Putting the ball in your court
EA's FIFA 20 is the 26th title in the series, and takes the game in a direction you probably didn't expect: Back to its roots. In a series that has always dribbled between the lines of fun and authenticity, FIFA 20 focuses more on the latter, letting you build and manage the team any way you want. Then you'll take control and lead them to victory in high-stakes matches across the globe. At first glance the game may not look dramatically different than other recent FIFA games, but once you're on the field controlling the ball yourself, you'll immediately feel the difference. Try the demo and see if this is the installment you've been waiting for.
This time it'll take a team effort
You're in the player's shoes during the match's defining moments.FIFA 20 evolves from its predecessors in two major ways: Dialing up the realism, and giving the player unmatched precision control over every element of the experience. You'll be working with (and against) better gameplay mechanics and in-game physics than ever before. It also means that the slightest mistake can make all the difference between winning a match and losing. There's a lot of pressure on what the game calls Decisive Moments - a successful feint, a well-executed pass, or a Finisher that makes it into the goal. You're in the player's shoes during the match's defining moments.
The macro game is important too, and assembling and managing your team is more important than ever. Whether its boosting your team's morale during interviews, or wheeling and dealing with other managers, there's a lot going on behind the scenes: Taking on the role of manager means negotiating contracts, dealing with injuries, and managing your budget, all of which has a dramatic impact on your success.
The controls of FIFA 20 will familiar to fans of the series. Pass, volley, and time your shots like before, but also learn more advanced tactics: Drop back your striker or hug the sidelines using the directional pad. Unfortunately you're no longer able to chain skill moves together, and that entire aspect has been largely watered down: Holding L2 and R2 while moving the analog stick will cause your player to execute skill moves on his own, eliminating much of the gap between skilled and novice players.
The biggest difference in gameplay is the overall speed of the match. Field space has increased, and it's made the pace of FIFA 20 noticeably slower than before. This changes a number of facets about the game: First off, there's less pressure placed on simply having the fastest players. Adama Traoré and Leroy Sané are still crazy fast, but they'll no longer be able to carry the match by themselves. A talented fullback can overtake even the fastest of players, and you'll need to rely more on feints and bluffs to keep defenders guessing.
Besides the expansive career mode, FIFA 20 also offers a variety of other modes. Volta Football is a small-scale change of pace which aims to take the game back its authentic beginnings - rough and gritty down on the streets. Volta World lets you compete against community-generated squads in a gauntlet of Single Player Matches to build up your Volta Football team. Win a match and you get the honor of recruiting the players from opposing teams. Be mindful of how this affects the members of your current team, though; it's not just skill that determines success - it's how your players synergize! FIFA 20 also has Season Objectives which provide a wide range of stadium customization rewards. Grouped and time-limited tasks raise the stakes and allow for more complex and rewarding combinations.
For the less competitive gamers there's the new addition of FUT Friendlies, a social mode with more emphasis on House Rules which you can manually set. This mode is more conducive to local couch play, or low-stakes online matches. This is one of our favorite ways to play since it gets right into the action without the often-distracting elements of the game such as contract management, injuries, and fitness. Recreational players will also appreciate that FIFA 20 allows players to cycle between different control presets via the in-game Settings menu. If you're a new player and feel that any of the controls are counter-intuitive, you can adjust them to your liking. You can even set it to bare-bones one-button gameplay if you're going for a retro feel!
Where can you run this program?
FIFA 20 is available on Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch.
Is there a better alternative?
If you're looking for a FIFA experience but don't like the slower pace of FIFA 20, we'd suggest falling back to FIFA 18 or 19. FIFA 19 in particular has the same hardware, engine (Frostbite 3), and graphics as FIFA 20, and is a lower price to boot. The general presentation of all three games is similar, but we have to admit FIFA 20 feels the most polished.
The biggest difference between FIFA 20 and FIFA 19 is the greater emphasis on space and the overall slower pace.
If you want a more fast-paced, frenetic experience you might try FIFA 19. If you want a more strategic approach with a renewed focus on the authenticity of the game, we encourage you to try FIFA 20. The system has a bit more of a learning curve, but like with the jump from FIFA 18 to 19 we we think the change is for the best: It lends itself to a more realistic, immersive experience, and best captures the game's sweat, grit, and spirit.
Should you download it?
Yes. FIFA 20 is the most refined FIFA experience to date, and fans of the franchise should definitely give it a try. The demo is free, and while historically FIFA demos aren't always accurate to how the actual game feels, it should give you a taste of the series' biggest changes.
- Precision physics and gameplay
- Dramatic high-stakes moments
- Authentic soccer experience
- More complex macro strategy
- Slow pace
- Automated skill moves
- Few core improvements over previous titles