This video game stalwart needs to lighten up
FIFA is one of the oldest stalwarts of the gaming world. Always there, always improving (or worsening) ever so slightly each year, providing EA with the maximum annually-scheduled monetary return for the absolute bare minimum amount of work completed. Well, along comes FIFA 20 with enough meaningful changes and additions that has been – while not altogether toppling the status quo – sending gentle ripples of confusion and mild delight across the football simulation community.
FIFA 20 feels decidedly different, to the point where it is the same jarring sensation a FIFA veteran may experience while playing a few games of Pro Evolution Soccer. This year’s FIFA is definitely centered around refurbishing the much-maligned defensive mechanics and conventions that seem to have been been a more consistent feature in the game than James Milner.
Defending in FIFA is now a much more active pursuit. Whereas before, FIFA was content to allow you to roll the dice and charge blindly at players in possession, you are now punished for not thinking about defensive play to the same extent you would when considering attacking tactics. Time your challenges well now, and you should come away cleanly and in possession, whereas any mistakes in your timing will be rewarded with either a foul or a player clean through. It is an unforgiving but rewarding system.
In the most drastic change of all, EA have done away with The Journey and instead have replaced it with Volta mode, which is all of the bad parts of The Journey (the acting and story), combined with FIFA Street (none of the fun parts, obviously). There are a few ways to play the atrociously named Volta – Story, Tour or League. Volta is essentially a street football competition that takes place in different venues aroung the globe and with some different game types. You have your classic 11v11, 5v5, 4v4 etc., which are mixed in with a slight variation in the form of Rush games, which are essentially the exact same but without goalkeepers and a hell of a lot more tedious and annoying. Though the great deal of work by EA to get Volta in to the game is greatly appreciated, it almost feels like all of their work has gone to waste merely with the glaring omission of a point counter for flair moves.
And that brings us to the crux of the problem, with how serious FIFA has become, it seems that it has lost a lot of the whimsy that makes football video games fun on their own and not just an alternative to playing “the real deal” outside. FIFA 20 is a great game, but it still feels like a slight misstep in the wrong direction.
FIFA 20 has lost a lot of the whimsy that makes football video games fun.