EA Sports FC 24: What Are PlayStyles? Rules, Formation, How It Works & More
Electronic Arts has a new partner for its football game, and it can do a lot for it as it tries to create a worthy successor to FIFA. The first details of EA Sports FC have arrived to clear up doubts, making it clear that there will not be a great revolution regarding FIFA 23. It was something we could expect because Electronic Arts didn’t need it either.
The company has preferred to take the safest path, taking advantage of the work in previous years to reinforce its brand and adding the improvements that we would expect from a new instalment of the saga. We understand who expected something more at the start of this new era. However, this lack of disruption should not make us think that the changes are not worth it. In fact, for its next game, EA Sports has introduced a partner that promises to be instrumental in its future.
A company that changed world Football joins EA Sports FC
Electronic Arts have announced a collaboration agreement with Opta that is already in force in this first EA Sports FC. The news may not say much to some fans, but it is quite the bombshell. Opta is a soccer-focused sports analytics company. They have more than 25 years of experience and were pioneers in the popularization of concepts such as the so-called “Expected Goals”. However, the real key is that they record hundreds of statistics on all players from many leagues in the world. The level of depth in which the company moves is practically unhealthy and that is why it is associated with clubs like Real Madrid, Tottenham or PSG.
Electronic Arts’ idea is to use Opta reports to modify player behaviour by introducing a novelty called ‘PlayStyles’. “PlayStyles scale up athletes, going beyond their average ratings to bring to life the on-pitch abilities that make players special. PlayStyles are drawn from real data from Opta and other sources, affect gameplay, and equip players with unique abilities that make the way they play look and feel more authentic,” they explain the company. As almost always in the saga, this identity factor will be more noticeable in big stars like Haaland or Mbappe than in other players.
The idea is no longer just to create animations that are true to the players, but also to replicate their unique behaviour on the field.
The idea of granting differential characteristics to each player –or at least to world stars– had already been introduced throughout the history of the FIFA saga with concepts such as unique ‘body types’. However, EA Sports FC is looking to take it a step further. It is not that when the user controls Haaland, he is going to realize that it is not the same as using another striker with identical ratings, height and speed. What makes the use of Opta data possible is that Haaland, especially when he is being controlled by the machine, moves in a way that is more similar to how he does in reality.
The idea of this collaboration is to put at the service of the video game the same tools that the big clubs around the world use to decide their next signings. The possibilities are endless, ranging from things as basic as improving the accuracy with which players are individually judged to ideas as complex as replicating their positioning and movement on the pitch. One of the options that come to my mind is to create complex behaviour systems that work in a similar way to the aforementioned ‘body types’. The big stars could have their unique style, while the rest of the players are assigned to ten or twelve different archetypes based on the data collected by Opta.
Opta data and statistics give Electronic Arts endless possibilities
Another use for the data obtained through this collaboration is in the career mode. At least at the higher difficulty levels, all opponents use a very similar game model characterized by constant passing. Among the Opta data, there are indicators to determine how much a team presses, where they usually establish their defensive line or how many passes it takes to reach the goal. With this improvement alone, the ‘singleplayer’ of EA Sports FC would already fix what has been one of the most evident weak points in the last great instalments of the saga.
EA Sports FC has made a very controversial decision with its flagship game mode, but it is the best possible chance for the video game.
All told we are pretty sure the first EA Sports FC will have a hard time integrating this technology in any noticeable way. Having ideas about what can be done with these new tools is easy, but when implementing them you have to take reality into account: this is a video game. Adding systems means jeopardizing existing foundations that have proven effectiveness.
In that sense, it stands to reason that the company wants to be conservative. However, this is one of the areas where there is more room for the coming years and we are sure that this launch for the 2023-2024 season will only be the first of many in which they will tell us how much work has improved with the data.