With the domestic seasons over, it’s time for the next round of soccer games to start showing off what’s new. PES 2019 had a quiet year once more as FIFA 19 took the limelight, even with a myriad of issues.
A near constant stream of live content, no matter how good it was, on top of presentation quality and licensing was enough for people to forget about the actual gameplay quality of Konami’s series.
Recently, I got some hands-on time with both new games to see if the story will be any different for fall 2019’s games.
As is always the case when EA Sports first reveals a new FIFA title, the messaging has been very precise. The introduction of Volta, the new FIFA Street inspired mode, and the outlining of efforts to fix FIFA 19 specific complaints, are all we’ve heard about.
We’ve heard nothing about changes coming to Ultimate Team, Career Mode, and Pro Clubs. More will be revealed about those modes in the coming months, but we’re stuck with analyzing what we know from now on.
This continues the trend of FIFA being difficult to predict though. The gameplay additions introduced for 19 were great on paper, with Timed Shooting designed to add a skill gap.
However, EA Sports struggled to balance the game effectively, basically abandoning the game in January, leaving it in a state where flicking the ball up to yourself forty yards from goal and volleying it home was easier than scoring a one-on-one from five yards. From the “surprise mechanics” to gameplay, it was unbalanced.
Therefore, making a balanced game should be one of EA Sports’ priorities for FIFA 20, alongside continued server stabilization and improvement efforts. The new gameplay features outlined are certainly promising, but it’ll be difficult to gauge how successfully they’ve been implemented until online play is available to test.
From the two games I played at E3 2019, the changes are certainly noticeable. FIFA 20 is undeniably slower than before. Holding A/X to contain attackers is no longer as useful, promoting manual defending. There still seems to be some way to go with balancing that, as unnatural ball movements cropped up from time to time, but it should make play in the final third more exciting and skill based.
Most of the main FIFA 19 OP tactics don’t work anymore either. I tried flicking the ball up to myself at the edge of the box and my player fumbled the ball around before losing possession, and chaining skill moves like La Croqueta isn’t possible. Timed Shooting is also a lot harder to get right with it being reduced to 2-4 frames, so build up play is emphasized.
These are all things that fix issues with FIFA 19, but only time will tell how they play out in 20. The new ball physics that should make manual defending more rewarding need to be noticeable and the balance in attacking play needs to be right, and quickly.
Volta is an interesting prospect too. It’s not clear quite yet how it’ll fit in with the rest of the game’s modes, but a spiritual return for FIFA Street is something that players have wanted for years.
It’ll be fun at launch, there no doubting that, but I’m worried that it’ll go the way of The Journey. I can see players getting bored very quickly and sticking with Ultimate Team, just as many did with the previous story mode.
While EA Sports are aware of the desire, having no online co-op options is a real oversight. It’s been needed in other modes for a while, so not to include it in a new mode is a strange decision to say the least. Without a social aspect, I can see players dropping Volta very quickly, no matter how fun the skill-focused gameplay is.