Son Heung-min is doing what he does best. He’s received the ball on the left flank, skinned the defending full-back, deftly touched the ball to the right as he reaches the box and – as he has so many times before – aims to send a curling ball arcing into the far corner of the goal from long range. And then a little golden diamond pops up above his head.
This is the moment I first come across EA Sports FC 24’s new feature, PlayStyles+. A moment later, I’ve scored the beautiful goal I was attempting to recreate, I’m 1-0 up, I’m irritating my neighbor with the noise I’m making – and it’s thanks to Sonny’s PlayStyle+ in Finesse Shots.
Think of PlayStyles+ as special abilities – each one aiming to represent the world’s best players’ own personal athletic genius. PlayStyles come in two forms: PlayStyles (without the +) are an evolution of the series’ previous Traits, innate abilities that each player possesses. But PlayStyles+ are rarer, offering extra abilities beyond that of the regular professional’s scope.
Found in among your players’ line-up of stats, PlayStyles are an attempt to not just rate your squad by stats alone, but in what each squad member can do beyond their base abilities. PlayStyles+ elevate the very best players beyond a counterpart who might otherwise share a similar numerical rating.
A PlayStyle+ can apply anywhere on the pitch – players can have them for various facets of goalkeeping, ball control, physicality, defending, passing, or shooting – and can be deeply relevant to how you choose to use that player, or how to set up your team.
“Think of PlayStyles+ as special abilities – each one aiming to represent the world’s best players’ own personal athletic genius.”
Taking Son as an example again, his PlayStyle+ with Finesse Shots – which means they’re taken faster, with more curl, and extremely high accuracy – means that I now aim to use that kind of shot more than any other.
Moving over to Bayern Munich, I quickly discover that wing-back Alphonso Davies comes equipped with the Quick Step PlayStyle+, meaning his initial burst of speed from an explosive sprint is freakishly fast – so I quickly begin routing my counter-attacks through him to make use of that immense speed. With Man City, I suddenly see new signing Josko Gvardiol arc out a leg almost impossibly to stop a shot, in a way I’ve never seen before – all thanks to his Block PlayStyle+ – and know that I’ll be taking control of him the next time a marauding attacker approaches.
In a lovely touch, each time you activate PlayStyles+, an icon appears above the player’s head – and there’s an unexpected joy in seeing that appear for the first time, a scramble for the Team Management menu to check it out, and a desire to see it again. As much as I admire the system for what it adds to FC 24’s simulation make-up, what I’m loving about it is that old fashioned, deeply video game-y feeling of unlocking a new spell, or stumbling on a fighting game special move you didn’t know about. Each time I see a new one, I’m delighted all over again.
EA Sports FC 24 launches on Xbox Series X|S and Xbox One on September 29 – but you can play it in Early Access today by playing the Ultimate Edition, with an EA Play trial, or with EA Play Pro.
EA SPORTS FC™ 24 Ultimate Edition Xbox One & Xbox Series X|S