As the season draws to a close, we’ll soon see optimistic PDFs of new features planned for FIFA 23. High priority will be given to new player animations rolled out to PC and older consoles, even though no-one looked at last-gen FIFA 22 and thought it looked bad. So, while there’s still time, I want to get my wishlist in – of real, tangible features, rather than just improved cosmetics. These FIFA 23 improvements would provide credibility to an often-criticised series – and, more importantly, make the game more fun.
1. More licences, not less
EA is currently reconsidering the FIFA licence. Ultimate Team, so long the tail, is the dog now, and everything else is peripheral. Yet there are 1.5 million active players who have never gone near it, to add to the people who play all the modes, and it’s the verisimilitude that makes FIFA so magical to play. Every missing licence eats away at this illusion. We have women players, but still no WSL or NWSL, no World Club Championship, and are we to believe that EA can’t outbid Konami for the remaining UEFA licences when eFootball 2022 is embarrassingly terrible? As for Juve, Lazio and their ilk, stop making us play their made-up replacements. They’ve made a choice. Give us the option to play in a world without them, or let them fall away so they stop cropping up in European competition.
Talking of fake teams and licences: we were promised custom teams in FIFA 22, but the cookie-cutter approach rendered it meaningless. However, I’d pay top dollar for Ted Lasso’s Richmond FC DLC or even Roy of the Rovers’ Melchester. Shut up and take my money.
2. Stop the BS AI
The greatest functional issue with single-player is the modelling of tough opponents, especially at the higher difficulty levels. I suspect nothing short of a major overhaul will fix this, but this is a problem with every mode of the game.
Desperate clearances by the opposition always fall to their teammate like a postage stamp pass. Tall defenders lope backwards as fast as your 96 Paced star striker can sprint. Meanwhile, your team backs off and stops tackling. This imbalance is cyclical. Every three or four games, no matter the quality of your side, the opposition becomes unplayable. If it mirrored a game’s ebb and flow, it might work. Instead, you know after a minute if a game is lost. This realisation takes you into the meta-game. Why play when you know you’ll lose – and why bother with the next game if you’re being “allowed” to win?
Also, when you do overpower the AI with five minutes to go, it really isn’t necessary to replicate the Season 1 finale of Ted Lasso, every time. It’s a cruel sport. We get it.
3. Go easy on the realism
Sometimes FIFA 22 forgets it’s a game in its efforts to make it look both real and beautiful. For example, in trying to replicate the difficulty that TV has of correctly exposing shadows and bright sunlight on the same pitch, you can find yourself unable to tell two teams apart, or even see the ball. Someone went to the trouble of seeing where the sun fell in certain grounds at certain times of the day, all so we could give up halfway through and have to jump to the result. No one told that person that the sun moves while a game is on, either. All those winter games should kick off in low sun and finish under the floodlights. If you’re painting the lines on the pitch orange due to snow, don’t use the white ball. Meanwhile, I’m 524 hours into FIFA 23. That’s a lot of time having to watch the “quick” substitutions. Stop showing me the crowd and players coming off. I don’t care.
4. Fix foul play
Law 12 is, in its current interpretation, a nuanced thing. What constitutes “careless” pushing, charging, tripping and kicking, is a source of debate and opinion, and something FIFA 22 is spectacularly bad at.
The striker is in on goal, inside the box. The defender bundles into him and knocks him over, without going near the ball. In FIFA, this is fine. And it’s a crock. No referee is going to let you take the man, and not the ball, in this way.
Also, when you’re manhandled, you should be able to go down. Not a dive, but some control over your reaction to the challenge, and cause the ref to make a decision. If this is a Corinthian fantasy with no fouling or gamesmanship, the AI should not be able to body-check a sprinting striker, or access any of the other dark arts. The algorithm needs an element of chance. I would take some controversy and mistakes over the ceaseless unpunished needling of AI defenders.
