Tactical players rejoice, defending is an art.


Yes, you heard it right, FIFA 20 requires patience, intelligence and some actual thought into your match approach.

Whilst previous editions have been enjoyable with the fundamental elements of play, attack/skill move focused, (giving FIFA games a more arcade-like feel). FIFA 20 takes the rulebook and completely re-writes it.

That new rule book says to hell with Liverpool’s gung-ho attacking approach to a game, and embraces a play akin to that of the defensive underdogs in the world of football. Whilst this approach will no doubt shock some (like it did myself), stick with it and the build-up play to penetrating the opponent’s defense has never been more rewarding. FIFA 20 has effectively become a game about anticipation, with a relentless, focused approach to the manual defending re-introduced in gameplay.

This means FIFA 20 is a far more challenging, unpredictable game of football over the 90mins then any previous entry. Previous FIFA players over-reliant on AI defending will have a massive shock. The jockey in-game mechanics have had a massive overhaul and have two methods of utilizing.

One is to use a slower, more precise jockey movement that’s useful when uptight to opponents or during a 1 on 1 situation. The second being a fast jockey animation, used by holding both triggers (on Xbox). This is useful for cutting out passes, trying to regain position or making last gasp interceptions down the channels. Mis-time your interceptions or switch defenders a second too late and the game can be unforgiving.

It’s only when you play a match do you realize just how vital the timing and positioning of your players are. It’s not a gimmick but a reality. Long balls played out from the back can be incredibly effective if timed correctly which ties in nicely for speed fans. The handling of pace is much improved, feeling effective but not overpowered. Last year, pace was nerfed and seemed unproductive when dealing with aggressive, strong, bully boys at the back, as nimble, weaker speed demons would just get outmuscled whenever a defender was near.

The momentum, more agile players with quick reactions and lightning-fast speed ratings possess, will result in them breezing past sluggish defenders playing as the last man. This all play’s into the intriguing defensive mechanics and decisions you make in this year’s game. FIFA 20 dictates the beautiful game at a considerably slower tempo, meaning the shape of your team is vital in snuffing out counter-attacking sides looking to hit you on the break. This is all tinkered within the custom tactics menu where pre-game preparation really does make a difference.

Shooting mechanics, in my opinion, have improved considerably. I’ve not seen any finesse exploits used so far and the incredibly frustrating El Tornado crossing glitch appears to have been patched out. Set pieces and penalties appear less random this year, due to a new implementation of taking them. Focusing on the retinal which is in sync with where you’re aiming the ball and using the shoot button just as the taker hits the ball, I’ve enjoyed more success with this FIFA so far. (I guess I just sucked at the last system).

On a note of shooting comes saving. The reactions of Goalkeepers is at times erratic. I’ve not noticed it much with the higher-rated keepers (I use 90 rated Marc Ter Stegen on UT) but when I initially played with Moya, an 80 rated GK in La Liga he constantly spilled crosses and parried low balls directly to the feet of an attacker, resulting in costly goals for my side which probably caused me 2 defeats. I appreciate for some it may not make a meaningful difference, but for the weekend league players, that’s potentially the difference between an elite or gold rank.

Free kicks are perhaps the most challenging of set pieces this year due to a new shot indicator which requires you to power up the free-kick whilst the speed and direction that the analog stick is flicked in will directly impact the effort on goal. Making the timed-finish method probably the most effective way of scoring free-kicks.

So the finished product can be a steep learning curve, but once the player understands how the jockey system works, timing tackles to perfection & relying more on precise game plans and player instructions. You truly do get a feel of how intelligent, FIFA 20 attempts to make virtual football.

Volta Mode

FIFA Street anyone? You demanded & EA delivered. The street themed, freestyling football mode returns with a bang under the Volta banner.

Volta mode is a slick, well-presented take on the underground, urban street scene. Players have a variety in the size of teams they wish to play in. 3v3, 4v4 or 5v5 ranging from the likes of Miami to Rio De Janeiro (17 arenas in total). The rules are relatively simple, small arena’s, small teams and lots of tricks and neat flicks. It’s a mode for the flamboyant players, the showboaters who get immense pleasure from outmaneuvering rival players with flair and cheeky flicks.

Volta Story, Volta league, and Volta Tour provide high depth to a mode stacked with unlocks, microtransactions and custom options to freshen up your created avatars look in the Volta shop menu. It’s a fully customizable mode that gives you a surprisingly generous amount of creative freedom in terms of your player’s appearance, (you can import your pro clubs player) and use coins to purchase accessories. My only real gripe with the custom player feature is that you can’t use traditional names like John, and with no guidance towards names that are legit it can be a pain until the server accepts your request.

Volta Story is for those of us clamoring for an alternative to Alex Hunter’s the Journey (which ended last year). This see’s you take on the role of a budding freestyler in Jayzinho’s J10 team, touring the world and taking part in tournaments (with a bit of added drama) to gain rep, improve your player attributes (via the skill tree system) and take on the legends of Volta and become the best freestyling team in the world. It features cameos from players like Vincinus Jr. It’s also noteworthy that to unlock new locations to enjoy throughout Volta Tour you most progress through the story.

