Football is real-time strategy à la Age of Empires. Listen to us You pass the ball around to look for space and open the defense. This creates space for your teammates to run, who may then receive the ball themselves or act as a distraction for others in a better position. If everything goes according to plan, you could make a shot and score a goal. The opposite applies to those who wear the opposite colors. They are constantly trying to close gaps in the defense and to pursue different goals. And if everything goes according to plan for them, they win the ball back. Then it starts all over again. This is the simple but beautiful system that has made soccer a popular sport worldwide. With 20 field players, the variations are endless. But if you make it smaller, it's much less complex – and far less strategic.
This is the inherent problem with Volta, the new street soccer and futsal game mode in FIFA 20. Unlike the 11v11 game that has been taking place since EA Sports' repeated annual soccer simulation, Volta is in FIFA 20 limited to both 3v3, 4v4 or 5v5. In a field that is much smaller than half a normal soccer field, less than half of the players bump into it. And at a minimum, you're only a good pass from a gate. Where's the strategy at? For this reason, Volta in FIFA 20 requires much less skill than the 11v11 team. However, this means that Volta may be better suited to getting into FIFA and helping to attract more newbies to FIFA. If only there were no manual shots. And even then, thanks to AI, that will likely only apply to multiplayer games.
On the one hand, this is because the Volta AI relies more on brute force than skill and dexterity – things that are usually associated with street football – as we observed after the FIFA 20 demo. Although we didn't count, almost half of the goals scored (in games without a goalkeeper) came from a rebound of the defender. The Volta AI also has the added benefit of being an AI. For a computer, every command is the same, be it a keystroke or a combination of pressing multiple trigger keys and then holding down another key or moving the right stick in a pattern. That is not the case with us human players. The Volta AI can therefore play better than you because it can react at the speed of light. Time is always of the essence in football, but more here.
You can use this to your advantage in two Volta game modes – Volta Story and Volta Tour, which, as we'll explain shortly, overlap by committing yourself to one player. If you want to escape this control, you can benefit from the incredibly fast reactions and combo hits of the AI. It is also not necessary to relearn the control differently than in humans, which is now possible with shooting at different manual levels in Volta. Of course there are some restrictions. For one thing, the FIFA AI still doesn't know how to determine the right time to pass the ball on to you – how was the problem in player career mode and in all three seasons of The Journey – and will hand it over to FIFA most unfavorable moments. And sometimes it even receives stupid goals on the “world class” difficulty level.
Volta is also annoying from the square. After EA Sports has successfully set up a money-hungry, time-consuming and always available mode in Ultimate Team, it seems to have taken a new path in FIFA 20. Yes, Volta is also a mode that is always available online, even in the middle of the game when your internet connection is lost. This is the last thing a FIFA fan would have wished for, especially in countries like India. Volta also brings another currency in the game – the third in FIFA – Volta coins that can be earned through gaming and used to unlock new cosmetic enhancements. FIFA Points – available from Rs. 70 to Rs. 7,000 on Ultimate Team – cannot be used to buy cosmetics in Volta, at least not yet, so it's not as predatory as Ultimate Team. But it's called Volta "Coins" and it's hard to trust EA that it won't change in the future. Volta also uses Ultimate Team mechanisms such as chemistry, which depend on the formation, position and preferences of the player on the home court.
Go on the street
Wondering what is the last of them? Thanks to Volta Story, Volta in FIFA 20 is also a spiritual successor to The Journey. While Journey restricted your look to Alex Hunter and his friends, Volta lets you redefine your character's look from scratch, including height, weight, outfits, tattoos, preferred position and foot, and gender. (FIFA 20 is the first entry in EA Sports' long-standing soccer series, which now has games of different genders.) In Volta Story, you connect with the street football crew J10, that of Jayzinho, the real street football star , will take you around the world from Tokyo to Buenos Aires. This is where a player's home court comes into play. Every time you hit a team, you can hire one of their players. However, Volta is less restrictive than Ultimate Team and you can still get good chemical value with players from different home positions.
If, like us, you were hoping for a Volta Story crossover with The Journey, it's there, but not great. Hunter and his agent Beatriz Villanova make a nonverbal appearance late in FIFA 20 – do you remember The Journey: Champions in FIFA 19? – Who is interested in displaying your player avatar? Volta is a breath of fresh air with his pictures and comments, but the story is pretty minimal and ends in a few hours at the World Street Soccer Championships. It also means that you and your team may not be ready to face the All Star teams that appear at the championships. Fortunately, there are a number of other places – from London to Miami – that you can visit to not only improve your player, but also recruit others to improve your team's rating. This is the previously mentioned Volta Tour.
