With the impending release of EA Sports FC 24, the football gaming world is about to experience its greatest change in a long time. What's in a name? Well, when it's one as iconic as "FIFA", quite a bit, actually.
I won't pretend to be the most avid FIFA player in existence. I've never really cared for Ultimate Team or Pro Clubs – no hate to anyone who does, it's just not really my thing. Instead, what I've always loved is Career Mode. In fact, I've played it – or at least the closest variant it had – on every version of the game since FIFA Football 2003.
For me, escaping into a few hours of a faux reality where I'm a teenage prodigy bursting through the Liverpool youth ranks is exactly what gaming is all about. Career Mode has always been the best way to do that.
In recent years, the game mode has felt like something of an afterthought in the franchise. It's not dreadful, but it certainly hasn't been a dramatically fun experience, either. Updates have been minor, and major issues have rarely been addressed. That's half the reason why I've sauntered away for the last few iterations, putting my time into games like Football Manager instead.
But that could all change with the new title. That's because the Career Mode in EA Sports FC 24 looks set to enjoy a host of upgrades. Sure, it adds in game features like PlayStyles – that's neat, and I'm sure it'll be very handy. But that's not the bit which is grabbing me.
Instead, I'm interested in features like being able to sign coaches and choose your tactical philosophy. Turn my manager into a gegenpressing Jurgen Klopp 2.0? You bet. Park the Bus like United-era Mourinho? Should you want to, you can. Tally that up with coaches affecting different aspects of the game and the whole thing becomes way more immersive.
In Player Career Mode, you'll also be able to sign with an agent, to help with contract negotiations and transfers. That's a brilliant addition. It should make everything feel way more realistic – I love the idea of signing up with a maniac of an agent, who is hell bent on getting you playing for a big side.
Beyond just the individual features, though, I'm really happy to see this mode getting some love. Sure, it's not the cash cow that other game modes are, but it's a really important part – particularly for those of us who've been playing religiously for years.
Had this update followed the blueprint of recent FIFA iterations, I may well have skipped it altogether. But with these changes? It might just be a day one purchase. And I can't give it any higher praise than that.