FIFA 23's big new gameplay feature is a power shot.
The power shot, which is available across generations (so, for example, PS4 and PS5), is a new skill-based, risk versus reward shooting mechanic.
EA wanted to introduce more skill to shooting, the company said during a recent presentation attended by Eurogamer, so in FIFA 23, if you carve out enough space for yourself and aim precisely, you can score impressive-looking goals that have more power and accuracy, but with the risk of a longer animation.
Here's how it works: hold both bumpers (L1 and R1 on PlayStation or LB and RB on Xbox) and press shoot and your player will wind up a longer animation for a powerful shot. While this is going on, you manually direct the shot. This means the shot direction is unassisted.
"For me, when you actually score these goals it feels so rewarding because you earned it," Kantcho Doskov, design director on FIFA gameplay, said.
"You aimed well, you carved out this space. They feel fantastic."
It's worth noting the new power shot takes the input command of the low driven shot seen in previous FIFA games. Low driven shots are still in FIFA 23, but are now governed by the amount of power you put behind any shot, rather than a dedicated input command.
"If you power up between 20-30 percent on your power bar, those will be low and fast," Doskov explained.
"So you can still get low driven shots. Even with headers - if you power up slightly, you'll get a downward, powerful header. So they're still there.
"But, when you do hold those two modifiers, you're going to get the power shot - and the aim is manual. Meaning, if you aim at the corner flag, that's where the shot will go.
"But because the animations are long, you have time. So when you press shoot, you power up, and you have a good second to aim exactly where you want to aim and then get the shot off. So it works really well."
Also new for FIFA 23 gameplay across last-gen and current-gen is a rework of set-pieces. For corners and free kicks you can use the left stick and power up your shot as before. But now, for extra control, there's a new right stick aiming mechanic that lets you select where on the ball you want to kick, alongside a trajectory line that shows you where the ball will go in the first few feet after the shot. On the defensive side, you can now lie down behind the wall to block low shots - you see this in real-world football all the time.
Penalty kicks are also changed, with a focus on timing, A composure circle expands and contracts on the ball - you need to hit shoot when it's as close to the ball as possible. The speed of the expansion and contraction of the circle changes based on context. If it's the last shot of the game, for example, or if the player taking the shot isn't great, it's going to move faster. But if you time the shot correctly, you'll get an accurate penalty.
There's a slightly odd addition to the physics system: player limbs are now impacted by the ball. So, if a hard shot hits a player while blocking the ball, the foot will bounce back. You'll also see this on individual fingers on goalkeepers hands - a bizarre, almost creepy effect you'll only notice in replays.
EA is also bigging up proper physics for the goal nets. There are new animations for players who fall into the net - a small but nice touch. Defenders have the option to perform a new, on-demand aggressive slide tackle, with new animations that go in hard to kick the ball away. This is designed to counter the new power shots. Better defenders can also do backheel tackles. On passing, EA has added new animations for the outside of the foot. You can even pass with a player's back or bum (some players do this in real-life!).
And here's a nice new change: left-footed players will finally do skill moves with their left foot. So if you do an elastico with a left-footed player, they will use their left foot. There are new skill moves, as you'd expect, including stutter feints inspired by Messi, explosive fake shots inspired by Mbappé, and super flicks (hold the right stick for longer and you flick the ball farther).
Moving on to current-gen exclusive gameplay (PS5, Xbox Series X and S, PC and Stadia), FIFA 23 has what it calls HyperMotion 2 (the sequel!).
HyperMotion was introduced in FIFA 22 as a next-gen only tech (PS5, Xbox Series X and S and Google Stadia) that integrates 11v11 motion capture and machine learning to create fluid and responsive gameplay.
HyperMotion 2, which is also in the PC version of FIFA 23, brings the total number of animations to over 6000, EA said. The idea is this animation refresh adds variety to the gameplay.
Match experience line producer Sam Rivera mentioned technical dribbling as another new gameplay feature for FIFA 23, insisting dribbling is more responsive and better-looking.
"A few years ago we introduced the active touch system to the game," Rivera said. "That created a lot of variety in passing, shooting and trapping. Then, years later, we expanded that system to defending. And from there we took it to goalkeepers last year. Goalkeepers got a lot of positive feedback because of the variety of animations and how reliable they can be.
"This year, we're taking the active touch system to dribbling. That results in a very responsive dribble system where the personality of the players really shines. It's something you're going to feel right away."
Rivera admitted FIFA 22 sometimes feels "slidey", with players sometimes skating when turning. The new system for FIFA 23 makes players more grounded, and turning feels better, Rivera said. There are machine learning-powered steps in-between dribble touches, which should make for better visuals.
On the defending side, FIFA 23 replaces all jockey animations with machine learning motion. You'll notice some defenders put their hands behind their back when they are inside the box, as defenders do in real life to avoid giving away a penalty, and approach the dribbler at an angle, as opposed to face-to-face, to give them a better chance for a successful tackle. Goalkeepers also do much better in air battles with attackers (expect to see that a lot from corner kicks).
EA said improvements have been made to AI positioning - a response to an issue in FIFA 22 where teams drop back too deep, crowding their own box and forming a wall of defenders to create blocks that are too powerful. EA says FIFA 23 blocks are more realistic - "they're not as perfect" according to Doskov, and there is a "consequence" to dropping back deep. "There's a pro and con to the different tactics you choose. There isn't going to be one that is as overpowered as we saw in FIFA 22."
Outside of gameplay, EA has revealed crossplay for FIFA 23, confirmed the PC version is now in-line with the current-gen versions, announced the game includes both the men's and women's World Cups, and there's a 30th September 2022 release date.
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