5. Expand upon fighting talk
It’s a joy listening to the Spanish commentary, as I don’t spot the endless repetition, but there comes a point when you can’t listen to the same voices again and again. Playing without the sound is a waste of the excellent crowd ambience though. So, the question is, with several commentators and pundits already in the can from previous editions, why are we stuck with just three this year? I’d never have guessed that I’d be willing to pay to hear Alan Smith, Martin Tyler and Lee Dixon again, but that’s where we are. And why stop there? Imagine the joy of the Alan Green Commentator Pack, and having him moan about the colour of your boots.
6. A future kits option, pretty please
It’s 2031 in career mode, and Liverpool still wear that kit with the horrible orange bits. Shirts mark the passage of time, and there are browser-based kit creation systems for use on the PC version. Copying the files over is the onerous part, as is sourcing the modding software, and all that could be easily automated in-game. I get that clubs, manufacturers and sponsors want control, but my point is that the design-side is easy. Nothing should stop EA from producing ten years’ worth of approved kits for the top flight teams, using existing templates and current sponsors. The actual workload would be miniscule – and again, I’d pay extra for that.
7. Genuine progression, not Real progression
The Player Career Mode community quickly hit the Level 25 cap, to the sound of rending garments. The speed of this progress means your career is complete in just two and a half seasons, and short of a move to Real Madrid and hoovering trophies, the game is over. FIFA 22 forgets the records you’ve set (as well as your international goals) and continues to view your team – say, Everton, now back-to-back European Champions – as underdogs. They still buy and sell like a mid-table team, and you have to leave. All roads lead to the Bernabeu in the end. Also, when Everton sell you for £270 million, that money vanishes. I want to build a dynasty, not just join one.
8. Rework the contracts model
Transfers and substitutions got a shot in the arm in FIFA 22, but EA needs to double-down. With a functioning contract negotiation process over in Manager Career Mode, I want the option to sign different length contracts, demand a playing position or the captaincy. I’d like the clubs to cash-in before a contract runs out, and find myself somewhere new, rather than demand a transfer and read passive-aggressive messages in the news feed. If you treat FIFA 22 as an RPG it can be immensely rewarding, but I’d love some more in-universe fidelity to work with.
9. Silverware must feel meaningful
It’s been three years, at least, in which we’ve seen teams celebrate victory in exactly the same way, with the same commentary, in the same order. It’s definitely time for something new and for these moments to be more diverse. Teams react to unexpected cup wins differently to league wins. Good sides are more blasé than underdogs. Add to this those who celebrate mere survival like it’s going out of style. Could we make those final game days more like watching Sky’s Soccer Special, with crowds reacting to other results?
Also, can our avatars just hold that trophy? Just for a minute? Please? It’s a little galling when you’ve scored five in a European Final and you’re stuck at the back.
10. Watching your team should be an option
Manager Career Mode is deep and engrossing, and gives you the chance to offend Klopp and others in the cutscenes, but it has a fundamental flaw. You plan training, work on tactics and skills and make careful choices, but come game day you have to play as your team. It’s nice that this is an option, but it means your own lack of skill can scupper your efforts. There’s a hack – you play as the keeper – but it’s not ideal. It suggests that FIFA 22 doesn’t believe just watching your team is interesting enough, which is nonsense. This is FIFA’s advantage over Football Manager. Stop blowing it.
FIFA 22 guide | FIFA 22 review | FIFA 22 tips | FIFA 22 best teams | FIFA 22 ratings | FIFA 22 career mode | FIFA 22 best young players | FIFA 22 meta | FIFA 22 coins | FIFA 22 TOTY | FIFA 22 TOTS | FIFA 22 Icon Swaps | FIFA 22 Icons | FIFA 22 Heroes | FIFA 22 Captains | FIFA 22 Future Stars | FIFA 22 FUT Birthday | FIFA 22 OTW | FIFA 22 RTTK | FIFA 22 RTTF | FIFA 22 Rulebreakers | FIFA 22 Headliners | FIFA 22 Numbers Up | FIFA 22 Versus | FIFA 22 Prime Gaming | FIFA 22 Next Generation | FIFA 22 chemistry styles | FIFA 22 kits | FIFA 22 patch notes | FIFA 22 formations | FIFA 22 skill moves | FIFA 22 celebrations | FIFA 22 real managers | FIFA 22 stadiums | FIFA 22 leagues | FIFA 23 features