When EA released FIFA 18 on the Switch, it was missing a number of modes and features. Given that the game was being handled by another studio in Bucharest – and given that one of the game’s producers gave the (rather fishy) excuse that they didn’t want to overwhelm Switch players with every option at once – we gave it the benefit of the doubt. It was still a great game at its core, after all.
Then, when FIFA 19 followed a year later, progress had clearly been made: some elements from the Xbox One and PS4 version like the new shooting system, the Champions League licensing and the brilliant new friendly ‘house rules’ had made it to the Switch, too. That said, though, the Switch version was still miles behind the other systems when it came to full parity, with entire modes missing and the much-loved Ultimate Team still lacking a number of key features.
And so here we are now with FIFA 20. By this point we’d hoped for a ‘third time lucky’ scenario: after all, with the other systems’ Journey story mode ending in FIFA 19, and all-new modes announced for FIFA 20, we’d hoped that EA would have taken the initiative and built on the Switch’s ever-growing popularity by ensuring the Nintendo version of FIFA 20 offered similar to its Microsoft and Sony cousins. On the contrary: it’s done absolutely nothing.
Rather than put any effort in whatsoever to regain interest in the Switch version by trying to bring it in line with other systems, EA has simply slapped a ‘Legacy Edition’ sticker on the title, taken its ball and gone home. And with that, we’ve stopped kidding ourselves and started kicking ourselves instead: this was always going to happen, and we all should have seen it coming.
To clarify, Legacy Edition is the cursed subtitle EA’s been adding to ‘dead’ updates of its games ever since FIFA 14. It presumably came about as a response to the drama caused when it was revealed (by this very writer, actually) that FIFA 13 on the Wii was identical to FIFA 12 with only the kits and squad line-ups changed. There was mass uproar about the suggestion that EA was trying to trick dedicated players on ‘lesser’ consoles by chucking the exact same game out with updated transfers, and so from FIFA 14 onwards EA started adding the ‘Legacy Edition’ name to make it clear what you’re getting. Or, rather, what you’re not getting.
What does this mean if you buy FIFA 20 on the Switch? Well, simply put, it means you’ve just bought FIFA 19 again. As with other Legacy Editions, the summer’s transfers have been updated, this season’s new kits replace the old ones and the four new stadiums added to the other versions make it in here too, but that’s literally it. Actually, sorry, you get new menu music, too. Can’t believe we nearly forgot that.
“But hey there, Nintendo Life,” we hear you ask. “What about all this shiny new Volta street football mode EA’s been going on about ever since it announced FIFA 20? All the official trailers were full of Volta this, Volta that, it sounds like a pretty big deal.” Well, we hope the weather is good, because the only way you’ll be getting street football on the Switch is by taking it outside and playing in an alleyway. There is absolutely zero trace of Volta in the Switch version of FIFA, meaning Nintendo fans are completely left out of arguably the biggest addition to this year’s instalment. We long for the glory days when FIFA 97 on the SNES got the new indoor football mode just like its big brothers on PlayStation and Saturn.
“At least Ultimate Team is still in there. That’s the big one, isn’t it?” Well, yes, but it’s identical to the Ultimate Team mode we saw in FIFA 18 and 19 (and don’t forget the one in FIFA 18 was already missing features even back then). The new 'Seasons' service – where you get XP for playing games and clearing various challenges and earn fun new rewards for hitting certain levels, like retro 16-bit footballs and the like – is nowhere to be found here.
Add this to the fact that previous years’ Ultimate Team features are still missing – no Squad Battles, no FUT Champions, no Division Rivals – and it’s little wonder that at the time of writing there are just 15,402 players and items listed on the Switch Ultimate Team transfer market (compared to well over a million on the Xbox One version). When there are no extra modes to help you gain in-game coins and you’re dealing with a transfer market that’s around 70 times smaller than on other systems, it doesn’t matter if Ultimate Team is in there. It’s dead. It’s an empty gesture.
Even the modes that did make it across last year haven’t been updated this time. The brilliant House Rules made friendlies a great laugh in FIFA 19 and EA’s added some even better rule sets in FIFA 20, including a hilarious one called Mystery Ball where each time the ball goes out of play you get different power-ups like superhuman shooting, speed boosts and... sorry, we’re wasting your time here. It isn’t in the Switch version. Neither are any of the other new ones that Xbox One and PS4 owners are currently enjoying.
We could just about grudgingly buy the spin when EA claimed that its next-gen Frostbite engine was needed to handle the story mode, and that’s why the Switch versions of FIFA 18 and 19 didn’t have it (even though the NBA 2K games look similarly impressive and have managed to pull it off on the Switch, thanks very much). But not updating something like House Rules, which already saw a degree of effort when it was added last year, is pure disrespect for the Switch fanbase.
Imagine if EA had decided to say: “Look, this isn’t working for us on Switch. For those who bought FIFA 19, you can buy a £14.99 DLC that upgrades it to the FIFA 20 Legacy Edition and is essentially a data pack updating the squads and kits”. Many would be disappointed – angry, even, at EA’s decision to abandon the Switch while it’s still riding high – but we don’t doubt at least some of FIFA 19’s small but core Switch following would have bought it. To charge £44.99 for what’s essentially a squad update, however, is nothing short of disgusting.
And let’s not forget one very important thing: don’t be under the impression that EA is at least being honest by declaring this a Legacy Edition on the box. As we stated in our FIFA 18 review, we’ve been playing a Legacy Edition ever since the series came to Switch, because the game and all its modes – including Career, which has been unchanged for so long it’s practically buried under a thick layer of dust by now – are mainly based on the Xbox 360 and PS3 Legacy Editions. That makes FIFA 20 on Switch a Legacy Edition of a Legacy Edition, which says it all really.
When EA’s Patrick Söderlund stepped on-stage in Tokyo in early 2017 during Nintendo’s Switch reveal presentation, and declared that he was such a massive Nintendo fan that he and his wife gave their son the middle name Luigi, there was a real hope that the days of the feature-free FIFA 13 on Wii U and the weird cartoony slow-mo FIFA games on Wii were over, and that football-loving Nintendo gamers were finally going to be treated with the respect they deserved. Instead, Switch owners have been short-changed with every version of FIFA the system has received to date, and you can sure as hell bet that Luigi Söderlund is playing the PS4 version instead.
FIFA 20 on Switch is a completely pointless release that nobody should buy. More infuriatingly, it sets EA up for the inevitable decision to cancel the series on Switch altogether in the coming years, at which point it’ll blame poor sales on a lack of interest from the Nintendo fanbase: because it’s obviously our fault we weren’t grateful and gullible enough to buy its quarter-hearted effort without having the common sense to notice we were paying nearly the same amount of money as the fully-featured Xbox One and PS4 versions.
FIFA 20 is a cynical attempt from a publisher to completely cease support for the Switch while still having the gall to suggest it deserves to be rewarded with a near-premium fee for its lack of effort. If you want to pay good money to get insulted, go heckle a big-name comedian instead: at least you'll get a smile out of it. If you don't already own a FIFA game on Switch and aren't bothered about having the latest kits and team rosters, just get last year's version on the cheap.