FIFA 18 Ultimate Team is a massive time-sink, to the extent that I recently wrote an article about it not being suitable for casual gamers. I was wrong.
In FIFA’s Ultimate Team mode, players build squads of their favourite players then compete online. It’s great but it’s addictive. Highly addictive. Starting with a bare-bones squad of mostly throwaway footballers, players compete online and offline to earn coins. These coins can be used to either buy players outright or to buy “Packs” of random players in the hope that they get someone worthwhile. For those low on time or patience or just cash-rich, there is the option to buy FUT Points, which can be used to buy the random Packs too.
In my article about Ultimate Team not being suitable for casual gamers, I noted the price of players on the transfer market as a key reason for casual players being shunted aside.
The likelihood of a casual player ever having premium players like Greizmann or Hazard, let alone Ronaldo or Messi, is slim to none. Realistically, the only opportunity they have of ever owning these top-level players is to get them in a pack – and those odds are even lower.
But that doesn’t mean that casual players cannot enjoy Ultimate Team. We can still assemble decent squads and compete with the more hardcore players.
There are many 84 rated players who do not cost the earth in FIFA Ultimate team. At the time of writing, 84-rated Mauro Icardi costs 4K coins on PC, 84-rated Kostas Manolas costs 4.9K coins and 84-rated Marco Asensio costs 4.9K coins. There are many, many more examples.
These players are perfectly achievable for players who can commit to playing a handful of games a week. Even Gonzalo Higuain, 90-rated, can be had for 77K coins, which is feasible with a bit of dedication.
There is also the Squad Building Challenge mode, where players build squads of players to meet certain criteria. Some criteria are easy, while others demand some more dexterity – some will have you pulling your hair out.
SBC mode has decent rewards, including coins, gold packs and even rewarding players with a rare version of a player with boosted stats. The great thing about SBC mode is that it can be played on any PC, laptop or mobile device, making it easy to earn coins when eating your cereal in the morning, commuting or pretending to be vaguely interested in your partners choice of TV programme.
Casual players can build strong-enough squads to be competitive online. We can play games with strong squads and – on occasion – school those with much more time and different priorities than our own. We can have players from the best teams in the world turning out in our choice of kit in our choice of stadium. Never being able to have Messi or Ronaldo shouldn’t hinder the enjoyment; we can play as Real Madrid or Barcelona if we get desperate.
Casual players can still have a lot of fun with FIFA Ultimate Team and at the end of the day, that’s all that matters.