Ultimate Team in EA Sports games, however controversial they may be due to their implementation of microtransactions, are some of the most played modes in games like FIFA 19. As such, FIFA’s developers put a lot of work into the content of Ultimate Team each year. There’s a reason it’s so horribly addicting. I recently attended an event centered around FIFA 20 at EA Redwood Shores, and during that I got a sneak peek at what FIFA 20’s Ultimate Team will have for those willing to dive into it.
Of course, FIFA Ultimate Team this year includes new vanity rewards, FUT Icons, and a lot more club customization. Highlights to me included the ball and icon styled after FIFA 95 as well as a dabbing unicorn that can be placed on the pitch. The dabbing unicorn you can pay real money for is incredibly stupid and I love it. FUT Producer Garreth Reeder made it quite clear that the goal with the improvements to Ultimate Team in FIFA 20 was to give players a wide variety of options so they can choose whatever suits them best. That dabbing unicorn is actually a great metaphor for the FUT improvements this year: more flashy and lighthearted.
For those that plan on sticking with FIFA 20’s Ultimate Team mode for the entire year until FIFA 21 inevitably comes out, EA has taken steps to keep progression interesting. Like most multiplayer games these days, FUT will finally be getting content seasons like games such as Fortnite or Apex Legends. With these seasons come season objectives, which are broader missions that those who play a lot of games can fulfill. Season-long milestone objectives also exist at the highest scale, and will be something hardcore players can chip away at through 2020.
As players keep putting time into FUT over these six week long seasons, they will move up in tiers that show their skill and net them special rewards. Players will actually be able to choose what rewards they want out of a small group each time, adding to the aforementioned goal of giving players more options in FUT. I always get demotivated from playing Ultimate Team modes fairly quickly in EA’s sports games, so this new season structure definitely seems like a step in the right direction to get players like me more interested in this mode. Like I said, the poor monetization of Ultimate Team should be kept in mind with this, as I am talking purely from a gameplay interest standpoint.
While these new progression systems are what will keep players sticking around, EA plans on drawing new players in as well with a lot of modes. First off is Foundations – a new tutorial mode that will onboard newer players to FUT and explain things like the transfer market. Menus have also been modified to be clearer. Squad view gives a clear overlook of one’s team, the transfer market will know sorts itself around the number of coins players actually have (which will hopefully prevent radical spending), and tactics can now be accessed more easily. All of these elements are set to make FUT a smoother experience, but Friendlies will be what gets some more casual players to stick around.
Via Friendlies, players will be able to track stats and play a variety of new modes in a more casual manner both offline and online. Like Kick-Off, FUT will now track player stats automatically so players do not have to keep track of that themselves and take time away from playing the game. A lot of Kick-Off modes have been added to Ultimate Team, but the four new modes really stole the show for me: Max Chemistry, Swaps, Mystery Ball, and King of the Hill. Max Chemistry is the simplest of the friendlies modes, doing what its title says to ensure that players don’t have to worry about the complex chemistry system. The other three modes are where things really start to change up.
In Swaps, three players are randomly switched between teams before the start of each match. This should actually add some depth to which players to bring in. Do you risk including one of your best players even though they could be given to your opponent, or do you purposefully bring in a bad card so it can be sent to them and sabotage their team? It’s certainly the most strategical of the new modes. Then, Mystery Ball adds interesting attributes like speed boost, increased goal worth, and a dribbling boost every time the ball comes back into play, so it will be one of FUT’s craziest modes.
My favorite by far would have to be King of the Hill though. Before players can score a goal, they have to navigate to a square somewhere on the pitch and stay in it long enough in order to build up a score multiplier of up to x3 before trying to score. Your opponent also has the same objective, and rules are turned off in this zone, so it should be one of the most frantic ways to play FUT. With both Volta and King of the Hill, EA really seems to be honing in on a more fast-paced and visceral kind of soccer this year.
FIFA 20 Ultimate Team has some crazy modes, so while FIFA does not have a battle royale-inspired mode like NHL 20 yet, I honestly would not put it outside of the realm of possibility at this point. Fingers crossed for 2021. Unfortunately, these new modes are restricted to FUT it seems. That being said, these Friendlies modes are only beneficial additions because players will not lose things like loans in them but will still gain coins.
Even though the specter of microtransactions will always be looming over this mode, I have to admit a lot of interesting new gameplay elements are being added to FUT this year. Ultimate Team seems to be a little more casual friendly this year, and as long as I am not being hit over my head with different monetization schemes, I could see FUT in FIFA 20 being the first Ultimate Team mode I will sink a lot of hours into.
FIFA 20 releases for PC, PS4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch on September 26, 2019.
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