First and foremost: EA didn’t so much make a few minor tweaks as much as they did give the game a full-blown makeover. Whether that’s good news or not will vary from player to player, but there’s no doubt in our minds that this game is more authentic, more dynamic, more intensive, and just outright bolder than ever before.
Distinguishing FIFA 20 right off the bat is Volta Football, which brings freestyle gameplay into the fold and picks up where entries like FIFA Street left off. Featuring a host of resources, it shrinks things down to size with impeccable versatility and precision. Speaking of versatility, you can choose from a full spectrum of different match types, including 3v3 Rush (no goalkeepers), 4v4, 4v4 Rush, 5v5, and Professional Futsal.
Along similar lines, Volta offers four different modes: Kick-Off, World, Story, and League. In Story Mode, you can advance through the ranks, unlocking new locations and new swag along the way.
Volta Football makes for such a compelling and detailed addition that it’s practically an entire video game unto itself. Taking the concept of customisation to new extremes, it devles into the RPG realm with the ability to do things like swap out apparel, add or take away tattoos, adjust hairstyles, or even use a celebrity as your avatar.
Of course you can choose from male and female players, but Volta also marks the first time that co-ed gameplay has existed in the FIFA universe. All the while, you can take the action from the nearest parking lot to an international futsal field to a swath of locations in between.
Of course, new modes are rarely perfect right out of the gate and Volta Football is no exception. By scaling things down to size, the gameplay feels slightly claustrophobic at times, especially when compared to the magnificent breadth of a full-sized pitch. It’s also here on this smaller scale that some of the game’s lesser qualities might seem a little more prominent, such as a general lack of precision or control.
Last but not least, Volta Football emphasises tournament-style play but sends you all the way back to the beginning any time you lose. Should you spend a good hour or two making it to the finals, it can be somewhat frustrating having to start all over again. It’s not a dealbreaker by any means, but maybe something that EA can work on moving forward.
Over in the classic gameplay that we all know and love, you can expect a slew notable improvements. Bolstered by new graphics and assorted gameplay innovations, virtual football has never looked and felt as authentic as it does here. Utilising an approach that EA has dubbed Football Intelligence, FIFA 20 raises the bar on aesthetic and pacing alike.
To survey the game’s bounty of technologies is to conjure buzzy catchphrases like Authentic Game Flow, Composed Finishing, Controlled Tackling, Set Piece Refresh, Active Touch System, Straffe Dribbling, and Ball Physics System. However, lurking beyond those gimmicky phrases are palpable enhancements to things like ball control, spatial awareness, agility, penalty kick aiming, and realism.
The game also includes built-in rewards based on the cleanliness of your tackle or the intent of your volley. To say that the user experience has been elevated would be putting it mildly—this is quite literally a whole new (and better) ball game.
The FIFA Ultimate Team Community—aka FUT—is as integral to the game’s ongoing success as anything else, and EA Sports hasn’t forgotten this fact. New features include Season Objectives, which builds upon the Daily and Weekly Objectives to incorporate longer-term goals and new rewards. Also featured are new Club Customisation options, such as Kits, Crests, Stadium Banners, Tifos, and Celebrations.
Being that FUT is ultimately a community experience (hence the name), the newest iteration cranks up the social dial by way of FUT Friendlies. Consisting of a brand new social hub, it gives you new ways to compete and play with fellow friends or community members.
In Couch Play, you and up to four friends can square off against one another or an AI-powered opponent. Opt to Play a Friend and you can compete online against their Ultimate Team, abiding by either standard or House Rules. And Play Online allows you to take on random members of the wider FUT community in a variety of matches. That’s all joined by new rule features and new Squad Building tools.
Rounding out FIFA 20’s slate of improvements are some notable touch-ups to Career Mode, which puts you in the manager’s shoes. You can create or customise your avatar with more options than ever before, choosing everything from hairstyle to skin tone to gender. Meanwhile, you’ll be holding press conferences and monitoring player morale the way a real manager would.
We can’t all be football stars or managers in real life, and FIFA 20 is the next best thing. Heck, we know for a fact that actual football stars and managers are as hooked on this series as anyone else. Thanks to Volta Football and other various improvements, a great thing is now that much greater. Prepare to call in sick from work because you’ve got some tourneys to win.