FIFA 23’s Chemistry Rework Should Bin Off Position Changes
In the final minutes of the Champions League final, Virgil van Dijk was playing up front. As arguably Liverpool’s best header of the ball (Ibrahim Konate and Diogo Jota would both like words), he was desperately trying to get his head on one of Andy Robertson’s or Trent Alexander-Arnold’s trademark crosses. Obviously it didn’t work out this time, but Liverpool’s desperate 2-1-7 formation for the last ten minutes felt reminiscent of the wild and weird FIFA formations that players puzzle over to maximise their team’s chemistry.
While FIFA limits you to regular formations that managers in real-life matches use (your 4-5-1s and 3-5-2s etc.), position changes mean that some players can end up in the most unexpected places. Van Dijk can’t be played up front without losing serious chemistry (which affects in-game stats), but Fabinho could. Similarly, a notorious poacher like Gary Lineker can start the match as a 6 by applying a few consumable cards. That’s a man who only saw his own half at kick offs and spent the other 89 minutes of his matches in the opposition’s penalty box. But in FIFA, it’s often preferable to switch things around.
It’s not like this sort of thing doesn’t work in real life. Alisson Becker scored in the final seconds of Liverpool’s match against West Brom in the 20/21 season, a goal which saved the team’s poor year and guaranteed them Champions League football this past year. At that moment, if only for a second, Liverpool played a 1-2-8 formation with nobody left between the sticks. It was a risk, but it paid off. Real Madrid are not West Brom, however, and staunchly defended their one goal lead, largely thanks to an inspired performance from goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois, who didn’t need to leave his post to earn the Man of the Match.
In FIFA matches, however, it all changes once the whistle blows. You use the D-pad and your players revert to your preferred formation, the one that you’ve gone through with them in the pre-match pep talk and the tactics that they know and thrive in. Fabinho reverts to the 6, Lineker heads up top. Things are right again. The complex position changes were all a ploy to give every player full chemistry and boost their performance. But it’s ridiculous, let’s be honest.
At present, players gain chemistry for starting the match next to a player from the same league or nation. If that player is from the same club, it’s a strong link and buffs them more. If they’re from the same nation and club, it’s a super link, which is practically unbreakable. That’s why players tend to pick one or two leagues or nations for their squad and vehemently stick to the theme. Icons can link to anyone, which is why Lineker would be perfect in midfield, spreading links to all those who need chemistry.
However, this is apparently getting reworked for FIFA 23, according to leaks. Players from different countries and leagues can work together, and the 1-100 system is being replaced by a star rating. I’ve no idea how this could work, but if it’s true (and that’s still a fairly big if), positional changes need to be removed from the game.
The new system seems to make teams easier to build – what with any player linking fine to any other player – so where will the new star-based rating system come in? Unless FIFA radically changes teambuilding (which I wouldn’t be averse to), the only option is positions. But if you could change players’ positions as well as linking them to anyone else? The challenge of teambuilding has been lost.
There’s precedent for this, too: EA removed the fitness consumable a few years back. It was pointless, an extra stat that just made your players worse over time. With a radical change to chemistry, losing position changes wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing either.
I love building teams, it’s probably what I spend most of my time doing, whether by the Web App or on my phone. I’m a tinkerer, I love to try to work the latest players into my current team. Packing an untradeable Pedri last week forced me into all manner of workarounds, which eventually ended up in me completing the Ansu Fati objectives and doing the Isco SBC. My team is much better for it, too, but I often play Kenny Dalglish at 6 or 8 to get the chemistry working. He moves up top when the whistle blows, of course, but an Icon is the easiest way to link Fati to Varane. If chemistry’s changing, however, then I’d happily lose position changes in an instant if it means we have more of a challenge crafting our squads again.
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