Review: FIFA 20 – Familiar with Some Fresh Ideas
The latest installment to the FIFA series arrived on 27th September on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC, and Nintendo Switch. FIFA 20 feels familiar to anyone who’s played the last few entries in the franchise, but there are a few welcoming new features to the game that make it seem a little less like a carbon copy. Like its predecessors, FIFA 20 is well-presented, fun, and a must-play for football fanatics. However, that’s not to say it’s perfect, as the game still feels underwhelming at times.
There has been some improvements in FIFA 20’s football mechanics, which ultimately makes it a much smoother experience. A common issue with previous FIFA games was how slow agile players ran. This meant that even the most average speed players caught up with much more nimble individuals on the opposing team. This has been fixed in FIFA 20. Now, fast players actually feel, well, fast, and can charge on ahead without being as easily outrun.
The defending and tackling mechanics have also been refined. Switching between different players is a lot smoother, whilst tackling opponents requires a bit more thought and precision than in previous titles. Timing your tackle well is crucial for taking possession of the ball, as it’s much easier for your opponent to dodge or for the referee to hand you a yellow card for playing too dirty. Free-kicks have been overhauled but are initially hard to get the hang of. You have to think carefully about where the ball will land, as well as where to position yourself. Although free-kicks are tricky to begin with in FIFA 20, they are fun to execute once you’ve mastered them.
Additionally, shooting in FIFA 20 is a lot more reliable than in FIFA 19. Despite timed-finishes being present yet again, they don’t feel as tedious as before and have been dumbed down significantly. Scoring also feels and looks realistic, but the goalkeepers’ AI are questionable, as sometimes they miss blocking the easiest of shots.
Ball physics are very similar to previous FIFA games, and not much seems to have changed. However, the ball now bounces over grass and kicks up mud into the air, which is a nice touch.
The presentation of FIFA games has always been a strong point, and FIFA 20 is no different. It looks gorgeous. The virtual faces of real players from teams like Manchester City look incredibly realistic, though this doesn’t quite extend to the less popular teams. Visually, FIFA 20 is identical to FIFA 19, but it’s still a treat to look at nonetheless.
Bad Things Come in Threes
The biggest addition to FIFA 20 is Volta, which replaces The Journey from FIFA 19. There are three variations of Volta: League, Story, and Tour. League is Volta’s online mode, in which you play against other real-life players to improve your rankings.
The Story mode is definitely the weakest and probably shouldn’t exist. Your character parties-up with a street football team who are adamant about making it big in the world. It’s cheesy and features some pretty forgettable characters that quickly grate on you. The cutscenes look good and the voice-acting is above average, but overall the story mode of Volta is a slog that isn’t very fun to play through.
The Tour aspect of Volta involves playing matches against CPU squads. These squads have been created by other players, and once you defeat them, you are given the ability to recruit one member from that team to join yours. You can also pick the location and type of street football you want to play. There are seventeen locations to choose from, with some larger than others. The small locations make the entire experience utter mayhem, with the ball bouncing all over the place.
No matter what arena you choose to play, they all look phenomenal. A lot of work clearly went into building them and creating the right type of ambiance. Volta is a much more fast-paced and exciting way to play than the other FIFA modes and is a welcome addition.
For those who enjoy customizing their characters, then you’ll be pleased to hear that Volta has tons of it. There’s an impressive range of cosmetic items to choose from, such as hairstyles, shoes, and tops to dress your character in. To purchase these items, you’ll need to acquire Volta coins first. You can earn this currency simply by playing Volta matches. No micro-transactions are involved, though this can’t be said with FIFA 20’s Ultimate Team mode.
New Modes and Changes
Ultimate Team is back again, which has always been loaded with micro-transactions. The only new notable features for this mode are more customization options, more players to pick from to join your team, and season objectives. The latter gives you deeper rewards than just the weekly and daily objectives.
If you’ve enjoyed Ultimate Team in previous FIFA games, then you’ll no doubt enjoy it in FIFA 20. Popular mode, House Rules, is also available to play in Ultimate Team now, alongside two other exclusive modes called Swaps and Max Chemistry. The swaps mode will place three players from your team into your opponent’s, and vice versa. It’s a bit of a lucky dip, as the players who get swapped are completely random.
Max Chemistry, on the other hand, grants every player in your squad a ‘10’ chemistry rating. Two new modes in both Ultimate Team and Kick-Off mode are Mystery Ball and King Of The Hill. Both these two modes are a bit silly, but enjoyable nonetheless.
Mystery Ball mode is certainly a mystery. Each time the ball is thrown off-pitch, the numerical value of it changes. This means the ball could be worth one, two, or three points the next time you or the opposing team scores a goal. In addition to this, the team in possession of the ball is also granted huge advantages, such as boosts in Sprint Speed, Passing, and Dribbling. There’s also a chance at getting the All Ball, which gives the team in possession every type of boost active all at once.
In contrast, the King Of The Hill Mode places a control zone on the attacking side. You need to have possession of the ball in the control zone for as long as possible. By successfully doing this, your next goal will be worth more points than usual.
Kick-Off mode is essentially a Quickplay and lets you play with friends or against CPU. There are a huge number of match types in Kick-off, including House Rules, Classic Kick-Off, No Rules, and Survival Mode.
Lastly, there’s Career Mode, which comes with some new changes. You can now customize your manager with a lot more options than in previous installments. And for the first time ever, you can create a female manager.
Each decision you make has consequences and will affect how well your team performs as well as their overall morale. Morale is influenced by several different factors, such as how you answer questions in press conferences and managing wage expectations. You can also have one-to-one chats with the players on your team to help them with worries and concerns. Carefully picking how to reply to your players via a messaging app system will either increase or decrease their team spirit, which ultimately affects their performance.
Although being able to choose how to respond to the media and your players is more refined than in last year’s FIFA game, it still gets repetitive fairly quickly as there is a limited amount of dialogue options. Quite often the media will ask you the same questions or a player will reach out to you with the same concern.
FIFA 20 is a decent installment to the franchise, but despite having some new features and improvements, there’s not a huge amount that makes it stand out from other FIFA games. The new Volta mode is an interesting and fun change of pace but features a painstakingly mediocre story that is a bore to sit through. League and Mode, however, are both an enjoyable experience to dive into when you fancy something a little different.
The better mechanics in FIFA 20 make the gameplay feel much more smooth, realistic, and precise than in previous entries. It’s a major improvement to FIFA 19, even if timed-finishes are still present. New modes Mystery Ball and King Of The Hill are fun additions. They are a nice way to experience the game in a more silly and less serious way.
Overall, FIFA 20 is a fun game that you’ll most likely enjoy if you’re a football lover or are a fan of previous FIFA titles. However, if you’re not too bothered by a few new bells and whistles or just fancy the odd match in a couch co-op session, then you’re probably better off picking up an older, more cheaper FIFA game.