I can’t help but feel like the lack of changes to my beloved career mode in FIFA 19 are intended to bring players across to FIFA’s cash cow, Ultimate Team.
It’s not overly perceptive to see that Ultimate Team gets the most love from EA Sports in its yearly FIFA release. After all, this is the meat of where EA Sports’ profits on the series come from. But as a predominantly career mode player since as far back as FIFA 2004, every year I hope for bulkier, more defined features brought to the mode. Most years I’m let down. FIFA 19 in particular has been a sore spot; apart from the Champion’s League and Europa League licenses sewn in, nothing else was changed in career mode.
But there, always waiting, is Ultimate Team. It bides its time, but eventually it sneaks up on you.
For a few weeks before Christmas, I’d written about not much else other than Ultimate Team in our “This Week, We ‘Ave Mostly Been Playing…” feature. I confess it’s something that still gives me an icky feeling; it feels like I’m doing something I shouldn’t be. I just wanted something out of FIFA that was challenging and forever changing; it’s difficult to pluck up the desire to go through multiple seasons in career mode because no matter what team I pick, and no matter challenges I set myself, it always gets stale fast.
Ultimate Team is updated weekly with Team of the Week, and new SBCs including FIFA 19’s popular Flashback cards – a card for a player currently in FIFA 19, but of one of their greatest seasons a few years back. A new card can come along that fits in your main team, or any side teams you’ve created. Playing against other people and climbing a constant level of difficulty keeps the matches challenging, with actual tactical nous needed against opponents.
Once Christmas was over (and FUTmas had finished), I’d dropped interest and thought I’d freed myself – but along came Team of the Year. I was lucky enough to get one of the TOTY players without spending money: Kante. Now I’m in danger of committing myself back to going for the weekend league, and trying to get some decent rewards for player pick packs. And just this week future star cards have been announced – cards that have stats for where players with great potential could be in the next few years. It seems that Ultimate Team is never going to let me out of its grip.
To try and combat this, I’ve started another career mode game, but this time with new slider adjustments to attempt to make the gameplay more realistic. I’m using the transfer markets smarter by investing more in the future, looking at young players that will take over in the years to come.
When it comes to FIFA 20 later this year, I feel like EA must realise it has hit a wall outside of Ultimate Team. Career mode players are frustrated and pro clubs players are frustrated; we need more defined and bulkier systems in these modes. In the case of career mode, that means bringing some systems back from earlier years. More control of backroom staff, and staff upgrades in career mode has been absent for years. The youth system could be implemented better, too, as could a lot of the systems in career mode. That’s where the majority of my career mode frustration comes from. EA Sports implements something new, but you look at it and think “is that really the best you could do?”.