Update: After even more time with FIFA 18 (and a solid first season with Accrington Stanley) we have a few more tips for you, as well as our definitive opinion on the game in our FIFA 18 review. We've added in one of our most important tips - running at defenders, and we've talked you through the best way to get a player grown by 10 points and how to breeze through goalkeeper training sessions.
Original article continues below...
FIFA 18 is here, dragging us away from our Call of Dutys and Destinys and back to a world where the shooting is slightly less lethal and quite possibly slightly more accurate.
You know the drill by now – every year EA Sports will tinker with the gameplay but try to avoid any fundamental changes, which means that if you’re a legendary talent you probably won’t need to relearn everything for the new season. But you might well need to work out what changes might give you a bit of an advantage across FUT and good old online head-to-head matches.
For those of us that aren’t rolling up to world championships, working out how you can move up the skill levels is probably the priority - with the game improving exponentially when you climb into the heady heights of World Class.
One thing’s for certain; you can never have too much good advice. So TechRadar is here to give you our take on how you become a bit less Ali Dia (look him up kids) and a bit more Delli Ali.
Patience is (still) key
In fairness, anyone that’s played FIFA on the more difficult levels over the past few years knows the importance of patience, but FIFA 18 is doing its utmost to prove that pace isn’t the only attribute that matters, and that means that constant sprinting - as tempting as it is to keep that trigger button pressed - is not a very good plan.
By shifting the ball around in the midfield you pull the opposition around and create the spaces that the even-more powerful playmakers can exploit with through balls.
We'll also be talking about defence, where if you are too eager to dive in or even just try to knick the ball you may well end up on the wrong end of a spanking.
Don't slide in
Defending in FIFA has been much harsher on slide challenges in recent years and FIFA 18 is no exception.
As satisfying as that crunching last ditch slide feels, the truth is that leaving a player on the floor (out of action and position) creates a gap for the opposition to exploit.
Slide challenges still have a place, and a well-timed lunge once in a while can create the counter-punch needed for attacks that reap immediate benefits. But this should be the exception and not the rule.
Unless, of course, you’re furious about that red card / injury / the weather and just want to wreak havoc. Then it's fun.
Worth noting as well that the slide challenge seems even less powerful in 18 than it did in its predecessor, although at this stage that may be down to our Luton Town defence.
Pass and move, pass and move
Everyone who’s ever played football knows the need to play the ball and then move into space, and from our time on FIFA 18 quick passing is the key.
Obviously keeping an eye for runs forward is important to breaking the opposition lines, but lingering on the ball is a real no-no and you should always be thinking one pass ahead - even if that means going backwards or sideways.
Using the right bumper for one-twos is really handy for this, triggering a run and making those overlaps all the easier to create.
Set up quick subs
One of the new features on FIFA 18 is a ‘quick substitute’ system that allows you to make a planned change without the rigmarole of going through the menu system.
That means that should you know your brilliant 18-year-old superstar has all the stamina of a kindergarten kid then you can make sure you can quickly swap him out for your grizzled old veteran who’ll see out the game. It’s easy to set up the substitution before the match and then just a hold of the right trigger during breaks in play to make the change.
If you haven’t set up any subs then the game will try to guess the likely change by offering up the most tired or injured player and the likely replacement from your subs bench.
Don't start The Journey too soon
If, like Dido, you want to be a Hunter again, well, you can - it’s your game you can do whatever you want. But our advice would be to have a proper go at the game in other modes before beginning The Journey part 2 aka Alex Hunter’s next career stage.
Ultimately, if you’re playing at the level most appropriate to your skill you’re going to run into some tricky tasks in The Journey so it’s nice to be up to speed on all the new tweaks in gameplay.
Try out trainer mode as you get up to speed
Look - you’ll almost certainly be turning it off at some point, but the trainer mode, particularly the ‘movement and mechanics’ setting, is not a bad thing to utilise when you are getting yourself back up to speed or just shaking off a bit of FIFA rust.
This mode will show you shot elevation and a pass receive indicator. If you’re even newer to the game you can set the ‘movement & buttons’ to be reminded of what you’re supposed to be pressing when you want to pass and shoot.
Anticipation is the key to defence
Keeping your eye on the ball just doesn’t cut it when you’re defending on FIFA 18. Nope - you’ve got to be ready to spot every run and potential pass and marshall your players to cut out the obvious routes and close things down.
Again, when a winger escapes your full backs you need to be more aware of the channels and the center forwards than chasing them down. Then when you get turned over in midfield, you simply have to spot the quick or lofted through balls or you will be punished.
Train up your players
For anyone looking to improve their players in career mode, or even just pick up a few points, the training sessions are definitely a great way to do this.
Though it may be tempting just to set up a training session and not do them yourself, actually spending a bit of time working out what’s needed has the potential to yield better results. By actively playing training sessions you could add finishing skill to that pacey youngster who is more adept at finding the corner flag than the top corner or forge a young goalkeeper that could quickly become one of the best in the business.
And when you start looking you’ll soon see….
Take advantage of the easy training sessions
Some of the training sessions are pretty tricky and, let’s be completely frank, a bit arbitrary – you can fail some just because the AI is being odd. However, you’ll soon work out that in some of the training sessions it's harder to fail than succeed.
We’ve settled on a few where this is the case: any of the silver level shooting sessions are simple and the basic goalkeeping is so laughably easy we’re convinced that the only people who would fail are using a controller for the first time.
But some of the Gold levels seem a lot more straightforward as well. Want to up your vision? Lofted through ball is much easier than it was in FIFA 17 and you’ll soon be converting that sturdy midfielder into a maestro. And if you want to improve finishing, the gold volley shooting is a cinch.
Invest in the youth
Some people think that using the youth system is cheating because it’s so ridiculously simple to produce superstars. Yes. Yes it is. And that has not changed between 17 and 18.
Invest money in three youth scouts early on, reject anyone that drops below a 72-94 potential and you’ll soon find yourself promoting 60+ or even 70+ teens into your squad that have that magical ‘Potential to be Special’ tag that marks out the very greatest talents.
On our Accrington Stanley career, for example, we've managed to get the majority of our first team from our youth squad only halfway through season one by promoting anyone with a 90+ potential who is over 16.
You can quickly overtrain your career goalkeeper
In the previous incarnation you could pluck a goalkeeper from your Youth Academy and have them up to world class in no time at all and the good (or bad depending on your nature) news is that this is entirely possible again.
With goalkeeping basics the easiest training session in the entire game (seriously it's harder to fail than succeed) you can push up your keeper skills with no effort whatsoever.
The dealing with crosses training isn't much more difficult - just run out ahead of the player and you'll be romping to a top mark.
The most difficult training is significantly harder - with you having to rush out to close down a striker (or two later on in the session). A massive tip here is to not keep rushing for too long. Sprint to a decent place then take your finger off the button and deal with the shot. If you're still sprinting the chances are the ball will fly past you.
This is also good news for the 'grow a youth player 10 points' tasks set by your board.
Running with the ball is super powerful
Okay - we've played a *lot* of Fifa 18 career mode now and this is the most crucial tip. Running at defenders is the most significant change to gameplay we've found - especially against AI.
A fast agile forward can now breeze past players through the middle - especially when cutting in from the flanks - which creates some great shooting angles and, of course, those all important through ball opportunities that give you a much better chance of success.
The temptation to play an early pass is definitely something you will need to overcome at first, but when you realise that holding on to the ball pays such dividends it's totally worth it.