With FIFA 20's life cycle approaching its end, these are our picks for the 6 changes we want to see in the next instalment of EA Sports' immensely popular football series.
Many would argue FIFA 20 has been a mixed bag since its September 2019 release. While the view of critics was fairly positive at first, the FIFA community appears to have grown increasingly frustrated with the game's developers over recurrent issues and a lack of tangible updates.
It goes without saying that this list is subjective, and you might disagree with some elements. That's fine. Without further ado, let's get into the list of major changes that need to happen in FIFA 21.
Make heading great again
Okay, not exactly FIFA 14 great. Many players will still have nightmares about Zlatan Ibrahimovic whirling away from the net having scored a hat-trick of headers. But, let's be honest, crossing and heading in FIFA 20 isn't up to scratch.
EA's reasoning for the nerf to heading was so players are less reliant on RNG, and more on player skill. While that's understandable, it somewhat contradicts their commitment to make FIFA the most realistic football game there is.
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Crossing is weak too, with even the game's best wingers regularly under or overhitting their balls into the box. If it's not wayward of its target, chances are the opposition keeper has come and claimed it.
On the off chance the ball actually makes it to your unmarked striker, regardless of who it is, they're probably going to mess up the header and put the ball miles over the bar.
The biggest problem with the nerf to heading is that everyone is forced to play the same way. Any player who's got more than a few FIFA 2o matches under his belt will know that there's no point crossing the ball into the box. This forces everyone to play centrally with through balls or work wide play into a cut-back.
FIFA 20 saw a number of changes to passing. Most notably, there's a weird reluctance from your players to weight passes correctly, almost as if they don't trust their teammates to adequately control the ball.
Wingers are often left stranded because central players roll the ball out to them leisurely, rather than putting their foot through it.
It opens up nearly every offensive pass to interception and, when compared to faster games like FIFA 13, it's clear how much the game's passing has been slowed down over the last few years.
The lack of fluidity with FIFA 20's passing is one reason people have accused the FIFA series of going backwards. It was never perfect, but efforts to improve it have just made it considerably slow and tiresome.
Free kicks and penalties need simplifying
Free kicks in FIFA 20 currently constitute some combination of luck and wiggling the right joystick. There weren't many complaints about the old system of taking free kicks, so the change certainly came out of the blue.
But now, after aiming vaguely wide of the target, players are charged with whipping the right joystick in a weird semi-circular motion in the hopes it pushes the ball towards the net.
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It's the same with penalties. What was wrong with the sliding mechanic featured in FIFA 13 and 14, where players had to time their penalties in the green area and then aim? That was done away with years ago, replaced by a luminescent arrow that behaved on its own accord.
If that wasn't inconsistent enough, it's now been replaced by a shaking circle that look likes its trying to keep itself warm. Free kicks and penalties have become big issues, truly emblematic of developers tampering with gameplay that should have been left alone. Just simplify them both for FIFA 21.
Career mode and Pro Clubs are still amateur
The majority of EA's focus in the past few FIFAs has, quite understandably, been on Ultimate Team. As the most popular mode, it stands to reason that it receives the largest share of attention. However, career mode and pro clubs have been left on the back-burner, free of meaningful changes for years.
In terms of Pro Clubs, there could be way more customization than there currently is. Why are subs not a thing? Why can players not mess around with player size, names and everything in between? It feels like EA found something that worked and have stuck to it for too long.
Similarly, career mode is outdated. When you compare it with a game like Football Manager 20, which provides nearly countless opportunities for tactics, training, contracts, staff and players, it seems bizarre that the furthest FIFA has gone is having a player sassily email you because he's been dropped for a cup tie away at Torquay.
Different play-styles should be different
One of the biggest issues with FIFA 20 - and any sports game - is that players all being forced to play the same way causes the game to get stale, fast. In FIFA 20, players have no choice but to play centrally and avoid crossing at all costs. Pace still rules going forward, with slower strikers picked by absolutely nobody.
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Tony Pulis or Neil Warnock tactics should definitely not be dominant, but forcing everyone to pass to a striker, who then looks for a through ball to another player can get tiresome, fast.
Players should be able to edit tactics (in all modes) to a point where it meaningfully affects how your team plays. No, the 'overload ball side' defensive tactic doesn't count.
Defending and attacking are not pendulums
What I mean by this, is that games feel too inconsistent. The amount of times games end 7-7, 4-6, or 5-4. The balance between attack and defence feels off.
EA deliberately nerfed defending in FIFA 20 in order to force players to do more than hold down the A/X button and successfully dispossess opponents. Players are now entirely responsible for their defensive movement, in a change many can get behind. The problem is that players haven't quite adjusted yet, and it's still way too easy to dribble back and forth and find space to shoot.
Top dribblers like Kylian Mbappe or Ryan Kent are able to turn back and forth on the spot in the box, before a defender backs off and they slot the ball into the corner. It's a manipulation that should have been patched, and needs to be avoided in next year's title.
If such a drastic change is made to defending, it needs to be matched in some way on the offensive end.
That just about rounds off our list of the 6 big changes we want to see in FIFA 21! What did we miss? Tweet us @UltimateTeamUK to let us know your thoughts.