I have to admit: I’m going to play FIFA, or FC (it’s still taking some time to get used to that), every year. I’ve played every FIFA since 15 when I fell in love with the sport during the 2014 World Cup. For better or worse, it’s my go-to game every year.
In my personal opinion, it’s the most addicting game in EA Sports’ annual lineup. Whether that’s Pro Clubs, newer modes like Volta, Career Mode, or my personal favorite Ultimate Team, there’s plenty to engage with each year. That’s not to say other games like Madden don’t have similar offerings, but there’s just something about that FIFA/FC itch that comes around every September. Ratings reveals, Web App launch, early access or EA Play trial, and then everything that comes after.
In my mind, there are three changes that stand out with this new era: women being added, Evolutions and PlayStyles.
This review will mostly focus on gameplay encountered through Ultimate Team and the new UT experience on PlayStation 5.
EA Sports FC 24 Review: How Ultimate Team Has Evolved
While I’ve played the series since FIFA 15, my time spent in Ultimate Team was on and off until around the FUTMAS promotion in FIFA 19. Since then, I’m ready to go every September creating my starter squad, finishing Squad Building Challenges and more.
Ultimate Team has evolved immensely over the years. What used to be a game mode with promotions once every few months and just Division Rivals has become a live service with events every weekend and a competitive weekend league in Champions. Looking at a player’s card now, there used to be a time where Dribbling was just a single statistic. There wasn’t in-depth breakdowns for Agility, Balance and more. Legends became Icons, Heroes were introduced widening the player pool, and this year women footballers from England, Spain, Germany, France and the United States were added.
Women being added to the player pool has not only increased the player pool and squad building possibilities, but some of these players are ridiculously good. I’m still using Fridolina Rolfo and Patri Guijarro in my squad as my double pivot (highly recommend). Sophia Smith, Alex Morgan, Asisat Oshoala, Guro Reiten and Caroline Graham Hansen are some of the best attackers in the game. Having women in the game is going to be extremely influential for years to come and I’d assume future FC titles will include more leagues around the world and more Icons/Heroes.
I knew about popular women players like Sam Kerr and Marta, plus I personally support Arsenal so I was excited to use cards like Vivianne Miedema and Beth Mead at launch. FC 24 has opened my eyes to so many players that I didn’t know about. Ask people in my generation and those younger and I’d wager they had similar experiences with men. Eder Militao, obviously now at Real Madrid, was a fan-favorite in FIFA 19 because of his Future Stars card while he was at Porto. Did the majority of players watch Porto play in Liga NOS? Probably not, they found out about him because he was a beast in FIFA. These games are gateways for players to learn more about the rising and current stars of the sport, both on the men and now women’s side.
Next to women being added, Evolutions is by far the biggest change to Ultimate Team. Players can finally create their own club legends by upgrading cards through in-game objectives. My Relentless Winger Ansu Fati won’t be getting removed from my squad nor bench any time soon. It’s only a week into full release, so hopefully EA Sports continue to add more and more Evolutions as time goes on. If you want to paywall some, fine. But, make them worth it. Relentless Winger has definitely been worth it, and I hope the next one is too.
Also, just make certain Evolutions repeatable.
EA Sports FC 24: The Ultimate Team Experience
Let’s get this out of the way. EA Sports, there’s no need to change which buttons do what each year in the menus. Yes, I understand L2 now activates the quick switching menu which is great for navigation. Yet, it’s so frustrating to wipe away a year of muscle memory when it comes to SBC building.
Getting started in Ultimate Team has been simplified and improved each year. Advanced SBCs are so easy to complete, players who got the Ultimate Edition have FC Points to jump start their squads, there’s plenty of promotional store offerings and objectives that reward big packs. Most rewards are untradeable early on, but I got a strong team to dive into Rivals with about six hours of grinding. It feels like EA Sports are trying hard to get players extremely invested early on. Everything mentioned plus the rewards through Season Progress streamline the game. It’s like getting EXP Share in Pokemon before you leave home. I’m not complaining or upset, I don’t want to be incentivized to spend money on the game to have fun as I’m predominantly a Road to Glory (no money spent) player each year. But, it was jarring how easy it was to get so many high end packs so quickly compared to previous years.
