For soccer fans, the annual release of the FIFA video games can be one of the most exciting points of the year, and the titles that emerge as the best FIFA games usually set the standard for soccer gameplay. Some new releases can prove a disappointment, but enhancements are often exciting, with fans being able to see what changes have been made to the classic soccer game. While there have been some spinoffs over the years with games specific to World Cup tournaments and the popular FIFA Street series switching things up, it’s the traditional releases that audiences love.
The premise of the game is typically the same, with manager modes allowing players to take control of a team to push them forwards, or people being able to create a player to take them to the heights of the soccer world. Each game, however, brings its own approach to balance and gameplay, and the smallest tweaks can often have huge ramifications. 2023 will see the series’ releases changing to EA Sports FC thanks to EA and FIFA ending their relationship, spelling an end to the company’s legacy with the franchise. There are over 30 games in the series, but certain titles make stronger cases as the best FIFA games of all time.
20 FIFA Soccer 09 All-Play
FIFA Soccer 09 All-Play edition was a unique experience and an interesting spin on the franchise. Released for the Nintendo Wii, this took complete advantage of the system’s motion controls, making for a different kind of gaming experience. The standard version of FIFA Soccer 09 still makes for a stronger overall entry, but All-Play provided the perfect shake-up for fans who wanted something new.
19 FIFA 22
With so many releases over the years, it is next to impossible for sports gaming franchises to remain fresh. This is a problem that NBA 2K, Madden, and MLB The Show have all encountered, and the same goes for FIFA.
Thankfully, FIFA 22 found a few ways to step up the gameplay from recent titles, one of them being enhanced realism in animations thanks to EA’s HyperMotion technology and machine learning. The VOLTA Arcade mode also won some players over to the party game side of things for casual multiplayer entertainment.
18 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa
Released in between FIFA 10 and FIFA 11 came 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa. Unlike the mainline installments of the franchise, this was meant to focus purely on the World Cup that took place in that era, featuring nearly 200 teams that were in contention.
The inclusion of so many nations made it possible for anyone from anywhere to have a team to play with and get emotionally attached to. Most reviews were positive, although the versions for the iOS and Wii were mostly met with a mixed response.
17 FIFA Soccer 2002
Back in 2001, the FIFA franchise was still relatively new and was showing impressive signs of growth. This was the ninth entry, and it added little things to the experience like bars for passing and more club emblems.
The real thing that stood out for this game was that EA Sports made sure to update the tactics and graphics. Those were two important aspects that earned FIFA Soccer 2002 the runner-up slot in GameSpot’s award for the Best Traditional Sports Console Game.
16 FIFA 18
FIFA 18 might not have reached some of the heights of its predecessors, but it earned a favorable reception compared to a few of the games that followed. The game saw some tremendous graphics bring the players to life in a new manner, while the improvements on dribbling and shooting were a welcome change to the gameplay.
The passing was addressed as well, with greater range and crisper passes being made available. Plus, there were small details such as the quick substitution, allowing a change to happen in the game which meant that everything just flowed and felt a lot more natural.
15 FIFA 16
History was made with the release of FIFA 16 as for the first time ever, female players were included in the game. That was especially timely given how much the United States Women’s soccer team had impressed around the globe during that era. That was a huge change that was made for the better, with the best women’s teams in FIFA remaining a fixture since.
The gameplay itself continued to be a strong suit, with praise going towards how realistic things ultimately felt, especially when it came to defense and passing. It was also appreciated that the female games felt different, similar to what the NBA 2K franchise has done since adding the WNBA to games.
14 FIFA Soccer 2003
FIFA Soccer 2003 is one of the classic FIFA games that has stood the test of time, still being seen as one of the greatest despite the fact that technology has advanced a lot since this was released. It was one that brought in a lot of players as it has differing options for difficulty, which made the game more accessible to new fans.
This game also saw a big focus on the stadiums, the fans, and the overall experience, rather than just the gameplay itself. Adding in better celebrations made it a lot more fun, while the step-up in graphics in comparison to what had come before was a nice addition.
13 FIFA 15
The iconic Lionel Messi graced the cover of FIFA 15, and the game is good enough for an all-time great player on the cover to be fitting. This installment added to the new Ultimate Team mode and made it one of the most popular in the entire franchise.
The game also stood out by adding more licensing that made it all the more realistic and included fun things like personalized goal celebrations. There were some flaws with the A.I., but these issues weren’t enough to sink the game.
12 FIFA 2001 Major League Soccer
FIFA 2001 Major League Soccer was a turn-of-the-century standout for the series. It was released on the PlayStation, PlayStation 2, and PC, while a Game Boy Color version was ultimately scrapped. Obviously, the graphics weren’t nearly as strong compared to later editions.
That being said, the arrival of the PlayStation 2 allowed FIFA 2001 to be a graphical showcase for its time, and the gameplay continued a trajectory of making improvements. Plus, it featured one of FIFA‘s signature soundtracks that always featured a memorable song or two. FIFA 2001 didn’t revolutionize the series, but it holds up as a solid game through and through.
11 FIFA Soccer 2005
FIFA Soccer 2005 saw a real focus being placed on the passing mechanics. It made things crisper and more fluid, providing more realistic gameplay, and although the manager mode wasn’t the strongest in this particular game, the improvement in the gameplay itself made this one of the best of all time.
