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How Madden NFL 15's Ultimate Team Mode Has Arrived at the Next-Level

It’s no surprise that Madden Ultimate Team is back for another year in Madden 15. This mode, which started way back in UEFA Champions League 2006-07 has become a required feature in all of EA’s annualized sports titles.

If you are brand new to Madden Ultimate Team (MUT), it’s essentially a trading card game, fantasy football, and Madden all rolled into one crazy-addicting mess. Open virtual packs, build a team, and ten play. Your results, along with other tasks, earn you coins to buy more packs. It's a continuous cycle that gives you the thrill of having the chance to pull that card. Of course, there’s the option to spend real money on those virtual packs as well.

This year, the process has been streamlined and the single-player offline mode has been given a lot more content. But, as always, the impulse to buy new packs and upgrade your team is at the core of MUT.

Collections and sets

In the past, EA had multiple “places” to put your cards. Choosing where to send them (and more importantly why) could be a tedious and time consuming task. Sure, it’s part of the appeal of a card-based mode, but the endless sorting took away from actually playing the game. This year, everything goes in one binder, so managing your collection is easier. Plus, the UI has made choosing where to send your cards a much easier decision.

There are also sets to collect, which grant coin and card rewards. For those who like playing this mode for the collection aspect, this will be a driving force behind what cards they seek in trades or in an auction.

A new “badge” system feels a little gimmicky and an artificial way to slow down people’s progress. Badges are like wild cards needed to complete lots of sets and come in multiple tiers (bronze, silver, etc.). Bronze badges can be combined to make a silver one, silver to gold, and so on. It seems like a lot of people are selling badges for quick batches of gold.

Tasks and Single Player Challenges

If you’ve never tried MUT before, a helpful set of tasks guide you through the process and offer rewards for trying different things. The in-game help system is both practical and stylish, featuring the same dimmed screen/telestrator approach used throughout Madden 15.

The way I prefer playing MUT is through the single player challenges, and boy, are there a lot this year. Each team has it’s own “training camp” scenario, followed by a mode representing the regular season. There are legendary coaches and players to unlock as well. Basically, there is plenty to keep you busy for a long time, even if you don’t plan on going online.
My only issues with this mode are minor. First, football doesn’t scale well; a game with two-minute quarters doesn’t really feel like football. It’s easy to possess the ball for the majority -- or entirety -- of a half. Short 3-4 minute quarters for some of these challenges is just not enough.

On the other hand, the new presentation aspects feel like they get in the way, and make the games take longer than they should. MUT needs an option similar to MLB The Show’s fast play, stripping out all unnecessary downtime. The appeal of MUT is not only playing, but unlocking your cards and building the team. I feel like a MUT game should be a quick in-and-out experience -- regardless of quarter length -- allowing you to improve your team and quickly get on the field again.

Online

Online play is the other primary way to play MUT. There’s a season/playoff structure to the affair: win five, and get the chance to win more coins in a playoff game. For each season you make the playoffs, more wins will be required the following year to continue postseason play. The more you win, the bigger the coin reward -- but there are consequences for not meeting your goal.

To be honest, online MUT isn’t my thing. The economy and “win at all costs” nature of the mode creates some poor sports. Just google MUT, and you’ll find all kinds of stories on how to “farm” gold, construct a superior team, and how some guy blew $100 in an instant on card packs. Those who appreciate these the high stakes nature of the online mode will thrive here, and that’s OK. This type of experience is common in MMOs too. It’s just not my preference.

Final Thoughts

Overall, MUT continues to be a solid mode, with plenty to do and at the depth you prefer. I like getting the card packs and working my way through the solo ladders. Others may appreciate the economic nature of the game, working the auction house and trade system to assemble a great team. Many more will focus their efforts online, or spend real money to increase their chances of winning.

The beauty is that you can dip into these areas as much or as little as you’d like. I plan on spending no real cash, but I do dabble in the auctions and trades. Plus, EA has streamlined the interface to make all of these systems work together a little more fluidly. Of course, negative aspects like microtransactions and unscrupulous online behavior remain, but are easy to avoid.

If you’ve never tried Madden Ultimate Team, it’s worth easing into, especially with the refinements EA has made this year.


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Member Comments
# 1 misterkrabz @ 09/15/14 04:31 PM
This is the primary mode I've played so far. Online games were fun and competitive on the lowest rookie level. I leveled up in season one and have played two games at the next level and have gotten killed both times. I think my team is a "79". After leveling up it kind of put a bad taste in my mouth for online play in this mode. Not sure if I just ran into a couple good teams or "pay to win" teams but based on the players on the "field" I had no shot in either game. Not giving up on it though. Will give it another try online when I'm over 80.I will admit the solo challenges and the act of getting better players in auction and packs is pretty addictive.

