It’s that time of year again when FIFA has its annual update and FIFA 20 is now upon us. Last year’s game made some great steps in improving its gameplay, but still fell pretty short when compared to its nearest rival and couldn’t quite hit that quality of overall feel. The promises for this years FIFA 20 though were encouraging in terms of the additional dribbling mechanics and the new ball physics, but not only that, EA Sports promised a more balanced experience particularly when it comes to attacking play. Also this year we see Volta Football added to FIFA’s many game modes, re-introducing the FIFA Street series but this time incorporating it in to the main game instead of a traditional stand alone release.
There is no denying that FIFA 20 is bursting with different things to do and game modes to explore with all the usual suspects present and waiting to take hours and hours of gaming away from millions of football fanatics all over. These include Career mode, FIFA Ultimate Team, competitive online play, the ever popular House Rules, Pro Clubs, Volta Football and much more. The addition of Volta replaces The Journey which reached its finale last year and with it feeling stale in its third outing last time it’s nice to see EA Sports have taken a fresh approach to a ”campaign” style mode. There is a career similar to The Journey involved with Volta, but there are more customisable options along with a much less grindy feel to it compared to The Journey.
Of course it goes without saying that Volta is accessible in all the single player and online modes too and I almost felt like I was getting two games for my money this time round. I was familiar with the FIFA Street series so Volta didn’t feel alien to me, if anything it felt like a finely tuned version of the Street series with added bulk and a fair amount of content to boot. It plays really well and mastering the tricks was something I really enjoyed doing. It’s definitely something that a few friends playing together whether it be online or offline can really enjoy and it breaks up the main game nicely.
In terms of the main game then, let’s start with the gameplay and do I think it improves on last year? Well, that’s a tough one to answer because it’s both a yes and a no. Dribbling and shooting in particular feel more precise, the attackers vs defenders feels more balanced with neither one overpowering the other and the new ball physics is a little subjective. The ball definitely feels more natural and pings and bobbles like it would in a real match, however it comes at a slight cost. Gameplay doesn’t feel as if it flows as well as it did last year because of the new ball physics and while it isn’t too detrimental it is certainly noticeable and can cause a great counter attacking opportunity to be thwarted at times due to the bobble of the ball. It doesn’t happen very often though and when it does it impact things too much but it can cause a slight dip in the speed and fizz of a lovely counter attacking move.
Free Kicks and Penalties have been given an overhaul this year, and I am going to come straight out and say that I’m not a fan of the new system. It seems over complicated for what it is and offers more failures than successes. I would have much preferred the new aiming system with a manual after touch instead of a four stage mini game and even then when I was in an online match I didn’t feel I could fine tune my efforts due to time restrictions on set pieces in competitive online play. I can see what EA Sports have tried to do but it just doesn’t work how it should in my opinion. Overall though FIFA 20 plays how you might expect, while it feels more fine tuned it still plays very similar to last years game in many ways but it’s the dribbling that offers that extra precision in passing and setting up to shoot.
Visually FIFA 20 looks great and looks even better if you’re playing on the Xbox One X with a solid 60fps and 4K resolution and a brilliant use of HDR. Some of the player models are looking a little dated now but for the most part, player likenesses look great and in match animations are fantastic. The authentic look and licenses are in full effect again this year which is something FIFA games are known for and this years game is no different in terms of its visual and audio offerings, with licenses galore and a broadcast quality within matches that looks and sounds as good as the real thing. What I have noticed though is an occasional break in crowd sound effects within matches. It left me surprised as this is something that has always shone in the FIFA series and I’m hoping it’s something that can be fixed in an update. While it only happens occasionally, it is certainly noticeable, especially when the crowd goes quiet for a second or two after an initial roar after scoring a goal. It didn’t happen often, but enough to point it out in this review. Commentary as always is on point though and adds to that fantastic authenticity that FIFA games are known for.
Career mode isn’t much different to last year which is a little disappointing but still offers a fairly deep and enjoyable experience. Ultimate Team arrives with a new look and some new systems in place this year. A welcome addition is the new Seasons system that incorporates an objective based system where XP can be earned while completing a list of daily, weekly and monthly objectives. Each level that is hit leads to unique rewards that are only available in that season and with each season lasting around a month, if you haven’t secured those items, they’re gone forever so there is heavy emphasis on trying to achieve each one through milestones and other forms of completion. There are more customisable aspects of ultimate team this year too with pre match banners and Tifo’s available to be unlocked within season objectives that you can customise your home ground with.
While the dreaded and despised microtransactions appear again this year in Ultimate Team, I can’t help but compliment EA Sports on the options available to be able to unlock many packs without spending a penny. Yes it can be a little grindy but I found them to be easily achievable and to be honest, enjoyable to complete too. You can spend real money on packs if you want but with the resources and outlets given to the player in order to unlock packs I don’t see why you would want to spend any more money than you have to, as there is plenty of packs to be earned by completing enjoyable objectives. Online quality along all applicable modes was steady with only a few dips in match connection quality. There were a few tiny lag incidents but overall the online performance of FIFA 20 was solid so if online play is your main thing in FIFA then you’ll be happy to know that as always the EA Servers are pretty reliable and will offer a smooth matchmaking experience too.
FIFA 20 hasn’t tried to reinvent the football game genre in regards to what EA Sports have changed in terms of It’s gameplay, that said though it’s clear to see that they have fine tuned certain aspects of its core gameplay to give players more precision with dribbling, shooting and the overall passing game, despite the new ball physics being a slight hinderance at times. Rather than reinvent the wheel though, they have decided to give it some new shiny wheel trims and some brand new beefy tires because this is the most jam packed FIFA game yet with bags of different modes and the reintroduction of FIFA Street with the new Volta Football. FIFA 20 is a good football game bursting with content and authenticity, they don’t quite hit the gameplay quality of PES 2020 but it’s an enjoyable game all the same.
A copy of the game was provided for this review by the developer/publisher