Early July. The football gaming world is in hibernation mode. So of course it’s time for me to sample FIFA19’s notorious Ultimate Team mode.
Why ‘notorious’? Because Ultimate Team was the first mode of its kind on the scene, back in FIFA09, I believe (the Internet is vague). It’s 10 years old this year (probably). ‘Ultimate Team’ is still a byword for everything that’s profoundly wrong with football gaming in our time.
The focus on big-name stars. The absolute farce of being able to have an instant squad of world-beaters. The pressure to take things online and play against so-called ‘other people’.
Ultimate Team puzzled everyone. What is it for? What does it do?
Whatever else it was for, it helped create a new dynamic that has steadily undermined all football gaming over the past decade, culminating in the abomination of ‘eFootball PES 2020’.
Now that my statutory anti-online foaming at the mouth is out of the way with, on with today’s shortened show.
I picked a squad, a badge, and a strip almost at random. Dresden Fortuna the club. Holland the badge. Andy Carroll my free Gold player. Reus my free loan player. All very very familiar from a certain other mode…A genuine question that I would love to know the answer to: how haven’t EA sued the backside off Konami over its UT knock-off, myClub? Konami didn’t just copy the basic idea of Ultimate Team. They copied its entire appearance and function too.
Here is my very first goal – a nice fast breakaway and finish. Always great when you play the pass that puts the player through on goal, and then finish it off.
I won this opening match 3-0 and was happy with the rewards.
I played another one after it, and won that 1-0.
As usual, FIFA19’s general gameplay rarely disappoints me. It’s absorbing, intricate, interesting.
The AI could be a little more aggressive, and there could be a few fouls here and there to break up the play and offer something else to do.
When will single-players ever be catered for again in general gameplay terms? An ‘AI aggression’ slider would seem to be the obvious solution, and perfectly in keeping with FIFA’s famous customisation ethic. But so far, nothing. And EA very interestingly observes a Great Silence on the whole topic of single-player fouls. There’s more evidence for the existence of Bigfoot than there is evidence of EA taking the matter seriously. So I’m not holding out any hope.
Will I play Ultimate Team again? I could do, but probably won’t.
I think it might be time for me to put my PC installation of PES2019 through a proper week or two.
It’ll at least be an interesting summertime test to see if I do have it in me to be a PC football gamer. (Spoiler alert: no.)