FIFA 23 is aiming to be the most inclusive version of EA Sports’ soccer sim ever released, and that includes its expansion of the women’s game. With this year’s Euro 2022 capturing significant public attention – including record television and stadium audiences – the publisher has recorded unique motion capture specifically for female athletes.
For those of you who haven’t followed the series, HyperMotion was introduced on new-gen consoles last year, and pertains to full 11vs11 motion capture which is then translated to the game. This year, the publisher has captured two full 90 minute matches to complement last year’s data, with one of the games being played by ladies. This means that WSL matches will play differently to those in the Premier League, for example.
In fact, the company’s gone quite hard here. It’s added hundreds of “women-exclusive” animations, and even running styles specific to real-life players, like cover star Sam Kerr. And of course, there are vast improvements to the men’s game as well, with a total of 6,000 new animations overall – that’s a lot!
Having gone hands on with an alpha build of this year’s game, one of the things we noticed immediately is the change to dribbling, which feels more grounded and less like you’re skating on ice. EA Sports has incorporated some new systems like jockeying, which uses machine learning to write animations in real-time, depending on the context. This feels like you’re able to really close down angles and block off passing lanes in a way that you couldn’t before.
But it’s not the only major change to the gameplay. EA Sports has reworked the way pace functions, so it’s no longer a pure footrace between different top speeds. Instead, there are different acceleration types, with the likes of Kylian Mbappé having explosive speed while more languid players such as Virgil Van Dijk are able to catch up using longer strides. This creates variety on the pitch, as not everyone hits maximum speed at the exact same time.
The most controversial addition is likely to be the new power shot system, which has a long build-up time and requires precision aiming, but results in absolute rockets. Based on our hands on time with the alpha, this feels very arcadey, and we’ll be fascinated to see how pro players and long-time fans take to it.
But the changes go on and on. There’s a full Pitch Notes blog post you should consult if you’re desperate to read up on the nitty-gritty, but there are new slide tackles that also serve as clearances, with the risk being you have to commit and have no idea where the ball’s going to end up. Set-pieces have also been completely redesigned, with a new ball trajectory UI making it more intuitive than it has been.
All in all, we’re optimistic about what we’ve seen and played. We think the additions to the women’s football aspect specifically is going to bring even more attention to the ladies game, but ultimately it’s the core tweaks to things like jockeying and dribbling that will truly stand out among long-time fans. How are you feeling about this year’s game?