This iteration also brought an online option for two players, which was a huge factor for the game. Allowing people the option to play against each other is something that enhanced the game even further, with the online aspect of FIFA being one of its strengths.
10 FIFA Soccer 2004
FIFA Soccer 2004 was a big step forward for the franchise when it came to improving the gameplay experience. It gave players a chance to control more of what happened off the ball, setting up their team and allowing other players to make runs, which allowed people to feel like they were dictating more of what was happening with their team.
This game also stepped up the career mode aspect, enhancing things with the ability to train players, set goals, and build up prestige, which would affect player interest and budget. It was about more than just playing a game of soccer, which was crucial in enhancing the experience overall. That helped its standing among the FIFA games rankings.
9 FIFA Soccer 09
FIFA 09 brought a big step up in graphics once again, with everything about the game looking fantastic. But it will be remembered for truly nailing the Be A Pro mode, which allowed players to grow as one player within a team, raising their score with a specific focus on the positional play.
It was a technical gameplay mode, and when players combined online with their individual players, it was a lot of fun to experience. Other aspects of the game mirrored some of the strengths of the excellent predecessors of the prior couple of years.
8 FIFA 17
FIFA 17 kept the majority of things fairly similar when it comes to the traditional gameplay; however, this game featured a huge change with the addition of a completely new mode. Adding in The Journey was something fresh and instantly made this game stand out.
Creating more of a story mode to play, it followed one player as they were taken through the ranks and was a welcomed change to the franchise. The story was detailed and allowed for a good amount of creative control outside when it came to his career and the conversations he could have with others.
7 FIFA 08
A lot of sports games that were released during the era of FIFA 08 had to deal with moving over to a new generation of consoles. That is part of what hurt FIFA 08 in some reviews, with newer versions for systems like the PlayStation 3 getting mixed reviews, while the PlayStation 2 iteration scored stronger than the rest.
The biggest addition to this game was the Be A Pro mode, which is also a highlight of EA’s NHL series. The mode allows players to control one footballer (other than a goalkeeper) throughout an entire game, making for a unique experience on the pitch. Improvements to manager mode and goaltending AI were also welcome.
6 FIFA 07 Soccer
One of the biggest selling points of this installment of the franchise was just how many teams and players could be used. There were nearly 30 different leagues available to choose from, allowing this to be about as expansive as possible back when it was released.
That helped make FIFA 07 Soccer one of the best FIFA games ever created. The version for the Xbox 360 was especially lauded as a new gameplay engine was devised for it with improved controls and physics. There was also care put into the presentation aspect, making sure that commentary and visuals were on point.
5 FIFA Soccer 10
FIFA 10 made a strong successor to FIFA 09, continuing the excellent streak of the era. EA put a lot of attention into the actual gameplay for this installment, which made it slicker and faster to play, with greater quality making for a more realistic experience.
However, the big reason this one ended up being such a success was the fact that managing teams in FIFA got a lot of enhancements. Whether it was the visual sim technology or the importance of sponsorship altering finances, the mode became a lot more detailed, providing 15 seasons of engaging simulation to follow.
4 FIFA Soccer 11
By this point in the series, FIFA had established itself as the king of the sport, even with Pro Evolution Soccer (now eFootball) as a challenger. But when FIFA Soccer 11 arrived, it was still the toast of the town to the point where it won several awards as the top sports game of the year.
The game found success by expanding the online aspect with custom avatars and boosting the gameplay on the PC version. Passing was given an overhaul, career mode got some changes made, and specific consoles had fun additions, with the most notable being the street football inclusion for the Nintendo Wii.
3 FIFA 14
Because this was the first time that FIFA was on both the Xbox One and the PS4, EA took full advantage and really upped the ante with the graphics and the gameplay with the Ignite Engine being used to full effect.
It allowed this to be a totally new experience for players who had been engaged with the franchise for a while. Tweaks to the gameplay offered enhanced realism to accompany the graphics, with a focus on momentum helping to bring player movements closer to the real thing. Balance issues stopped FIFA 14 from being a unilateral improvement, but it was a strong showing nonetheless.
2 FIFA Soccer 12
A lot of people enjoyed the career mode that FIFA Soccer 12 provided, which instantly made it a hit. But it was actually the changes to the specific gameplay that made this version of the franchise so great. The dribbling was focused on heavily, and it allowed for closer touches and more precise runs to take place.
The defending aspect of the game was also given a bigger spotlight, with tackling becoming easier but also more precise, which did also increase fouls as well. Making the actual gameplay itself as realistic as possible is always going to go down well with a game like this, and that’s what FIFA 12 did perfectly.
1 FIFA Soccer 13
FIFA Soccer 13 made for an impressive last hurrah for the seventh generation-exclusive games, pushing the graphical capabilities of the systems further than any prior game. In general, this game feels like the complete package, delivering across the board with a robust suite of features and carefully honed balance.
FIFA Soccer 13 saw a major step up with online gameplay, which made it replayable with friends. The game altered Ultimate Team a lot, with seasons being added for the first time and the promotion allowing for more coins to be earned. It all made this a turning point for the series with the revenue generated from Ultimate Team becoming an increasingly big focus. Whether players enjoy the games before or after this entry more, FIFA Soccer 13 marks a perfect blend of philosophies and the greatest FIFAgame.