FIFA 20 First Play: What's New And What Has Changed In EA Sports' Latest Game?
With the release of FIFA 20 now just around the corner, SPORTbible were afforded some hands-on time with the newest football game of the EA Sports franchise at a special preview event at a secret location in Berlin.
And already, with just a few hours of game-time under the belt, it's clear to see that EA have once again made several adjustments in order to switch things up from the previous edition of the game.
Here are just some of our key findings ahead of the official worldwide launch on Xbox One and PlayStation 4 on September 27.
1. Slower game pace to cater for more build up
Immediately from your very first kick-off it's evident to see that FIFA 20 does feel different from FIFA 19 and a big part of that is the game being less hectic.
EA received feedback from players that the game was too crowded last year and one particular example clip shown by lead producer Sam Rivera in a presentation prompted him to utter the words, "That doesn't feel like football to me".
This year, there's a slower pace, new "football intelligence" and more of a focus on building up play as opposed to defence transitioning into attack in next-to-no time.
Not only does that help bring about authenticity and a more composed experience, it also favours those who are all about creating time and space with possession-based football.
2. Less AI involvement with defending
The presence of the AI in FIFA games, and specifically their inability to defend competently, is a massive source of frustration for players.
So thankfully this year EA are reducing the amount of AI defensive support and instead concentrating on the user's defending. AI will of course still be a thing, but it will take a backseat and place the majority of the responsibility on the shoulders of the actual player.
Defending system completely overhauled :white_check_mark:- SPORTbible (@sportbible) May 31, 2019
Goalkeeper movement reduced :white_check_mark:
Easier to score one-on-ones :white_check_mark:
There are some big changes coming to FIFA 20... :video_game: https://t.co/ibOuSTyEX2 pic.twitter.com/1FLX3bmshv
3. Controlled tackling
Sticking with defending, major changes have been made to the tackling system in FIFA 20. A number of new tackling animations have been introduced for players to select and regain possession of the ball.
They say "timing is everything" and that applies here as a cleaner and more precise tackle is much more likely to see you win the ball back. Again it ties in with giving the user more control in regards to defensive play.
4. All new dribbling method
Skinning your opponents is undoubtedly one of the most fun elements of FIFA and so it's exciting to see that dribbling has been revitalised. Strafe dribbling, the new system brought in, is all about taking "stutter steps" before luring an opponent in and attempting to beat a defender.
Knocks on allow players to burst pass defenders with pace but you won't be able to do that with someone who is merely a speed merchant.
"It's a combination of dribbling, sprint speed and acceleration," FIFA producer Rivera told SPORTbible on how to beat defenders.
"This year we are making it so it's not a simple as running away, if you really want to reach top speed then you need to do knock ons, which require a little more skill to time and to aim where you want the ball to be kicked to.
"It has to be a player with good dribbling attributes, not just a fast player. All together it adds more depth to the game and becomes more interesting."
5. Emphasis on 1v1 situations
Sticking with the added realism in the game, EA have used the game tempo from the best league in the world so that FIFA 20 sees a huge increase in 1v1 situations between attackers and defenders.
Winning your individual duels is hugely important in real life football and it makes perfect sense for it to be incorporated into the virtual football world too.
6. Free-kicks and penalties are like never before
In a change that is long overdue, free-kicks and penalties have been given a monumental overhaul. While the movement of the camera was key to taking set-pieces on FIFA 19, FIFA 20 comprises of an aiming mechanic - inspired by Lionel Messi's dead-ball mastery.
You can perform top spin, side-spin or even a knuckleball free-kick if you fancy channelling your inner Cristiano Ronaldo.
The same can be said for penalties, where there is a bigger target available to use so that spot-kicks are much more precise and accurate.
Explaining the alteration, Rivera said: "With free-kicks we didn't really update that system for many years so it was time. A lot of people didn't know how the mechanics worked and they were also doing short passes instead because there were alot of errors.
"We needed to bring in a new approach with something that is more rewarding and you have more control. We spent a lot of time trying to design something that is fun and so far it's been really good.
"You basically need to swing your right stick to the right to get side-spin and when you see the trajectory that you have created, curving to the left, it feels like that you caused that.
"For penalty kicks we know a lot of people had trouble with the aiming and the arrow so we made something more accessible. It's very simple to take a penalty kick, what's hard is to place it properly and close to the corner with enough power that the 'keeper cannot save it.
"So far the feedback has been positive and we are going to monitor those features to make sure they are balanced."
7. FIFA 20 set up touch
A fresh feature that promises to be incredibly popular on FIFA 20 is what EA's head honchos are calling "the set up touch". - essentially rolling the ball forward to get that clean effort on goal. Players will require time and space to perform it but it will bring out less errors in your shots.
8. Ball physics add to realism
Gamers will notice the change in ball physics as soon as they play the demo, as courtesy of an all-new motion system, there are more realistic movements with regards to the ball - which will deviate and spin from bumps on the pitch thanks to a pronounced trajectory.
9. Volta football is the perfect addition to the game
Fans have been clamouring for the return of FIFA Street for years now and while EA have listened, they've made sure that 'Volta' - which means "to return" in Portuguese - adds a new dimension to the game instead of being a nostalgia act.
Matt Prior, Creative Director for EA Sports, said there was "a whole world of football that EA haven't tapped into" and with the help of real-life street footballers, Volta has come to life after two years of planning.
Based around the 11v11 game engine but with new people involved in the creation process, you can play 3v3, 4v4, 5v5 and play with or without goalkeepers.
Players can strut their stuff on a array of pitches (walls on or off) and locations, from a London cage to a Tokyo rooftop with a DJ and pyro, and choose from any team in the game.
There's also a story mode with new levels of customisation and vanity for those who like a good a narrative and for the first time ever, men and women can play on the same time.
It's a game-changing addition for FIFA and one that should attract plenty of new players.
What are you most excited about in FIFA 20? Sound off in the comments.