After a difficult year, the pressure was on for EA to execute on FIFA 20 – and, as of yet, it looks as if it is so far, so good.
For the first time in over a decade, FIFA were challenged by Konami’s PES 2020 with a string of partnership announcements, ranging from the exclusivity of Juventus to the the rights for UEFA 2020.
So, what did EA do? They wound back the clock and returned to the streets thanks to Volta Football.
With sales falling, EA have backed a fan-favourite that will surely return some joy to the FIFA franchise which suffered with a number of gameplay ‘hacks’ last year.
But, of course, how the game feels in 11-a-side will make or break the game this time around. It's so far, so good for EA & FIFA 20 from us here at RealSport.
After the first-time finesse, back-post crosses and overpowered kick-offs – FIFA 20 had to deliver on its gameplay, and we believe that thus far, it has.
With more difficult skill moves and long shots, as well as improved AI defending, the steps have clearly been put in place to restore the balance between attack and defence.
The quick, zippy and perfect passing that has become iconic of the FIFA series has been nerfed slightly, but this is perhaps an area where EA could go further.
It’s still too easy to look after the ball and quickly move up the pitch, and if you get a number of bodies in around the box, there is little your defence can do.
You can’t break the wheel however, and it may take a few iterations of FIFA for this to be completely nullified, so still expect frustrations on Ultimate Team when you can’t get near the ball.
Visually, there may be some graphic tweaks here and there, more starheads, more tifos, creating a greater experience. With new consoles in the pipeline, we will need to settle for the current visuals for a few years.
The big draw for FIFA 20 – Volta Football allows you to express your brilliance on the game. Players take smaller touches, allowing you to fake defenders, but make sure you get to grips with the skill moves, or the mode won’t have the true feel to it.
The mode is customisable with optional goalkeepers and pitch walls, but with compulsory manual shooting on Volta, playing with ‘keepers makes scoring incredibly difficult.
As for the in-game feature that replaces The Journey this year, Volta has three forms which all feature your created “Revvy”.
Volta Story is unsurprisingly the story mode which sees you selected for a street football side aiming to go all the way to the world championships.
That intertwines with Volta Tour – similar to the old World Tourseen on the FIFA Street series, where you go around the globe competing in various tournaments, improving both your Revvy and your squad – recruiting players along the way.
Volta Leagueworks in the same way, but it is the online version., as you try to become the best Volta player on the planet.
Volta also comes with the Volta Shop, with its own currency, as EA try to compete with Fortnite levels of customisation. The shop will also be refreshed at the end of every ‘season’ so your squad will never be looking stale.
At long last, Career Mode gets a revamp this year, with overhauled
manager customisation and more interaction with your players taking you closer
to the action than ever before.
Dynamic player potentials ensures every single Career Mode is different, and can give you the joy of growing an unknown home grown talent into one of the finest players on the planet.
Although there has been a huge reform to the mode, at large it is still the same. The player chats give a greater feel to the game, but still with limited training sessions, EA still fall behind PES 2020’s Master League when it comes to the manager mode.
It also would have been great to see these press conferences come into the Player Career version, but no, this dying mode receives no such cut scenes.
FIFA Ultimate Team
FIFA Ultimate Team returns with some great new features. The kick-off modes such as Survival or Headers & Volleys come to the online mode this year in FUT Friendlies, allowing you to take on your mates and wind them up online.
New objectives and customisable options including tifos and
celebrations create a greater feel for your club BUT you need to patient.
When you commence Ultimate Team, be prepared to wait half an
hour before you play your first match. But why?
Well after setting up, and unlocking more players for your Ultimate Team, you then need to customise your tactics.
Somehow EA haven’t sped up this process from last year, where you need to customise your style of play for each of the five attacking mentalities.
Setting up in a 4-4-2 without adjusting your tactics will sap out any joy of the most popular FIFA mode.
With no more offline seasons, you will have to throw yourself in at the deep end of online play, and tweak the makeup of your side as you go on.
Any update to Pro Clubs comes as great news to the mode with a huge following, and those die-hard online players will be thrilled to see greater customisation arrive.
It now has the same matchday experience as Ultimate Team with its own broadcast package and club colours – a step in the right direction.
Back on the ball?
FIFA 19 is regarded by many as the worst game ever produced in the series – its 1.4 rating out of 5 on the Xbox Marketplace speaks volumes.
EA have had to seriously rethink what they produce in the series, as gamers are no longer falling for a rehashed version each year – FIFA 19 sold 35% less than its predecessor FIFA 18 during the opening week.
The publishers are making a step in the right direction.
Greater customisation was such an easy fix, with it being rolled out on Career Mode, Pro Clubs, FIFA Ultimate Team, and the headline act Volta.
This should be enough to get fans back onside with the franchise, but EA must be quicker to react with patch updates this year.
Any hacks to the game’s meta will open up on Ultimate Team no doubt, and if they again struggle to make significant changes for months, players will put down their controllers once again.
FIFA 20 is available on PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch & PC. Prices start from £44.99 on Amazon.