I truly believe with this mode 2k could have kept their game alive and relevant had they implemented it back then. And that is using packs of cards for "legend" players that they had licenses for.
 
# 2 bubba4 @ 09/15/14 05:56 PM
I guess MUT is cool. I've checked the mode out but it never holds me. I've never been a fantasy player so I have no desire to play a game with mixed players, stars and legends. I am only interested in current rosters and the rosters of the teams that stars and legends come from. IMO, we are missing out on this feature where great teams from the past can match up with other or current teams. NBA2K has this down pat. But, MUT, FUT, and HUT has got to be a boon to EA money wise.
 
# 3 juice2142 @ 09/15/14 06:02 PM
I play a lot of FUT because it's got a nice season mode, easy to assemble a roster, and has more of an objective I feel. When I played MUT in the past, it seems like there are way too many superstar teams.

There are some things I don't like about this MUT. Badges as author mentions, just an annoying roadblock. Players who are not full ability. Ex: What's the point of giving everyone an 81 overall Richard Sherman or Aaron Rodgers cards? That defeats the purpose of the game. I also dont like all of the different player cards and legeneds. Gets kind of hectic to find players, etc.
 
# 4 JoshC1977 @ 09/15/14 08:20 PM
If they could combine MUT with more realistic game lengths, I would be much more inclined to play this personally (making it a mode to be much more invested in timewise). I like to play ball control football - and as the author states, one drive = one half when quarters are so short. I dabbled in it before and quickly lost interest as you have to 'cheese' to put up points so quickly and I want to play realistically.

But hey, other people have fun with what it currently is - so have at it.
 
# 5 Moose Factory @ 09/15/14 09:25 PM
MUT and HUT both just feel clunky to me compared to FUT. The user experience seems way more though out in FUT compared to the others. Pretty much everything about the FIFA series is why I still give money to EA.
 
# 6 ELDoro @ 09/16/14 12:46 AM
Mode sounds good but does it turn into one where everyone has star players at every position and everyone has the top players?
 
# 7 tarek @ 09/16/14 01:59 AM
Is it recommended to play MUT in coach mode? I don't play any other mode and feel like playing MUT in coach mode might not be the most ideal. If so, I'll skip it and continue with CFM, which I enjoy immensely.
 
# 8 iverson3 @ 09/16/14 08:16 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by ELDoro
Mode sounds good but does it turn into one where everyone has star players at every position and everyone has the top players?
No it doesn't. Usually people with all good players have spent a pretty penny on packs and what not.
 
# 9 Mr. Blitz @ 09/16/14 11:04 AM
I've been playing MUT since Madden 13, and I must say, this is probably the best it's ever been. I love what they've done with the player overalls this year. There's not many cards that are just unbeatable, which is good. Last year it seemed like they just kept making so many of these 99 overalls, and it seemed like anyone who was paying money to the game got them. This year (At least at this point in the MUT cycle) it's a lot more balanced. The main thing I don't like is contracts, but that's better than it was last year. If it were up to me, there wouldn't be any contracts. Other than that though, I'm enjoying MUT a lot so far.
 
# 10 misterkrabz @ 09/16/14 02:55 PM
My first reaction to contracts was similar to yours (Mr. Blitz). I've learned to work around it by assembling a "Second String" team that I use to beat the easy solo challenges. Let's face it, any challenge that is at a "rookie" or "pro" level is pretty much beatable with a marginal team (e.g. 65-75 level team). I build up coins with that team, buy players at the auction that are 80 or higher and apply those players to my first string team that I use for the more difficult challenges (and more sparingly). I tend to agree that it is an annoyance but I think it keeps the pay to win players in check a little bit because they have to spend coins and contracts to keep the higher level players on the feild.It also adds to the strategy and keeps you rotating guys in out and trying other players. For example, I have a Denard Robinson (RB) card that is like a 66 (or maybe even lower) that I would have never ran with but after using him I kind of like him...he has a nice spin move and is a serviceable RB at the rookie and pro levels.
 
# 11 johnny885 @ 09/18/14 06:42 PM
I never played it until this year, but with the issues with the CFM again this year I decided to try it and I like it. I will play until the offline Connected Franchise mode will be fix.
 

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