It’s been six weeks since EA Sports FC launched globally, marking the end of an era as the game franchise moved away from its FIFA title.
While the game may have a new name, the release has followed similar patterns. Now the honeymoon “hype” period is over, there are glaring issues with the gameplay, especially in the highly-competitive sphere of Ultimate Team online.
Here are a few recommendations to best exploit the game in its current guise. If you’re a football purist, now may be the time to look away:
The most glaring area in which this year’s gameplay is proving frustrating is defensive tactics. As you progress to the higher divisions and enter the Weekend League, you’ll be greeted with the horror of multiple defenders pressing you at a time. Constantly. For all 90 minutes. With no stamina loss.
It’s maddening, but if you’re looking to step your game up, employing these tactics is very straightforward:
Press After Possession Loss – in EA’s own words, this triggers your players to press the ball for seven seconds after you concede possession. This highly aggressive tactic carries with it some risk of being caught on the counter if your opponent plays through you, but in its current unbalanced state, it’ll help you more than it hinders you.
Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp once said “no playmaker in the world can be as good as a good counter-pressing situation” and that rings especially true in FC 24.
71 depth – This is the key. Selecting 71 defensive depth puts your team’s defensive line on halfway and gets your team into a compact state that’s incredibly hard to play through. In most situations, you’ll keep your opponent smothered in their own half with limited options on the ball.
You’ll be vulnerable in behind, but if you pair this tactic with some of the most effective defenders in the game (Virgil van Dijk, Kyle Walker, Ferland Mendy etc) then you’ll likely be able to get out of jail.
If you were to ask most avid Ultimate players where they’re conceding the most goals from, the answer you’ll probably get is cutbacks from the byline. As ever, it’s something that EA seem unable to balance properly.
But as with the defensive tactics, it offers an opportunity for some easy goals, which can prove pivotal in those tight games. Exploiting them in attacking scenarios, and shutting them out in defensive ones could be decisive in many games for you, so here’s how best to do that:
R1/RB dribble – new to the game this year, the R1 dribble is incredibly overpowered and needs to be added to your game if it’s not already in there. Using this mechanic allows the player in possession to keep very close control of the ball while still moving at considerable speed, making it a nightmare to defend against.
When you find yourself up against an opponent whose got a good amount of defenders back, get the ball wide and try and enter the box while using this mechanic. If you can, get as close to the byline as possible and head for goal, as the opposition’s defenders likely won’t be marking your other attackers properly, leaving you with the simple task of squaring the ball to them for a tap-in.
✅Controlled Sprint is a new feature that allows you to dribble faster than normal while still keeping good control over the ball by holding down R1/RB.
With this single button any quick and agile player turns into prime Messi and you can leave defenders in the dust easily. pic.twitter.com/llLz23SHfn
— THE GUIDE (@TheGuide_bPG) September 22, 2023
Using R1 to defend the R1 dribble – how fitting that the best way to protect yourself from this mode of attack is with the same button. Ultimate Team is awash with players that seem to only have one method of attack, and the R1 dribble down the byline is usually that method.
If you find yourself facing one of these scenarios, double tapping R1 and holding it down afterwards seems to awaken your defenders, and moves them into smarter positions to intercept cutbacks into the danger area.
Also added to this year’s game, PlayStyles have replaced traits and making sure you’ve got players with the right ones in key areas could transform your fortunes. Let’s run through a few here:
Deadball+ – players with this PlayStyle+ specialise in set-piece situations, delivering them with “exceptional speed, curve and accuracy”. This makes it far easier to stick your free-kicks in the top corner, and put corners on your attackers’ heads and turn mundane situations into goals.
David Beckham and Andrea Pirlo, both available as Icon SBCs, as well as someone previously available like Player of the Month James Maddison, possess this PlayStyle+ and are priceless in your team as a result.
Anticipate+ – only a select number of defenders have this PlayStyle+, but the difference between those who have it and those who don’t is night and day.
Laurent Blanc and Thiago Silva, both currently available, have this and sit on a different pedestal as a result, with their defensive positioning and success in the tackle marking them out as two of the best in the game, along with the likes of Raphael Varane, who also has Anticipate+.
Finesse+ – perhaps nothing is as overpowered in FC 24 as finesse+. Not only does this transform a player’s effectiveness when firing finesse shots from inside the area, they also have a ludicrous success rate from long-range, making them an incredible weapon against opponents who are tough to break down.
Antoine Griezmann and Heung-min Son are two of the most popular players with this PlayStyle+, but also look out for Spanish duo Fernando Torres and SBC Iago Aspas, with the latter a better but equally effective budget option.
In summary, despite some gameplay issues, EA Sports FC offers players ways to gain an edge, especially in Ultimate Team. Mastering new tactics, such as the R1/RB dribble and defensive strategies, along with choosing players with beneficial PlayStyles, can significantly improve performance.
While balance concerns persist, they also present opportunities for players to adapt and excel. In this dynamic virtual football environment, strategic thinking and adaptability are key to success.