The days for wishing for revamped and realistic game play are over, I know the day will never come. There is no point putting faith in a company that has continually let us down year after year. It’s like the kid who asks Santa Claus for a Unicorn. So instead of listing things like “improved A.I. offensive runs” and “better first touch dribbling”, I’m going to list simple things that can be done to improve FIFA 21 Ultimate Team. 

FIFA 20 knocked the biggest item off my list this past week when they added a special card filter that now allows you to sort between Rare & Non Rare cards as well as each individual special card series. In other words the functionality we’ve had on Futbin we now get in game.  The new filter has saved a ton of time when creating squads for SBCs. This is a huge win and an enhancement we’ve needed for the past two years. 

The common thread you’ll see throughout this article and EA I hope you’re listening:

REWARD PEOPLE FOR PLAYING YOUR GAME. DON’T PUNISH THE PEOPLE WHO ARE STILL LOYAL TO YOU.

1) Bring back Special Tournaments

Aside from participating in weekly objectives where you have specific requirements for squads or player achievements (but you have to play them on a mode that allows for any team selection) every mode is a free for all. In FUT Champions, Division Rivals & Friendlies you can play with any team you choose. 

I miss the days when EA had all Silver tournaments or all Brazilian teams, things like that. They force you to play outside the boring meta.  EA would need to be smart about this because if the requirements aren’t written correctly then people will have a squad that meets the letter of the law but will immediately sub off 3 players and force 3 players on who don’t meet the spirit of the law. For example, if you have to have 11 MLS players in your Starting XI the purpose is to play with MLS players clearly so why not make the entire roster be MLS players. Don’t allow some snake to sub on Ronaldo, Neymar and an Icon. 

2) Revise Chemistry System

This could be my biggest gripe with FIFA offline content right now. The chemistry system has basically been the same since FIFA started. You get strong links for same club > league > nation. This makes some players more valuable than others because of “linkability”. Every card deals with this chemistry equation except Icons who strong link to anyone, think of them as a free space so depending on your formation they are very strategic for linking hard to use players. 

We have to blow up this system or allow for some type of modifications.  Here are my suggestions (below and #3) to allow for more diverse teams, emphasize first owner cards (EA happy because this means packs) and rewarding player loyalty. 

• Special Card to Special Card links with increased chemistry attributes. Example all Ultimate Scream have strong links to other Ultimate Scream cards no matter what league or nation. But Ultimate Scream will not have special links to FUT Birthday cards. 

• Seasonal Milestones allowing you to give a card +2 auto boost to chemistry. Similar to how you reach XP totals to gain packs, celebrations and player cards there should be a chemistry boost card to apply permanently to one specific card. 

3) Full Chemistry for Loyalty 

FIFA is seemingly the only game that doesn’t reward you for playing the game. You would think this is counter-intuitive to their mission.  If I were a game developer I would want 2 things: customer satisfaction when playing the game and having my user base play the game as often and as long as humanly possible. 

EA doesn’t operate that way. They want you feeling like your team is never good enough and the only way to win is to buy these shiny new colored cards. They also want chemistry to be frustrating because sometimes what you pack doesn’t fit in your team. You’re constantly in this battle of trying to make players fit into this evolving puzzle and you’re forced to spend coins on upgrades as your team evolves. It really can be stressful finding a perfect 100 chemistry team with everyone on 10 individual chemistry and utilizing all the players you want to incorporate. But in the end we all end up with the same type of teams in the same formation with the same 20 players. 

What if we could change that? What if you could finally play with players outside the Top 5 nations and leagues? What if instead of figuring out a way to get Mbappe who costs more than you can afford but fits your chemistry needs you could insert that SBC Aritz Aduriz card you spent 150K for and use with your first team? 

There needs to be a reward for loyalty, I’m thinking round games of 50 and 100 based on if they are first owner packed/SBC and purchased via the transfer market. I think that’s a long enough grind for these players to have earned improved chemistry in your team. 

• Guaranteed 10 chemistry for players with 50 club games (1st owner/SBC)

• Guaranteed 10 chemistry for players with 100 club games (purchased)

I know what you’re thinking that people are going to then have the ability for super-mega teams, grander than they are today, with Neymar and Ronaldo and Messi all linking into the same starting line-up because they reached 100 games of loyalty. Yes, that’s true this will happen 100%. Quite frankly it already happens when players find an easy link formation and insert Ronaldo at CDM and Messi and ST and then changing everything in game to manipulate the chemistry system.

But think of the doors this opens, all players now become more valuable, no one is throw away because of their league or nation. You can build YOUR Ultimate Team the way you want and not the Ultimate Team that EA wants you to build. 

4) Eliminate ST to CDM Position Switching

As stated above, there are certain formations that make chemistry easier to obtain. None more prevalent than Cristiano Ronaldo who doesn’t have a lot of meta players in the Serie A to team with and even lesser options from a Portugal side. Some people stash Ronaldo at central defensive mid, linked to two Icon defenders and then once the game starts move him back to striker because he’s already on 10 chemistry.

