New to FIFA/Ultimate Team? You’re not alone.
After a free-to-play Thanksgiving Weekend 2016 in the States, Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales, or maybe an early Christmas gift, plenty of soon-to-be football (a.k.a. soccer) gaming enthusiasts are in the same boat as you.
Maybe you’ve heard of Ultimate Team, be it in FIFA, Madden, or NHL. Perhaps you’ve seen wild YouTube videos of streamers pulling crazy cards or pros pulling off once-in-a-million goals with what look like super teams.
Whatever your level of familiarity or curiosity with the most-played mode in each year’s EA Sports FIFA game, we’re here to sort reality from myth, break down the barriers to entry, and help you hit the ground running on one of the most fun sports video game experiences you could possibly have.
What is FIFA Ultimate Team?
FIFA Ultimate Team (or FUT) is a combination of fantasy football/soccer, card collecting/trading, and the FIFA game you grew up loving.
Do I have to pay to play it?
Like any video game from this era of micro-transactions, you can enhance your experience if you’re lucky enough to have some disposable income you’re able to put into it.
If you don’t have a credit card, any spare money to put into a trading card game, or simply don’t want to pay, you definitely don’t have to.
Whatever time and effort you put into the game can close some of the gaps from those that pay and those that don’t. And who knows. With a little luck, you might wind up with just as good of a team as any you’ll come up against.
How do I get started playing?
Glad you asked. Go ahead and launch FIFA and when prompted, setup an EA Access account. You’ll need this if you want to take your FUT experience to the next level by setting your lineup and/or buying/selling players online with the FIFA Ultimate Team Web App.
After you do, enter the Ultimate Team game mode:
You’ll be greeted with the following intro and your very first FUT cards:
You start out with 3 untradeable non-rare gold cards and 19 untradeable non-rare bronze (the lowest rated variety in the game). The great Spencer Owen (aka Spencer FC) once even packed an in-form (the 18 best players in real football each week as selected by EA and given special, enhanced cards just for that week) for one of his non-rare golds on his starter team. It’s improbable, but you never know.
Is this the team I’m stuck with?
These players are untradeable and unless you use them in a Squad Building Challenge, a game mode where you permanently exchange players in your club for prizes, they’ll be with you to the bitter end. But they’re just the beginning.
By playing games, completing achievements, and if you feel so inclined, purchasing packs either with in-game currency or actual money, you’ll expand and build upon your foundation with some of your favorites perhaps even the best footballers in the world if Lady Luck smiles upon you.
This is a bit overwhelming. What should I do first?
Whether you’re a returning pro or a first-timer, I always recommend you start by progressing through the “Manager Tasks”. Each task is greeted with a reward to improve your collection while better acclimating you to some of the finer points of the game:
Just for launching FUT for the first time, you automatically get a reward. On XBOX One, that means a Loan Legend Pack:
What’s a loan player/the small white number in blue mean?
As introduced in FIFA 15 Ultimate Team, loan players are full cards you can pack (or sometimes get for free) that only have a shelf life of however many games the loan is for. While the loan can’t be extended with contracts, as of FUT 16, you can merge loan cards to play more games with that loan player.
The number on the card indicates how many games the loan card has remaining.
I’m trying to get players in the “right” positions. What does that mean and how does chemistry work?
Depending on the formation you choose (and there are many), you’ve got a number of positions you can play players in. While you theoretically could put any card in any which position, it’ll negatively impact their chemistry, which hinders how they perform in game.
To complete the correct position tutorial, you can put the following cards interchangeably in one of the positions they’re listed with:
- Strikers (ST) and Center Forwards (CF)
- Left Midfielders (LM) and Left Wingers (LW)
- Center Midfielders (CM), Center Attacking Midfielders (CAM), and Center Defensive Midfielders (CDM)
- Right Midfielders (RM) and Right Wingers (RW)
- Left-backs (LB) and Left Wing Backs (LWB)
- Right-backs (RB) and Right Wing Backs (RWB)
- Center-backs (CB) and Goalies (GK) have to be set in their respective positions and can’t be substituted with any other position type
So, this chemistry thing?
It gets fairly technical fairly quickly, but here’s the TL;DR:
EA themselves put it pretty well a year ago:
In FIFA Ultimate Team™, building the best possible side requires strong Chemistry. It’s mainly about the relationships between players. Both players and teams perform at their best when their Chemistry is high, and you’ll see the results on the pitch in the form of stunning passes and epic goals.
Chemistry can be built in a number of ways. Putting players in their preferred positions and linking them with fellow players from the same Club or League will produce Chemistry. You can also build Chemistry by pairing players who have the same nationality or enlisting a manager with the same nationality as players on the roster.
Players who have been loyal to a club will obtain a Chemistry boost. Whereas a player signed via the Transfer Market will need to play ten matches before becoming loyal, all players obtained through Packs or who were initially on a squad will automatically have this boost applied.
Wait, what are Packs?
Much like collectible physical trading cards, FIFA Ultimate Team is driven by packs of cards. The card types in FIFA include players that you can use in-game, “consumables”, cards that are single use to restore your players’ fitness (think stamina) or heal them from injuries, club items (uniforms aka kits, badges aka your team’s logo, and the stadium you play in), as well as staff (coaches which enhance in-game team stats/performance or managers, who as mentioned impact overall team chemistry).
There are 6 different base pack types and a laundry list of rotating limited availability packs:
And just 2 of the dozens of promo/limited time or quantity Packs
How do you buy Packs?
Either with coins, which you earn in-game from playing the game and/or trading items you acquire or by purchasing FIFA points with real money:
Is that it?
Afraid it’s just the tip of the iceberg.
So I do the Manager Tasks and then what?
Play the game! The more you play, the more you’ll get out of it. There are no shortcuts, even with spending money on FIFA Points. The more time and sweat equity you put into your Ultimate Team, the more you’ll get out of it.