FIFA 20 remains a gorgeous and fun-to-play football game that’s as addictive as ever. The addition of Volta adds some much-needed variety and the quick matches filled with skills and elaborate game celebrations are fun. I’m not sold on all the gameplay tweaks, however, and the additions to Career mode feel slightly dull. Still, if you’ve picked up FIFA every year then you’re most likely going to like what’s on offer here, even if the package feels very familiar.
- Addition of new Volta mode
- Strength and speed attributes feel more influential
- Player animations look fantastic
- Unconvincing ball physics
- Career mode cut scenes are annoying
- Review Price: £54.99
- Release Date: Septembr 27, 2019
- Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, PC, Nintendo Switch
- Developer: Electronic Arts
- Genre: Football
We’re just a few weeks into the start of a new football season and once again EA Sports has launched another iteration of its ridiculously popular FIFA series. As you might expect, FIFA 20 doesn’t rewrite the rulebook – far from it – but the addition of a completely new mode adds some much-needed excitement to the series.
Volta is the big addition to FIFA 20, replacing the corny yet surprisingly fun “The Journey” story mode that was a constant in the series over the past few years. If you’ve ever played those excellent FIFA Street games you’ll be familiar with what Volta offers, with over-the-top celebrations, outrageous flicks and tricks, and quick matches. Playing 3v3 on the top of the multi-storey car park in Tokyo is a nice change of pace from your typical 11-a-side game of FIFA.
Not only are the environments fun, but the gameplay in Volta is entertaining too. Tricks might be difficult to master at first, but once you know what you’re doing, you’ll be hooked. You can also use the various pitch layouts to your advantage – playing the ball off the walls, for example.
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Volta consists of a few different modes, including kick-off-style matches where you can choose your players and surroundings to a story mode with cutscenes and an expansive player creation suite. Like “The Journey” before it, the story here is pure cheese but pretty fun as a result, even if it spends far too long in drawn-out cutscenes.
As you progress you’ll learn skills, recruit new players into your team and unlock an absolute boatload of gear to customise your character. I might not intend to spend the majority of my time playing FIFA 20 in Volta, but I’m glad it’s here to offer some much-needed variety to the game.
While Volta is the biggest and flashiest addition this year, FIFA is really all about the actual game of football. If the gameplay is rubbish on the pitch then all the extra game modes in the world won’t save it.
The first time you jump into a game in FIFA 20 you’ll likely double-take and ask yourself, “Is this still FIFA 19?”. The general presentation, opening scenes of a match and commentary feel eerily similar. However, on the blow of the whistle and with kick-off taken, you’ll instantly notice little differences across the pitch.
Easily the most obvious is the speed of the game. This now varies wildly depending on who you’re playing as. Pick Man City, for example, and it feels like you’ve pushed the game speed up to the max settings. The game flows far quicker, with faster players feeling as quick as they should be.
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In previous entries of FIFA I’d find that if you were darting down the wing with Raheem Sterling, even the most average of wing-back would be able to catch you. EA Sports took some steps to address such issues last year, but this time around it really feels like players are as good as they can be. It’s the same with defenders: if you’re controlling a hulking centre-back, let’s say Harry Maguire, then you can really feel his strength.
Ball physics have also seen improvements this year – although I have to say it’s the one gameplay change of which I’m yet to be convinced.
In FIFA 20, the ball feels much lighter than before. A pinged cross-field pass – for example – initially feels like it may balloon out of play might now drop comfortably onto the pitch. This change is something that might be toned down in future updates, however – we all know the game of FIFA you play on day one is rarely how the game ends up a few months down the line. And honestly, I’d welcome it.
The rest of the gameplay in FIFA 20 is very much like last year’s game with a few tweaks. Animations are smoother and more varied, especially with first-time finishes and curled shots.
The set-piece system – which proved a right pain – has been completely refreshed, although it takes some getting used to.
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Free kicks are almost like a mini-game in themselves, first setting the position and then the power. Initially, I thought it was overly simplistic: you could just place the cursor at a point at which you want the ball to go, and voila! Of course, it doesn’t really work like that. You’ve got to take a number of things into account: wind, curl on the ball, and the quality of the kick-taker. I ballooned my first couple of free kicks and penalties far and wide. It took a good few hours to even hit the target.
If you’re not playing the Volta mode you’ll likely either be taking on Ultimate Team or Career mode. The latter has long felt like an unwanted child in the FIFA series; it had barely seen an update in years. That all changes with FIFA 20, even if I’m not quite sure if the changes made are the right ones.
I’ll get the positives out of the way first. The general presentation in Career Mode is excellent. The branding for the big leagues is here, the commentary is good, and overall there’s an authentic feel you just don’t see in the PES series.
You can play in a selection of pre-season tournaments to get your team up to scratch, plus there’s a couple of training options if you want to try to boost the stats of some of your players. It’s a fun way to while away the hours, trying to build up the best team possible without fussing about with online play.
New for FIFA 20’s Career Mode is an increased focus on team morale. Navigate to the Team Management page and you’ll see a small coloured face by each player in your starting lineup. A red sad face shows a player’s morale is poor, while a smiley green face represents they’re happy.
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A player’s morale changes depending on performances and the answers you, the manager, give during the new post-match interview segments. These segments are basic: you get asked a question and can select one of three answers; these will impact the morale of both the individual players and the team as a whole.
This setup is nowhere near as deep as the similar features in Football Manager, and it’s easy to judge which answer will lead to happier players. The strangest bit is that your avatar as a manager doesn’t have a voice and he just stands there nodding his head as you choose the answers. Thankfully, you can skip these interviews entirely – and I suggest you do as they’re super-annoying.
Also annoying in Career mode are the cutscenes that play out when you’re negotiating either to buy a player or give them a new contract. Again, there’s no dialogue; they consist mainly of a plodding series of button presses. They’re a right faff and I wish they hadn’t been included.
Of course, Ultimate Team is back for another season. The biggest improvements here appears to be many more iconic players to build into your team, season objectives and deeper customisation options. If you’re a FUT veteran then you’ll likely dive straight in here without even taking a second glance at the other modes. There’s not much here for those who weren’t convinced before, though.
FIFA 20 remains a gorgeous and fun-to-play football game that’s as addictive as ever. The addition of Volta adds some much-needed variety and the quick matches filled with skills and elaborate game celebrations are fun.
I’m not sold on all the gameplay tweaks, however, and the additions to Career mode feel slightly dull. Still, if you’ve picked up FIFA every year then you’re most likely going to like what’s on offer here, even if the package feels very familiar.