This is incredibly stupid. Either change the chemistry system which we’re definitely advocating for or eliminate the preposterous position changes.  I’m not sure what the answer here is because I would want a ST to be able to slide down to CAM but really go no further. However a CAM you should be able to boost up to a CF and drop back into a CDM role as well.  Again I don’t have the answer but going from ST to CDM shouldn’t be a thing. 

5) Increase Risk/Reward system for moving away from Balanced

By far without a shadow of a doubt my biggest complaint about FIFA 20 is how someone can just flip a CPU driven switch and change the entire outcome of a game. I don’t know how many times I’ve gone up 2-0 within the first 20 minutes of a game only for that player to realize their tactics are being destroyed and the only way they can get back into the game is to switch to Constant Pressure with a wide formation.

The CPU runs around like banshees controlling the 9 other position players having them intercept and deflect passes, harass the dribbler and contain counter attacks in perfect synchronization without any repercussions. Time and time again this team will allow the losing team to gain possession and create chances to eventually equalize or flat out win the game because the “OP” computer changed the entire game. It’s ridiculous and undeserved.

If you’re going to make the “rewards” this great then you need to increase the risk for that team as well. The team needs to be drained of energy and not just in the 80th minute, you should only be allowed to sustain constant pressure for maybe 20 minutes of a game. The stamina to run around in frenzied containment like that has to be absolutely draining on all players. The pressing side should also then be ultra susceptible to the counter attack and long ball runs.

6, 7) Remove two versions of the Icon cards / Icons as End Game cards

We all can agree when they “surprised” everyone with Prime Icon moments in FIFA 19 it was one of the most enraging and controversial days in FUT history. The community was torn between these juiced Icon cards and being flat out lied to by EA workers who said Prime Icons would be the best version of those Icon cards released all year. Now that we’ve had some distance between that moment and today, I think we’re fine with existence of these Icon moments cards but the prices are insane. Moments cards for Gullit and Ronaldo are basically unattainable, for the lesser Icons like Van Nistelrooy or Lampard they are quite affordable making every other version of the card utterly useless. 

I love idea and concept of Icon cards but I don’t really need 4 version of Sol Campbell. I understand they’re taking different parts of each persons career and putting them into Low, Medium, High and Super High buckets but towards the middle half of the game the “Baby Icons” (lowest version) don’t matter anymore except for the top 10% percentile of Icons. There are rare occasions where a lower version of a card is more desirable than a higher rated version and it usually is because of the pace.  Higher pace, higher desirability thus higher the price. 

Can we just make two version of each Icon? I think that’s enough right? We certainly don’t need four and I don’t see the need for three either. I think two is a nice round number.  Icons need to be high rated and they should be absolutely end game cards from Day 1; better than 90% of the population out there. It’s silly that a Prime Icon Rui Costa isn’t better than a Headliner Marco Reus. (They have the same total stats and in-game stats and overall 91 rating)

8) Don’t punish users for Duplicate Untradeables

As I’ve said before EA loves to punish players for playing their game. Nothing says “Fuck You” more than the duplicate untradeable card you are inevitably going to run across multiple times in your life. When you stumble across this conundrum you only have two options: drop the card and receive nothing or find an active SBC to put the card into (assuming there is one of some value and necessity). 

We know there’s a fix to this because EA gave it to us once before during World Cup mode back in FIFA 18. They allowed us to have a trade pile for duplicate untradeables, so you could stash them away for the right SBC or when you have enough collateral to complete one. We need this back, we shouldn’t be punished for utilizing repeatable SBC’s or open reward packs.

9) Eliminate Fitness Cards and Card Boosts

The single dumbest item in FUT are the fitness cards and attribute boost cards. Once again you are punished for playing the game, your players lose energy and you’re forced into spending coin to buy team fitness cards to keep everyone at 99 energy. There is no need for this other than EA likes it because it makes you spend coins, it’s filler for their packs and way of creating a valuable card without actually giving you anything. The same can be said with player contracts really. 

Attribute boosts are just as stupid. If your card says 86 pace then you should have 86 pace, not 96 pace because I decided to give you a Hunter card. Yes, I somewhat like the ability to modify a player to a certain stereotype like making your fullback very attacking or a cross expert. But I don’t like how we are manipulating the base rating of a card. It’s essentially a PED boost to cards that are already meta or a shield to boost a player’s weakness that should make that card vulnerable (IE: Strength and Messi)

10) Have Online Friendlies count for something 

The only stress free mode in all of FIFA is “Online Friendlies”.  There is nothing on the line and nothing matters.  It doesn’t impact your Win/Loss record, it doesn’t impact your players stats or stamina and it doesn’t even count against the number of games on your loan cards.  It’s a mode that allows you to test out players and formations.

There are circus games like King of the Hill, Knockout, Max Chemistry and gimmicky stuff like that but that’s not what I’m talking about. There should be some type of achievement or milestone where playing online friendlies counts for something.  It doesn’t have to be a major reward but something where after every 10 wins you get a free 81+ player pick pack.  Something exciting and something to reward you for playing. Again these should be stress free games because your Win/Loss isn’t impacted so you play to play and once you hit a milestone you get something back. How nice would that be?