9 essential FIFA 18 tips to know before you play

With the world's biggest football tournament just around the corner, there's great news for FIFA 18 players as the official game has been confirmed as a free World Cup 2018 expansion to FIFA 18 - and it's available now! You can play through the World Cup to determine a winner, switch in different teams to make your own tournament, and even build your own international dream team with the new World Cup Ultimate Team mode. If you want to try your hand at lifting the coveted Jules Rimet Trophy then here are nine things I wish I knew before starting FIFA 18 to help you out.

1. Stand(ing tackle) and deliver

Tackling is already a hard-hitting, contentious issue but those thinking the standing tackle has been made redundant should think again. Sure, the animation for it is a little awkward at first but it’s far more rewarding this year. Namely, because you can use it to poke your leg in at a player whose back is turned to you and nick the ball from between the legs. No more overpowered shielding, no more raging. Perfect.

2. Use the catalogue

This sounds obvious but you’ll be surprised at how many overlook it. Don’t be embarrassed: give yourself an online seasons win if you need it, check out the most aggravating celebrations to wind up your opponent and definitely, definitely buy those Ultimate Team coin boosts. You can thank me later.

3. Pro Clubs skill tree

Pro Clubs has been given a very slight makeover when it comes to bulking up your pro’s stats. The RPG-like skill tree may lack the complexities of a fully-fledged adventure game but you’ve still got to be wise with your choices. It’s worth putting in as many points as early as possible into the Physical and Dribbling categories. Physical will give you a handy speed boost and Dribbling will not only improve your close control, but give you access to better skill moves. If nothing else, Pro Clubs is about embarrassing your opponent in front of your mates, so make sure you can do that as quickly as possible.

4. Net loss

One of the strangest ‘improvements’ in this year’s FIFA is the stiff response whenever you score a goal, thanks to the highly-strung net tension. The netting, however, can be changed under game settings. Just go to the visual tab and change the net tension to ‘Loose’. It’s not a massive improvement but it’ll make scoring a screamer that bit more satisfying, if not quite as fist-pumpingly good as before.

For more in the way of FIFA 18's little idiosyncracies, check out 15 tiny, brilliant FIFA 18 details you might have missed.

5. Look ma, no touch dribbling

No touch dribbling was, frankly, a pretty useless addition to FIFA 17. This year, however, the option to swerve and spin whilst still in control of the ball has been toned down somewhat and mapped to R1/RB. Not only does it mean it’s actually quite good this time around, the button placement means shoulder drops can be combined with a quick sprint to leave defenders for dead. Get on the dribbling skill games and you’ll be channelling your inner Messi in no time.

6. The FIFA trainer is your friend

Whether you’re a FIFA newbie or someone who fondly recalls Song 2 on FIFA 98, the FIFA trainer will be useful to all-comers this year. What began as a very basic tutorial option now has options to see where (through the use of dotted line overlays) your passes should go. It could be an invaluable tool to finding out why your play isn’t working and you’re constantly being intercepted – and it can even be used in instant replays too.

7. Chipped through balls are really, really good

It does what it says on the tin. Lofted through-balls seem to have been given a welcome boost for FIFA 18, with the trajectory of passes now reaching far greater heights so any onrushing attackers have time to position themselves and run onto the ball. It should be your first port of call in unlocking any defence this year and, dare I say it, might be a little too overpowered.

8. Goalkeepers are *not* good

Maybe it’s just my imagination but those between the sticks appear to have gotten a significant downgrade on last year’s instalment. Even top-level keepers are prone to letting in a few daisy-cutters now and again. So, this advice is twofold: expect a few cheap goals to be conceded and don’t worry about it. Breathe. On the flip side, try and pepper as many two-third power bar long shots as possible. The lower the height the better.

9. Start FUT as a single-player only venture... for now

While it might be tempting to rush in and show the world what you’ve got to offer on FUT, play it safe for the first ten games or so. When coupled with the previously mentioned coin boosts (see: Use the catalogue), taking the time to build up your team through Squad Battles, FUT tasks and Squad Building Challenges means you’ll be raring to go and kick some online butt when you have a proper team in place.

Already looking ahead to next season? Then check out 11 changes FIFA 19 needs to make according to fans

Bradley Russell

I'm the Senior Entertainment Writer here at GamesRadar+, focusing on news, features, and interviews with some of the biggest names in film and TV. On-site, you'll find me marveling at Marvel and providing analysis and room temperature takes on the newest films, Star Wars and, of course, anime. Outside of GR, I love getting lost in a good 100-hour JRPG, Warzone, and kicking back on the (virtual) field with Football Manager. My work has also been featured in OPM, FourFourTwo, and Game Revolution.