TUCSON, Ariz. — With "FIFA 23," EA Sports takes the mentality of a coach who is desperate for a win and hurls his defenders to crank up the pressure on the opposing defense.
Bursting at the seams with built-out features enticing fans of different stripes, the prelude to November's World Cup in Qatar looks to ramp up the global soccer obsession to raucous levels.
It's also something of a swan song.
With the agreement between EA and FIFA set to expire, this game's release marks the end of an era. No doubt EA will continue to crank out gorgeous soccer sims, but they will go by a different name.
The move away from EA is foolish on FIFA's part. The authentic feel pulses throughout the new release with hundreds of licensed players and teams from across the global men's and women's ranks.
A general gameplay tweak makes matches flow more methodically and less with the supercharged, arcade-style feel of recent years. The slowdown necessitates more precision in passing, shot selection, tackling, and defender placement to break up passing schemes to set up attacks.
The movement — dubbed Hypermotion — seems geared to bolster "FIFA 23" as a go-to e-sport.
Especially alluring are the card deck-builder-based FIFA Ultimate Team and its corresponding "Moments" feature. A microtransaction trap, as always, the addictive fantasy sports-themed team evolution manages to fuel the fire that was started in years past.
"Moments" allow you to recreate spellbinding plays pulled from real-life scenarios, grading you on your ability to recreate the wonders from the highlight reels.
Adjustments to franchise mode, an abundance of options for online play, and the freewheeling, lighthearted soccer of the Volta mode provide quick fixes for those without the time or inclination to take on full matches.
There's also a lighthearted bent, with "FIFA 23" embracing the Emmy-winning Apple TV series "Ted Lasso," offering Lasso as a playable manager.
Some nagging inconsistencies continue, such as overbearing animations that make it tough to cancel out poorly chosen moves in time to stop the inevitable. Still, those will likely be patched up with updates.
EA Sports has proven to be adaptive to fans' yearnings, which will undoubtedly continue with "FIFA 23."
As soccer fans worldwide build up to the fever pitch offered in Qatar, "FIFA 23" will stand as the go-to game to bring their hopes and soon-to-be crushed dreams to life.
It's a rich annual helping of soccer-themed comfort food in video game form.