The season is finally over. Juventus are champions (again), PSG are champions (again), and Liverpool fans are crying (again, although for a better reason this year). While there's still more to look forward to in the world's biggest sport this summer--the Women's World Cup and UEFA Nations League are bound to be summer highlights--many football fans now have one major day marked in their diary: the release date of the highly anticipated FIFA 20.
FIFA 20's release date hasn't actually been revealed yet--the game hasn't even technically been announced--but it's a safe bet it will follow series tradition and fall toward the end of September. With that disclaimer out the way, let's take a look at everything we do know about the world's biggest soccer game, as well as what we'd like to see from this year's new FIFA game during E3 2019--and, more specifically, its livestream during EA Play.
What We Know So Far
Even though this year's game hasn't been revealed, developer EA has already shared some of FIFA 20's gameplay improvements. Top of the list is AI defending, with a larger emphasis and incentive placed on manual defending, as opposed to letting the computer defend for you. One of the ways EA plans to do this is by increasing the likelihood a manual tackle will propel the ball to a teammate. Automatic defending will see its overall efficacy reduced and reaction times slowed.
Shooting is also being revamped, with attackers given greater accuracy during easy shooting scenarios, such as being clean through against the 'keeper. Goalkeepers' reaction times will be reduced in these situations to resolve the sometimes "superhuman" reactions players complained of. Additionally, the timing window for green timed shots is being reduced to two frames for all shots, and they'll also be "slightly less precise." EA did, however, reassure players that green timed shots will "still be more accurate than non-timed shots."
Lots of work is being done on making passing and shooting more realistic, EA says, especially when it comes to difficult strikes. Volleys will be more variable and less accurate, for example, while 180° and first-time passes will result in "slower/weaker balls." To compensate, easy situation passes will now be more accurate. Two new passing options will also be introduced: the driven pass-and-go (which will replace the current manual pass button combo) and the dinked pass, which will cease to be an automatic, contextual pass variant and instead be user-controlled only.
What's Confirmed For E3?
EA has confirmed an E3 livestream discussing FIFA 20 will air on June 8 at 11 AM PT / 2 PM ET / 7 PM BST (that's 4 AM AET on June 9). The stream, which is part of EA Play, will be hosted by esports commentator Alex "Goldenboy" Mendez. EA says it will demonstrate some of the gameplay improvements mentioned above, "as well as some other surprises we're excited to talk about." It's one of a variety of games that will be showcased; the stream will spend a good chunk of time on one game at a time, rather than having a traditional press conference.
What We Hope To See At E3
FIFA 19 felt great, and the addition of the officially licensed Champions League made for a slicker product. However, career mode was left sorely lacking. No major new features were added to the mode, with very few changes at all from the year prior. With that in mind, we'd love career mode to see a radical overhaul. Give us a proper scouting system, stadium developments, opposition reports, and a way to actually converse with players outside of contract negotiations. Talking of which, the option to pay for new players in installments is long overdue.
Elsewhere, the Ultimate Team community is gasping for more on what FIFA 20 will have in store for FUT, and from a selfish point of view, I'd love to see the English National League introduced. The license for England's fifth tier would surely come relatively cheaply, and its addition would add another layer of authenticity to an already very lifelike ecosystem.