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Is It Different Enough? That’s the question every football fan asks himself before he puts down the money for the next FIFA game every year. He hopes Yes is the answer, which would give him a chance to shut his friends up. But knows that it will probably be No, and he would enjoy it nevertheless and would defend those “Game-changing” tweaks to his grave. FIFA 20 is asked the same question, and after a long time at least on the surface, it tries to say YES. With the inclusion of Volta (AKA Street Football), FIFA tries to mix it up. But is this change just epidermal, or does it go deeper than that, let’s find out.

Game Modes

There are quite a few ways to play FIFA 20. Granted most of them are inherited from its predecessor, FIFA 19 (who inherited them from FIFA 18 and so on). Yet the fact remains that anybody who buys FIFA 20 won’t be short of choice.

All the standard mode returns. Career mode as a player or as a manager or both. Online mode including FIFA Ultimate Team (FuT) with all its glorious surprise mechanics. And finally, the offline couch co-op Play Now mode which offers the most comprehensive licensed and authentic representation of international and club football teams ever seen, and oh it offers the ability to apply house-rules.

What is missing though is the Journey mode, a corny but fun semi linear mode where you lead a budding footballer through the ups and downs of his career. In its place, EA has decided to add Volta Football, which I can argue is probably the entire last FIFA Street game and then some more. Volta football acts as a sub-mode with its separate tab of challenges, its very own eShop for cosmetics and its very own set of mechanics that is similar to the standard FIFA matches but differs from it in some very crucial aspects. Not only that Volta also adds its own story mode too.


Story & Narrative

But is that story mode in Volta fun? That’s another story altogether. Much like “The Journey” mode in FIFA 19, players take control of a budding street footballer (or a Volta-er?), who is sent on a journey across the world to recruit players and build a team so they can take part in the World Championships.

All very good so far. The problem is that most of the story’s progression is gated through knock out tournament style matches and if you lose a match you have to start the tournament from the beginning (think Towers from Mortal Kombat). So after the 3rd time, you lose a match at the semi-final stage, you would invariably reduce the difficulty, which in turn hampers the gaming experience.

The other problem are the characters. The game has limited character models, which means that you keep running into copies of players in your team every other time. Maybe for a small indie game, I would have excused this, but for a game this big, with this much polish, this very obvious flaw stands out too sharply. A more tailored and smoother experience in the Volta story mode would have made it much more fun.

Gameplay & Mechanics


If you had enjoyed the FIFA Street game, you will enjoy Volta football. It’s the fast-paced street football you are used to playing in your colony’s bylanes as a kid, or in the floodlit courtyards of your building as a young adult. Just like those games, Volta focuses on goals, and counter-attacks rather than actual football rules, which makes the game feel much more organic. The goal-keeper is redundant, off-sides don’t exist, and the game lets you bounce the ball off walls if the venue is such. Volta also makes it easier to play if you just want to control one (read yourself) player in the game, in fact, unlike normal FIFA, owing to the size of the fields, it’s actually preferable to control your player and put him in positions pre-emptively both when defending and attacking.

What Volta does borrow from the core FIFA gameplay is the change in the defense tactics. No longer can you just press O+R2 and hope for the best. This time with defense timing is the key. Time your tackle right and you will walk away with a clean ball, miss it and the attacker will side-step you and will have a clear shot at the goal. This is mostly because FIFA 20 also introduces strafe dribbling, which lets the attacker dribble the ball with coverage around a defender whenever he sees a blitz coming. It’s a neat trick to create spaces and to counter it a lot of defending can be done to stop shots on goals rather than tackling. But its easier to do in a zoomed up version of Volta where the goal is smaller and the trajectory more predictable than doing it in the Tele mode in core FIFA. What that means is that it increases the skill gap between a casual and pro player and makes it more difficult to pick up and play.

What has been made easier though are the free kicks. With an overhauled system, you can now pick the spot where you want to shoot and then decide the swing and the power of the kick. It’s a new system for returning players, but for casuals, it will actually be easier to pick up and score off. Plus remember those times when those 78 rated defenders from Aston Villa caught up with Sterling after he had broken out, well its gonna happen far less now, as spaces, when provided, are closed up much more slowly than they used to in FIFA 19.

With all of that it might feel like FIFA 20 is a goal-fest, but with improved player physics, comes improved ball physics. The ball moves way slower on grass than it used to earlier, which means sometimes its the ball that hinders your movement and chances than the actual positioning. Plus recovery times after sidestepping a tackle or controlling the ball after gathering a through-pass, creates pockets of opportunities for those aforementioned defenders to catch up.

Apart from those nit-picks, FIFA is still FIFA. Unless you want to talk about the strings of meta and game balancing issues that people have been complaining about. Issues such as top tier ranking team finishing at the bottom of a table in the career mode. Or issues (something personally experienced) where League events are not triggered properly at the right time (again in career mode). EA has come out and said that while the next patch will be fixing some of these issues, they do not impact the actual gameplay experience of the matches itself, which is to say that they are still working on them.

Graphics Performance & Sound

At the expense of sounding redundant, I should reiterate that FIFA 20 is the most comprehensive authentic collection of football teams across the world. They have the official logos, official kits, official squads, and official stadiums. Unlike the Pepsi ad from the 90s everything is official about it.

That also means some of the best character models seen in Sports simulation are presented. Ronaldo, Messi, Neymar and even legends like Maradona (in his prime) are recreated as close to the real thing. But it’s not just faces, their mannerisms, their celebrations, and even their signature movements come to life. Much like how the duplicated models in Volta stand out, so does the subtle work on the players in core FIFA.

What impressed me the most though are the load times. One might say that actual load times might be hidden by the presentations in core FIFA matches, but there is nowhere to hide in Volta games, and each game hardly took 10 seconds to load. Ever since Bloodborne came out on the PS4, and threw the loading times rule book out the window, FIFA 20 is the first game, where I had to spend minimal time twiddling my thumb. At least they have perfected the load times after years of iteration.

Much like games before it, FIFA 20 creates a custom playlist of songs that range for techno-pop to house pop. Yes there is a lot of pop music on FIFA 20, but all that noise kinds of wash over you as generic rap gibberish playing in the background as you move from menu to menu. I would have liked a more streamline menu honestly, but with so many options, I think that’s the best they could do.


FIFA 20 is different enough to merit a chance. It has the all-new Volta mode that is fast and fun at the same time. FuT returns to capture the imagination of fantasy players. Then there are the updated rosters to keep the casual players interested. And finally, it has those subtle but crucial tweaks to the gameplay, which would be sending pro players into a learning curve all over again (especially the free-kicks). The story mode in Volta can take some tweaking but its no reason not to try out FIFA 20, even if you had FIFA 19.

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