By far the most popular game mode on EA’s legendary footie sim is FIFA Ultimate Team (FUT), which since its introduction in 2009 has allowed millions upon millions of gamers to become virtual talent scouts and expert managers. According to EA, this year, 542,000 transfers are listed per hour, with 11,000 matches played each day. So, we all agree it’s great, glad we’ve got that out the way – now, on to what makes us want to stamp on the disc with studded boots.
1. There’s not enough cash
Wealth doesn’t come easy, and after all, it’s coins that matter in a mode that’s basically a footballing stock market, complete with wages to foot. Thankfully EA is addressing dodgy dealing loopholes and bots that have plagued Ultimate Team and made it just downright unfair, but there should be more bonuses for exceptional play and individual skill, instead of having to look online for convoluted ways to hustle another small handful of coin in FIFA. That said, it’s nice to be able to be able to plan future dream teams with the new Concept Squad feature.
2. It’s not often pretty football
Games often play out with high balls being lofted from one end to the other and mad scrambles, with the goalkeeper either making wonder saves or being rounded three times with four minutes to go. Long shots are really difficult to pull off unless you’ve got the most expensive players, tackling is harder so fast strikers simply speed through your defence and penalties come thick and fast (We’ve explored these issues in more depth before). It all gets a bit tiring and it’s sometimes hard to know if you’ve spent your money well when the gameplay can feel so random.
3. Packs are rubbish
Yeah, yeah, it’s a bit of thrill to open a pack and hope for the best, but just as when you were a kid, all you’ll usually get is disappointment (when opening the pack, not just with childhood life in general). Okay, yes, you’ll get great players eventually, but you’ll have to part with a lot of dough. You’re better off in the transfer market building a team packed with affordable players with high chemistry (rather than having one or two big stars), but then that’s all such a headache. Okay, we’ll try just one more pa… OH NOT YOU AGAIN!
4. It’s too rigid
You are free to build your ultimate team, so why can’t you get them to play where you like? Aren’t you meant to be the boss? I mean, it’s us who’s paid for these players (and the game), so you should be able to mix positions and formations up a bit more. Custom tactics are also a fiddly, administrative mess that takes up a lot of time, especially when you have to set everything up repeatedly from game to game.
5. It’s not emotional enough
Yes, the players have got a fresh lick of emotion on the pitch, but it’s quite a sterile environment for actually creating a team; more like a science lesson followed by double maths than the attachment you get from watching a real team develop. Fine, it isn’t real life, it’s a market trading simulation game, but it would be good if players interacted and built chemistry in more human ways, rather than earning loyalty in a cold, stat-based fashion. Basically, we want more reports of hugs and player strops. And we want a virtual Wenger-style Puffa coat while we deal with it.
6. Missing legends
Sure, he only cost £1.2 million when Sir Alex bought him way back in 1992 (and he kung-fu kicked a fan) but Eric Cantona’s name is still sung at Old Trafford week in week out to this day, so how come EA can’t remember him? Also, while we’re at Man Utd, where’s George Best? Yet Robbie Fowler gets the nod… Someone at EA’s obviously a fan of awful punditry and extremely gelled hair.
7. It’s really hard for casual players
FUT is not something you can dip your toe into. Some will never quite understand it, and even though you’re in the minority it can be frustrating to have a game mode on your £45 purchase that you never really get into. It’s especially frustrating when the transfer market still has occasional glitches, you know the sort of thing, like having your gold taken when you didn’t even win the bid. Nothing’s perfect and it’s incredibly smooth when you consider 13 million transfers are listed per day, but it’s very frustrating when you don’t feel in control.
8. It hasn’t changed enough
Disclaimer: Ultimate Team is incredible. But! But is it all starting to get a bit… repetitive? There’s no doubt it’s brought joy to the masses and shifted more copies of the franchise for EA than all the other modes combined, but, with the exception of loan players and Concept Squads, it’s all pretty much the same as last year, just with slightly worse gameplay. In FIFA 16/17 it would be great to see a complete overhaul, maybe a completely new optional mode with the old FUT still in place, before someone else offers one instead.
9. It’s very expensive
Aside from the cost involved within the virtual world of Ultimate Team, and the cost if you actually spend your real money, it’s a dent in the wallet to have to buy a new copy of FIFA every year if all you’re interested in is FUT, which many are (64 per cent according to EA). A standalone FUT game at half the price would be nice.
10. Finally, people who won’t stop
On the other hand, don’t you ever sometimes just get Ultimate bloody Team fatigue? When you just want to stick in the disc and load up a quick game of United v City, in whatever stadium, with whatever kit and… shock horror… whatever old line up you’re offered? But no, there’s always someone wanting to tinker for what seems like hours (because it is hours) before even kicking the ball, by which time you’ve gone to bed. Sometimes it’s good to just play.