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Ultimate Team, or Ultimate Procrastination

Wednesday 8th February 2017
The FIFA video game franchise is hugely popular these days; with a lot of its players favouring the relatively new mode – Ultimate Team. Is this mode actually worth the amount of time spent on it?

For those of you who aren't au fait with the concept of Ultimate Team, it's essentially a trading card game within FIFA. You buy packs, which have cards – which resemble players, kits, stadia, virtually everything customizable about a team on the game. You can then assemble your favourite football attributes together to make the…Ultimate Team. At least in theory anyway.

Whilst on the face of it this may sound rather exciting, the reality can leave you rather frustrated. Largely down to the allocation of players you want; and how hard it is to get them. Most logical football fans will appreciate Lionel Messi is one of the best footballers, and as result wouldn't mind him as a resource in their ultimate team. Fat chance of that. Messi and other deities of world football do not come around often at all. Having played the game for the best part of four years now, the closest I've seen to anything like this is Ivan Rakitić.
One lucky chap playing the game.

Yes, you can buy players via auctions; but this will rinse your virtual currency. If you even have it. If you don't want to put real money into the game, then you're going to have to earn coins by mostly playing games. Without any boosts, promotions or any other factors to increase your coin collection, the average game you play will give you anywhere from around 320 to 700 coins. Considering that the going rate for Messi at the minute is over 700,000, you would have to play one-thousand games of FIFA just to have anywhere near the amount required for him. I've done the math and it's not pleasant reading. You'd have to play FIFA non-stop for the best part of nine days – make that ten if you're not getting a sturdy 700 coins every game. That's not a gaming experience, that's a lifestyle choice: and probably not a very wholesome one.

FIFA in both entities is probably lapping it up. Gamers want these cards resembling their favourite footballers so much that without direction probably will go on made FIFA benders, or get out their wallet and pay the price for virtual money and try to buy them. Either way, it furthers the funding for the corporation as well as cementing the legend and allure of these contemporary players. For me, Alan Smith (old one for Arsenal), is just as prolific a player as Messi. Although the gamers of his day couldn't try to capture his digital image. As he played and retired before this gaming revolution, he won't be revered half as much as Messi is, which is rather sad. At least he's on the commentary team for the game.

Whilst the tone of the article may have come off rather negative, I am not without praise for the mode. This year, the mode has a rather enjoyable exercise. “Squad building challenges” are a welcome addition. This gives you certain parameters to build a squad, then you must fulfil it. I.e. seven Turkish players, playing in La Liga with 75+ chemistry, the possibilities are endless. The mode is rather generous; whilst it can ask for the impossible, sometimes it has a tendency to ask for lower ranked players in exchange for better players. One of the best examples of this is where you can complete several challenges – and as a reward, you get a very highly rated player. I'm currently trying to complete the Süper Lig challenge, where at the end you receive a Samuel Eto'o card. Whilst it's rather enjoyable I have doubts whether I'll be able to finish it. It's a drawn out affair and rather time-consuming – that said it's less depressing that lining yourself up for that big Messi-inspired gaming binge.

All things considered – for me Ultimate Team just doesn't seem to be worth the time. You've also got to contemplate the fact that every year when the new FIFA comes out – you can't carry over any of your cards! You start at absolute zero. That means, all the time and potentially money you spent on your team are essentially down the drain. Think I'll stick to my season with Morecambe from now on.
Warren Smith

Yokohama F•Marinos supporter. Seen it all in the J.League, relegation fights and being crowned champions. Play five-a-side, pretty good too. Once scored an overhead kick.

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