Right around 2010, EA Sports’ FIFA series finally began to gain steam after years of, what some might call, mediocrity. It was during this time EA stumbled upon a gold mine of a feature. It was implemented as a simple add-on midway through the lifespan of FIFA 09, and it transformed the way we would consume sports games in the years to come. That add-on was, of course, Ultimate Team.
It has since been incorporated into most of EA Sports’ properties, generating vast profits for the company in the process. The FIFA series is where it all began, and where it arguably still thrives the most. There’s a vast number of players who buy FIFA on a yearly basis and play nothing but Ultimate Team, spending countless sums of money or in-game cash to acquire the best players.
Yet, as engulfing and addictive an experience as Ultimate Team continues to be, the mode could benefit from improvements. People will continue to spend big money and devote themselves to the mode regardless, but minor changes could make it even more intriguing for those who don't currently believe the hype.
In the early years of FIFA Ultimate Team, a collection feature encouraged players to obtain team-specific items to gain rewards. Eventually, this feature disappeared. However, NHL 16 has retained this idea, providing an extra incentive for players to keep trading and opening packs. In recent years, there has been a notable interest from the fans to bring this feature back. Hopefully, it won’t be too long before it makes a resurgence.
Enhanced FUT Draft
FUT Draft was a welcome feature addition last year, offering players an alternative way of gaining packs and sampling some of the mode’s greatest players. To avoid the risk of it languishing in the background in FIFA 17, it needs to expand for its second outing. A wider variety of rewards would be beneficial, especially if rare players were offered as a result of winning tournaments. It'd also be nice if EA opened up a free-access period from time to time instead of asking us to spend our hard-earned coins or real-world cash to play it.
Greater Focus On Customization
The whole concept of Ultimate Team is built around creating a personalized squad, but there’s far too little customization involved to create that emotional connection. I’m sick of playing teams with Real Madrid shirts and Barcelona badges. I can’t differentiate between any of them; they all feel so generic. In FIFA 17, it’d be great if a shirt designer could be implemented, as well as a badge creator and stadium builder. The more customization implemented in this mode; the better. If EA wants to make us feel like we're crafting our own team, we need more reasons to feel connected to it.
Incentives To Use Bronze/Silver Players
In the early days of FIFA Ultimate Team, it wasn’t uncommon to find yourself matched up against bronze and silver players. Those days are over, and these players are rarely utilized anymore. Occasional tournaments are held to keep them relevant, but that’s the only time you’ll see them. Greater rewards for winning against teams with higher stats would provide more incentives to use them. We also need more reasons to incorporate these players within our squads, such as an additional boost of chemistry. At this point in time, so many players in the FIFA database are wasted due to their silver and bronze categorizations.
Those who struggle in online competition are often tempted to quit the game early. There’s a lack of interest to keep playing on their part, resulting in disconnections. If challenges could be implemented to offer gameplay-based rewards, it’d give players a reason to keep going, even when losing by a large margin. Anything from scoring a set number of goals to making a certain number of tackles would be enough to ensure games remain competitive until the end.
The current structure of the Seasons format is fine, but it’s not very investing. There’s no league table system, and promotion/relegation doesn’t rely on any other team’s results but our own. At the very least, it’d be good to see a playoff structure in place, allowing those on the brink of promotion to go through a mini-tournament to try and make that final push at the end of the season. In an ideal world, I'd like to see an actual league table with other players' teams in it. It’d be difficult to implement, but at the moment, it feels like I'm playing an endless stream of games without experiencing any of the excitement of a real-world league system.