Another year rolls around and another football game created by EA is released. For the first time in almost 30 years, however, it doesn’t have ‘FIFA’ anywhere in its title. Instead, we now have EA Sports FC – it doesn’t quite roll off the tongue and it will take some getting used to, for sure. This year not only do Nintendo Switch owners have a different name on the front cover, but also a different game.
You see, when FIFA 18 released back in 2017 for the Switch, it was a positive start, sure it was clearly dated even back then, but it was a decent football game. FIFA 19 added a couple of new modes, but everything else was identical – so again, it wasn’t terrible – it seemed like we were getting there, slowly but surely. Every FIFA game since however, has been a ‘Legacy’ version. This means that each game was the exact same as the last, just with updated rosters and kits. While the games themselves were decent enough, as each year went by, it became a lesser and lesser experience compared to the other console versions. If you had access to either of those consoles, there was no reason to buy the Switch version whatsoever, as the differences were night and day. Finally, after six FIFA games that were all virtually identical to one another, Switch owners at last have a version that includes missing features and gains parity with the other versions on the other consoles – it just has the obvious differences to those versions, such as graphics and performance.
The Switch version is no longer using the old Xbox 360 / PS3 engine from over 10 years ago. Now, Switch owners are treated to the Frostbite engine – which itself has been around for a good while at this point – but this not only means that it visually looks much better, but the animations are superior in every way. Gone are the clunky animations that were from 2 generations ago, so players now react much more realistically to different scenarios in game such as players colliding or dribbling with the ball. It only runs at 30fps, but it’s not bad by any means. It’s still perfectly playable – but of course, 60fps would have been nice.
In terms of the features, everything here is the same as those in the PlayStation and Xbox versions. This means that everything from Ultimate Team to Career mode is present and as fully featured in the Switch version. Of course, these modes should have never been missing on the Switch version in the first place, but at least they are here now. It does also confirm that EA was purposely leaving it out because they didn’t want to put the resources into making it happen. It just seems strange that in seemingly a year out from there being a Switch 2, they finally add everything we’ve wanted for the last 6 years.
If you have ever played any FIFA game in the last 10 years, you will have no doubt heard of Ultimate Team, as this is the most played mode amongst the player base. This mode allows you to completely build a team from scratch, using players from around the world and even some ‘legends’ of yesteryear. The aim is to win matches both offline and online to win coins, which can then be used to buy better players to improve your squad. It’s a neat game mode, as it’s a bit more in-depth than you might initially think and lots you need to consider, rather than simply picking the best rated players. The problem with this mode however, is that its either practically impossible to build a squad with the absolute best of the best without either sinking an ungodly amount of hours into the mode, or by spending actual real life money on in-game coins. Furthermore, it seems like a missed opportunity to not have crossplay for this mode. By that, I don’t mean crossplay for matches – because that simply would not work with the Switch and the other versions – but for the Ultimate Team transfer market. To further compound this issue, if you play on the Switch, you are undoubtedly playing the version which has the least amount of people playing, which means that its much harder to sell and trade your players.
Volta Football has been in FIFA for a few years now, and while its never quite lived up to its potential – the normal 11 v 11 matches are by far superior – it is nice to see its finally made the jump over to the Switch version. In this mode it’s a 3-on-3 matchup on a small pitch, with no goalkeeper. If you remember FIFA Street from back in the day, Volta is similar to this, just a little less unusual and not as fun. This isn’t a mode that you will be coming back to again and again, it’ll probably be something you play a few times and then never return to it, because the quality just isn’t there.
Having said all that, it’s funny then that even with all the new features and modes that has been added on the Switch this year, still my most played mode and the one I return to again and again is the online Seasons mode. This is the mode to play if you simply want to play a standard 11v11 match against other players online, but don’t want any of the hassle of building your squad up on Ultimate Team. You simply choose whichever team you wish and play with their current roster of players.
Regarding online play, I found the matches work with very few hiccups– which is more than can be said for a lot of Switch games online. It is fair to say, that if somebody is an avid FIFA (EA Sports FC) player, then they’re probably playing it on the other consoles. This means that the quality of the opponents you face isn’t as great as you’d find over on PlayStation or Xbox – at least this is what I found having played on multiple versions. So much so that I had much more problems playing against AI opponents than I did against real people, so if you want a greater challenge, then maybe online isn’t the way to go.
Speaking of challenges, one of the biggest challenges on EA Sports FC 24 is playing with the Joy-Cons. I usually never have an issue playing any game on the Switch with Joy-Cons, as I play a lot in handheld mode. But on this game, it just doesn’t feel natural at all, and it felt so much better using a Pro Controller.
For the first time in a long time, Nintendo Switch owners finally have a good, non-management football game to enjoy. It is not going to blow anybody away, but it is by far the best football game on the console. The only feature that the Switch has over PlayStation or Xbox – as it is with any game – is the ability to play it on the go. If this doesn’t interest you, even with the parity in terms of features, you’re still going to want to play the other console versions over this.
Version Tested: Nintendo Switch
Review copy provided by Electronic Arts