Fresh off reporting the latest FIFA 20 happenings for the better part of the last week, we lined up for a stint at the demo the powers that be at EA kindly pushed out to the masses on Tuesday. The impressions aren’t great, and FIFA 20 plays like a clunky, frustrating mess.
EA has spent more time polishing the goal celebrations and sleek menus than game mechanics. And boy, do they look good. Kylian Mbappé’s post-goal animation of jumping in the air and kicking the corner flag in pure glee is stunning.
You have to give it to EA; it knows how to capture the unadulterated jubilation that football stars must feel when scoring a belter in front of a stadium packed to the rafters with 30,000 fans.
But when it comes to lining up passes, dribbling past terrible AI defenders, attempting fancy crosses into the box, FIFA 20 misses the mark. There’s a painful slowness to each game that drains rather than mimics the poised pace of the real thing and sucks a lot of the fun out of playing.
Football Intelligence, Player Instinct, Decisive Moments, Ball Motion – these are all fresh additions to how the game plays. The changes are decent and add a realistic layer of depth but apply to such select scenarios that they do little to better the overall experience. It’s a missed opportunity because some excellent ideas are lurking under these vaguely-titled features.
Small sources of frustration such as having to wade through half a dozen glitzy screens highlighting FIFA 20’s new features (polished monetization hub Ultimate Team) blockade the path to playing the game. A big fat ”BUY FIFA 20” pops up before you even access the main menu. I get that a demo is to entice players and up sales, but rather than drilling it home from the get-go, shouldn’t EA let the game play speak for itself first?
The FIFA 20 demo’s one saving grace is a sneak peek at the Volta mode. A quick-fire pick-up game of 3-on-3 footy is a welcome break from the stunted 22-player full pitch format. The close-quarter means a faster-paced game, where individual skill shines through.
And although Volta is undeniably the most fun FIFA 20 demo has to offer, it suffers from a lack of fluidity, a clunkiness that its inspiration FIFA Street expertly sidelined for an arcade-like experience.
Once again, FIFA 20 parades novelty in the guise sleek menu graphics, in vogue bangers, and marketing department-approved buzzwords for pseudo new features that lack game play depth.
It’s only a demo and with that in mind, making sweeping generalizations is somewhat presumptuous, but FIFA 20 feels and plays like a complacent reskin of FIFA 19. With a little over two weeks to launch, there’s little time to make massive changes to the game, so the demo is a more or less genuine snapshot of what to expect, and it’s disappointing.