FIFA 23 review: HyperMotion 2’s lifelike play blurs FUT’s greasier influence

Pace is almost everything FIFA 23. In fact, it was the first thing I noticed, even in — maybe especially in — my first match.

Thought FIFA 23’s HyperMotion 2 system of motion capture and machine-learning is by definition an iterative work, complete with a buzzy marketing term applied to it, it’s not an incremental one. EA Sports sells by capturing and analyzing more real-world, 90-minute soccer matches. FIFA 23 If the game is one where players are able to have more control over their ball, or at least understand how they can do it, this will be a great choice. Although they may have speed, average or lower-level players will not be able to control the ball well. This can slow down their pace and cause them to lose energy. However, forwards can explode into the clear, particularly superstars. It’s exhilarating, but also a little embarrassing, to realize, Jeez, That would have been possible all along.

Kantcho Doskov was my guest last week. FIFA 23’s gameplay director at EA Vancouver, and asked him for the four or five things I should notice first in a series whose improvements are frequently subtle. This kind of control and pace, and its differentiation among players, was at the top of Doskov’s list. “There are so many more subtleties in gameplay that you’ll feel over multiple matches, or after a while,” he said. “But that’s the big first one that you’re going to notice.”

He’s right. Even if the game feels slower on the whole, the defense will still swarm you if you’re not thinking ahead to build up your attack. However, a lucky through-ball by your striker to the goalie can transform the 39th minute into a crucial and desperate moment for both sides.

“This is just the fundamental dribbling, basically,” Doskov said, meaning explosive moves are possible on the left stick alone, without using other modifiers or commands on a gamepad. “It’s not just changing directions. […] It’s about changing speeds. We see the best footballers doing this; they start, they sort of slow down, and then they explode into space.”

Three of Scotland’s Celtic FC players, plus the goalkeeper, celebrate in FIFA 23

Image: EA Vancouver/Electronic Arts

The summary feeling I have, after more than a dozen full matches in HyperMotion2, is that players’ strengths and weaknesses are more apparent, whereas in previous FIFAs it felt like their performance was still moderated by the role they played on the field. It makes it easier to make player management decisions in FIFA Ultimate Team. You can also use this to help you develop your skills in single-player Be a Pro mode.

For all of the oily sheen that FUT’s microtransactions and calls-to-action leave on that mode, it is still a great testbed to learn how the new game performs, before I head off to my “real” playthrough in the career modes, where of course I want to do everything perfectly the first time. In FUT I usually look at the top 11 players in my game by their overall rating and find the best formation to get them onto the field. This is where the game’s gameplay shifts. FIFA 23 now mean that’s not such a great idea. If I have three outstanding forwards or strikers, but midfielders who are lousy-to-meh at getting them the ball or maintaining possession, it might be better to beef up my back line and play a more defensive game, even if their overall play isn’t as flashy — especially for full matches or at higher difficulty levels.

My point here is that HyperMotion 2’s benefits aren’t just on the pitch and in the feel of the gamepad; they make my managerial choices more deliberate and immersive, too. Devotee players might feel the need to invest more to build a team that exemplifies both their skills and playing style. But regardless, a streamlining of Ultimate Team’s often-inscrutable “chemistry” system means players can get more value out of the cards they do have in FIFA 23.

The previous editions of chemistry required players to share a particular trait, such as being from the same country. They also needed to be close to each other within the chosen formation. The physical connection requirement was eliminated, which reduces one’s ability to attain chemistry (to 33 instead of 100) and boosts your Ultimate Team club’s chances at reaching its maximum potential.

The chemistry changes also mean that great players like Kylian Mbappé (whom everyone gets on loan for five matches to begin Ultimate Team), who otherwise have zero chemistry with the rest of the club, don’t get hit with a chemistry penalty. That’s actually a consumer-friendly change, in that it lets players use the best players they’re packing. You can easily add your favorite sentimental player to your club by heading to the auctionhouse or transfer market.

No. 8 for Croatia’s national team, in their distinctive red-and-white checkered kits, celebrates a goal in FIFA 23

Image: EA Vancouver/Electronic Arts

FUT’s new Moments — bite-size challenges rather than full matches — are also a useful showcase for some of the new gameplay changes, and indeed they are organized almost like a tutorial. One of these Moments highlights the new free kicks targeting system. Players can select which part of the ball to hit and whether it is to be thrown around, under, or over the wall. There’s a “power shot” challenge, too, which highlights a new, charged-up shooting command (holding both bumpers) that can land spectacular goals from well outside the goal box. That risk-reward capability — you really need to be in the clear to charge up such a shot, as well as to aim it precisely — is another match-one signal that FIFA 23 is a more involved game than last year’s.

These modifiers, minutes, and all other bells, whistles aside, FIFA 23 doesn’t feel any more given to big plays, or indulgent of players who attempt them inconsiderately. This has been a common criticism in the past, or at least an unfavorable comparison to the more technically precise Pro Evolution Soccer, back when that franchise wasn’t a disaster. Building up my attack was as successful for me as bombing people forward, launching crosses and hoping one would hit. On defense, there’s a new “partial team press” which brings over more than one defender, but not the whole club. In combination with more precise tackling (both standing, and sliding), this created a few counterattacks in Ultimate Team. That’s never been my style of play before, but it is now.

These are the best and most significant improvements to gameplay. FIFA 23’s additions because they serve all modes of play, don’t just give me more things to do, or moves to memorize on my gamepad. By opening up new ways to exploit my team’s strengths, they actually tell me I’m better at soccer — video game soccer — than I give myself credit for. It was amazing to see all of the positive things that I saw in FIFA 23 This might have been last, but it was right out the box. It was the most important.

FIFA 23 Launched September 30, 2010. Google Stadia, PlayStation 5, Xbox Series XAnd WindowsPC versions were also released for some features that are not included in the review. Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4Please see the following: Xbox One. This game was tested on PlayStation 5 with a prerelease download code from EA Sports. Vox Media also has affiliate relationships. Although these partnerships do not impact editorial content, Vox Media could earn commissions for products bought via affiliate links. Find out more. additional information about Polygon’s ethics policy here.

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