Madden NFL 10: Hands-On With Ultimate Team

Check out our visual guide to the upcoming free playing card feature for Madden NFL 10.

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Brett Favre is once again playing in Giants Stadium, but this time, he's playing in a Buffalo Bills uniform. When the team is on the road, however, the team wears Kansas City Chiefs jerseys. They use the Jets defensive playbook and run a vanilla West Coast offensive scheme. Oh, and the head coach of the New Orleans Saints, Sean Payton, is running the show (though Jaguars coach Jack Del Rio might be getting a chance to call the shots in the near future).

That's the Jackballs, my fictional team in the upcoming Ultimate Team fantasy playing card feature due for release for Madden NFL 10 in January. We first learned about the Ultimate Team feature in early November and, over the past few days, have had a chance to check out a playable build of the feature, which will be a free add-on to Madden NFL 10 upon its release. Here, then, is a visual tour of Madden Ultimate Team. First things first: You name your team. A good name, as demonstrated below, is a key to success:

Your next step is to open your starter pack of cards. Don't get too excited, however, as the talent level of your team will most likely leave a lot to be desired. For example, in my starter pack, San Diego Chargers right guard Louis Vasquez, below, was one of four players tied with the highest overall rating (68 overall):

A starter pack will give you enough player cards to field a team, as well as randomly chosen home and away uniforms, a stadium to call home, offensive and defensive playbooks, and a coach:

The only way to get new cards to replace a player like Louis Vasquez in your deck is to earn coins. While there's a couple of ways to earn coins, the easiest way is to simply play a game with your fictional team. With my team skill so low (a 64 overall), I chose to go up against the lowly Cleveland Browns. After trouncing them, I earned a handful of coins:

Two hundred and thirty five coins might sound like a lot, but considering a bronze pack runs you 500 coins, it was clear that it would take a while to earn enough coins to get some new packs. Incidentally, simming Ultimate Team games will net you fewer coins than playing the games out in full. Naturally, EA Sports has a solution for you: spending real-world money on virtual coins:

With some coins in your pocket, you can buy bronze (500 coins), silver (1,500 coins), gold (3,000 coins), or platinum (9,000 coins) packs. The platinum packs include legendary player cards, with ratings based on that player's highlight year. After purchasing a platinum pack, I added the likes of Marvin Harrison, Warrick Dunn, Ahman Green, and Lorenzo Neal to my team:

That's a lot of players to manage, but luckily, the game will easily organize your lineups for you so your highest rated players are front and center. Just watch out for those contract numbers because once a player's contract has expired, you won't be able to use him anymore. Contracts also apply to coach cards:

After buying a few packs, you'll quickly run into the problem of having more cards than you're allowed (a maximum of 55 player cards, 100 total cards). You have a couple of options here: You can choose to discard a card (and earn some coins as a result), or you can put the card on the auction block to let other Ultimate Team players bid on it. Naturally, better players will earn you more coins:

In addition to player cards, you'll find stadium, uniform, coaching, and special cards that will let you extend the contract of a player or shorten the recovery time of an injured player. With contract extensions, the length of the extension depends on the caliber of the player--one card might extend a bronze-level player's contract by nine games, while a platinum-level player might only get a three-game extension:

We didn't get much of a chance to play with online features like the auction block or head-to-head games against other UT players, but assuming they are similar to the FIFA Ultimate Team, they should be relatively self-explanatory. In all, Ultimate Team seems like a lot of fun, provided you can put up with the disconnect of seeing your favorite team playing home games in an unfamiliar stadium, playing with players you don't recognize, and using a playbook you haven't memorized. As a natural extension of the fantasy football craze, however, it seems like it could be a successful addition--especially at the low, low cost of absolutely free.

Madden NFL 10's Ultimate Team feature is due for release in January.

Discussion

13 comments
NickBradford
NickBradford

ut came out on fifa09(last march) and it was a blast, although im kinda sketchy on this one cause part of fia09ut was the fact you had players from ALL OVER THE WORLD and your "weak" team was based of of lower league english players and players from south korea. With madden ut being limited to players from 32 teams instead of 200+ teams i think we are gonna see a lot of similar teams, but it should still be fun. i can't wait for ut10 (fifa and madden) although ea are making us pay for fifa ut where this one is gonna be free

PSN_RedSapphire
PSN_RedSapphire

I'm just curious if when you play the computer what difficulty do you play? Because if you can switch to rookie you can just kill the defense for 100-0 game and maybe that will earn you coins faster? In his picture it said he won by 7 and it gave him 225 points. So what will winning it by 100 do?

betatheta
betatheta

Loon3rBoon3r you don't NEED to pay for the coins, but there will be impatient ppl that will, so it is smart for EA to add that option. The feature itself is free. Was this article too confusing for you?

Loon3rBoon3r
Loon3rBoon3r

u have to pay for coins in a videogame??? give me a fukn brek u pay $60.00 for madden and then they make u pay more money for stupid little things to add to the gm that should of been in the gm the whole time

eSalveson
eSalveson

Sounds cool. I'm A Fantasy nut so naturally I'm excited. ANd FREEE!!!!

BlinDShoT95
BlinDShoT95

That actually sounds pretty awesome.

francoislr
francoislr

@DJMASSIAH017 "With some coins in your pocket, you can buy bronze (500 coins), silver (1,500 coins), gold (3,000 coins), or platinum (9,000 coins) packs." A 100 Microsoft Points will cost you about $ 1.25 in the US, more in other countries. So when you decide to enhance your team faster by buying packs MS will get money. The more users that use this system of upgrading their teams = more money. The funniest thing is that I will do this as well!

DJMASSIAH017
DJMASSIAH017

@francoislr How is it more money for MS? It's a free add-on...

francoislr
francoislr

More money for Microsoft, how can we say no.

scaraden
scaraden

This feature was rather fun on Fifa 09... hopefully it translates well over to madden

punksta99
punksta99

...the heck is this? It's like an April Fool's in December.

tony382
tony382

This is one of the worst ideas ever.

mariostar0001
mariostar0001

Downloadable content can be so annoying, I always forget why previews are coming for games that are out and reviewed.