Manchester United and England striker Marcus Rashford was recently doing some press duties with the Premier League, during which the footballer was given a sneak peek at the EA Sports FC 24 version of Marcus Rashford. The player's form vastly improved in the 2022/23 season, with 30 goals in all competitions, and this is reflected in some improved ratings on the EAFC 24 card (the new version of FIFA Ultimate Team) over the FIFA 23 version. But not, apparently enough for Rashford.
The Rashford card's overall rating has improved from an 83 in FIFA 23 to an 85 in EAFC 24. But when taken through how the game breaks down his skills, Rashford was unpleasantly surprised at points.
At least it began well. Rashford couldn't believe he was rated an 87 for pace in FIFA 23 (to be fair, he is fast as hell), saying "87? I can't lie, I thought I should be 89/90. But if it was 87 last year, I'm the same speed now… [I should be] 89. Yeah. 87 is rude." The player was delighted to discover he's now a 90: "That's good, that's a good start. I think I am probably the fastest [player at Man United]."
Rashford guessed his "shooting must have been an 84" in FIFA 23. It was 82: "I'm gonna have to have a word." He guesses 85 or 87 for EAFC 24, but it's an 86. "Alright. Almost, we are doing well so far." For passing Rashford guesses around 77, and in FIFA 23 it's a 75: "That's crazy though." He guesses 78 for EAFC 24, which is bang on, then says "it should be 80."
84 for dribbling in EAFC 24 "is alright, it could be higher though." Then Rashford was asked what he reckoned his defensive ability was rated as and, being a forward player, he went with the semi-respectable 68. The player was visibly taken aback when told it was just 41 in FIFA 23.
"41?!" repeats Rashford in disbelief. "Am I that bad?! 42 [in EAFC 24]? I'm shocked with this one, I can't lie. They can't put me lower. How can it be lower than a 41? A 41 doesn't even defend. 40?" Rashford's first guess turns out to be correct: he's now a 42. "That's alright," says a man who clearly thinks it is not alright. The last rating, physique, doesn't do much for his mood either: "74? Should be a 76."
It is low key hilarious that by the end a Premier League and international football superstar, a man with a dream job who's making millions from it, is quibbling over a couple of rating points in the fantasy football version of himself. Rashford is somewhat mollified by his final ranking being an 85 ("alright"), and rather sweetly says the main thing about his ratings is that his nephew uses him in the game. He's also not the only Premier League player who went through this, with the video also featuring Callum Wilson of Newcastle, Brighton's Kaoru Mitoma, and Chelsea's Thiago Silva. But none of them faced a low 40s rating in defence.
EA Sports FC 24 will be out on September 29 (or a week earlier if you buy the ultimate edition), and is the first EA football game that will not bear the FIFA branding, after EA and FIFA had a rather spectacular fallout. Which made me weirdly melancholy, because as someone who played the first iteration of this on the Mega Drive/Genesis, the series' growth and metamorphoses over subsequent decades has been breathtaking to watch. EAFC 24 is now the subject of intense marketing activity, with it being almost impossible to watch anything football related without seeing the logo constantly, and EA does look on course to pull off the mother of all re-branding exercises. For its part, FIFA simply declares that whatever game is called FIFA will be "the best", but that stance is unlikely to survive contact with reality.