The new FIFA 14 demo was released this Tuesday and might have taken a few veteran players by surprise by certain gameplay tweaks. EA might say this every year, but this really is a new game of football and charging in with your tried and tested FIFA 13 tactics can see you on the bad side of a 3-0 defeat.
Luckily, we’ve been fortunate enough to get a considered hands-on with a 95% complete build (missing deadline day transfers and a few kits) of FIFA 14; so here’s our guide to mastering what looks sure to be the best football sim around.
Pass, Pass, Pass
EA have taken on fan complaints that previous iterations of the game moved too quickly in midfield and given FIFA 14 a slower, more methodical tempo that rewards the patient midfield general. Passes aren’t as magnetic in the middle of the park and the pitch feels bigger as a result of passes bobbling about the place and going astray. Rely heavily on the tried and trusted method of the lofted through ball and you might find yourself on the back of a well-placed counter attack. It can be frustrating at first but take your time with your passes and think “would you really be able to get a 20 yard cutter across with that body angle?”
Try and get your crosses in and keep an eye out for your strikers bombing forward before threading the killer pass – improved computer AI means an attacker such as Cristiano Ronaldo is always roaming up and down the pitch to find the best opportunity to strike.
Look Out For Players Body Position
“Don’t lean back when you shoot” is one of the most basic football coaching adages and it’s a good rule to keep in mind thanks to FIFA 14's reworked ball physics. Canned passing and shooting player animations are now replaced by a more fluid system where players kick and receive the ball in a system with greater basis on where there are on the pitch, to what foot they are using and under what pressure they are under. Headers can curve, passes can get played off the outside of the foot and player stats such as weak shot and balance hold greater prominence in open play now. Rather than risk losing possession with a awkward shot try using the new protect ball feature by holding left trigger and left stick to worm a little more room for yourself to get the ball away, especially when you want to get a cross in.
First Touch Is Key, Dribble Sensibly
As Dennis Bergkamp’s goal against Newcastle is testament to, the difference between a great player and a world class player is first touch. Using the revised knock on first touch feature (RT/R2 + right stick) I was able to take out my opposing man with my very first touch using Gareth Bale in the North London Derby (with the build I played on not being the finished article). There’s now slightly context sensitive sprint to jog feature involved in FIFA 14 as well, holding sprint in open areas will make the player more likely to take larger touches into space if the quick counter attack is on.
If You Do Lose The Ball, Don’t Panic
In previous FIFA articles I noted that the tactical defending system introduced back in FIFA 12 left you frustratingly one missed tackle away from conceding. Now, the sharper eyed FIFA player can recover from a error if noticed quickly enough. Balls bobble, the available angles you can make a tackle from are greater and nicking the ball off someone’s toe before they build up momentum are all new possibilities in FIFA 14. Bombing down the left flank with Nacer Chadli in the North London Derby, I thought I had rounded Gibbs only for him to stick his leg out and the ball to bounce off his shin has he began a counter attack. Don’t be afraid to make a last ditch tackle in FIFA 14, you may just end up getting the ball back.
Trust Your Goalkeeper
Opposition shoots at your goal at a tight angle, your keeper parries it towards the middle of the penalty area, fox in the box gets a easy tap in. It was one of the more infuriating goals to concede in FIFA, and it might finally be on its way out thanks to new goalie animations. In a Fulham vs. Swansea game I (admittedly) tried this technique on my opponent only to watch Stekelenburg leap out with both hands in a dive to collect his spillage. You can now breathe just a little bit easier in one on ones in FIFA 14.
There’s not long left until FIFA 14 is finally released. Stick to our five tips above, practice some knuckle shot free-kicks in the arena and you’ll be good to go when the full game is released on PC, PS3 & Xbox 360 on September 27th.
And there you have it folks, enjoy, share, comment and criticise. And if you want to be meaner than the comments below will allow, here’s my Twitter….