Speaking of improving your player, Volta has its own skill tree in FIFA 20 just like The Journey. It has three main areas – attack, midfield and defense – that you can use to either complement your player's position or shape him into a street soccer player. Depending on the properties you select from the skill tree, Volta assigns you appropriate player styles, such as poachers or passer-by. You can change the position of your avatar at any time and redistribute all skill points accumulated in the game. This is particularly beneficial if your team lacks a certain type of player that you were unable to recruit. As you work through Volta Story, you will also be trained by “Volta Skillers”. These are exercise routines that are reserved only for Volta and focus on dribbling, handing over and the like.
In addition to the problems we had with the Volta AI, we had an early problem with the difficulty curve. The team we had at the beginning was not strong enough to win the first knockout tournament in Tokyo. You have to win four games in a row to get the trophy. A single loss forces you to restart because it fails. We did four run-throughs before we got the last win. The other problem is the adjustment of recruited players who take off all their clothes when they join your team. EA is likely doing this because Volta is putting you up against teams of other players. So you don't want to get your items for free, but you want to rob characters with vocal roles in Volta of their clothes to rob them of their personality. It just feels strange.
Slow it down, buddy
Outside of Volta, there are some major gameplay changes in FIFA 20. EA has clearly tried to slow the game down, a constant complaint from many over the past few years. FIFA 17 players will feel like they're coming home, and those who switch from Konami's fast-paced Pro Evolution Soccer will of course feel the difference even more. The ball in FIFA 20 now moves more slowly on the ground and in the air, and the latter are more inaccurate with praise passes and pass balls, especially when players with a lower “vision” rating deliver them. The speed range has also been corrected so that you can feel the clear difference between slow and very slow defenders that fast attackers cannot easily catch up with. However, this depends on whether you are running the ball or hurling the ball forward.
The improved realism of FIFA 20 can also be seen in the weight and bounce of the ball, as well as the player's interaction with the ball with parts of the body other than the legs. This enables new player animations that include ball movements outside of the foot with the ball in the center of the player. Catch, pass on and support goals with the chest; and with different parts of the forehead for headers. (FIFA 20 also has a few tiny new realistic touches, like water vapor breath clouds when you play in winter.) The AI feels better in FIFA 20 – at least on world class difficulty – because it performs better Dexterity moves, identifies and exploits mistakes, and ultimately ends up scoring more than we did in FIFA 19. (It's early for us, so the last thing could change.)
The pace isn't the only thing that's been restricted in FIFA 20. The jockey mechanic's defensive coverage – LT on Xbox One and L2 on PS4 – has dropped a few tiers in FIFA 20. Those who thought this was overwhelmed can finally sit back and relax. Defenders are now much further away from attackers than they used to be, and are essentially canceling the coverage that has been provided in previous years. As a result, you are more on your own. This means a lot more manual defense, which means getting a grip on the left stick and using the tackle buttons more often. If you were used to relying on the second player's cover mechanic – RB on Xbox One and R1 on PS4 – to stifle your opponent and ultimately take possession of the ball, you need to prepare for the attackers to come over you to run.
Newcomers can of course continue to rely on "legacy defending," where defenders, like PES, target attackers like homing missiles. To do this, switch to the section "Controls" in FIFA 20. You can switch to a simplified two-button mode scheme too, but don't expect to do any advanced moves or combos. FIFA's control spectrum is so narrow and diverse at this point that newbies against “amateur” or “semi pro” AI are likely to need a lot of time alone before they can even start playing against friends or online players.
The other big change in FIFA 20 affects standard situations: free kicks and penalties. A completely redesigned setup changes how you aim and give the ball more spin. The target group is back for the first time in 15 years, although it's not as easy as it used to be. First you need to hold the left stick in a specific position where you want the ball to be. This does not apply to spin, which is available in four different versions – top spin, side spin, mixed or ankle ball – and is applied with the right stick. Whether the ball actually lands inside or outside the target circle also depends on whether you use the "Timed Finishing" introduced in FIFA 19. Ultimately, however, scoring 20 free kicks in FIFA isn't that easy to score. Which is how it should be.
Unfortunately, the new gameplay changes in FIFA seem to have introduced 20 new bugs. The biggest problem is off-the-ball fouls, which seem to go largely undetected. In both professional and street soccer, we noticed that our players were knocked down by an opponent just so the AI referee wouldn't catch these fouls. In such a case in Volta, it became the perfect goal for the AI to score. This will of course be a lot more frustrating online. Speaking of mistakes in FIFA 20, there are a few minor ones elsewhere, including a gold-level training drill that doesn't score well and which easily gives you a “A” rating, and a player model that's stuck between two flipped menu screens as 12. Player stuck in place on the field. We couldn't interact with it, but it was very confusing. We expect EA to fix the last two issues, but it remains to be seen what happens to the first.
