As a Spurs fan, there are a few things I’m not very fond of, one of which being at Chelsea’s home ground! Alas, an invite to Stamford Bridge to take a look at FIFA 10’s Ultimate Team a whole month before release was just too much of a good thing to pass up – especially considering its my favourite mode in the franchise.
First of all I want to say Paul Hossack and his team have definitely been listening to fan feedback from last years mode, and for the last 10 months have been hard at work to bring us the best version of Ultimate Team yet.
The first change you will immediately notice is the new interface. Whilst the top level of the “tree system” is still in effect, you have a lot more control over things from each section. For example, if you want to change out a player in your squad for a stored card (more on that later), you only need to press a few buttons and the player is replaced. Last year involved a lot of up/down scrolling, and in fairness with the amount of cards you hold and need to work through it will always be like this to a degree, but at least this year we get to scroll left/right instead. We also have a badge of honour which shows how long you have been playing Ultimate Team for, those of us who have been playing since day 1 on Fifa09 will be given a “founder” badge, whilst others will have to make do with the month and year they started.
The number of leagues players available within the mode has reached 29 from last years 19, and also now contains 7500 players which is up from last years 4500.
You also have the ability to send cards from you squad to a communal team pot which replaces the collection book. This means that instead of sending cards to an album where they are rendered useless, they are sent to a collection of cards that you can pull players from and place in any of your 15 squads with just a few button presses.
Speaking of cards, there have been a few changes to the system. You can now store up to 50 “consumable” cards such as training, contracts & modifiers. The trade pile also returns and has a 30 card limit. The rare cards also have a nice little touch added to them with a shiny sheen over the card so you can now distinguish the difference between the regular and rare cards. You are also now able to keep cards that have expired contracts, you will need to move them in to your player pool until you renew the contract but you will not loose them altogether like in 09.
Another one of the big changes to this years version is the overhaul to the way that training works. Training cards no longer grant you a permanent stat increase on your players and now increase the players ability for just one game. A few new training card types were also spotted such as player passing +15 for one game which will further add to the tactical aspects of building your team for certain tournaments and games against friends.
Speaking of team building, the chemistry system has also had an overhaul and now makes for some very interesting combinations to be created for max chemistry – especially with the new linking system. For example, if I have Daniel Alves at right back of a 4-4-2 formation, although its not his preferred formation, the position obviously is, so he would still get chemistry rating. He is then linked to both a centre back and my right midfielder, where I can have anyone from either the same country or club for their chemistry link with Alves to become active. Also, unlike in the 09 version of the mode, playing a player in a similar position to his card will also award partial chemistry. This works for having a wing back play at full back or a centre forward player playing as a striker. These are just a few examples of what would qualify, which means the combinations of creating that 100 rated chemistry are just the limits of your own imagination.
Another new feature making it to this year’s version is dynamic tournaments. New tournaments, their squad criteria and rewards will be announced 1 or 2 days before they go live and will remain up for a limited period of time. Each release will contain both 1 online and 1 CPU tournament. This means you will be ripping apart and re-assembling squads on a regular basis if you intend to compete in all available tournaments. Another new feature that will allow you off console access to your squad and player pool is the new integration of Ultimate Team on EA Sports Football World. Here you will be able to log-in and arrange your squads, check tournament information and also “show off” your team to your friends. Expect further information on this soon.
There have also been a few enhancements to the trade system within the mode. You can now break your search down to more fields than ever before. There is also the new watch list, where you can select a number of auctions to be added to the list for easy tracking as the auction comes to a close. This is particularly useful as the end of auctions have also changed. Now when bidding 15 seconds need to pass from the last bid for the auction to actually finish, which should add some more last minute drama in auctions for some of the more elusive player cards.
Pack types remain largely the same with Bronze, Silver and Gold packs available for 500, 2500 and 5000 credits respectively. There is the new addition of the “special deals” section however which will include regular promotions on different packs of cards. The one shown in our demo were the double silver pack which cost 5000 coins and included the contents of 2 silver packs, but with the added bonus of an extra rare card (making a total of 3). We can also expect to see the same for both Bronze and Gold packs. Regards to what else to expect Hossack was remaining tight lipped, but admitted that the system at their end allowed them to do what they wanted with it, without the need for patching as it is a pretty open system at their end.
There is one other special type of promotion that has been added and that’s the special edition player cards. Every week a best 11 will be selected from the weekends games, and special edition cards based on players performance will will be released and take place of the regular players card. This means that if a player like Torres or Rooney have a good weekend and bag themselves a few goals, a card with improved attributes will be released (possibly in even limited numbers as seen in Madden 10’s Ultimate Team). It should also be noted that the stats will not reduce after one game like training cards. These cards would therefore become pretty rare and worth quite a lot on the trade market.
As you can see a lot of changes have been made since last years Ultimate Team, Paul Hossack and his team deserve a lot of credit for what they have come up with. The enthusiasm of the mode from Hossack himself definitely came across and there is definitely a future for it in the Fifa franchise.
FIFA 10 Ultimate Team is released on February 26th 2010 on XBOX Live and Playstation Network for £3.99 / 400 Microsoft points, a copy of Fifa 10 is required to play.
(Preview written by Adam Webb from XboxGamingBlog)