FOOTBALL MANAGER 2020 has some big football boots to fill. Like an academy prospect who is dubbed as the long-term successor to a club’s legendary player, this year’s entry has the difficult task of following on from Football Manager 2019. The most in-depth game in the soccer management sim series, FM 19, is a tough act to follow and there have been murmurs that FM 20 is nothing more than glorified DLC because of a perceived lack of innovation. Football Manager 2020 is quite similar to its predecessors, but is full of small and large changes that help strengthen the overall management experience.
Football Manager 2020 Review | Create the future
Football Manager 2020 is all about evolution rather than revolution. It lacks the radical overhaul that FM 19 introduced, but offers new features that give long-term save players more bang for their buck. Club Vision and the Development Center are the two major additions and, having spent time testing them out, it’s hard to imagine them not featuring prominently in future entries.
The Development Center is now your go-to section for anything youth team related. All of the usual information about their form, training progress, and everything in-between is still here, but what sets FM 20 apart is the added depth that the Development Center provides.
Your youth coaches now inform you of which starlets are ready for first-team football — as part of your setup or a loan move to a lower league side — as well as those that need extra attention to fulfill their vast potential. You can check on the progress of your loaned out stars via a subsection in this hub to see who is performing well and who needs to be recalled if their temporary spell away isn’t doing them any good.
You’ll also be notified earlier about next year’s youth intake too. Instead of waiting until they’re walking through the door to run the rule over them, you’ll be given basic information about them three months earlier to gauge their talent and plan for their arrival. The whole section is simple but effective and streamlines your club’s youth setup so you can better judge every area of your players’ development. And given all the menus in the game, more streamlining is always good.
Club Vision, meanwhile, is the all-encompassing plan for your side. Upon arriving at a new club, the board will outline what it expects you to achieve over the next five years. You can negotiate a vision that’s consistent with your preferred playstyle and expectations, but your new bosses might not take kindly to you straying from the club’s identity. Managers are judged on their results and competition performances but if you don’t sign young players for the first-team or play the attractive soccer that the board expects you to, a sacking could come sooner than you think. They are solid additions that add an increased pressure on you to perform, giving the game some more tension.
Players who jump from save to save won’t see the benefit of Club Vision or the Development Center. Both are centered around long-term playthroughs so, if short-term saves are for you, neither will enthrall you. However, the various other tweaks and improvements beneath FM 20‘s surface may be more exciting.
Football Manager 2020 Review | Improving immersion
The Football Manager franchise is all about immersion. It wants to give you the most realistic feeling of what it’s like to be a soccer boss and, with its multitude of improvements, FM 20 realizes this more than previous games. You might have to dig into areas of the game off the beaten path to find them. But if you put in the hard yards, you’ll be surprised at how these subtle differences make for a better all-round experience.
The training section has some of these improvements. Most managers leave this up to their coaching staff but if you’re one of those who want to control every element of your side, you’ll see tweaks that help you better manage your squad. Hovering over an area on a player’s individual training tab will show you what attributes will be improved by focusing on that skill. Want to improve a player aerially? You’ll boost their heading and bravery now rather than just the former. It’s little bits of information like this that enable you to see just exactly where your stars will improve and smooths out the rougher edges of the experience.
The match engine has seen plenty of changes too. Goalkeeping animations are more lifelike, raking cross-field passes occur more often, and players even dwell on the ball more and make mistakes if a pass, cross, or shot isn’t on its target. It isn’t groundbreaking in comparison to FIFA but, again, it makes your experience more realistic than before.
Contract negotiations also take on a new face. You have to tell new signings, or your own players, how much game time they’ll get in the immediate and long-term future. Break that promise and they’ll lose trust in you. Equally, agents now have a patience level. If you cause them to run out of patience because of your contract wrangling, they’ll walk away from the deal. All of these make FM 20 more immersive and force you to strategically think about how to approach each situation.
Football Manager 2020 isn’t radically different from FM 19. If you were hoping for a huge overhaul from last year, you’ll be disappointed. Equally, if you get bored of a save after two or three seasons and start a new one, the benefits of these new features will be lost on you. FM 20 is more than just a DLC pack for FM 19, though. It’s more immersive, experimental, and enjoyable thanks to its suite of big and small changes. Sure, there are areas that Sports Interactive needs to improve upon. Those will come with time and future updates. But as it is, Football Manager 2020 is a solid entry in the series. It isn’t visionary, but its fresh approach and tweaks are enough to make it worth your time.
GameRevolution reviewed Football Manager 2020 on PC with a copy provided by the publisher.