FIFA 20 Volta Interview -- Producers Discuss Gameplay Improvements and Fun New Mode

DualShockers recently talked to FIFA 20's Volta Producer Jefferey Antwi and Gameplay Producer Shaun Pejic about this year's interesting changes.

By Tomas Franzese

August 8, 2019

Outside of some sweeping additions to FIFA’s Ultimate Team mode, the biggest thing that the developers of the FIFA series are adding this year is called “Volta.” This mode, which contains a suite of things to do like a story mode, Volta Tour, and a simple Kick-Off option, evokes streetball and will hopefully entice players who have been calling for the return of the FIFA Street series. As usual, FIFA 20 also features a sweet of smaller improvements to make the game more authentic to the actual sport.

Recently, I tried out FIFA 20, including Volta, early at an EA Redwood Shores event. During the several hours I enjoyed Volta, I was also able to talk with Volta producer Jefferey Antwi, as well as gameplay producer Shaun Pejic about how EA determines what they need to improve on every year, and learned more about what Volta will ultimately have to offer.

Tomas Franzese: Why did EA decide to bring a streetball mode back in FIFA 20?

Jeffery Antwi: We’ve been thinking about small-sided football as an experience for quite a long time, and it has been one of the most requested features from the community. Obviously, listening to community feedback and it being something we’re excited about being able to do is bring Volta, as a small-sided experience, back to FIFA for the first time in the way that we are doing it. It’s not FIFA Street, really it’s more than that. It’s built on, for the first time, the FIFA gameplay engine, and so being able to deliver that experience in an authentic, creative, fun, and really culturally-relevant way is really exciting for us.

TF: To ensure that cultural relevance, did the developers visit those cities, explore, and see what the streetball communities were like there?

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JA: Yeah. Even one step further than that, we were able to go to places like Amsterdam, for example, and street football players. We spoke to a guy named Ed van Gils who’s considered the godfather of street football, at least for that location. He gave us a lot of information and a lot of insight into what small-sided streetball is all about. So having that information, we were able to design and develop a mode that we think is going to be exciting and relevant for everyone.

TF: Why did you guys want to make sure that Volta had complete gameplay parity with the base game? 

JA: What’s important to note is that the foundation is a FIFA engine, but we’ve built on top of it in such a way where we’ve been able to add flair and creativity that you would expect from a small side street experience. In that respect, it’s quite different because you’re able to do things like flick it up and use the wall as your teammate. I showed you that one video where you go on all fours and hit it in with your head. There’s lots of things and details that you can only experience in Volta and don’t necessarily translate [to the regular game].

At the same time, it only strengthens the foundations because now we are having to look at different problems and are solving different problems that also translate to the stadium side. For example, the one-on-one experience and how that works out: Shaun talked about strafe dribbling and what they did there. Well, that’s also in Volta, being able to face up one-on-one and being able to beat your opponent. It’s a really nice addition in that sense. Having that foundation allows us to do both.

TF: How will Volta’s story mode stand out from other EA Sports narrative experiences like FIFA‘s The Journey or Madden‘s Longshot?

JA: We’re going to have more details later, but what I can say is that The Journey was always meant to be a trilogy, so we crafted a set of characters and we took you through his experience. The main difference here is that you’re creating your character. It’s your character traversing the world of small-sided football, of street football, so that’s one of the key differences.

TF: Is EA hoping that an esports community as large as the one around the base game forms around Volta? 

JA: I can’t necessarily speak to all of the feature set because more will be coming later, but we do have our PvP experience which is similar to seasons. That’s essentially where you are playing through league matches where you have several divisions and you are able to promote your team, or maybe you’re facing relegation. So obviously, we want to make sure that we offer something for everyone and we want to be able to grow the experience going forward.

TF: Will players be able to bring characters created for Volta to any other modes in the game?

JA: I can’t speak to the details specifically, but we will be diving more into Volta and then we will be able to speak to some of that stuff.

TF: With next-gen console approaching, are you taking any steps to future-proof gameplay or design elements so that transition is smooth, because sometimes with the jump to new consoles things can get shaky?

JA: For next-gen consoles, we can’t say what may or may not be coming, but certainly we want to make sure that we are always striving to to develop [gameplay] to a level that is authentic and under the umbrella of football intelligence, which is a big thing for us this year.

TF: What we’re some of the biggest community-requested elements you wanted to put in FIFA this year?

Shaun Pejic: Of the main things, AI defending was one of them, so that’s why the new AI behaviors are slowing down the game and making the game more manual. With the composed finishing as well, part of the feedback was that the finishing felt a little inconsistent in FIFA 19. Easier context. The composed finishing and the AI targets are the main two things we tried to fix.

TF: Outside of community feedback, how does the FIFA development team decide which elements to focus and improve upon year after year? 

SP: The community feedback is one part of it, and the other is the vision that we had as a production group of what we wanted to do for FIFA 20. We sat down and watched real football on one TV versus FIFA on the other, and we called out a couple of things. In 1v1 situations, strafe dribble versus defending, we wanted to create more head-to-head battles in that aspect of the game.

TF: Are there any other aspects of Volta or FIFA 20‘s gameplay that you would like DualShockers‘ audience to know about?

SP: We haven’t talked about set pieces; that is a cool new feature we are adding in gameplay. There’s even more depth and control for the user to add the curve that they want.

JA: Volta World is the PvE experience where the world is populated by user-generated content, user-generated avatars and squads. When we spoke to Ed van Gils in Amsterdam, he really impressed on us the idea of making sure you build the right squad to compete in the small-sided street football scene. How you composite your squad is a big part of Volta World, because after games you are recruiting players based on their attributes, how they look, or whatever. That squad is then being pulled down from the server and you are competing against your friend’s squads or squads in the wild. That’s really exciting.

FIFA 20 releases for PC, PS4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch on September 27, 2019.

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Tomas Franzese

Tomas Franzese is a News Editor at DualShockers, writing a variety of reviews and shedding light on upcoming games for both PC and consoles. While he has been a gamer most of his life, he began writing for DualShockers in 2016 and has almost never put his computer or a controller down since.

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