Every year FIFA introduces gameplay tweaks and news additions, and in FIFA 20

we’re promised “Authentic Game Flow” and “Football Intelligence”, but what does that actually mean? These are 5 gameplay changes that actually make a difference in FIFA 20.

Pace Is Crucial Again

A common FIFA 19 frustration was how easily slow defenders caught up with much faster attackers. In FIFA 20, an aging Sergio Ramos can no longer catch up with a galloping Leroy Sané on the break; even the terrier-like N’Golo Kanté will struggle, especially if the German knocks the ball in front of him and strides into space. The range of pace between players has been noticeably increased, plus dribbling stats also contribute greater to their speed when in control of the ball. So while Cristiano Ronaldo may not possess the blistering speed he once did, his mesmeric dribbling ability keeps distance between him and a chasing defender.

FIFA 20 and VOLTA Mode

New Ways to Beat Defenders

If an attacker doesn’t possess the pace to lose a defender or mis-controls the ball, allowing the defender to track back, the new Strafe Dribbling is an alternative way to get past the back line. In FIFA 20, the emphasis is on one-on-one battles, with those decisive moments winning matches. This gives more technically gifted players, such as Philippe Coutinho or Isco, who perhaps lack elite speed and power, the chance to fully utilise their dribbling abilities. By holding L1/LB, your player squares up to an opponent and allows you to move side to side, tempting the defender to stick a foot in. This opens up space to drive into and deliver a cross if out wide, or cut inside and attempt a shot.

Set-Up Touch for Powerful Finishes

When attempting a shot you might not always have that yard of space needed to fire on goal. With the new set-up touch mechanic, players can flick the ball into space using R1/RB and the analog stick, opening themselves up to hit a vicious shot. It’s a tricky skill to get to grips with and defenders can often steal the ball from your toe, but get it right and your chances of hitting the target are high. It’s particularly devastating when coupled with strafe dribbling – a two-footed attacker like Son Heung-min can wait for his opponent to make the first move, before nudging the ball to one side and firing the ball home.

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Rewards for Cleaner Tackling

Tackles have been revamped in FIFA 20 to counter these new attacking options. If you rely less on AI defenders and go for well-timed challenges, you’re rewarded thanks to the reworked Active Touch system. The cleaner the tackle you make, the more likely you are to win possession, hopefully leading to fewer moments of the ball pinballing around the pitch. Multiple factors impact the outcome – the angle you challenge from, the timing and of course the player’s tackling stats. Meaning the imperious Virgil Van Dijk will be far likelier to earn his side the ball than the far less defensively astute Neymar.

Completely Reworked Set-Piece Taking

The way free-kicks and penalties are taken has been radically overhauled in FIFA 20. For a direct free-kick you must first place a target where you want to aim you shot, then add spin with the right stick as the taker approaches the ball. Oddly, it feels a lot like PGA Tour and the way spin is applied to the ball. From our experience so far, it’s a much more complex system than in previous games, meaning fewer free-kicks will hit the back of the net, at least to begin with. However, the results can be spectacular and all the more satisfying than in previous iterations due to the increased skill levels required, allowing us all to channel our inner Juninho Pernambucano.

Penalties have also been refreshed and are a hybrid of free-kick mechanics and last year’s timed finishing. First, target where you want your shot to go, then determine its power by holding in the shoot button. Doing so increases the reticle size, but by pressing it again as the players foot makes contact with the ball you can reduce the diameter considerably, resulting in a more accurate penalty.

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