FIFA 20 comes to Nintendo Switch but is it a title-winning game or a relegation candidate?
EA’s first two FIFA games for the Nintendo Switch are typically defined by what they don’t include and what they are not.
They are not developed in the troublesome Frostbite engine. They don’t include The Journey story mode. FIFA Ultimate Team is missing a multitude of features. And the on-pitch experience is distinctly last-generation.
This year’s edition is no different. The much-hyped Volta street-football mode is absent and the new career mode tweaks are nowhere to be seen. More than that, the Switch edition of FIFA 20 comes with the unwelcome moniker of Legacy Edition. It essentially means that this year’s game features little more than updated teams, squads, and kits, plus some new menu music and colour schemes.
Basically, it’s FIFA 19 with a paint job. So what are we left with?
What we do have is a decent football game that ticks some of the right boxes, assuming you’re a football fan with a specific set of requirements.
Let’s start with the indisputable fact that EA’s FIFA titles for the Nintendo Switch are by some distance the best handheld football video games ever made. If you predominately play on portable systems and want the chance to take your favourite team to the Premier League title, this is the game for you. If you also own an Xbox One or PlayStation 4, it’s much harder to recommend.
That’s not to say the game doesn’t look great on the big screen. It runs at 1080p with nary a hiccup or pause. The game might not be built on Frostbite but the tweaked Ignite engine performs capably and the glassy-eyed replicas of the players are mostly impressive, even if the animations are stiffer than we’d like.
On the field, we have an updated version of the game that is closer to EA’s efforts in 2013 and 2014 than the other versions of FIFA 20, which is not always a bad thing. It’s certainly a creditable take on the beautiful game, albeit one that is more arcade-like than its PlayStation 4 and Xbox One cousins. Matches feel balanced and there’s a refreshing lack of emphasis put on some of the sport’s more notorious flair players. The fluidity of player movement and occasional pinball-like exploits of the ball do betray the age of the source gameplay, however.
From a game mode perspective, everything is here that you’d expect, including player and manager career modes, custom tournaments, and a variety of licensed leagues and cups from around the world. Women’s football is represented by the Women’s International Cup and the Champions League also returns. It’s worth noting that Juventus are absent from this year’s game, having been lured to PES 2020 by Konami’s newly found chequebook.
FIFA Ultimate Team also returns, complete with manager tasks, off and online seasons, and Team of the Week and squad challenges. As before, some FUT features found in the other versions of FIFA 20 are missing, but EA has promised support for special player items throughout the season. We’ll see how that pans out. Nonetheless, if you you want to throw your money away, FUT is happy to take it.
The only noticeable improvement over last year’s game can be found in the English-language commentary. Martin Tyler and Alan Smith appear to be more specific with player names and less prone to repeating the same phrases. It’s a small but welcome change.
Should you get FIFA 20 on Nintendo Switch?
If you have only just picked up a Switch, or perhaps own the new, handheld-only Nintendo Switch Lite, FIFA 20: Legacy Edition is recommended. It’s a solid game with enough variety, modes and content to last a full domestic season. In fact, due to the likelihood that FIFA 21 will be exactly the same, it should end up lasting quite a few.
If you already own FIFA 19 – or, to a lesser extent, FIFA 18 – on the Switch, this year’s edition is harder to endorse. Taken for what it is, this is a good game, but unless you can’t bear to play without the latest kits and player signings it can be skipped. And if you want to play on the big screen, the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, or PC versions are the only route to take.
Electronic Arts has blamed its meagre level of support for the Nintendo Switch on the commercial performance of the few games it has on the system. With this level of effort, it’s no surprise. Although FIFA 20: Legacy Edition is solid, it could obviously be much better. On other platforms, the franchise incrementally improves year-on-year, and it’s a shame that EA is now content to let the Switch version stagnate.
Game: FIFA 20
Platform: Nintendo Switch (reviewed), PC, Xbox One, PlayStation 4
Developer: EA Romania
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Release Date: 27 September, 2019