While playing career mode (including managerial and player careers), we came across the last of these new FIFA 20 bugs, the only specific one of which was that our deputy manager asked us to negotiate for less than what the Club had offered for one player, while calling it "a better deal". Thank you for your input, you were fired.
Take control (improved)
EA has improved the neglected managerial career by replacing the accumulated forms – the up or down arrows – with smileys. These show the morale that depends on whether a player receives games, performs well, and whether the broadcast has been performed. Morale directly affects a player's attributes and ranges from very unhappy (–8), unhappy (–5), satisfied (0), happy (+5) and very happy (+8) for core stats and a little different for other statistics.
The mood can also be influenced by the biggest change in FIFA 20's managerial career: press conferences. While post-game interviews take place after most competitive games based on what EA developed for The Journey, pre-game conferences only take place before the big games. You can use both pre and post interviews to improve team morale. However, you need to pay attention to the answers you choose because each player has a different personality. Some post-game interviews include follow-up questions to your pre-game answers so you have to adjust if you can't keep your promises. The introduction of press conferences has taken over the link that was previously reserved for jumping to news. We missed his presence, but your mileage may vary.
Apart from that, the career mode in FIFA 20 has undergone a kind of facelift. This is FIFA's first managerial career with female managers. (You can also import the faces of female players you created in Volta.) Dynamic menus are now displayed according to the manager's or player's outfit and the tournament you are playing in. There are two new meeting environments: a late night restaurant and a late afternoon bistro – for personally negotiated transfers. (FIFA 20 now writes “X’s rep,” where X is the club’s name to indicate the general manager’s faces for clubs that EA didn’t design for managers. Agents have always been generic.) Also, career mode is now Executed in-game screenshots for the highlights section in the main menu.
Changes are also appropriate for the other neglected game mode: Pro Clubs. It benefits from the new avatar developer developed for Volta, and it has also been visually improved to match the rest of FIFA 20. Speaking of getting it on an equal footing, EA Pro has also added new match types based on the "house rules" introduced with the launch of FIFA 19 and the "practice game" option, with which online player clubs can train against an adaptable AI. In terms of individual progress, your Pro Clubs avatar now starts with an upgrade of 80 and you can earn skill points while playing games and levels using seven skill trees – physical, defensive, dribble, pass, shoot, pace and goalkeeper ,
This leaves Ultimate Team, the most played and top-selling game mode for EA in FIFA. The Ultimate Team in FIFA 20 now offers "seasonal" goals that let you hire players, packs, coins, stadium themes, badges and balls the more you play. Each season takes about a month and a half before the items on offer are updated and you start over. Of course, this assumes that you have time to look outside of the menus that take the most time in Ultimate Team. This is the problem with the mode in general. To get better teams without worrying about real money, you have to be essentially addicted to it. Get the mobile app for transfers, return to squad battles twice a day, and spend hours in Squad Building Challenges for more rewards. At some point, FIFA will no longer be about your life, but about FIFA. And it just shouldn't be like that.
It has proven itself financially for EA. So don't expect it to improve payout aspects unless there are many more countries following Belgium to ban FIFA points that unlock Ultimate Team packages. Fortunately, there was always enough for FIFA players to get involved in other areas like careers, pro clubs, seasons – and now at Volta. With improvements to the modes themselves and gameplay – slower gameplay, harder defense, revised free kicks, and better-equipped AI – we think 11v11 is just the ticket. Volta would certainly have kept the FIFA 20 team busy with the new resources and all of that, but since the game does not require the same thought and strategy as its big brother, it is committed to a product that is ultimately less than the sum its parts.
- Volta looks good, sounds good
- Speed, coverage reduced
- Realism with new ball and player animations
- Smarter AI in 11v11
- Revised set-piece setup
- Volta not as strategic as 11v11
- Volta KI is less skill, more brute force
- Another always-online mode in Volta
- Gameplay, cosmetic mistakes
- Career mode, pro clubs need more
- Season goals make Ultimate Team addictive
- Ultimate Team Pay-to-Win behavior ignored
Rating (out of 10): 8th
Gadgets 360 played a review of FIFA 20 on Xbox One X. The game is available at Rs. 3,990 on Xbox One, Rs. 3,999 on PC via Origin and PS4 and $ 50 (approximately 3,550 rupees) on Nintendo Switch. FIFA 20 has no new features on the switch, except new shirts and squads.