Dr. Jekyll was Mr. Hyde. “Verbal” Kint was Kaiser Soze. And then there’s you and the you while playing FIFA Ultimate Team (FUT).  Every single person who has ever played FUT can point to a moment, or moments, when they’ve lost control and entered into an unadulterated rage. Whether it’s breaking a controller, breaking furniture or unleashing a profanity laced verbal tirade you’ve been to that dark place that is FIFA rage. 

Why do we become so toxic and angry over a video game that we know is flawed, broken and manipulated? It’s not like FIFA has ever been a proper game, for years it’s been a mess of broken mechanics, rigged rewards and in-game tampering. We know that Electronic Arts (EA) doesn’t give a fuck about fixing this game, they’re in it for the money and that money comes flowing in with digital content via FIFA Ultimate Team. For the past three editions, FIFA 18-20, this shambles of a game has eroded exponentially in terms of game play. Yet every week we put ourselves through the pain and suffering of ultra sweaty and competitive modes like FUT Champions and Division Rivals. Yet each promotion we spend money on packs (or save earned packs) hoping to hit the jackpot and 80% of the time you end up with fodder rather than funds.

I will admit I’ve broken more than a handful (or two) worth of controllers in my time playing FIFA. I’ve punched through my basement closet door and broken other TV remotes that were lying around as collateral damage. I’ve raged at Weekend League, I’ve raged at Division Rivals and I’ve even raged at pack openings. The only way I’ve been able to enjoy FUT is to not give a damn:

♦ Completely cleanse myself of Weekend League (I just can’t do it). My mental bandwidth cannot handle the pressure of having to complete games in a defined time frame while have to win a certain threshold. 

♦ Strategically buy packs when it suits you but don’t fall in love with every promotion and feel like you need to get the best card every single time they release a new colored promo set. I used to go ham on Ultimate Scream when it came out and for what? Go with cards and sets that are true-differentiators, IE: position change, upgraded weak foot, etc. 

♦ Completely ignore my Win/Loss record. The more you care about your record the less freedom you will play with and the greater likelihood you’ll play like a dirty, sweat laden rat. Your favorite streamers will call you a ‘shitter’ but who cares it’s a path to a more enjoyable life. This is the absolute key, who cares if you’re 1,000 wins and 800 losses, too bad you’ll never be a competitive gamer. Play for the moments, play for the goals, play to get the rewards you don’t have to die to get. 

While I’ve suffered through FIFA 20, I’ve played nearly 2,000 games and most all of them coming in Division Rivals, only a handful of Weekend Leagues early in the year, in a division that suits me.  I don’t play above or below my level and my record is representative of who I am as a player. I’m attacking, I manual defend, I lose to very good players, I destroy very bad players and against comparable competition I’m a coin flip. I don’t exploit meta mechanics, I don’t spam skill moves and I play formations and build ups that suit me, not what the masses prefer. 

I also feel like the more “God tier” your squad is the less rewarding the games are. It’s contrary to everything that FUT makes you believe. FUT is a mode where it makes you think the team you have is never good enough. It wants your mindset to always be looking for an upgrade because upgrades cost coins and unless you’re a strong market trader (which takes time) it means buying packs which obviously leads to money for EA. “If I only I had that new Neymar instead of this Neymar” or “Man, I wish I could upgrade my IF Mertens to the new orange Headliner Mertens” my team would be set. That’s a losing mindset.

There is a reason when you come up against that 83 rated gold Lucas card it shreds you, because some cards are just good enough to be good. You don’t need an all Prime Icon or Team of the Year squad, you can win with very manageable teams if you have the right game play and strategy. Clearly the upgraded players help, their boosts do help whether you want to admit it or not. But if you’re always yearning for something you don’t have then you will never find peace with this game. 

My misery really started in FIFA 18 when I put a ton of time and money into the game because I wanted to be really good. And I was okay, I would win about 70% of my games and I had a really good handle on the mechanics and formations that suited me.  I still couldn’t handle the stress of weekend league but online seasons and daily knockout tournaments were my jam.

I ended with this ridiculous God squad, I mean how much better could you really get? I had all of these players and for what? I couldn’t keep them in FIFA 19, I didn’t win any money playing in FIFA 18, it was all a waste. And all the while while building for this team I dealt with the stress of gaining coins, looking for deals and trying to get the most god tier team. Anything less than a 4-0 victory was frustrating. Who wants to live like that? 

Fast forward to FIFA 20, where I finally began to understand mid way through this year. I’m old. Yes, I’m old for FIFA and video gaming standards. I’m 37 and this generation of kids definitely have a different FIFA mentality than do I. Their skill moves, rainbow flicks and la croquetas are just something I will never conform to. No matter how good my team is, I will get shredded by someone who can abuse the mechanics better than me even with a team of regular golds. That’s the conclusion I came to, I suck basically. I will never be an elite player no matter how much I play because I don’t want to change my play style which I enjoy and feel like is authentic football because I don’t want to become a meta abusing fraud just to win games. 

This is why I’m no longer playing for the meta, I’m playing with teams that are unique, creative and slightly below the norm because the wins are more rewarding. Yes, I still want a high rated team but instead of spamming the joystick with Neymar I will stay in control with Sane. Instead of playing like a speed abusing rat with Jamie Vardy, I’ll play sound football with a slower striker like Sergio Aguero.

That’s what I’ve found to be the most fun in FIFA 20, winning with off-meta players that fit me. Whether it’s Shapeshifters Marcelo or Player of the Month Teemu Pukki I have more fun with them than I do with my packed 99 Team of the Season Cristiano Ronaldo. Not necessarily because they’re more fun (they are though) but when I lose playing with 99 CR7 I feel like I failed, the win was expected. When I score a hat trick with Pukki and the player rage quits before halftime that’s not expected and that surges my competitive juices, not a drag back near post goal with Messi.