WHAT IS A HANDS ON REVIEW?
"Hands on reviews" are a journalist's first impressions of a game based on spending some time with it ahead of our full review. In this case, we played 45 of Volta mode at Gamescom 2019. The important thing is we have been able to play with it ourselves and can give you some sense of what it's like to enjoy, even if it's only an embryonic view. For more information, see TechRadar's Reviews Guarantee.
FIFA, and other EA Sports games, have always been one of the biggest sections of gaming. And, while there are some people who criticise sports games for not doing much to innovate, that is changing. Not only are a lot of these games expanding to include story modes and expansive multiplayer options, but they're more approachable than ever before, too.
FIFA 20 is a perfect example of this with its new Volta mode. Essentially a return of FIFA Street – which last saw a release in 2012 – this game mode will not only have a more arcade-y feel, but will also ease new players into FIFA thanks to less stringent rules and regulations.
And, because we haven't played much in the way of sports games – full disclosure – we got a chance to get some hands-on time of the new Volta mode at Gamescom 2019. And, well, it does work to acquaint new players with the series.
Kicking the ball around
When we first sat down in front of FIFA 20, we were a bit apprehensive, as this editor hadn't touched a sports game in more than a decade. We picked up the controller and ran around a bit, controlling a random player. It was a bit embarassing.
However, after a short period of making a mockery of the game, we were directed to the Volta mode, which we were told is perfect for newcomers. And, well, it absolutely is.
When we started the story mode in Volta, we initially played a match against some bots that had the difficulty turned all the way up for some reason. Obviously, we didn't score a single goal. After that was over however, it took us into some tutorials that showed us how the game was played – seems we were meant to lose, or were at least not expected to win.
After some extensive training, we went into another match against AI opponents, this time on a much lower difficulty setting, and were able to easily win. And, because Volta is the street variant of FIFA, the game was played on a small field with walls, with teams of four – rather than a regulation-sized field with a full 11 player team.
It seems like Volta will not only be the place for new players to grow into the game, but also where to find some narrative. However, Volta won't be the only place you can find some single-player action in the game.
Building a career
Now, we didn't get hands-on time with the new career mode, but we were able to sit and talk about the changes that are coming to the most popular mode in FIFA.
In FIFA 20, there's going to be more of a focus on your role of a team manager. Throughout your career, your skill as a manager will be reflected in the morale of your players, and they'll either grow or deteriorate with your performance.
For instance, you will have to participate in press conferences, where you'll have to answer questions about your team and players. Your answers to these questions, and your performance in these press conferences will affect the morale of your players, which will in turn affect how their stats grow throughout your career.
For all intents and purposes, FIFA 20 seems like so much more than 'just another FIFA game'. The updated roster is there, but you're also getting a robust and separate campaign in FIFA 20 Volta, and a more robust career mode. There are definitely people who will buy this game no matter what, but it might be a great entry point if you've been curious about jumping into the football franchise.
However, the inclusion of a story mode likely won't sway you if you're not a huge fan of sports already. But, the fact that it is so welcoming to new players is a great sign, and we're definitely here for it.