in this regard.

There is also room for improvement in the functions of AcceleRATE, although its developers have already warned us that they are aware that it requires changes. For those who do not know what it is, it is a new classification of players according to their attributes in speed and acceleration based on their traits. For example, Mbappé is explosive and will reach his peak speed at kick-off, while Van Dijk will manage to reach it at the end of the sprint thanks to strides because of his tall stature (1.93 cm).

The function in this version is... weird, to say the least. It is clear that Vinícius, who is another explosive player, suffered from a bug that needs to be fixed. He wasn't getting away from anyone. However, Mbappé, as soon as he has some space to run, leaves his opponent behind him without a fuss. In general, we have the feeling that the current state of this function rewards, even more, those who have greater acceleration, to penalize especially the pillars of the back. We will see how it performs in the final version.

How do the new set-piece situations work?

The new set-piece system is designed to provide greater control in some situations, while in others the aim is to make it easier than in previous methods. Corner kicks are the ones who gain the most from the change. With the right stick, we can control the exact point where we want to hit the ball, which depending on the power can lead to other complementary actions. The left stick is used to control the direction and curvature. The system takes some time to get used to, but when you understand it you will discover a new world of possibilities.

Fouls leave behind the target system to return to a more practical and easier-to-understand system. As with the corner, we have a sphere around the ball on which we can place the exact point of the shot. From it comes a cone of white light that indicates the effective shooting range, accompanied by a line directed with the left stick to place the curve over the barrier. It's easier (and more fun) to hit fouls than the messy targeting system seen in recent years.

The penalties add an extra layer of complexity that in practice makes no difference to those who have already trained their fingers. There is a constantly moving area beneath the ball, the color of which indicates the level of the shot. If we nail the tempo, colored green, we will make a more satisfactory penalty shot. Now you must take into account the exact direction, tempo and power. Three elements to make penalties more exciting.

On the way to the last season

In the near future, we will be able to talk about the new graphics, very present and evident in this version for the press, as well as the rest of the new features in its main game modes. The sensations that it leaves us are of a title with the potential to shine, although everything will depend on the success of EA Sports in balancing the experience. What is clear is that this goodbye will be in style.

FIFA 23 is scheduled for release on September 30 on PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PC, Google Stadia and Nintendo Switch.