EA seems to be using 2019 as a year for revitalizing its beloved, yet long-running sports franchises. Madden 20 added and brought back some much-needed game updates and gameplay features, while more recently, NHL 20 did just enough to improve upon last year’s iteration. Both titles received review ratings of four out of five stars. With FIFA 20, EA continues its 2019 streak by releasing its most successful sports game that, although familiar, brings a little more to the table than in previous years, breathing a bit of new life into an otherwise stale franchise.

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Volta Football Dominates

To kick things off (I’m so sorry), the most notable update that FIFA 20 brings is the addition of Volta Football; an entirely new gameplay system, “grounded in football realism.” Players can participate in a variety of Volta game modes, which are essentially updated FIFA takes on the fan-favorite titles of Street sports games. Playing in 3v3, 4v4, or 5v5 matches in settings ranging from streets, to cages, to futsal courts, is an incredibly fun way to experience FIFA in a scaled-down and simplified setting. Just don’t expect to perform the over-the-top trick shots that you were able to accomplish in FIFA Street. Soccer fundamentals still play a vital role in being successful.

via EA

Volta’s Story Mode is also different than that of years’ past, and not necessarily for the better. Story Mode is faster-paced, primarily since it’s not focused an entire team. However, last year’s story felt far more engaging. Last year, I was sad that the story was over. This year, I wanted the story to be over. There’s not much replayability either, unless you’re interested in playing as a different player type, though it’s hard to imagine that the overall experience would be much different, if at all. The inclusion of Volta seems to have come at the expense of the game’s Story Mode, but that was probably intentional.

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The addition of Volta definitely feels like an attempt to pull in a newer, more casual audience with its gritty and overly simplified street-ball gameplay. Long-time FIFA veterans can certainly appreciate Volta for what it is, but it’s likely not the reason they’re adding another year of FIFA to their digital collection. Fortunately, FIFA 20 does a solid job of improving upon the game enough to make it worthwhile for those long-time players.

Control The Ball, Control The Outcome

FIFA 20 brings refreshed controls and gameplay mechanics to create a new level of authenticity to the game through an approach coined as Football Intelligence. Things like controlled tackling and a refined ball physics system allow for players to be immersed in more realistic soccer mechanics and game flows. It seems like this is the claim every year, for every sports game, but it feels like it actually rings true in FIFA 20. I would certainly not consider myself to be an expert player by any means, but I found that I was more successful in my attacks and defensive decisions in FIFA 20 than I have ever been before. At the very least, the seemingly fine-tuned controls made my gameplay experience feel much more rewarding, leaving me less inclined to hurl my controller across the room.

Beyond Volta

via EA

FIFA Ultimate Team continues to refine its Objectives system for players looking to reap the Daily, Weekly, Monthly, and limited-time Dynamic Season Rewards. New customization options allow for players to truly make their FUT 20 team their own in the way of stadium themes, celebrations, crests, custom balls, and more. More customization also comes to the FUT Friendlies game mode, allowing you to play against your friends in unranked matches without running the risk of losing contracts or getting injured. House Rules returns with all-new custom rules, such as King of the Hill and Swaps, creating more fun ways to compete against friends.

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Of course, this couldn’t be a FIFA 20 review without touching on the controversy surrounding the game’s Career Mode. It’s great that players’ Volta character can be imported into Career Mode as a player or manager - especially considering the deep character customization options available - but there’s really no point in doing so yet. The #FixCareerMode hashtag has taken off on social media platforms, and it’s easy to see why. Match congestion, edited player position changes, faulty press conferences, and even league-breaking bugs have plagued the early days of one of FIFA’s most popular game modes.

Although Career Mode’s issues are unfortunate, I was glad to hear that it wasn’t just me experiencing the problems. It’s likely the reason why the mode failed to hold much of my interest. The promise of dynamic press conferences is pretty exciting, but it seems that excitement will have to be kept in check until EA figures out a fix that makes playing the mode worth my time.

via EA

Just A Goal, Not A GOOOOOOOAAAAAAALLL!

2019 has been a surprising banner year for the catalog of EA Sports titles, which is a bit concerning if you happen to subscribe to the belief that there’s nowhere to go but down. For now though, we’ll choose to live in the moment and revel in the quality of games that we’ve been given this year.

Although the addition of Volta brings a much-needed fun, new way to experience everything that the FIFA franchise has to offer, FIFA 20 is ultimately another standard EA Sports game. There’s nothing incredibly flashy about this year’s version, but there are just enough improvements to elevate the game above previous versions and keep fans of the series on the hook. Although a broken game mode from a long-standing AAA series is unacceptable, there is still plenty to take advantage of in FIFA 2020 for the time being. Until they can fix Career Mode, we’ll just have to pardon EA’s Mess(i).

4 Out Of 5 Stars

A PlayStation 4 review code for FIFA 20 was provided to TheGamer for this review. FIFA 20 is available now for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC, and Nintendo Switch.

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