Preview: Going Hands On With FIFA 20’s Ultimate Team Mode

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Last week, We Got This Covered flew out to northern California to take a deep dive into the this year’s highly anticipated FIFA 20. The press event featured the first in-depth looks at the new VOLTA game modes, as well as the ever-popular FIFA Ultimate Team (FUT). Our extensive coverage of VOLTA will be here next week, but in the meantime, we have news to share about this year’s additions to FUT and what players can expect from the card-based game mode.

FIFA Ultimate Team, like the other “Ultimate Team” modes seen in the Madden NFL, NBA Live, and NHL games, allows players to create super teams of soccer superstars and then use those teams both online and off. This fantasy aspect has been popular since its inception, and there are whole schools of players who play nothing but FUT modes year after year.

However, this time around, EA has tried to make FIFA Ultimate Team the most accessible game mode ever. FUT producer Garreth Reeder laid out the keys to the mode. The first focuses on the progression and personalization of your own FUT. The progression system in FIFA Ultimate Team is broken down into seasons and objectives, and players can compete for daily, weekly, and group objectives each season.

Seasons in FIFA Ultimate Team last for about six weeks, and XP earned from each objective — no matter if it’s daily or weekly — will compound as you unlock rewards. Some of the season rewards are hot new players for your squad, which pushes you to keep playing each season to get all the unlocked goodies. With six-week seasons, there will always be something new to strive for as you climb the prize tree.

There are also milestone rewards — they are designed to take longer to unlock, but the rewards are well worth the effort. Milestones include objectives like scoring 100 headers or 1,000 goals. The milestones are not meant to be completed in one sitting and are created to give longevity to FIFA 20. Players can personalize their team with unlocks that can change out their kit, balls, celebrations, stadiums, and banners — it’s a deep level of customization that allows you to take ownership of your FUT in every way.

The next key of FIFA Ultimate Team is making the mode easy and accessible. Squads are at the heart of everything, and squad management, club, transfer market, and customizing are all grouped into one menu. EA has created new radial menus to make player and squad management easier. Oftentimes, the Ultimate Team modes feel alien and complicated to new players, and FIFA 20 is doing its best to make it as open and seamless as possible for new players to jump in and play against longtime veterans. After all, playing matches is the most important aspect of FIFA 20 — or any sports game, really — and players should not feel intimidated to jump in.

FIFA 20 Eden Hazard

Building on that, the last key in FIFA Ultimate Team is to make sure the game both fun and social. There will be FUT Friendlies, where players can just play the game with their squads, with no penalties to their W/L records. There are also many different game options in friendlies, including couch play and online, and new features including max chemistry, King of the Hill, and mystery balls.

Max chemistry allows you to create super teams full of superstars, regardless of player chemistry. Swaps allow for side changes, so you can build the team you want, based on the player’s given stats, regardless of the position they normally play. For example, if you wanted, you can have a team of all forwards with no penalty to performance.

King of the Hill is a new game mode for FUT — this is not your regular 11v11 football. The pitch has special zones, and a player can stay in the marked area, dribbling and passing, while a timer slowly builds. The objective is to control the zone over your opponent. Control one for a set time to earn higher numbers (it caps out at three), then each score awards the same number of goals. You must win and control a zone to even be able to score a goal, as the nets will have barriers until a zone is unlocked. This mode adds a new layer of complexity to the game of soccer/football, and it makes for a rousing and fun time.

FIFA 20 Virgil Van Dijk

Mystery balls allow players to set up games with unique balls with set bonuses. Balls have attribute boosts, like an increase in speed, shooting boosts, and more. These variations arguably give FIFA Ultimate Team an arcade feel, but it also adds new layers of fun to an already fun game. Players can matchmake based on the rules, balls, and game modes, and then find like-minded opponents in the lobby. The best part is that these fun new game modes still earn you coins and rewards, and there is no penalty to your overall win-loss record.

FIFA Ultimate Team is shaping up to be an integral part of the FIFA 20 experience, and the new additions and tweaks to fan-favorite modes are making this year’s version the best yet. Check back next week when we dig into the new VOLTA game mode, which will forever change the FIFA experience and how the game is played.

Hands-on time with FIFA 20 was conducted at a preview event at EA Redwood Shores. Electronic Arts provided lodging and transportation for this press event.

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