Despite EA Sports’ rebranding efforts with the introduction of EA SPORTS FC, a departure from a nearly three-decade-long association with FIFA, a sense of weariness seems to have spread in its flagship mode – Ultimate Team (UT).
The addition of Women’s Football, new features like Evolutions, a revamped UI system, and a departure from the ‘FIFA’ brand have not mitigated the collective feeling of boredom and repetitiveness. In this article, we delve into the factors that have caused Ultimate Team 24 to stumble in its steps.
EA often gets it right with initial promos that generate excitement, provided they are fresh and not rebranded concepts. Yet, the community has frequently pointed out that many promos lack originality. A completely fresh promo remains elusive in EA FC 24, despite an array of offerings so far:
Nike Mad Ready, an exclusive event for Nike-sponsored players, was a nod to Nike’s partnership with EA but failed to enhance the game’s dynamics. Trailblazers, offering just an additional layer to the TOTW upgrades, and RTTK, although necessary, recycles previous concepts without bringing surprises to the community, the same applies to FUT Centurions.
The game is still in its early days, but the feeling of unoriginality cannot be ignored regarding these promos, which is especially unfortunate as that is EA’s moneymaker, so players rightfully expect them to justify the investment. Unfortunately, even the idea of a swaps-style promo has yet to be floated.
The Same Old Routine
The progression and purpose of Ultimate Team are too predictable. The game’s lifecycle involves starting with a low-rated ‘meta’ team, navigating through the same game modes and menus to build a top-tier squad by August. The routine has solidified into a formulaic, one dimensional path since FIFA 17—competing in Division Rivals and Champions, interspersed with Squad Battles, and using the rewards as fodder for SBCs in order to get better players and more wins.
Although successful, this cycle has reduced the passion many once had for Ultimate Team and if you are one of them, this could be the very reason for the lack of enthusiasm.
Moreover, the game’s pay-to-win structure has become more pronounced, with EA’s severance from FIFA leading to an increased focus on microtransactions. In-game purchases, like packs worth 3,000 points, simply destroys the value of strategic play and club management this early in Ultimate Team.
Evolutions Don’t Live Up to the Hype
This one is really frustrating. Intended as a game-changing addition from a gameplay perspective, Evolutions has come off as a premium version of Objectives. Despite a significant number of Evolutions available for completion, their implementation has been lackluster.
It is not the kind of addition that celebrates authenticity, as we aren’t upgrading our favourite footballers and progressing their Evolutions in enjoyment, favouring a more diverse squad creation ethic. Instead, we are paying for upgrades for players with meta stats, so we can add them to our best team in order to win more games in Division Rivals and Champions.
The process of evolving cards, which should be enjoyable, has turned into a tedious task as the only way to ensure you aren’t wasting time with progression is to complete objectives in Squad Battles on semi-pro difficulty, which lacks any sort of challenge. Everyone is completing the same Evolutions as quick as possible for the meta that can achieve more wins in the competitive based game modes.
Paid evolutions are perfect for EA. You are either;
– Buying FC Points, or
– Spending liquid coins, which drains your resources. Your ability to buy cards/complete player SBCs decreases. Then they hope you load up FC Points.
Their greed is worse than ever this year.#FC24
— Jaymes (@Jaymes94_) October 27, 2023
But the worst issue by far is that the game allows progress only one Evolution at a time, so if EA decides to release an Evolution that requires 40 games (which they did), and another that requires 20, that means it’ll cost players 60 separate games to upgrade two players. This is worse than Objectives, because in that case, players can complete multiple objectives at the same time.
What should have brought back the nostalgic enjoyment of playing with the cards you wanted to take to the pitch, combined with the premise of upgrading cards to use in the competitive and more casual game modes, has been basic in execution, and a nuisance to complete.
Game Modes: The Core Issue
The fundamental problem in Ultimate Team are the game modes. While each mode is necessary, including Moments, no substantial new gameplay-oriented mode has been introduced to mark the transition from FIFA to EA FC.
EA could have easily refreshed game modes such as Draft and Champions and make them Co-Op orientated with some minor tweaks. This type of change was demonstrated in Squad Battles, where the 6 minutes halves were reduced to 4.
its needed a revamp for so long, there is no incentive to play the game during the week, we need a weekend league type game mode to play during the week to keep the game exciting
— Jay (@lfcjayyyy) October 19, 2023
A far less mentioned point in the discussion of Ultimate Team Game Modes is the balance it provides to the mode itself. There just hasn’t been a real gameplay-refining addition or change in a long time, and the lack of balance in Ultimate Team’s competitive and casual play is palpable.
Once you complete the weekly wins in Division Rivals, you have nothing to really play for if you’ve qualified for UT Champions. A large percentage of the community don’t want to consistently play competitive game modes that require you to be at your very best in every match, and yet this is the situation almost every UT player is currently facing.
It is either an ultra-competitive setting, or a relaxed and boring one, there’s no middle ground. Adding back Seasons, or redesigning and implementing the FIFA 18 World Cup Ultimate Team tournament mode into EA FC would even the balance in the long run.
While the article focuses on the shortcomings of EA SPORTS FC’s Ultimate Team, it’s not without recognition of the game’s positives. However, the intent here is to spotlight areas for improvement, as all passionate UT players want what’s best for the most popular football game on the planet.