EA Sports FC 24 hands-on preview: No FIFA, no problem

EA Sports knew it was making a big play when it rejected football’s governing body FIFA’s demands for hugely expensive new terms to carry on calling its games by that ever-familiar name.


Now the series is continuing under a new guise – EA Sports FC, with its first iteration being FC 24. Unveiled last week, we’ve had the chance to play the game on PlayStation 5 ahead of release to see how it’s shaping up.

EA Sports FC 24

First impressions

It’s very early, but our first taste of FC 24 has us completely reassured that the series remains in good health, and some of its less glamourous changes could be the most welcome of all.

Pros

  • Familiar, refined gameplay
  • Much improved menus
  • Sparkling presentation
Cons

  • Gameplay changes are minor

Plus ça change

While it isn’t openly pooh-poohing its former partner, there’s no doubt that EA is making a big deal of the rebrand it’s given the series formerly known as FIFA – this is a huge transition that moves its most popular sports game to an all-new brand, and it’s a moment of risk.

That’s not to say that the changes made to FC 24 are actually all that seismic compared to FIFA 23, though, and it might be fair to frame the change as more of a marketing one than a gameplay one.

Still, a new year brings some new features as always, and the spotlight this time is on a few different areas. First up is an upgrade to the HyperMotion animation system that lets EA scan movements from recorded footage instead of laborious motion capture.

EA Sports FC 24 1

EA Sports

This means that theoretically a star player like cover athlete Erling Haaland could score a ridiculous goal one week, and the FC 24 team could get that move animated and available to players in a matter of weeks (although whether this will happen in practice is another question).

The system has apparently been in the pipeline for around five years and should unlock even more potential animations over time.

Also exciting are changes to how players’ bodies and clothes are modelled – the former in particular sees a major upgrade to accuracy to leave players with unique physiologies looking far closer to their actual selves.

EA Sports showed us Wolves’ stocky sprinter Adama Traore as the perfect example of a player who’s never looked quite right until now, while the previously too-skinny superstar Vinicius Junior also now looks appropriately more muscled.

EA Sports FC 24 3

EA Sports

Boasts about the fabric rework that’s taken place are slightly more dubious – the demo I played still had the good old weirdly flapping shirts and shorts, despite a supposedly major behind-the-scenes upgrade.

Triangles are my favourite shape

The EA Sports FC rebrand is focusing a lot on triangles this year, with the new logo a jutting triangular one – almost as a direct riposte to the roundness of the old-school EA Sports logo. However, it all hangs on how important they are to football.

Passing it around the opposition has long boiled down to finding triangles to pass through, and while that’s not something that has brought a total change of style to the gameplay in FC 24, there’s still been some tactical evolution.

Tactical styles can now have a greater impact on your team and you can select a philosophy to develop in career modes from a list of greats, like Tiki-taka and Gegenpressing (not forgetting the classic Park the Bus).

How players can grow into these systems isn’t something we’ve been able to assess, though – our demo was limited to just the Kick-Off mode and two teams, Manchester City and PSG.

Still, playing a bunch of games between these two star-studded sides was enough to put one major worry to rest. There’s absolutely no loss in authenticity or branding as a result of FIFA’s departure.

EA Sports FC 24 5

EA Sports

Likenesses, clubs, stadia and merchandise are all present and correct, and EA Sports FC has signed even more deals to keep the likes of the Premier League, WSL, Champions League and more in its roster for years to come.

Gameplay is very familiar to old hands from FIFA 23, with a slower pace than some older entries offered, leaving explosive players like Mbappe still just as frightening when they hit their stride.

New precision through balls are delightful when they come off, and an expanded roster of skill moves means that top-level players will really be able to showboat with tricksters like Neymar and Vinicius.

It’s hard to know a vast amount more than this from the games I was able to play – while major changes are coming to the likes of Ultimate Team, Pro Clubs (now just Clubs) and Career modes, those will all have to be tested at a later date, or at launch.

A new shine

FC 24 doesn’t bring a total visual overhaul when you’re in a match, but it has much cleaner menus and layouts that should make navigating to the mode you want and laying out your team as simple as it’s been in ages.

That might not sound like a very exciting prospect, but since big Ultimate Team players spend half their time fiddling around in menus, the changes that have been made could make a big difference over time.

EA Sports FC 24 2

EA Sports

In-game, the sound design has also taken a step up as a whole, with more trackable sound as the camera shifts around angles in the stadium.

The last couple of years already brought welcome changes to lighting that made for more dramatic matches, and new broadcast-mimicking touches only enhance the premium presentation.

You can see pundits milling around, players warming up and chatting in the dressing rooms while you make changes at half-time or before a game, and crunch matches will again be accompanied by tifos, flamethrowers and more to really amp up the atmosphere.

First impressions

It’s very early days for EA Sports FC 24 – while there are only a couple of months until its release on 29 September, this series’ gameplay is so finely tuned that massive adjustments could still be made pretty trivially.

Without access to flagship modes like Ultimate Team and Career, I can’t really say much more than that FC 24 plays like it’s lost almost nothing by abandoning FIFA’s name, and that’s a very reassuring marker to hit at this stage.

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