When first looking at Football Manager 2023, it suffers from a lot of the same problems that a number of other annual sports franchises do: it feels a little too much like the last game. While this is still true to extent of the 2023 iteration of the almost 20-year franchise, it does try to add new elements and make the game feel as polished as ever.
Football Manager 2023 still manages to breathe life into the long-running franchise with a focus on fan involvement and the image of a Football, making it feel more linked to traditional football culture. It’s also the first game in the series to use a licensed league: in this case The Union of European Football Associations (UEFA), something that adds a definite prestige as you pick your team and enter the field.
The UEFA Champions League
The Football Manager games don’t really have any plot to speak of. It’s a simulation game where you take the role of well, a Football Manager. It’s your job to manage a team in the UEFA and lead them to victory.
I quite like how the developer presented the UEFA Champions League here. You can see how intense it is when the drawing in the Group Stage and the Knockout Phase starts. especially if the team you are building gets into the “hell” group. The developers did a great job of providing the same high-stakes sensation that it would feel like in the real world.
That being said, I do wish the atmosphere of the league matches was a little better. When I entered a match in the UEFA Champions League, it felt a little too much like being in a regular football game. The only difference is the iconic intro song to the UEFA Champions League scoreboard. It would be great if the atmosphere given could be more lively, your team is on the world stage, and the weight of that achievement should really hit you as the manager but it never really does.
Matches With A More Challenging AI
In terms of gameplay on the pitch, it’s up to you to get the best players for the best roles against your AI opponents. For the most part, the game isn’t too challenging in this regard with one big exception of the rivals. One significant difference in Football Manager 2023 is that the AI is far more difficult during rival matches.
I could easily beat the “equivalent” clubs in the UEFA Champions League but for some reason, it was very difficult to compete against my rival, FC Schalke 04 (I’m using Dortmund). The players here will likewise feel pressure because of fans who demand to always win against rivals.
One on hand it may be overly challenging however, I actually found myself enjoying that feeling of pressure. It does get you into the head of not only a football manager but even a player. The stress of needing to win, keeping fans happy, and ensuring your future career, it’s all real.
One of the other differences in Football Manager 2023 is the revamped scouting. Unlike previous games, you don’t need to understand the detailed aspects of examining young players and their talents. Instead, they are now already described in a rating. Players will be categorized as Recommended, Near Matches, or Ongoing. After knowing the rating and suggestion, you just have to choose which player is the most suitable for the club and match with the budget you have.
I really like how they present the scouting feature here because it becomes more detailed and easy to understand at the same time. In a game all about looking at statistics, it’s nice that one of the most important aspects of the game, recruiting players, has been made a little more convenient and accessible.
Fans & Supporters
One new mechanic in the game is that fans can now be important for your role as a manager at a club. They call this new feature “Supporter Profile & Confidence”. If fans are not satisfied, fans can influence the club board’s decision to terminate your contract as manager.
They usually have requests and demands like finishing at a rank higher than the club’s rivals, getting as many local players as possible, using young players, playing attacking football, and even demanding to win the league and be the best in Europe.
What I appreciate about this is that this feature is implemented depending on the club you’re working for. Let’s say I’m a manager at Dortmund. They have many “low profile” loyal fans, and they won’t demand much from you, you just need to defeat your rivals, use young squads, and become the dominant club in Germany. However, it’s very different if you’re a manager at a club like Manchester United. The fans will demand that you always win and get star players.
Aside from having to respond to fans’ requests, you as a manager will also have to have good communication skills during press conferences. Saying the wrong thing at the wrong time could lead to a PR disaster. It really pays off the play this game with an understanding of the culture of football, not just in general, but at the club, you manage.
Football Manager 2023
Like many annual series, Football Manager 2023 does often feel the same game from the previous years. That being said, they still added quite a few new bells and whistles that make the game feel fresh and lively. New features like the supporter profile and conferences will likely be the biggest additions for football fans and seem tailor-made for those that are interested in the culture of the sport. It adds to the realistic impression of the game which makes it more fun to play.
There are definitely some drawbacks to the title like the lack of atmosphere at champions but overall the game gives a fun and tonally consistent look into the life of a football manager that should keep sports fans excited for every new goal.
football manager 2023
|Fans & Supporters is a good addition||Feel a bit too similar to previous entries|
|AI is more challenging||The atmosphere at the champions league should feel more lively|
|Scouting is more accessible|
Football Manager 2023 is available for PC, Mac, PS4, PS5, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, and mobile devices.
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