If you’re lucky enough to be able to play FIFA 23 on PC this year, you’ll need some tips for soccer success. As online play is so unpredictable, and Ultimate Team more than a little objectionable with its focus of pay-to-win, good old fashioned Career Mode is the best place for me to offer advice.
While the core gameplay has changed bit by bit over the years, EA’s last licensed game with the FIFA name isn’t really all that different. So if you want to bag more virtual league titles than Pep Guardiola with a chequebook that would make Jeff Bezos wince, here are your top tips for winning FIFA 23 games in Career Mode.
Switch to 'Semi' whenever you can
FIFA has long been a strange beast when it comes to handing over total control to its players. Like an extra obsessive Guardiola, FIFA 23 loves to take the reins by default. On normal settings, the game will more or less put you in the back seat for every major on-pitch moment. Don’t let this happen. To wrestle back more agency, and a more satisfying level of control, go to 'Customise Controls' from the main menu, then switch most of the main options from 'Assisted' to 'Semi'.
By switching Ground Past Assistance, Shot Assistance, Lob Pass Assistance, and Lobbed Through Pass Assistance to Semi, you’ll automatically feel in more control of passing, shots and through balls. This not only gives you a greater level of precision in big moments of matches, it makes you feel more control during every minute of play.
Play on the counter
Like many past entries in EA’s series, the through ball is king in FIFA 23. Canny use of one-twos with your wingers, while also looking for that cutthroat final ball to your striker, usually pays dividends if you get your timings right. Most of the AI teams in Career Mode play compact and with a deep block, so it can be incredibly difficult to pass through them during normal phases of play.
The good thing is, at World Class difficulty and above, even the lesser teams will really go at you in FIFA 23’s Career Mode. Be on your heels, get the ball to either wing with a cutting through pass from one of your full backs, and—one more well timed through ball later—you can often find your forward in a one on one with your opposition’s keeper.
Play on World Class difficulty or above
Actually, just play on World Class difficulty. If you’re a semi decent FIFA player, this is the absolute sweet spot when it comes to eking out a satisfying challenge. Of the seven difficulty levels, World Class offers the best balance between challenge and fun. At the default Professional difficulty or below, you’ll probably steamroll teams with a half decent side in Career Mode. But on World Class, while the goals may flow, you’ll still need a high level of consistency to win whatever given league you’re competing for.
Example? I’m currently first after 20 league games played in the EPL while playing as Arsenal. My Lead? An incredibly slender point to a monstrous Manchester City side who have already beasted me 3-1 at the Emirates in the one match we’ve played against each other so far. While goals can flow at this level if you’re a decent player, expect most teams on World Class to still outpass you, and hold more possession. It means counter attacks remain crucial, at this difficulty setting and beyond.
Don't rely on crossing to score
Just don’t. In previous seasons, old FIFAs would quite happily let you outstrip a winger, ping an early ball into the box, then be greeted by the sight of your striker greedily nodding in a free header. This year, those days are done. In dozens of Career Mode games, I’ve scored exactly zero headers in FIFA 23—they’re no longer an effective tool.
Same goes for corners. They’re utterly toothless in FIFA 23. In over thirty online, exhibition and career games, I’ve yet to once seriously test a keeper from one. If you’re lucky enough to beat the first man via a corner in FIFA 23, the resulting ball will usually be gobbled up by a centre half at the front post. Your best bet for actually doing something with a corner? Use the 'Call a Second Player' command—by default LT/L2—to coax one of your players into playing it short, whereby some neat passing around the opposition box may reward you with a clear strike on goal.
Fiddle with customisation settings
By default, the AI in FIFA 23 is a bit of a cheat. Hell, it always has been. Playing at the default 'Professional' level and above, you’ll find even the most journeyman centre backs can keep pace with Man City Norwegian Terminator, Erling Haaland. That’s why you’re more than entitled to level the playing field a little.
Head to both 'User Gameplay Customisation' and 'CPU Gameplay Customisation' and give your players 52 for both Sprint Speed and Acceleration, while also setting the CPU’s same stats to 48 apiece. Tweaking these settings will stop the AI immediately catching up with your players, and if you’re playing with a side with elite forwards like Salah or Jesus, this tiny change will let you stay in front of defenders who would never have a hope of catching these players in real-world football.
Forget about scoring from range
Goals from more than 20-odd yards out in FIFA 23 are seriously uncommon. Harry Kane has more medals in his trophy cabinet than the average player at EA’s latest will notch up in out-of-box screamers. Cautious build-up with neat passing and the eye for a defence-cutting through ball on the wing are the way to go. AI defenders close in on your players when they’re about to shoot with embarrassing efficiency, so resist the urge to blast in on from 35 yards. Work the space, get in the box, and try to get your striker in and around the penalty area before you waste a potentially well worked team goal for a long-range stinger that will inevitably ping off an opposition defender’s shin.
Pass relentlessly between your back five if you’re hanging onto a win
If you need to embrace the absolute dirtiest side of The Force by challenging your inner Mourinho when a victory is almost upon the cards, then by all means do it. At 'Legendary' and 'Ultimate' difficulties, the AI can be a beyond ruthless finisher. If there are only a few minutes on the clock and you’re desperately hanging on for the win, ditch all notions of expansive football. Even at the highest difficulty, FIFA 23's AI will only push so high for so long. If the clock hits 85 minutes and you’re nervous but leading, play short possession football between your goalie and back four, and the slightly cynical win should come.