FIFA 20 Review

Last year, many of FIFA 19’s gameplay innovations were based on the attacking game, from timed-finishes to the basics of how the ball could be nudged into space with a flick of the stick. FIFA 20 swings the pendulum back the other way and puts much more emphasis on the other side of the ball. The way you defend has been overhauled and has never felt more crucial. You can no longer heedlessly charge at a defender, hold down the tackle button, and hope for the best. You’re punished for not thinking about defensive play to the same extent you would building an attack, due to the high level of risk-reward when going in for a challenge; time it well and you’ll likely take the ball cleanly and win possession. Misjudge the timing, however, and you’re punished with a foul or left watching as your opponent skips over your trailing leg.

This is due in part to a new weapon attackers now have in their arsenal in the form of strafe dribbling. You can square up to a defender by holding the left bumper and attempt to shimmy past, ultimately creating a yard of space needed for a cross or shot. It’s a useful tool that provides more options when in control of the ball. If successful, at the very least you’ll get fouled, giving you the chance to try out the new way set-pieces are taken. EA has seemingly taken inspiration from the now-dormant PGA Tour golf series when it comes to taking direct free kicks, because now you first place a target where you want to aim, then add spin with the right stick as the taker approaches the ball. This technique opens up new possibilities and can produce some great-looking finishes. It’s initially difficult to get to grips with but I found myself enjoying it greatly, especially in comparison the simplistic ways they’ve worked in previous games.

Add another new addition, the set-up touch, and a devastating combo is possible. By rolling the ball into space by holding the right bumper and flicking the right stick, you’re then able to hit a vicious shot on goal. This often creates some blockbuster moments and, when pulled off correctly, feels great. Sadly, FIFA 20 provides little opportunity to actually achieve this, because the set-up animation feels like it takes an age to complete, and often you’re crowded out by tenacious defenders before getting your effort on goal away.

FIFA 20 and VOLTA Mode

The players have returned to being lightning-quick, but that feels completely at odds with the speed at which the ball wants to move. New ball physics cause it to bobble and get slowed down grass more realistically, which admittedly looks great, but it also interrupts the flow of the game. It’s like listening to a song with someone sporadically pressing the half-speed button every time you hit a groove.

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