It’s FIFA time again, so whether you call it football or soccer, what’s in-store from FIFA 20? Does the franchise continue to kick go-go-go-go-goals?
EA Sports seem to have adopted the “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” mentality to the look and feel of FIFA 20, choosing to stick to the exact same setup as they have for their previous four editions.
FIFA 16 was the last time we saw a significant overhaul in the look and feel of the menu system and the game in general. It showed a bold new style choice and aligned with the new colour palette of the Premier League at the time.
In the latest iteration they’ve gone for a full dayglo red colour theme, complete with a leopard print trim #sohotrightnow. The good news here is that FIFA 20 is now fully compliant with OH&S requirements for attending a construction site.
If that’s something that’s going to put you off a game, you can stop now. To the credit of EA Sports, that is where the similarities to previous versions end, because the core gameplay of FIFA 20 is intense, exciting and completely new.
Gameplay upgrades mean that the players are now more responsive. EA have turned off the traction control and allowed full access to player movement. It’s responsive and intuitive, and we actually found ourselves amazed at how natural the whole experience was. FINALLY, the players are doing what they’re supposed to, which means we’re yelling at the television less frequently. Experienced hands will almost immediately notice the difference in how players respond and, once you get a handle on it, you’ll be appreciating the changes and will be scoring for fun.
Safety controls have also been removed from shooting. You’ll have a lot more opportunity to score where and when you would like. Updates have been applied to both the physics of the football and the player movement, which means that you’ll find yourself in the right place at the right time more often than not, with the ability to perform much more agile strikes on goal.
While all of these features have added speed and control to your players, the newly revamped freekick controls have gone down a technically specific path. If you rotate thumbsticks and combine it with a series of button taps at the right time, you’ll fly past the wall. Get the combination wrong and you either kick the ball out of the stadium or open a portal to another dimension. It’s needlessly complex and runs against the fun, free-flowing, nature of the rest of the game.
FIFA 20 has taken a page out of the playbook of PES 19, by ramping up the speed of the game to a frenetic pace. There’s less of a focus on the midfield battle, and more on the end-to-end long plays. It’s interesting to see the change in this pace, as both PES 20 has moved to a slower, more tactical game style and FIFA 20 is pushing the new VOLTA game mode.
Speaking of VOLTA… Well, it’s definitely a game mode. This year you’ll be able to play in a variety of different, smaller team games as you take on other players in what is essentially a modern day take on the previously stand-alone title FIFA Street. If you think the gameplay in the regular mode is fast, wait until you play three-a-side pickup games on a pitch figuratively the size of a ping pong table. It’s absolute chaos, as anyone who has played indoor football or futsal would have experienced.
We’re pleased that EA have chosen to include this as part of the FIFA 20 package, and it will be interesting to see if this idea takes off in the extremely competitive multiplayer world, especially as FIFA already has a fantastic community within the traditional gameplay style. Mind you, if this was a standalone title, we wouldn’t be recommending picking it up as VOLTA definitely works best as a companion piece to the fully packaged game.
“If you think the gameplay in the regular mode is fast, wait until you play three-a-side pickup games on a pitch figuratively the size of a ping pong table.”
Now to the disappointing news, the Ultimate Team mode and the associated game packs are still here and they’re just as expensive and overbearing as they’ve always been. If you’re not interested in paying anything extra for a full priced game, you should be able to grind out a good team just in time to pick up a copy of FIFA 21. You can be sure that there are people who are willing to pay more than double the box price of the game to get the top players and associated gear.
One of the great features of the FIFA series is that your game profile carries over from previous seasons, so that you won’t have to worry about remapping the newly formatted controls to your regular setup – it’s literally plug-and-play. You also carry over your experience credits which you can use to buy new kit for your players, different skins for the footballs, celebrations and other buffs for your single player careers. It would’ve been nice if they applied the same logic to the Ultimate Team mode, but where’s the money fun in that…?
FIFA 20 has become so #fresh that you’ll think that EA grew a foot-long beard, got a neck tattoo and started selling a selection of locally sourced kombucha from the back of a Kombi van. Although getting through the tired, five-year-old menu system will test the patience of regular players of the game, once you get out on the pitch, you’ll see what all the fuss is about.
FIFA 20 releases September 27 for PS4, Xbox One and Switch.