Until Title Update 2 though, the menu system was pretty buggy. I was getting consistent crashes early on when trying to get my club up and running. When my game wasn’t crashing, the quick switching menu would bug out. TU2 has mostly remedied those errors, and hopefully we won’t have any more bugs this year.
Overall, the Ultimate Team experience feels new but the same at its core. The quick switching menu is great, the pack animation albeit very difficult to tell what’s a walkout, and Evolutions is a massive win for EA Sports. Judging Ultimate Team as a whole is tough at launch considering what’s to come for content, so we’ll reserve our thoughts until Team of the Year most likely.
EA Sports FC 24 Review: Diving Into Gameplay
There’s two major philosophies when it comes to Ultimate Team:
- Make content so addicting that bad gameplay is tolerable
- Make gameplay so addicting that disappointing content is excusable
The utopian outcome is great gameplay mixed with great content, but EA Sports has trended toward making content the feature point of Ultimate Team these past few years. A promotion every weekend is arguably overkill, but it sure does get me logged in to play my Champs games for a chance to pack a special card.
I have no reservations about EA Sports putting out engaging content. The developer has proved it can run promotions with slick, flashy card designs. I am like every other player though when it comes to reservations with gameplay. After two weeks of playing, Champions qualification secured and climbing to Division 4 in Rivals, this game is a breath of fresh air. It all starts with defending. Players can no longer just rely on the AI to step in and help them with an auto-block last minute. Erasing those ball chasing, overaggressive habits were difficult at first, but this game truly feels like there’s a difference when it comes to defensive skill.
I’m not going to be naïve and say there aren’t moments that frustrate me, but instead of making me want to log off the game I want to get better. There are still those Drop Back, five-at-the-back, 11 people behind the ball players, or those weird bounces where the ball falls right back to an opponent’s striker in front of net. The game is not perfect. I even came across a weird Squad Battles bug where after having a player sent off, the AI had an invisible defender. Not too sure how that one made it past QA testing. Overall though, I’ve had a positive experience early on.
On top of women and Evolutions freshening up gameplay, PlayStyles have revamped mechanics much like AcceleRATE did last year. Players operate differently in games depending on their badges. Pace demons still exist, but having my Flashback Kevin De Bruyne with the Incisive Pass PlayStyles+ makes those through balls direct and accurate when breaking lines (If you haven’t already, turn off the visual setting that indicates a PlayStyles+ badge). The old Traits system pales in comparison to the depth of PlayStyles.
It takes time to get used to the slower gameplay each year at launch, mostly because of how fast the game felt at the end of last cycle with 99 rated cards everywhere. But, once you get the hang of it, FC 24’s gameplay is a step in the right direction for the franchise. Many will argue this is the best game since the turn of the decade.
EA Sports FC 24 Review: Verdict
There’s much more to FC 24 than just Ultimate Team. There’s Pro Clubs, Career Mode, Volta and just standard multiplayer. Some people probably prefer those modes over Ultimate Team too, but to me Ultimate Team is where the series has always excelled. The journey each year from starter squad to the finished article is what keeps me coming back every year.
Content revamps this year when it comes to promotions, Icons and Heroes are welcomed changes, removing Position Modifiers has made squad tinkering and UT Draft easier, gameplay is addicting and I’m excited to see what’s to come this year. This is a great starting point for this new era and the player base hopes there’s only positive changes to gameplay throughout the year. There are far too many instances about strong gameplay at launch only for a Title Update to ruin balance and create unfavorable experiences.
Keep building on this strong foundation you’ve already laid, EA. This new era is off to a great start.