I persevered with Ultimate Team through the most shockingly bad series of disruptions, disconnections, and frustrations any game has ever thrown at me. Even when playing entirely Offline, as I do, the game requires a persistent network connection that it was just unable to hang onto for some reason.
I was losing the online connection so much that I was spending more time reparing the damage to my team than actually playing.
Contracts are a key concept in this mode, and each disconnection was costing me. With no income, I couldn’t buy any more Contracts. It got to the point Monday night where I was totally stuck and couldn’t play.
Clearly, I had to resolve the PS3 network problems, or quit Ultimate Team.
Yesterday morning I sat down at the computer with a scary port forwarding guide open before me. I opened the FIFA13-critical ports on my router and configured my PS3 with a static IP address and changed the Subnet Mask and all that stuff.
It took about 10 minutes—a fraction of the time spent on PES Option Files—and I learned something. Yes, I learned how to follow a port forwarding guide.
And it worked. In two subsequent Ultimate Team sessions on Tuesday, across the span of 12 games, I suffered no problems. No disconnections. No freezes. Even the transitions between menus was snappy and swishy, whereas before it had been laggy and clunky.
So it turned out to be my router all along. Most people don’t have to resort to this kind of thing.
And we all lived happily ever after, The End.
Oh, okay then. I won two trophies. You can make significant early progress very quickly in Ultimate Team. From those 12 matches—an easy Amateur-level Cup and one Semi-Pro pseudo-League title—I raked in about 3500 Coins. I probably made another 1000 Coins on top of that from Auctioning off a load of cards I didn’t need.
All of which enabled me to go shopping, and do this:
Click here for a version you can interact with, and see all the Bronze substitutes and reserves. I bought all-Spanish players who favoured the formation I play with.
Bronze to Silver in a day isn’t the kind of growth timescale you’d see in a Master League or Career Mode. But I’d be playing one of those modes if that’s the kind of experience I was after right now. Life at the moment is very busy. It could be the weekend before I get another chance to play.
And having spent all my Coins (I think I’ve got 57 left), I’ll have to play for quite a while with this lot—keeping them all topped up with costly Contracts as we go along—in order to get to the next level.
Yes, that is Tony Pulis as my manager. Why? He also favours the 4-3-1-2 formation I play with, and as such he helps boost my team chemistry. A starting team plays hilariously badly without chemistry.
(NB: only my Tony Pulis—that one specific card I found in the Auction house—favours the 4-3-1-2. Other Tony Pulis cards will favour other formations. The Panini effect is strong in this game.)
That player in the hole, BUENO, the 71-rated CF, is the one whose basic stats are displayed bottom left. He’s played 4 matches and scored 6 for me so far. He’s my best player, a true stocky no. 10 in the classic mould. Seems to play above his stats, in the olde PES tradition.
Right now I can only spend an hour or two on gaming every couple of days. Ultimate Team is right up my street. I like the set-up, I like the feel, I like the rhythms of this game world.
It’s something fresh.
Or, as perhaps those 1970s tunesmiths Showaddywaddy would have it, there are three steps to heaven. You find a mode to love. It falls in love with you. You kiss, and hold it tightly.
This is going to run and run. There’s no prospect of a return to PES in the short term. Even if Ultimate Team fades away, I’ll segue straight into Career Mode, with a wholly renewed zest towards FIFA.
I played a few non-Ultimate Team matches yesterday, just to put FIFA13′s gameplay through its paces.
I played a few of those concept Club games where you play as your club and contribute to some real-life table or other, or something (don’t ask me, because I dunno).
Coventry vs Leicester was a great game. I scored a peach of a chest-and-volley with Stephen Elliott. It’s the first goal below. The second goal is from Ultimate Team and shows BUENO scoring a lovely 20-yarder on his debut—the only goal from outside the box I’ve scored in UT yet:
(Sorry for picture quality. I’m using a new moviemaking phone app that won’t export to higher resolution. I’m getting a different moviemaking app soon.)
That second goal confusingly shows me wearing Atletico Madrid’s kit. That’s because it is my team’s new kit. I wanted to keep the Spanish theme running through this whole thing. I’ve still got the Fiorentina kit (and the Coventry kit) in storage.