NCAA Football 14 has arrived, bringing with it every ounce of pigskin madness you've come to expect from the series and then some. With a revamped Dynasty Mode, the introduction to Ultimate Team and gameplay improvements galore, there's no better time to hop on board the college football train.
This game is very accessible, with user-friendly controls and menus that are easy to navigate. To help you along, we put together some tips to get you started down the path to NCAA Football 14 glory.
Take Part in the Nike Skills Trainer
Even if you think you know enough about passing and running in NCAA Football 14, it's worth your time to take part in the Nike Skills Trainer. This new tutorial system is divided into four key areas – passing, running, defense and pre-play.
In each category, you'll receive a number of scenarios that will help you learn about the control features, such as the Acceleration Burst or gaining your balance in Stumble Recovery. There are three goals to complete in all – bronze, silver and gold. Bronze is passable, but if you manage to go for the gold, you'll be rewarded for your trouble.
With each gold medal you acquire in Nike Skills Trainer, you'll unlock an Ultimate Team card. These cards are vital to building your ideal squad in NCAA 14, as you can unlock such legends as Randy Moss, Peyton Manning and even Bo Jackson – yes, the "Bo knows football" Bo Jackson. Some of these scenarios may take time to perfect – particularly with defense – but it'll prep you for in-game competition.
Even if you don't complete an activity the first time you try it, keep chipping away. You'll eventually earn the medal and get one step closer to the best Ultimate Team pack.
There's Nothing Wrong With Lower Difficulty
If you're just getting started in NCAA Football 14, you might consider toning down some of the options to make the game feel more comfortable. While the Heisman settings are built for those who feel they're ready for the next challenge, there are easier options available, as well as being able to gain a bigger advantage with passing, defense and running. Play around with the options a bit and see how things work, then go back and make adjustments as you get into the next game. The more you keep tuning, the better you'll be at finding an overall performance that suits you.
In addition, picking the right team is vital to success. There are a number of squads out there with less-than-favorable records, but there are also ones that sit atop the SEC and Big 12 when it comes to coaching and on-field performance. For instance, the Alabama Crimson Tide – the winner of the most recent BCS Championship – will help you score easy wins. We've even made suggestions of 10 teams to start with in NCAA 14, which you can find here.
However, don't be afraid to try out your home teams to see how they fare. Though some squads take a little more time to find their footing, it never hurts to see what they can do on the field. If you're disappointed, just go back to a championship team.
Don't Always Pass – Pound the Ground
Finally, even though everyone likes the power of a good quarterback, you shouldn't put a heavy reliance into pass plays. Number one, it can make you predictable, as the defense readies for a possible interception. Number two, defensemen know how to read open receivers better than you might expect – even on trick plays.
There's an "Ask Coach" option at the top of the Select Style screen, where you'll receive numerous suggestions of what play to use next. More often than not, you'll see effective running plays. Mix and match.
That doesn't mean you should completely rely on running plays. Small pass plays are a key option for a good quarterback, as you can slowly but surely make your way up the field.
If you stick with the run, check where the runner's route will take him – around the formation, up the middle, etc. Don't be afraid to use jukes and spins to get the all-important first down. Also make sure you keep Stumble Recovery in mind, just in case a defensive end tries to make a grab for your ankle.
Every yard counts. Mix up your plays and be unpredictable, and you’ll score touchdowns in no time.
NCAA Football 14 is available for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.