I expect for many, the Volta league is potentially where those a little disillusioned with Ultimate team or other modes will spend many hours. It’s the online season’s mode for Volta. Create your team name, custom crest, home arena (with the walls up or down) and recruit players to storm your way to the 1st division.

Volta offers incredible value to a game already rich in modes to play. Some may argue it could have been a standalone game, going forwards perhaps EA will allow gamers to use pro players in their teams, but that’s another discussion for another day. Volta mode is addictive, fast, slick and a pleasure to play.

Ultimate Team

Is EA’s real money maker, special player inform cards, legendary icon cards and the offering of an illustrious eSportes career for those successful in the weekend league. Make Ultimate Team a necessity for any gamer looking at breaking into that scene. Some could argue that comes with a pay to win formula in order to get a highly coveted side. Trading on the market takes patience and time, and whilst EA doesn’t force the transactions at you (you can enjoy this mode just fine with a basic team) the margins of difference in player quality can determine who makes or breaks the reward tiers in WL, effectively making transactions a much quicker way of building your superteam.

Ultimate Team has all the usual’s from previous years, fresh menus and a different interface during squad selections. It’s this interface that raised a few problems, a round dial appears on the screen and the player needs to select the recommended consumable to use. I guess it’s EA’s way of trying to help but failing. If you disagree with the recommended item to use, you then have to select another drop-down menu and choose the desired items. This new method tends to be more time consuming and was one part of Ultimate Team that didn’t need tampering with.

Fresh to this year’s Ultimate team is milestone challenges. Based on an XP system which players can earn points by meeting targets EA outline in the challenges. Rewards range from packs to player loans such as Eden Hazard and Virgil Van Dyke.

Also, EA has announced an Icon swap system. Similar to last years FUT swap system where you get objectives to carry out over a month and can trade in the tokens earnt for special cards & packs. (Any chance of R96 EA? Pleeease!)

The first of these will release on Oct 11th. Interestingly this Icon swap system lasts for 2months. Probably meaning the objectives and requirements will be considerably more demanding in order to have the luxury of specifically selecting the icon you want from the limited selection EA promote.

Pro Clubs, Career & Menu’s

Both modes have had some minor tweaks, with pro clubs having a few more customization features implemented & also benefitting from the revamped match engine. The concept of dropping into quick play match up’s and earning experience for your virtual pro player remains the same. Despite fans calling for a bigger revamp to the 11 v 11 mode, pro clubs remains the most enjoyable kick about on the market for football fans looking to play with numerous friends on the same team both casually & competitively.

Career mode, whilst comparable to previous years, it does have some nice extras. The opportunity to have a brief chat with players and holding more detailed press conferences pre/post-match give a more realistic perception of the mode. Female managers are a first in the game’s history and there are further options for editing manager appearances. Little steps for sure, but much needed and welcomed.

Kick-Off mode is the go-to option for those of us chilling on a Saturday night, sweets at the ready and friends in company. It’s an easy drop-in and play mode that has a competitive edge, should you choose to play around with the match types. EA have added a neat touch by including Volta in the kick-off mode. Taking the total variety in match types to a plentiful amount of 7.

The highly praised UEFA European Champions League mode is still a great offering for those of you hyped up by the mid-week shenanigans your team goes through in Europe. With superb presentation values and alternative commentary in the form of Lee Dixon and Derek Rae. This feature (in my opinion) has a considerably higher graphical output than the other FIFA 20 game modes.


Initially, I was going to score FIFA 20 lower than FIFA 19. I struggled to adapt my game at first, which resulted in me having little enjoyment with the latest match engine. Yet after improving my skills and learning the key defensive skills, I can appreciate FIFA 20 is a more intelligently advanced game requiring a higher level of skill to succeed.

Only when you start to master the defensive aspect of the game can you appreciate the changes made. I hope EA will stick with this year’s gameplay without patching the game soon after release. At times I noticed Goalkeepers flap at crosses and the tone of commentary is inconsistent with some scorelines during online matches. Also, Volta’s custom name options are limited and frustrating. Ultimate Team has new menu’s but some of the features in Ultimate Team aren’t as accessible as last years.

I can’t say I’m a big fan of the game’s soundtrack, the rap, grime and urban-inspired music in the game fits the Volta mode greatly, but a mix of different genres in the other modes like Ultimate team would be nice. (I miss the old days where you could play a FIFA with trance/house inspired artists like Paul Van Dyke, Underworld & Oakenfold)

FIFA 20 brings incredible replay value, stacked with modes aplenty. FIFA 20 takes time to adjust and rewards perseverance. For new players, it will be a daunting, pretty brutal experience at first. Give the skill games a try, master your gameplan and bring your A-game to online. The game will punish you for the slightest of errors, but its an insanely fun and immensely rewarding experience that captures the intensity and pressures of defending expertly.

One can forgive EA for the minor bugs when they’ve put blood, sweat, and tears into implementing the new game mode and strived to upgrade other features. EA has yet again outdone themselves.

Many thanks to EA for providing a review copy, feel free to drop a comment in the box below if you enjoyed this review, or want to express your own thoughts on FIFA 20.