What is old is new again. That’s the first impression you get with FIFA 20, but that’s not to say the game doesn’t feel new, it’s that in an effort to expand its offerings EA has looked to the past to secure its future.
Let’s start with what’s familiar, the standard single player manager career mode. After carefully selecting my team (i.e scrolling until randomly landing on Sheffield United) I delved into the career mode. When selecting a team you’ll see their season objectives, finances, and how much you’ll have to look after those. With Sheffield United the goal is to avoid relegation and their finances aren’t great. You can’t complain about depth here when compared to Konami’s PES 2020 as there is so much going on, but the menu system can be a bit confusing and the scouting area wasn’t obvious at first.
From the get go you’re presented with a lot of official communications from the club board and staff, as well as welcomes from team members who you can respond to in a chat format. Then you’ll go to see who has already been scouted and if you’re interested in them then you can scout players further, as well as hire new scouts to set up networks around the world. Obviously, you’ll be able to tweak your squad and play around with formations until you’re happy with what you see. This is all done before stepping on the pitch for the first time.
The first port of call for an actual football match was a pre-season tournament. After selecting the tournament (the most lucrative one, obviously) I was ready to take Sheffield United onto the pitch for the first time. Coming from PES 2020 the difference was glaringly obvious, and in terms of action and feel FIFA 20 wins out.
Players are much more proactive and reactive with the ball, with teammate’s making proper runs into channels to create chances while defences on both sides do truly close down opportunities fast. On the flip side, higher rated players will dominate against weaker opposition, which can be a blessing or a curse depending on which side your team is on in the standings. Players don’t lose the ball easily either and there are fewer mistakes from AI controlled players, making one on one battles much tougher.
The ball physics are well implemented as well with it reacting properly to hits and power put in as well as how players are striking it. Hitting the ball from an awkward turn will result in it bobbling along – an element with renewed importance in FIFA 20 – while a precise shot with power will really test a keeper, if not hitting the back of the net. On the pitch action from initial impressions is really rather good.
When I said what is old is new again, I was referring to Volta football, or FIFA Street if you can think back to the last generation. With The Journey having come to The End, it’s here where you’ll find the game’s story mode alongside a few different ways to play online. There’s the option of 3v3, 4v4, 4v4 Rush where there is no keeper, and 5v5. You’ll create a player, male or female, and have them become part of their local street team, with a nice touch being that there’s no gender divide. Once you’ve a got a team together you can customise each individual as you see fit too.
Volta feels more grounded than previous incarnations. I used to play FIFA Street on the PS2 and can remember pulling audacious tricks while filling up a power bar that could lead to ridiculous over the top power move. While the tricks are still present in Volta, they don’t seem as eye catching – it is early days yet, so they may become more apparent later – and the over top power moves and some of the audacity seems to have been toned down for a more realistic approach. Volta is a fun distraction at the moment, but I’m not sure it’ll hold the same longevity as the main career mode or Ultimate Team. Again, it’s early days and that connection may become established the more Volta is played.
On initial impressions then, FIFA 20 seems to have thing together where it matters: on the pitch. The single player aspects immediately show they have a lot of depth to them, and you could happily spend hours on the career mode without venturing online. Volta is also a good distraction for now, but from first impressions it is missing that special spark that was in the original FIFA Street games. Of course, we’ll be digging into online modes like FIFA Ultimate Team in the coming days ahead of our full review.
But I will already say that, if I had to compare the footballing experience for whether to play FIFA 20 or PES 2020, right now I’d opt for FIFA.