30/03/15: Ultimate Team Mode

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After completing all of Grand Theft Auto: Heists and finding out that money can’t buy happiness (in GTA anyway. Please don’t hesitate to send me money.) I decided to look back at a game that I had skipped because I didn’t fancy paying £50 for a “roster update”. The game was on sale , and with all the hullabaloo about coin sellers and price caps, I decided to see if the Ultimate Team Mode was really the train-wreck the loudest internet commentators claim it to be, a futile arms race with an economy less stable than a country run by monkeys.

Turns out they were slightly wrong.

Coin-sellers still run rampant, but the addition of price caps really helped out the game. In addition to stemming the coin-selling tide, it prevents people from being ripped off, and it pretty much guarantees that you’ll sell your player. There’s always the option of buying “FIFA Points,” a microtransactional currency that allows you to buy packs, but not specific players, which is a deal-breaker for many, considering that this is a fully-priced AAA game with microtransactions from a publisher that isn’t viewed in the best light.

“That ball cost me 150 coins!”

Here’s where things get complicated: If you want to buy a simple Gold Pack (A pack full of gold-rated players) it’s almost 10000 coins. Coins are easy to come by, but in order to manage a team properly, you’ll need to buy Fitness, Contract and Healing cards, which usually cost, in the best scenario, 400 coins each. Couple that with the fact that you can buy a decent gold team with players that can cost 200-300 coins each, and it seems like no one would use packs besides YouTubers who somehow get popular by spending virtual money on virtual things.

Packs are the best and worst thing about Ultimate Team. The feeling of opening a pack is akin to memories of opening a fresh pack of Yu-Gi-Oh cards, a feeling that isn’t replicated in many games. That moment when a black In Form card pops out is exhilarating and amazingly happy…

Sadly, though, those moments are few and far between. The happiness and excitement of opening a pack fades away eventually, due to the fact that it’s practically impossible to get any good players. When you buy a pack, you’re almost always guaranteed to make a loss, and soon enough, the experience loses its magic. Soon, everyone just starts buying specific players from the transfer window, which is usually a matter of flicking through the pages until you find a player that suits your budget. Apart from a few bidding wars, buying players and making teams is too… easy. In one week, I made two 100 chemistry teams that are capable of beating most other teams, and I rose 5 divisions (out of ten). Sure, there are new cups that correspond with holidays and such, but there seems to be a cycle in FIFA.

You make a team, play around with them, sell the team, rinse and repeat.

I’ve just realised something: I’ve barely talked about the football side of Ultimate Team – FIFA is a football game after all. But that’s Ultimate Team in a nutshell: at it’s core, it’s Moneyball, a wheeler-dealer-simulator. You’ll spend more time and have more fun making teams than you will playing as them.

Currently in high school, I mostly play open world games and binge-watch anything on Netflix.