As the 1st of September every year rolls around, people all over the globe look forward to certain events that only happen during that month. On the first Monday of the month in America it’s Labor Day, the 19th is National Talk Like a Pirate Day and September is also National Potato Month. However it’s also the month of the year where millions of football and gaming fans get overly excited about the release of the latest installment in the FIFA franchise. Since FIFA International Soccer back in 1993 we have seen upwards of 25 releases in the series and a fair few ups and downs along the way. FIFA 20 had promised a lot after the negatively received FIFA 19. People genuinely had hope that FIFA 20 would be at least an improvement. After a couple weeks of playing it, read on to see our opinion on the final product.
First things first, the gameplay for a game like FIFA is crucial. People watch the sport nearly every day and can tell when the gameplay feels authentic to the real thing so it puts the pressure on sports games developers such as EA to get it right. In FIFA 20 I feel they have refined the general gameplay and have almost slowed it down to an extent, to give you the feeling that you are more in control. Defending has become more important and it does allow you to be more confident while timing your blocks and tackles. Compared to FIFA 19 its a big step up and perfectly slide tackling an opponent, can almost seem as rewarding as scoring a goal. Skill moves can now be more easily pulled off by simply rolling the right stick in various directions. Free kicks and penalties have also had a remake to help pinpoint exactly where you want the ball to go. This makes attacking more interesting as the flow of your attacks are smoother and the set pieces are less frustrating. All together it’s a better game for these improvements but there may be people who don’t really enjoy the more slow and methodical approach, then again you can’t please everyone.
Audio / Visuals
When the FIFA franchise changed its graphics engine to Frostbite there was a notable change for the better when it comes to visuals. It’s hard to really say that FIFA 20 looks way better than FIFA 19. Greater attention to detail on the stadium and recognisable characters, makes the game look impressive. The soundtrack is one element of the FIFA series that by now has its own fan base due to its popularity. The guys over at EA always seem to hit the nail on the head with a collection of songs that are random enough to listen to hundreds of times without becoming repetitive. It can also see artists becoming hugely popular if their song is featured on a FIFA game. I’m sure if you have played FIFA before that at some stage while listening to the radio a song has come on and you have said out loud that it was from a FIFA game. That stands to itself as proof that most of the time, the tunes that are playing are generally worthy of their place on the game.
This year sees one of the biggest announcements in recent FIFA history with the introduction of Volta Football. Not since we were introduced to Alex Hunter in the journey mode back in FIFA 17 have we been excited for such a new feature. Volta is a reimagining of the old FIFA street format and I have to say that EA have done a better job with it than I expected. Sure it has a corny enough storyline you can play through along with online leagues but at the heart of it is actually something worth playing. They have ditched the sort of over the top style that was present in the old FIFA street for a more realistic approach. No more fireball shots and back flipping passes but there is still a strong emphasis on skill moves. It does take getting used to and if I had one complaint, it is that I would have liked a tutorial or training mode as it drops you into a game with only the trainer to help you. It’s definitely a welcome addition and will grab a lot of players for a while at the start but I feel it still has room to improve. If EA do this I reckon it won’t be long until we see a stand alone version of Volta in the near future.
Career mode was another game mode that promised improvements and from the start, I think it’s fair to say that although they may have meant well, EA have truly screwed it up. Players are reporting things like Manchester City getting relegated after one season, broken press conferences and conversations and most annoyingly, opposition teams playing severely weakened teams all the time. This was occuring so much around release date that #fixcareermode was even trending on twitter. EA have not yet patched these issues but I’d like to imagine they will sort these issues out, sooner rather than later.
The big money maker for EA and the FIFA franchise is the ultimate team mode. This sees players buy, trade and earn player cards that they can use in their squads, all the time trying to create the ultimate team. After starting off slow it’s easy to find yourself really invested in your squad and the never ending pursuit for better players. In previous editions this game mode was tainted by an element of pay to win.
This is where if you spend large amounts of money on packs of cards, you have a somewhat unfair advantage over those who just play without spending extra money. With the backlash coming from various countries around the world starting to ban these types of packs in games, EA have responded by increasing the odds for those who don’t want to spend anymore than the retail price on their games. By completing varying tasks you are rewarded with such items as packs of cards or other random benefits for your squad. A few other tweaks have been made but overall FUT (FIFA ultimate team) seems to have stayed true to its roots. Why would they change much, as it would put their cash cow at risk.
At the end of the day EA will always be in the background tinkering away on the next Fifa. There will always be a fanbase of millions that will buy it. And there will always be this same fanbase that will complain and moan about how it’s broken and never good enough to justify the money spent on buying it. All that being said millions of games of Fifa will be played so they must be doing something right. Fifa 20 with the inclusion of Volta can place itself amongst some of the better installments in the series.