You don’t expect annual franchises to innovate and experiment with every new instalment, but even so, Football Manager is one of few franchises in that group that somehow keeps finding ways to make meaningful improvements every year, even if those improvements come in the form of granular, iterative changes. Football Manager 2024 is very much following that same pattern, with Sports Interactive continuing to build on the long-standing foundations of its incredibly successful series with a long list of smaller changes that, put together, are promising to change up the experience from past years’ games in some notable ways. Here, that’s exactly what we’re talking about, as we look at some of the biggest ways FM 24 is going to be different from its predecessors.
Actually taking to the pitch and playing football matches has never been what FM is about, though as fans, we do still look forward to improvements to the match engine each year. There’s a handful of those to speak of this year as well, ranging across things like players’ decision making, animations and physics, visuals and lighting, and more. Obviously, it’s still not the main attraction of the FM experience in the slightest, but Sports Interactive says there are notable improvements over last year’s game nonetheless.
One of the bigger changes FM 24 has made to its animations is with the introduction of motion matching, a technique used by several games that, in layman’s terms, stitches together animation clips for character models contextually, making for smoother, more realistic animations. What that means for FM 24 is that during matches, the way players move about with or without the ball should be much more fluid and authentic than the jerky on-pitch movements FM games have generally been known for.
Another area where Sports Interactive is touting some considerable changes is the physics and movement of the actual football itself. As opposed to its predecessors, the developer says FM 24 is putting much greater emphasis on factors such as wind resistance, drag, friction against the pitch, and even the temperature and altitude of the stadium you’re playing in, all of which will affect the ball’s motion much more realistically. On paper, that means you’ll see much better dribbling, finishing, volleys, deflections, and the like.
Other obvious improvements made to the match engine that are worth shedding light on can be seen on the visuals side of things. For starters, FM 24 is touting better and sharper pitch textures, while the game has also introduced what look like significant upgrades to the lighting model. It’s still not going to be a visual stunner, obviously, but the jump from Football Manager 2023 is quite apparent in this department nonetheless.
Football Manager 2024 is also offering new options in how you want to begin a new save. At the outset of every save, you’ll be able to choose between three different modes. Original mode will see your save starting with every player in the database playing for the club they play for in real-life at that point in time. Then there’s Real World, which will see players starting the save at the clubs they were at when the season began, and then making moves later on in the save aligned with their real-world transfers. Finally, Your World mode will let you customize all of your future transfers after your save begins however you see fit.
SET PIECE COACHES
Though Set Piece coaching has obviously been a thing in FM for a long time, in FM 24, Set Piece Coach is now going to be a specialized role. Each coach will have an individual Set Piece attribute, while Set Piece coaches will also have their own unique preferences and styles, from delivery methods for attacking set pieces to how to set up a team when defending one.
SET PIECE CREATOR
The implementation of Set Piece coaches in Football Manager 2024 is also going hand in hand with the addition of a new and enhanced Set Piece creator, which will give you much greater control over attacking and defending free kicks and corners, primarily thanks to an increased focus on players’ Attributes and their assigned responsibilities rather than their positions. You’ll also be working with your Set Piece coach to nail down several other things, like whether you want to defend zonally, go with man marking, or adopt a hybrid approach, or which post you want your players to focus on while defending, or what area you want the ball delivered in, or how many players you want to leave forward, and more.
Transfers are a major part of the world of football, and always tend to be one of the most exciting parts of the Football Manager experience. In FM 24, it’s looking like that’ll be truer than ever, thanks to a number of improvements- chief among them being AI managers now taking a much more nuanced view to what players they want to target. Rather than simply going after the best and most valuable players, your rival managers will now have a keener sense of how to develop their own team by going after players that have Attributes that’ll fill gaps in their squads. Meanwhile, managers will now also place a greater emphasis on the potential ability of a player rather than their current ability, which means signing a promising wonderkid could be even more competitive than it has been in previous games.
Speaking of manager prioritizing a player’s potential ability over their current ability, that will also come into play when your rivals are actually picking their matchday squads. Youth players with high ceilings who may not be the finished article didn’t always have the best shot at being involved in matches in past years’ games, but Sports Interactive has said that that’ll no longer be the case in FM 24.
One of the biggest changes Football Manager 2024 has made – and one that has caught the eye of many – is the introduction of negative transfer budgets. You read that right- if you overspend and don’t manage your funds carefully, your budget will drop into the red, at which point your board will give you a certain amount of time within which you’ll need to get back to a positive budget. That, in turn, can be done in several ways, like offloading high-value players to generate funds (like a much, much tamer version of what FC Barcelona is doing right now). If you’re unable to do that within that timeframe, the board will seize all control of transfers from you, make the sales it wants to make without any input from you, and relinquish control back to you only after you’ve got a positive budget again.
Financial Fair Play breaches sadly continue to be a part of the sport, and Football Manager 24 will incorporate that into its experience in more authentic fashion as well. How exactly? Well, by placing new and stricter sanctions on clubs that breach FFP, like smaller squad sizes, restricted transfer spending, locked wage budgets, competition incomes being withheld, fines, and more.
Football Manager 2024 will also present players with additional opportunities for making money beyond just selling players, and other familiar avenues, like matchday ticket sales, shirt sales, and the like. One of the biggest new additions is fixed-length TV deals, something that holds immense weight in real-life football, and will have a greater role to play in FM 24 as well. Among other things, TV deals will also impact the prize money you receive from competitions.
Pretty much every single Football Manager player has at one point or another struggled to move on a player from their club that is reluctant to leave. In FM 24, if that’s the situation you find yourself in and if the player’s agent isn’t being helpful, you can now also seek out the help of Intermediaries, who are third parties recruited by your Director of Football. For a percentage of the final transfer fee, intermediaries will generate new interest in the player you want to sell, though factors like that intermediary’s reach and ability will also come into play here.
INDIVIDUAL PLAYER TARGETS
Something else that FM 24 is introducing is the ability to set individual targets for players. During individual feedback interactions, when sending out a player on loan, or when negotiating a contract, you’ll be able to propose and set targets for players as pathway for them to get to a stage where they are getting more playing time. That, in turn, will finally give you a much more direct and tangible method of incentivizing players to perform better (and perhaps to stick around even when they’re not getting too much playing time), though their individual personalities and relationships with you will, of course, be a factor.
If you’ve played FM in the past, you’re probably all too familiar with players’ tendency to overreact to your dialogue choices during individual interactions in the most hilarious way possible, though FM 24 is making some changes on that fronts to make things a little less… extreme. There are over 2,000 new AI responses in the game, ranging across different levels of severity, while players will now also provide much better reasoning for their unhappiness, while requirements for the promises that you make to your players will also be much clearer than in past years’ games.