Here we go again; another football season has begun, so it’s time for the annual FIFA game to show us what it’s got.
This year FIFA 20 doesn’t continue the adventure of Alex Hunter in The Journey; instead, FIFA 20’s launch introduces us to the world of Volta, with an explosive cutscene of the Santiago Bernabéu, focusing in on Vinicius Jr busting some moves – a quick transition to the streets opens up a match of 3 vs 3 for the player to get a feel for Volta. Each Volta match can vary, from small, medium and large pitches that could have walls, fences or nothing in one of its 15 locations. Pitches with walls will hark back to how FIFA Street worked; you can use that to your advantage, by knocking the ball off the wall/ fence for a pass or to set up a volley. Unlike FIFA Street, skills aren’t the main focus, as in Volta, you may not have the time to pull them off. On the bigger pitches you can have time to do some skills and tricks; bonuses don’t apply to them, but they may help you win your match.
A multitude of customization options are available to you in your creation of the perfect team and characters; once you’ve pinned down what you want, you’re set to go into Volta. A world map opens with options to play Story, Volta League or Volta Tour. Volta League pits you against other players online to increase your rank. Volta Tour sets you against the CPU, in different locations that you have unlocked vs teams that have been built by other players. The game puts you through your paces and offers optional tutorials to explain shooting, passing and dribbling. You can unlock more customization options by completing challenges and earning Volta coins to purchase them, as well as finessing your play style for Volta in the skill trees. Chop and change as you like to keep things fresh and find a combination that works for you.
Despite its short length, and dependency on your skill levels, Volta was an enjoyable mode; the story itself was okay, despite the cheesy lines and bad acting. Some distinction between teams and difference in players appearances would have been beneficial here; I came across my goalkeeper in almost every team I was against.
Each year the FIFA pendulum swings, giving an advantage to the attackers or defenders, and this year is no exception, favouring more on the defending side. Pace seems to be a bit slower overall but if you do have a speedy winger or attacker you can see the difference, however slight. A new set piece system has been added for both free kicks and penalties. The free kick system draws from an older FIFA feature where you aim with left stick, control power with shoot button and curve with the right stick. Mastering this can get you some skillful free kicks to the top corner.
The usual choice of mode in FIFA was Career Mode, but FUT has become a viable contender and is back again this year with a few improvements. One of those is FUT Friendlies, where you can play against your friends using classic or house skills, and play without threat of contract expiry or injuries to your FUT team. With FUT you also have season objectives; complete season objectives to earn XP to increase your rank and unlock items, varying from packs to cosmetics . FUT added a new comparison menu while you edit your team line-up. Compare players in the transfer market or review the players in your club; it makes for a very handy feature when maximizing chemistry or higher overall score.
With several new modes under its wing, Kick Off mode can integrate Volta features, or use House Rules, an expanded edition of last year’s modes. Mystery Ball is a fun mode that changes the perk or conditions on the ball every time it is out of play, and, amongst other advantages, can be a neat way to earn some extra goals or increase your speed up the pitch. King of the Hill has you keep possession of the ball inside a perimeter box; keep possession to get a chance of increasing your goal bonus.
Career Mode has some improvements, but not a whole lot to draw you back in. Similar to last year’s title, the new addition of post and pre-match press conferences can slightly improve your team or player moral. The benefits of these are lost when the same questions come up, however, and can become stale and repetitive as you play. In a first for FIFA Career Mode, you can have a female manager.
Career mode and FUT will be most of where you time is spent, however with the lack of new features in Career Mode, it has been overlooked somewhat this year. FUT remains popular as ever with new FUT friendlies allowing for some couch co-op, with the added advantage of it not affecting your FUT contracts; this makes it easier to experiment with new line ups and formations. FUT also add new features to search the transfer market or from club direct from your Squad page. House Rules’ Mystery Ball is the winner of FIFA 2020, with the unpredictability of the ball perk keeping the fun going and is the only worthwhile one to play in Kick Off.
With slight improvements to FIFA 20 core gameplay, Volta is a good addition, but is a typical underdog story with a few cheesy lines that confine it to being a once off; there’s no real replay value to be had unless you want a do-over of your play style. Volta itself does offer a throwback to players who loved FIFA Street, and for die-hard, old-school fans, will remind players of indoor football from FIFA 98: Road to World Cup.
In summary, FIFA has taken 1 step forwards and 2 steps back with this year’s game, career mode needs to be improved on while Volta story falls very short.
Cian Crowdy & Dan SheehanPlease Join us on your Social Platform of choice