FIFA 14 sets itself for some amazing shots at goal

FIFA 14 sets itself for some amazing shots at goal
Messi's footwork in lining up his shot will be featuring in FIFA 14

For those of us that leapt off of our sofa, fists pumping after hammering home a crucial last minute winner against a friend in previous versions, it's a little odd to hear EA Sports' Nick Channon suggesting that FIFA 14 will be bringing the pleasure back to scoring.

Of course, when explained in the course of TechRadar's very much hands-off sneak peek at the early work on FIFA 14, it makes perfect sense.

Channon - a producer on the FIFA series - believes that those cheap goals need to be cut out, and replaced by the pleasure that comes from crafting an opportunity and slotting it home, or even just the frantic goal-mouth melee that forces the ball millimetres into Hawk-eye adjudication territory.

"We're creating this incredibly rewarding finish," explains Channon. "It's not just about the final shot; it's about how you got there: building through midfield, perhaps, and the exhilaration of scoring great goals. At times in the past there was some cheap goals."

Setting some lofty goals

FIFA 14 - setting some lofty goals

It's sounds a simple enough, ahem, goal - but with the balance needed, and the desire to make enough changes to significantly upgrade gameplay, a lot of work and tinkering is required to get it right.

Prominent among the list of changes is a significant change to ball physics, major shifts in shooting and, shock horror, the addition of a far more obvious shield-the-ball mechanic that takes skill-moves completely to the right stick and turns the left trigger over to protecting possession and jostling for position.

The FIFA series has been criticised in the past for not making sea changes between its annual updates - but following major (and still hotly debated) changes to defending last season, the cosmetically slight alterations to gameplay for FIFA 14 may well still be some of the most significant yet.

Let's run through the changes more systematically - starting with the ability to turn in any direction at any time - even when sprinting.

"We're reworking the way dribble turns work," says Channon. "In all football games when you have been turning at speed you are limited to turns of 22.5 degrees.

"Now going to give you ability to turn at any time but, so it doesn't become overpowering we're bringing in gives a feeling of the transfer of weight which is both natural looking and feeling."

New features need to be balanced

FIFA 14 - new features need to be balanced

The video we're shown to illustrate this highlights this well - and the more agile and skilful players may well get a distinct advantage as the game, we hope, makes speed a little less vital to gameplay.

Also on offer are variable touches when sprinting - when you are legging it up the pitch at full pace the ball doesn't roll the same amount every touch, but instead will occasionally go further or stick to your feet.

It's akin to the variable first touches brought in for FIFA 13 in that is allows for greater personalisation and, if you are the kind of player that strides out with a lumbering centre back, makes defenders a little less battleship-like going forward. One bad running touch of course makes for opportunities to steal the ball back.

Also on offer is greater team-mate intelligence; defenders will track back rather than abandon, closing down full-backs will prompt team-mates to pile pressure on his out balls and, brilliantly, attacking moves will bring checked runs, runs along the back line and even backing in.

Bringing photorealistic players

FIFA 14 - bringing photorealistic players

Suddenly those big strong strikers may have a bit more use, holding up play and backing into weedy defenders; aping the likes of Alan Shearer and, latterly, Dider Drogba.

"The game is not getting harder," insists Channon as he shows off these changes. "It's just getting more fun - it's taking away the cheapness because doing same things every time is not fun.

Patrick Goss

Patrick Goss is the ex-Editor in Chief of TechRadar. Patrick was a passionate and experienced journalist, and he has been lucky enough to work on some of the finest online properties on the planet, building audiences everywhere and establishing himself at the forefront of digital content.  After a long stint as the boss at TechRadar, Patrick has now moved on to a role with Apple, where he is the Managing Editor for the App Store in the UK.