It’s that time of year again where FIFA hits the stores and millions of football fans flock to get it, looking to either guide the club they support to glory or to create their own team and beat the rest of the world. With new game modes and more content than before FIFA 20 is certainly filled with things to do, but how well does it all come together?
FIFA Ultimate Team is still by far and away the biggest and more popular mode here. As always, this is where you build your own team by buying players on the live transfer market or through purchasing packs, for which you can use in-game coins or the FIFA Points microtransaction currency. If you’re well versed in FUT, it will be instantly familiar, from the structure of the transfer market as you hunt for bargains, to the randomised nature of the packs. Really the only difference is that you can now see the probabilities of which card qualities you’re likely to get, which is no doubt in response to the increasing legislation on the issue of loot boxes, with EA here trying to make the “surprise” a bit less mysterious.
FUT is also built around a familiar set of standard modes like Squad Battles, Division Rivals, and Squad Builder challenges, but EA have now brought in the playful Friendlies modes from last year’s Kick Off overhaul. Elimination, King of the Hill, and No Rules help to spice things up with different rules to regular football. Elimination, my favourite, removes a random player from your team every time you score, forcing you to adapt your play style on the fly and giving the losing team an advantage. No Rules is exactly what you expect; It’s a free for all where fouls don’t matter and there is no offside. King of the Hill is new though, tasking you with keeping the ball in certain parts of the pitch for a score modifier. The bar goes up to three and if you score while the bar is filled you will be awarded three goals.
The amount of coins given away throughout FUT feels pretty generous with tons of ways to earn the in-game currency. I don’t pay for additional coins and have been able to build an 81 rated team with 100 chemistry purely from using coins earned from playing different challenges and selling in the transfer market. You really don’t need to engage with the loot box mechanics to create a team that can challenge others. Sure, you’ll want certain players for your team, but it’s better to save up the coins from matches and buy them in the market than to buy packs and hope the player you want is inside. It almost definitely works out cheaper in the long run.
And if you don’t want to play Ulitmate Team at all but do want to play online, then you still have the option of the Online Divisions where you can pick your favourite team and challenge other players. It removes the requirement of building a team and getting straight into the matches without having to really faff about, bar changing the lineup to suit your style of play.
Taking to the pitch, there have been the usual array of tweaks and changes to the gameplay. Player reactions are better in various situations, such as picking up loose balls more quickly or players getting in front of the ball to perform blocks and goal line clearances. The way players pass or shoot the ball relies much more on their positioning, the pressure they’re under from opposing players, and their own balance. Go 1-on-1 with a keeper and you’ve got a decent chance of scoring, though it should also be said that keepers are better in this game. Have a defender hassling you, or try to pull off a shot while almost tripping? Well then the ball is going to bob along harmlessly.
Attacking play is fine for the most part, but it’s in defending where the issues seem to appear. Refs seem very card happy for the softest of fouls, and it puts you off from committing to tougher sliding tackles. A lot of the time it’s better just to have your player run at the opposing player without doing much else and nick the ball from his feet than risk being carded. You have to be very careful lest you see a player get sent off early. However, refs are a lot more likely to allow the advantage to be played than stop play for infractions, which does keep the flow going.
Speaking of flowing football, one of the biggest additions to FIFA 20 is the Volta Football mode. This is FIFA Street reimagined for a new age and it’s where you’ll find the game’s story mode. The Volta Tour follows a street team going for the world championships by playing in tournaments around the world. Matches can be 3v3, 4v4, or 5v5 with some having rush keepers. These games can also follow the format of either reaching a set number of goals or stick with the whole ‘game of two halves’ thing.
When you first head to Volta you’re asked to create your player, designing everything from how they look to their personal style. Every player on your squad, once you have one, can be customized so you can change their clothing. Clothing itself can be bought through the Volta store using earned coins or by completing objectives. After you’ve created your player you’re ready to hit the streets.
Street football is as much about flashy skills as the goals you score, but when you first start your player won’t have many skills to show off. Instead these are unlocked using Trait points, which are basically given to you as your player meets targets and levels up. You can improve your player attributes as well through skill games and by playing in matches.
You’ll be greeted with a world map with lots of different locations to play in. Some will be locked until you meet the requirements to get there. It’s worth going through the single player mode first before playing Volta online so you can get used to the gameplay, as it is much faster and plays very differently to standard matches found elsewhere in FIFA 20. Volta doesn’t quite get the atmosphere of the old FIFA Street games, coming across as bit cleaner compared to the over the top aspect from previous but it serves as a side distraction for now.
Of course you also have the standard single player aspects in Career Mode where you can be a homegrown player or lead your chosen team as a manager. Manager mode has a lot more depth to it as you’ll be responsible for the running of the club from player training, setting up scouting networks, handling transfer negotiations, and controlling what is happening on the pitch, while player mode is really all about you and your progression. I chose to play for Charlton due to the likelihood of getting more game time and so developing my player, with the goals including simply keeping a place in the team or vying for the national squard. He’s nowhere near good enough to oust the likes of Aguero from City or Mane from Liverpool. Yet.