For many, EA’s massive FIFA series is the game that spends the most time in the disc drive each year. With the move to Frostbite, it’s never looked better, and will keep us entertained and busy through the winter months, right up until details of the inevitable FIFA 18 start to trickle through.

But there’s a plethora of options available, and lots of nuance to this year’s game, so we’ve delved deep into all of the modes to bring you our hot tips on how to get the most out of the game.

fifa-17-tips

Don’t be afraid to let the AI defend
As always, there’s a massive bedding-in period for a new FIFA game. You go from loving it, to hating it, back to loving it, but not until you truly understand it. This year, the defensive AI is terrific, so much so that until you master it, it can sometimes be better to switch to a defender and hold the line while the AI controlled defender makes the tackle. The AI won’t let you down, and is almost certainly better than you at defending.

Be patient in your own half
Don’t be too hasty to slide in, or stick a foot in when defending, and play a patient method of football, holding the opposition at bay and ensuring they can’t advance or put a cross in. We’re not suggesting you let your opponent play in your half, just that patience is a virtue. While there’s plenty of scope for quick-break attacking play, a slow build up that sees you passing the ball around in your own half, spotting space and opportunities will be rewarded with time and space.

Relax with the sprint button
A common mistake among FIFA players is that you are always holding the sprint button down. For starters, this will fatigue your players quickly, which offers your online opponent a chance to outpace you all over the pitch in the later stages of a game, leaving you clinging for dear life as you just can’t keep up. Use sprint to outpace your opponent when needed, but not as a get out clause for bad positional player. Real-world footballers shouldn’t be chasing the ball all match, and nor should FIFA ones.

Offline, use the sliders
Not a lot of people bother to do this, but any negatives you find in the pace of the game, and generally with the difficulty you play on, can be tweaked for offline play. The gameplay sliders allow you to change the offline modes to really match your needs, and can go as far as speeding up the gameplay, or slowing it down. Don’t ignore these: get down and dirty with them and make FIFA 17 feel like your game.

Snipe FUT cards, if you can live with yourself
You know that guy who sits on an eBay auction, grabbing an item you want at the last second while you’re at work? Here’s a secret about him: while he’s deeply sad on the inside, he’s happy in the moment: he got the deal and you lost out. When it comes to FUT, you may not like it, but sitting there and watching a player as the seconds tick down can net you an absolute bargain. Watch those FUT auctions, snipe the players, then forgive yourself knowing that everyone else is doing it, too. It’s okay, honestly; you’re among friends here.

When playing online, watch your opponent
There’s something to be said for researching and studying your opponent, because focusing solely on what you’re doing is a surefire way to get roundly beaten in an online match. Does your opponent constantly play down the wings? Does your nemesis always play the ball short from the keeper? Watching for these traits as a match progresses means you can predict what they’re going to do. Sure, you can’t win them all, but don’t ignore what the person you are playing is doing, because they sure as hell are watching you!

Have a varied team, and backup on the bench
Look, we all want to have Ronaldo, Bale, and Messi in our team, because they’re the best in the world, but can they cut it on a wet and windy night in Stoke, England? Yes, probably, but just in case, why not have a different type of player on the bench for those matches where the skill players just aren’t cutting it. There’s no shame in bringing on the big man and throwing cross after cross into the box for a cheap 1-0 headed winner. You want to win, right? Sure, so have a varied team that contains lots of different player styles. If you’re playing FUT, make sure they all link up and have good chemistry. Spend time developing your squad and it will gift you with wins.

Protect the ball like it’s your child
If you’re finding it hard to win the ball back, and are finding it frustrating that you can’t work out why, there’s a high probability you’ve not realised you can shield the ball. The physical nature of FIFA 17 means that you will need to keep that ball away from danger, so holding the left trigger means you can shield it from your opponent, and also give you a bit more time to pick out that killer pass.

Practise the set pieces, penalties and skill moves
Love them or hate them: they’re not going away and the new set pieces (corners, free kicks, and penalties) will take some practice to stop you making a fool of yourself online. Hit up the practice arena, perhaps even have a runthrough of The Journey (which gets you to train a lot!) and get good at these new set pieces. Remember that a good set piece doesn’t always result in a goal, and sometimes putting in a corner that disrupts the defence can allow you to get a scruffy goal from some failed scrambled clearance. Don’t forget that the shoulder buttons modify the kick, too.

With skill moves, unless you want to be made an absolute fool of in online matches, you’re gonna have to get to know them. Become the guy who pirouettes away from a challenge and not the person who is left in the dust. Practice makes perfect.

Don’t forget to double tap when shooting
Unless you know this technique, you’re going to have to rely on finesse shots into the corner, because by double tapping the shoot button you can put full power into it and, importantly, keep the ball down. The idea is that if you put a full power into a shot, it’ll usually go high, but double tapping before the ball is kicked keeps it low, and will release a thunderous strike that (especially online) might take your opponent by surprise. You can also use this technique for bullet headers.

Play through The Journey for FUT rewards
It’s not just a cool new idea: The Journey actually gives you rewards for you Ultimate Team, too. While you’ll mostly get loan packs awarded as you play, when you complete the mode you’ll get an Alex Hunter card to add to your team. It’s also great practice early on, both to learn the new systems and just get plenty of practice time in.