Years ago, many of us here at PlayStation Universe dreamed of walking out at Wembley stadium in an FA Cup Final, or even scoring the winning goal for our country in the World Cup finals – sadly, things transpired a little differently than anticipated and we had to settle for recreating our soccer-based fantasies in EA Sports’ FIFA series. And so when it comes to one-on-one online matches we’ve been around the block once or twice and have the jerseys to prove it. So, grab a cup of coffee – or whatever way you’re inclined, we won’t judge – and join us as we run the rule over optimum formations, tactics, attacking play, and defensive solidity in the hope of making you a force to be reckoned with in FIFA 15’s Online Seasons mode.
Find the formation
For all intents and purposes, a fluid 4-2-3-1 formation is what should yield the best match results as it’s far and above the most supportive and balanced of the systems that you can deploy. Of course, there’s a formation to counteract every other but if we’re talking about a go-to system that exhibits all the hallmarks of FIFA 15’s gameplay nuances then the 4-2-3-1 could very well be the system of choice. Crucially, the dreaded counterattack – where your players are caught too far up field and the opposition uses pace to charge en route to your goal – is in-part nullified by the double pivot (the two holding midfielders in front of the defence) as they absorb opposition pressure as well as block up the holes that may appear if you push your team forward in search of that elusive goal. Additionally, your three attacking players up front behind your main striker should offer enough creativity – provided they’re utilized efficiently – to cause even the sternest of defences a headache. And if that doesn’t send the opposition quivering, your main striker – the classic target man – will have enough quality to convert the chances that’ll undoubtedly crop up.
Reap the benefits of flashy wing play
A staple of FIFA games for the past number of years, wing play – swift attacking from out wide – is the phase by which a lot of success can be garnered in the realm of Online Seasons. And this year’s iteration of FIFA is no different. Luckily for us the 4-2-3-1 is well-equipped for this type of attack, and without the ever-lingering worry of leaving your goal susceptible to siege. Firstly, make sure your chosen team has wingers with pace to burn – Liga BBVA side UD Almeria and Serie A’s Cagliari are good, less obvious bets – and enough stamina to withstand the incessant cardio you’ll be putting them through. It’s perhaps better to go for lower-rated teams, because if you go for a five star you’ll be paired with another five star, effectively meaning either that of Real Madrid or Bayern Munich.
The idea here is to absorb pressure from your opponent and wait for gaps out-wide to arise (try one-two and long passing for a time); once they do – and it’s inevitable, really – spray the ball out to one of your wingers and charge to the left-hand/right-hand side of the box towards the byline. Next, it’s a matter of choice: you can either cross the ball in the hope that your striker will get something on the end of it, or better yet, attempt to fool the defender closest to you by cutting inside and continuing your run on goal. If you chose to ground pass to your striker a tap of R1 will let the ball run through his legs, opening space for a shot if he’s particularly well marked. Thankfully there’s a multitude of ways a winger can get the best of their marker, from fake shooting and turning (O followed quickly by X) to the more complicated – but far more effective – heel chop. (L2, O+X). Pull it off and the results are spectacular as you mosey on through to the goalmouth before unleashing a well-placed shot past the despairing ‘keeper. It’s a matter of trial-and-error oftentimes, but couple your newfound penchant for wing play with some of the aforementioned silky skill moves and you’ll be on your way to victory in no time.
Rock-hard defensive work
As much as flashy attacking play is the cover photo of FIFA 15’s gameplay, a gritty, finely-tuned defense is a necessary component of any successful team online. Stalwart defending – hand-in-hand with that of concise forward play – is imperative if you’re to climb to divisions, as you’ll come up against determined players who’ll exploit every nook and cranny of FIFA 15’s gameplay in order to get an upper hand. That means you’ll have to weather the long-ball storm, overused flicks/tricks, Ronaldo’s strength/pace and Messi’s meandering, close-knit runs. But fear not, we here at PlayStation Universe have got you covered. Every single one of FIFA’s online matches are unique so it’s best to feel out your opponent for the initial few minutes, judging whether they’re a cautious player or if they’re likely to go gung-ho from the first whistle – figuring this out quickly will give you ample time to plan accordingly. If desired, you can use the left analogue stick to change the state of play, from defensive to all-out attack.
A pitfall that many players fall into is rushing into tackles when the opponent has the ball in a non-threatening area of the pitch; the best course of action – and one that keeps your all-important team shape – is to send an AI teammate by holding R1 to the opponent to apply pressure, whilst you hold L2 on your controlled player yards behind the action, maintaining your defensive line and gearing up for potential opposition players overlapping in their attack. Sending your AI teammate is something you’ve got to use smartly, making sure you compensate for the opening of space left by the movement. Defense starts from the front, mind, so make sure you attempt to cut out attacks with the players closest to the action instead of leaving all the work for your defenders in the final third of the pitch.
FIFA 15’s gameplay is a little more expressive and free-flowing than that of last year’s FIFA 14, making the art of defending a little more unpredictable. But when opponents inevitably attempt the aforementioned cut-inside tactic – a FIFA principle – the holding of L2 will become your best friend as you try and forecast what avenue the opposing winger will go down. The button allows your controlled player to switch his stance to a wider, more robust position, making one-on-one defensive battles a cinch. If you’re in a running battle rather than a heated stand-off you can also jostle a player with the same button, allowing you to reclaim possession in a slightly forceful, but completely legal, manner.
Bend it like Beckham
Even the most downtrodden and battered of FIFA players may get a solitary chance at goal by way of a free-kick or corner kick and it’s those types of opportunities that you’ve got to grasp firmly if you’re to stand tall as a division winner. Remedying FIFA 14’s awkward free-kick controls, FIFA 15 luckily takes a far leaner approach to set piece conversion. Provided the free-kick is at least slightly central, line the ball towards the corner of the goal, hold O for a tick (so that the power gauge is up about an inch or more) and push up on the analogue stick towards the net once the players steps up to shoot. It’s again a matter of trial-and-error, but something that’ll bear fruit once it’s practiced enough. For corner kicks, it’s best to aim for just outside the six-yard box, filling the gauge just over half; once the ball’s in the air, push the analogue stick toward an open point in the goal and hammer O accordingly. Thankfully, the now ever-present training mode in FIFA 15 allows for set-piece training, meaning that players can go through the motions to their heart’s content, before hopefully replicating it in the all-consuming online competition.
All eventualities considered the crux of success within Online Seasons lies with awareness and patience; you need to be wary of what style your opponent’s exhibiting whilst at the same time having the patience and faith in your own ability to employ the tactics necessary to succeed. Granted you might break a controller or two in the process, or even go 2-0 down, but there’s nothing quite like ascending up each division before tackling the bigwigs for a chance at the title. Employ some of the above and you may have opponents quitting the match earlier than you had anticipated – a true testament of your newfound skills.
How are you finding this year’s FIFA? Share your views on the game below and stay tuned for more FIFA-orientated content soon.