Prepare yourself for the release of one of the most hotly anticipated sports titles of the year. This season the franchise is going back to the roots of the sport with VOLTA, which takes the game to streets, playgrounds, and warehouses all over the world. Here is the lowdown on what comes next with FIFA 20, available for the Xbox One and PlayStation 4.
FIFA 20 Details
Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Reviewed on: Xbox One
Developer: EA Vancouver, EA Romania
Publisher: EA Sports
Modes: Single player, Multiplayer
ESRB Rating: E (Everyone)
Cranking out the VOLTAge
This year FIFA 20 attempts to take a step in a bold original direction with its brand new mode “VOLTA”. The word volta is Portuguese for “return”, so the name is indeed apt. VOLTA builds itself around the concept of returning to the pure grassroots of the sport of football.
At the outset this means a shift away from the traditional 11 v. 11 game staging itself in an enormous stadium with huge crowds, fancy kits, and epic fanfare. Instead VOLTA sets its sights on recreating the feeling of learning and defining what football really means to the everyman and woman. It trades the privileged glamour of football as an economic spectacle for the raw passion of a street matches in places like Buenos Aires, Lagos, and Rome.
What’s your style?
Volta begins with a character creation feature. Upon successfully crafting your own future soccer superstar, you’ll embark on a journey with the goal of seeing just how far you can take your passion for the game. The story begins in a dusty warehouse with a simple tryout for a local streetball squad, but will eventually take players to 17 unique, character-filled locations all across the globe.
Along the way players develop new skills that simply don’t fit in with traditional football on an open pitch. The game plays differently in significant ways when there are fewer players and more walls! The deep skill tree really lets you play around with different skills and abilities in order to develop the ultimate player to suit your play style.
Players will also unlock new customizable apparel, flair, and more—allowing them to continually update the style of their VOLTA avatar. Limited-time drops for unique items create even more opportunity for unique looks. This should give players going forward even more incentive to drop in on VOLTA throughout the season.
Ways to play in VOLTA
VOLTA offers a trifecta of unique ways to play. First off is “Tour” mode, which pits players against other users’ VOLTA squads, albeit vs. the CPU. Here you get to play all over the vast VOLTA global playground, and recruit new players in defeating the competition. The solo player in me is a big fan of modes like this where I can “interact” with other players without actually having to engage in live multiplayer.
However, if you are in fact a fan of direct head-to-head multiplayer competition, then “League” is the mode for you. League mode is a lot like Tour, except you’ll matchmake against other real-world opponents instead of a CPU-controlled proxy of their team. You can work on climbing the ranked leaderboards if you are feeling competitive, or simply play to show off your team’s style.
Finally, VOLTA’s story mode offers a well-paced narrative that serves as starting-off point. It isn’t the most original underdog story, but it doesn’t overstay its welcome either. It’s 4-5 hour length is just enough to set the tone of VOLTA and give you a bit of backstory and motivation to drive your character forward into the persistent VOLTA world.
Overall I am a big fan of VOLTA. It deviates so dramatically from the typical institutions and gameplay of FIFA that it almost feels like an entirely separate game unto itself. Furthermore, as someone who isn’t a huge pro football fan relative to other sports, I really enjoy being able to mix it up and experience the sport from a different perspective beyond just the 11 v. 11 pro league spectacle.
More new features
Fifa 20 comes with a few technical improvements designed to improve gameplay overall. This year there is an equal emphasis on defensive play, for example. So new features in FIFA 20 address play on both sides of the ball.
Firstly we have an overhaul of the AI defense. In particular this improves your CPU teammates’ positioning in relation to both yourself and the opposing players. The increase to their strategy should make it easier for you to recover possession.
Another new feature on defense, “Active Touch Tackling” makes tackling even more rewarding with smoother animations on well-timed plays. While on the other side of possession, features like “Strafe Dribbling” and “Composed Finishing” overhaul your contorl of both faking out defenders and finishing your shots one-on-one.
Finally, FIFA 20‘s new ball physics make the game more realistic than ever. An improved ball motion system offers new trajectories with curls and dips galore. A heavier emphasis on the motion of the ball itself means that it is more likely to bounce in line with its rotation and spin.
Less improvement to classic online modes
Perhaps it’s not surprising given the amount of focus that clearly went into modes like VOTLA, however other parts of FIFA 20 feel relatively untouched this year. Of course the micro-transaction heavy online FUT mode sees a few new additions. However offline modes such as Career mode feel basically the same.
Ultimately it feels like FIFA 20 is less concerned with “Career” and other single-player offline experiences. They remain a proxy of themselves to satiate those who still want them. However it’s clear that the focus is in luring more players into broader online experiences like VOLTA and FUT.
FIFA 20 breaks the mould with its impressive new VOLTA mode, while offline remains mostly unchanged
I definitely feel as though FIFA 20 sees one of the biggest changes to the franchise in recent years with VOLTA. Its grassroots appeal and huge variations on gameplay are really refreshing. VOLTA shows another side of football aside from pro leagues and big business.
A number of features and quality of life improvements do make for a better experience as well, but nothing overly staggering. Meanwhile less progressive offline modes appear to be starting to gather a bit of dust. Nonetheless VOLTA alone is certainly enough for me to recommend soccer fans give FIFA 20 a try.
+ New VOLTA Football
+ Improved gameplay mechanics
– Little innovation in offline modes like “Career”
– Micro-transactions in FUT mode
OVERALL ASSESSMENT OF FIFA 20
Lasting Appeal/Replayability: 4/5