It’s hard to talk about this year’s FIFA World Cup without mentioning the controversy surrounding it. Firstly there is the corruption scandal around the selection of Qatar as the host, and then the many issues surrounding the treatment of migrant workers and of LGBTQ+ folks in the host nation.
Still, if you want some guilt-free World Cup action, then there is a place for you to go, as EA has created a World Cup mode for FIFA 23, which is entirely free for anyone who already owns the game.
Of course, it wasn’t so long ago that entire stand-alone titles would be released to tie-in with the World Cup. South Africa 2010 and 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil were great titles if this international tournament was all you cared about. Comparatively, the new mode in FIFA 23 holds up quite well.
While it’s missing features like the “Captain Your Country” mode from those games, it makes up for it elsewhere with the ability to play along with the tournament live and rewrite history as you see fit. You can play real-world fixtures live, or even retroactively, attempting to change the result if your team didn’t perform as well as you’d hoped.
It’s also missing the distinct flavor that those previous games had in its soundtrack. The 2014 game had vibrant samba music for Brazil, and vuvuzelas run out loud for South Africa, but there’s not much in the way of middle eastern music in this one, which is disappointing.
When sitting down and playing through the classic tournament mode, I was disappointed to see I couldn’t customize the squad. FIFA 23 has plenty of players past and present that could be slotted into the modern teams, but alas, it’s not to be. Even in this fantasy world, the stars of yesteryear will not be seeing any action in Qatar.
On top of that, there doesn’t seem to be much in the way of replayability. Once you’ve taken your team all the way to the trophy, there isn’t much to do. You can play as one of the lowest-ranked nations to try and challenge yourself, but that’s about as good as it gets. Playing online is always an option, but eventually, it starts to feel a little shallow.
This may be because so much focus was put into FIFA Ultimate Team (FUT). It makes sense, as this is where the bulk of the player base lives right now.
This is a very long in-game event, with players collecting red WC players to try and fill their collection. While they will be removed from your club on January 4, 2023, you’ll need them to get through the ten levels of World Cup objectives. These can earn you all sorts of things like coins, packs, and picks once the event had wrapped up.
World Cup content will be sticking around until December 23, with Season Two ending on January 4. Time-limited cards are a bit annoying, but it’s about collecting them more than anything else. Let’s be honest, once you had filled those old Panini stick albums, did you ever look at them again? Nope, they just went into your attic to gather dust. That said, it would be nice to have some kind of album to put them in, as I’m sure it’d bring a rush of warm nostalgia for many.
The World Cup Path to Glory promo cards sees each World Cup nation getting at least one live card available in packs, SBCs, and via objectives. These cards get boosts at every stage their team progresses in – with some tantalizing results in store for cards that make the final or win it all.
Progression to the Round of 16 and Quarter Finals will each earn a +1 In-Form Upgrade
Progression to the Semi-Finals will earn player items 5* Weak Foot
Progression to the Finals will earn player items 5* Skill Moves
Winning the FIFA World Cup will earn players another +1 In-Form Upgrade, along with three select traits tailored to that player’s position
This has kicked off the World Cup hype greatly, and hopefully, things will follow the same pattern as in FUT Russia 2018, with Team of the Stage getting boosted for the following rounds.
FUT Moments has been a great addition, as outlined in our FIFA 23 review, and the extra stuff added for the World Cup is no different. Daily match-day moments are available all the way through the tournament, and you’ll also get some flash challenges for iconic moments in World Cup history. It means you can earn a handful of stars quite easily in your downtime, letting you earn some decent packs down the line.
The mode seems to have taken some of the grind out of the process too. You get a lot of swap tokens for rewards in World Cup Swaps, and even the Live FUT Friendly milestones are a bit more generous. These games run on golden goal, although there have been issues with too many soft bans on players who are grinding the mode. – something that EA Sports are aware of and are working to fix. You’ve got plenty of time though, so there’s no rush.
Of course, if you don’t mind paying for a bit of a boost, that option is there. Promo packs on the FUT store cost upwards of 1,000 FIFA Points ($9.99) containing World Cup reds and their regular contents. It’s got pretty slim odds though, so don’t go paying unless you’re comfortable with the chances.
With four years still to go before the North American World Cup in 2026, it’ll be interesting to see how the new EA Sports FC series deals with it. It will likely be another free update rather than a standalone game, but we have to hope that we get a little more content for both single-players and FUT fans.
Written by Alex Bug and Ryan Woodrow on behalf of GLHF.
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