it’s the Champions League!
Forget the greyness and the cold of November, Football Manager is out! While Didier Deschamps is fine-tuning his list for the World Cup, we tested the beta of Football Manager 2023. Does the famous football simulation still live up to its reputation?
This month of November is an unmissable event for football fans. There is of course the 2022 World Cup which begins in a few days, but also and above all the release of Soccer Manager 2023. True to form, Sega and Sports Interactive are back with a new version of a series that has established itself as the reference in football simulation. Year after year, the developer Sports Interactive refines its copy and success is there.
For this 2023 edition, Football Manager has concluded an agreement with UEFA to offer the official competitions which are the Champions League, the Europa LeagueEuropa League, the Europa Conference League or the European Supercup. A contribution which should reinforce the immersion and it is not the only novelty that promises Soccer Manager 2023. For two weeks, we were able to test the beta of the game (and put our social life aside). We had access to the PC version to carry out our test, via the Steam platform.
As in an armchair
Before getting to the heart of the matter, remember that Football Manager is a series of football management video games. It puts you in the shoes of a trainer or selector who must lead his team or his selection to victory. If the concept seems simplistic, FM has not become a benchmark in the sports management game for nothing. The game aims to be formidable in precision, thanks in particular to its database which is particularly rich in data. Some clubs (IRL) even use this large database to find new nuggets.
Football Manager also allows you to influence many aspects, such as training, staff, the choice of trainers, club strategy. This 2023 edition takes up a recipe that has worked for almost twenty years and which seeks each year to add new ingredients to spice up the experience.
At the launch of Soccer Manager 2023, it is clear that those most accustomed to will not be out of place. The game is based on the very solid foundations of its predecessors and offers an interface almost similar to that of FM 2022. This has the merit of not disorienting the followers while the novices will not forget to call on the assistant . His presence is reassuring, because Football Manager can always scare neophytes. Indeed, the series is intended to be very complete and offers many possibilities to football fans. Fortunately, the explanations for each section help to get the hang of it and help to understand the mechanics of the game.
The first few minutes are always dedicated to creating the trainer; a mission that still does not have much interest. Indeed, FM always offers to create an avatar that can look like you (or not) by choosing a haircut, eye color, height, morphology or even a costume and accessories. The idea could be relevant if the trainer was really visible during the game, which is not really the case. You will most often see your avatar’s face and physique at the start of matches.
We would rather have liked to see our character appear during press conferences, which remains desperately empty. This won’t surprise you if you played the previous edition; this was already the case and these meetings have a taste of deja vu. If the developer has worked on the number of answer choices, the questions are identical and we quickly try to delegate this repetitive task to his assistant. If FM can not miss this exercise to stick to reality, we hope for more lively press conferences for the next editions.
More interactions with supporters and agents
For now, Soccer Manager 2023 tackles communication with agents and supporters. It was already possible to chat with an agent, but the game goes further and allows you to start negotiations with a player’s agent. It’s rather useful and it brings real added value for recruitment, avoiding for example to derail the case by missing a discussion with the targeted player.
Concerning the supporters, they will have a more important role in the game. Like the leaders, the supporters will now have an opinion on the way in which you manage the team. They will have a look at the evolution of the club, the results, the transfers and the tactics used. For the player, this brings an additional challenge with the ambition to respect the demands of the leaders; everything made the supporters happy. In case of difficulties, the support of its supporters could also help you buy time to raise the bar.
The recruitment part remains one of the most interesting in Football Manager. Without proposing any real upheavals, this 2023 edition makes recruitment more “intelligent”. The game offers a “team composition” tab that will help you review your squad in order to develop its potential to the fullest. You will be able to classify your players according to their level and better define their role; from the “learning” youngster to the “experienced” player on the downslope. Between the two, the player “breaking through” will grow in your squad while the one “at his best” will carry your team.
This new tab does not radically change the gaming experience, but it can be useful for better managing your squad. It also brings a plus, because not all players evolve at the same pace. A nugget of 20 or 21 years old may already be “breaking through” while another is still “learning”.
As far as pure and hard recruitment is concerned, we appreciate the changes made to recruiters. On the old versions, you had to spend time validating the reports for players who did not really meet your expectations. In FM 2023, scouts gain autonomy to target players who can strengthen your team. Saving time and an ever more realistic approach.
Always more realism, in the absence of major innovations
When announcing Football Manager, Sega and Sports Interactive insisted on signing with UEFA. This partnership allows FM 2023 to display the licenses of the Champions League, the Europa League and the Europa League Conference. Fans of the series did not wait for the licenses to play Football Manager. Nevertheless, this change is a bit like the icing on the cake for enthusiasts. No more going through patches to enjoy official Champions League skin and music. Let’s not sulk our pleasure, a little shiver went through us at the time of the draw for the group stage.
With a small club, it’s also a small form of accomplishment to hear the anthem. We are also entitled to a special display during the evenings of the Champions League.
For lovers of more exotic names, licenses are still missing and you will be entitled to names like Parthenope (Napoli), Real Hispalis (Real Betis) or Manchester UFC rather than Manchester United.
Improvements in small touches
Rather than offering a revolution, FM 2023 gives you continuity and relies on small improvements. In addition to the novelties mentioned above, we are entitled to new tactical options. They concern the defensive aspect with the possibility of pressing in the axis or on the sides, but also to try to direct your opponent towards a precise zone. The game has also reworked the ‘offside trap’ option to give the option of asking your defense to ‘fall back’ or ‘hold the line’. We also appreciate that the instructions are clearer with instructions such as “low block”, “medium block” or “high pressing”. This should help you play counter situations better.
In matches, we always appreciate the many parameters and the amount of data. FM is also thinking of statistics enthusiasts and is improving the data center (Data Hub) which appeared last year. He offers new statistics that allow you to better understand the performance of his team and his players. A must to prepare for future meetings and better gauge your opponent.
The publisher claims to have reworked its match engine and the AI of opposing coaches. If we were mainly able to practice on the beta, this 2023 edition seems to have raised the level of difficulty. As always, it largely depends on your choice of starting team. Indeed, you will probably not have to wait very long before becoming the first PSG coach to lift the cup to the ears; no offense to Christophe Galtier. On the Olympique de Marseille side, you will also have the opportunity to stand out from Igor Tudor by bringing in Dimitri Payet at the end of the match.
The challenge is obviously more complex when one is interested in a more modest club and in the lower divisions.
Price and availability
Soccer Manager 2023 is available since November 8, 2022 on PC (Steam, Epic Games, PC Game Pass, Microsoft) at the price of 59.99 euros. It is also available on Xbox (Game Pass), Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 5 (coming soon); mobile (Google Play and App Store) and Apple Arcade.