FIFA 20 released this week, and players from across the skill range are beginning to get to grips with the new meta and gameplay changes that EA Sports introduces each year. Expectations are high for this year’s edition, after FIFA 19 was roundly criticized for a number of gameplay mechanics that lowered the skill gap. It got so bad that pro players would routinely accuse each other of abusing mechanics. Not a good look for the esport version of the beautiful game.
The good news for FIFA fans is that many of these issues have been addressed. Players now feel that the gameplay, while not perfect, is in a good place. Improvements to defending and passing have been particularly welcomed and even pro players (a group not known for being quick to praise) has said the game has felt its best in years.
So with the start of the competitive season weeks away it’s time to take a look at how the FIFA 20 meta has changed and what that will mean for the highest levels of the game.
One of the major issues that blighted last years game was the AI defending. It was far too strong, lowering the skill gap across the board. That’s gone now and players now need to use their head when defending, manually pressing rather than having the AI do it for them.
There game has also seen a buff to manual jockeying along with a rework to the tackle system, which EA is dubbing “Active Touch Tackling.” When you time the tackle right, the player flies in, nicks the ball and moves on quickly – increasing the risk-reward of a hard press.
Both these changes have mixed up the dynamic of defending and you will see a greater variety of game styles. Pro players who are naturally defensive, like Nicolas “Nicolas99FC” Villaba of FCBasel, will reap the rewards of these new mechanics.
One issue that has come out that isn’t directly related to defending is the mechanics of switching the player you are controlling. The current automatic system is driving some pros to despair.
All-in-all though, defending has improved on last year. Pro player Jamboo of West Ham United sparked a conversation that summed up the mood of the community.
There were two major problems with attacking in FIFA 19. Skill moves were far too good and far too easy to master. The new Finesse Shot mechanic was also fundamentally broken, as evidenced by the amount of shots that went flying in from impossible angles. We saw so many of these in the early part of the competitive season that EA had to nerf them in a patch.
So how does it look this year?
Kurt “Kurt04011” Fenech, one of the most outspoken and frank members of the pro community, feels it has a little room for improvement.
One mechanic he feels there was no need to reintroduce was “Strafe dribbling”. The skill which allows players to shuttle the ball side to side and backwards and is back in the game after being taken out of FIFA 19. Kurt feels it promotes unrealistic movement and favours the attacker too much.
On the positive side, he feels skill moves “are perfect” – BIG praise indeed from the man from Malta – “they take more skill, you have to time them, you can’t link them up[…] and are used to create space not to waltz through defences.”
Attacking with fast players is also rewarding, with no more irritating artificial “catch up” seen in previous years. Players like Mbappe and Neymar will be lethal if let in behind. When it comes to shooting, Kurt feels that with finessed finishing “they got it right” adding that it’s more of a “high-risk thing.”
Passing in FIFA 20 is more error-prone than in previous years. Players with great passing stats will find their teammates much easier than before. Crossing has been nerfed slightly, which will be a welcome change if you’ve ever had C.Ronaldo score a hattrick of back-post headers against you.
FIFA 20 has introduced a new set piece mechanic and some feel it’s over complicated for what it is. You have to aim with the target, then use the shoot button, then add spin with the right analogue stick. It feels like a game within a game and not very reactive to what you’re doing.
Penalties also haven’t been met with universal acclaim – you can essentially see which way the player is going to shoot with his head movement. Pros will master this quickly and it’ll be interesting to see how penalties develop in the pro game. Keep an eye out for EA making adjustments here when tournaments start rolling around.
For now, here’s a tutorial to give you an edge early in the season:
Meta changes – What are the pros saying?
Here’s a round-up of some of the games’ top pros giving their opinions on the state of the meta: