Football journalist and FIFA fan Darren Cross shares five gameplay tips for the FIFA 14 demo that could give you an advantage when you play the full game…
I always think it's a good thing when I play a new FIFA for the first time and the other team – controlled by the console – crushes me in the early games. When the opponent beats me by doing things I haven't seen before or scores great goals that I didn't think we're possible, it means there's loads of new stuff for me to learn and try out, which is great.
It was exactly like that the first time I played FIFA 14 a few months ago, and if you've tried the FIFA 14 demo for yourself this week then you may know what I’m talking about. In my first handful of games I gave the ball away a lot by trying things that would have worked in 13, mistimed tackles in much the same way as I do when I play football for real, dribbled straight into defenders and even ran the ball out of play with no-one around me.
I did see a lot of great goals and new celebrations, but none of them were mine.
After a few more games I stopped making the same mistakes and started understanding and using the new gameplay features in FIFA 14, like Protect The Ball, Precision Movement and – my favourite – Pure Shot. Now I’m the one taking the game to the opposition, scoring outside of the foot dippers and busting out new celebrations.
What exactly did I do differently? Five things in particular made the biggest difference initially, so it’s those that we’ll look at in this week’s Backpage. If you can master these while you’re playing the demo then you’ll start FIFA 14 with an early advantage, which will hopefully help you bag some big wins both online and off.
The effect of sprinting, with and without the ball, is much more obvious in FIFA 14. Get it right and you’ll move past a defender or catch an attacker that was about to get away, but get it wrong and you’ll either be momentarily out of the game as the defender, or needlessly giving the ball away as the attacker. It’s no longer effective to run around with the sprint button held down for the majority of the time; now you really have to think about where, when and how to use it.
As the defending team you can use sprint to quickly close the gap between you and the opposition player with the ball, but it’s vital that you slow down as you approach the player if he is facing you. In FIFA 13 you could sprint until you were right on the attacker then slow down and begin to contain, but if you rush in too quickly in FIFA 14 then your momentum will almost certainly cause you to overshoot your approach, taking you out of the game for a second or two. That’s more than enough time for the attacker to move forward and leave you lagging behind, especially if you’re still holding sprint while trying to turn in a 180, which will further slow your recovery.
So you can use sprint to cover some of the ground between you and the ball, but you must have slowed down enough to be able to react quickly to any changes in direction by the attacker, which means letting go of that button much sooner than you may have been used to in FIFA 13. It takes a couple of games to get the hang of it, but you’ll soon start to notice the difference and you’ll be much more effective in defence as a result.
When you’re attacking, sprinting is largely about bursts – short sprints to move away from a defender and into space. Holding sprint for too long can cause your player to overrun the ball – especially if his Dribbling ability isn’t great – often straight into a defender or even out of play. I did that so many times at first before realising what I should have been doing, which was making a bit of space with a movement then accelerating into it by briefly holding the sprint button. Again you’ll need a couple of games before this becomes natural, but once it is you’ll find it much easier to move away from opposition players and keep possession of the ball.
USING MOMENTUM AND DIRECTION
We’ve just looked at how your momentum as the defending player can momentarily take you out of the game if your timing isn’t quite right, so as the attacking player you can use that knowledge to your advantage when you have the ball.
Bodies behave and move much more realistically in FIFA 14, so a quick change of direction using the left stick can be enough to catch your marker with his body weight on the wrong foot or – better – lunging for a tackle, which should create enough space for you to get past him.
There are loads of different ways to change direction and buy space in FIFA 14. Using the left stick on its own to shift your movement one way then the other is a quick and effective technique that can tempt the defender in, but there are plenty of other options too. Using Protect The Ball – by holding LT or L2 as you turn – will put your body between the ball and the marker, which can again be enough to create the space you need if you timed it right, and I also like to use LB or L1 with the left stick while standing still. Just like in FIFA 13, holding this while moving the stick will make your player take lots of small touches on the ball to move it around his feet, which often proves too tempting for a defender who eventually commits to a tackle. All you have to do then is shift your direction slightly and you should find the defender’s momentum takes him past you, opening up space to dribble into. It seems to be even more effective in the new game.
The face-up dribble – holding both triggers or L2 and R2 with the ball at your feet – is another very effective way to quickly change your direction and use momentum to your advantage. I’m using that in FIFA 14 even more than I did in 13.
Finally with momentum and direction, be sure to use your dribblers for dribbling. I know that sounds obvious, but in FIFA 14 you really notice the difference between a good dribbler and a bad one. Players with high dribbling ability can change direction that bit quicker with the ball at their feet, making it easier to beat a defender with smart movement.
PLAYING THE RIGHT PASS
Although I’m usually a big fan of good build-up play to create chances, I was perhaps a bit too keen to score goals early on in FIFA 14 and so rushed many of my attacks. I played passes into players who were too close to opposition defenders, or tried forward passes when I should have kept possession by moving the ball to a player in space.
Defenders seemed to be in better positions and could apply pressure sooner than I expected, so more often than not I’d be tackled while my player was still trying to get the ball under control.
Once I stopped playing poor passes and started giving the ball to the closest player in space – even if that meant going straight back to the player who just passed the ball, or even back towards my own goal – things got better. A lot better.
Team-mates make much smarter off the ball runs in FIFA 14, so more opportunities tend to pop up following a good period of possession.
So as you play the demo concentrate on controlling possession by keeping your passing simple and playing the ball to team-mates in space, rather than going for riskier passes. Even something as simple as playing the way you’re facing can be really effective – I perhaps tried to do too much with the ball at first and kept on getting caught out as a result. Simple passing and varying the speed of the attack by using a combination of first-time passes, one-twos and even driven passes works really well, and you should find your team-mates taking up great positions as you move the ball around in your opponent’s half.
TAKING THE SHOT
The first time I spotted one of the new shot types in FIFA 14 it sort of happened by accident. My player was nudged slightly as I began to power up the shot, which sent him a little off balance and meant he had to adjust his stride to strike the ball cleanly. He really drove through it and the ball swerved left initially before spinning right and narrowly missing the top corner. It looked great.
Since then I’ve been having a pop at goal from all kinds of positions that I probably wouldn’t shoot from usually and I’ve scored lots of goals this way, so the tip here is to try shots from different positions when you’re playing the demo, rather than from the same areas all of the time.
It’s even more effective when you’re shooting with a player that has a good Long Shot rating, so make sure you check your line-up to see which of your players are capable of unleashing rocket shots from distance. I’ve scored a lot of great goals this way but, even if you don’t score, I’m confident you’ll at least want to watch the replay.
NEW MOVES AND CONTROLS
I used the right stick to direct the ball with my first touch a lot in FIFA 13, but in FIFA 14 the controls for that have changed slightly. Now you must hold sprint and nudge the right stick in the direction you want to go as you receive the ball. You’ll also need to hold sprint while pushing the right stick in a direction if you want to nudge the ball ahead of you while dribbling, which is something I use a lot. I like these control changes as they make me think more about how and when to use them, which makes it more rewarding when they work.
With the ball at your feet, if you move the right stick without holding LT or L2 then you’ll notice your player doing skill moves, which is another important change to be aware of. Skills are all done with the right stick alone now.
The new Protect The Ball feature is great, and especially useful when it looks like you’re running into trouble. Holding LT or L2 and moving the left stick in the direction you want to face acts almost like a brake, slowing you down and putting your body between the ball and the attacker. It’s something I’m starting to use a lot more now that I’m used to it, and when timed well and it can really help you retain possession.
Finally I’m also using the new Pull and Hold feature quite a lot. This is similar to the Push/Pull in that you can use it when you’re behind or to the side of a player to slow him down, but now when you hold the standing tackle button your player will grab the attacker for longer. In short bursts this can really help you take possession without making a standing or sliding tackle, but if you use it too often or hold the button for too long then the ref will rightly give a foul.
That’s it from me for this week.
Next time we’ll be looking at 40 young players that are all future stars in FIFA 14’s Career Mode, so make sure you don’t miss that.
Thanks for reading and I’ll see you back here in a week or so when we’ll be all about FIFA 14.