A few years back, EA surprised a lot of Madden fans when it introduced a new downloadable game mode called Madden Ultimate Team. Besides just the fact that it was a free add-on from EA--how often does that happen?--Madden Ultimate Team was an interesting concept because it took the manliest of sports and turned it into what was essentially a collectible card game. (Click here for the full breakdown of Ultimate Team if you've never played it before.) Now Madden Ultimate Team has been rolled into the full game, and we recently spoke with associate producer Donny Moore to see what's new.
GameSpot: Was there a dominant string of feedback you received from fans after releasing last year's version of Madden Ultimate Team?
Donny Moore: I think most of the feedback we received revolved around two things: trades and finishing online games. I have good news to report on both fronts: Madden Ultimate Team 12 will indeed have a trading feature and we have also been working on some things to reduce the number of games that end in a quit.
GS: How did you go about balancing the desire to address fan feedback with implementing some of the ideas you guys were already working on?
DM: This is one area where we designers on the Madden Ultimate Team and the fans are pretty much in sync. Trades were by far the number one most requested feature on the message boards and forums. Josh Looman (senior designer on Madden NFL 12) has been wanting to add this since the inception of MUT back in Madden 10. So we are really happy to be able to deliver trading in MUT 12.
GS: What are the biggest additions to Ultimate Team this year? Any previous aspects of it that have been removed?
DM: Like mentioned previously, the number one new feature this year is trades. Any types of cards can be traded--player, stadium, coach, playbook, etc. You can trade with friends or search through the trade block for cards that you want to acquire. You also have the ability to put up your own cards for trade to see if anyone out there in the MUT universe is interested in your card. The good news is that we have a robust search feature that allows you to target certain positions and overall ranges, so you don't have to sift through hundreds of spam trade offers like you might be familiar with from playing fantasy football. Our search allows you to only get legit offers basically. The number two major feature for us this year and something that we are super excited about in Madden Ultimate Team 12 is our MUT Legends and our brand new Legendary Pack. The Legendary Pack will contain a mix of the highest value cards, plus a chance at getting a MUT Legend card. We have 13 of the biggest stars to ever play in the NFL: Walter Payton, Barry Sanders, Jerry Rice, Gale Sayers, Marcus Allen, Dan Marino, Lawrence Taylor, Deion Sanders, Rod Woodson, Marshall Faulk, Eric Dickerson, Eddie George, and Shaun Alexander.
Another cool aspect with the Legends is that there will be multiple versions of each of the legends based on their most memorable moments and best seasons. So you will have a Jerry Rice rookie card, as well as a Jerry Rice Oakland card from later in his career. Each one of these Legend Career cards will be rated based on that player, at that point in his career. So for example, Rod Woodson came into the league as a cornerback and later moved to safety. Walter Payton as a rookie was incredibly fast and elusive, whereas later in his career at Super Bowl XX, he was more of a power back. We have that captured here with the Legend cards. The player equipment will also be time specific so a young Jerry Rice will not be wearing gloves, whereas he will later in his career for the other cards. No features have been removed in MUT 12.
GS: Ultimate Team has always seemed like one of those modes geared toward the more diehard Madden player. Have you done anything to make it more appealing to the more casual fan?
DM: We have some very cool reward cards for anyone who plays the demo this year. So we are hoping to reach a more mass audience with that feature. I also feel that the very fact that these MUT Legends are in the game and are exclusive to the Madden Ultimate Team mode only is very appealing for any NFL football fan.
GS: Any final words of advice to give our readers a little leg up on the competition?
DM: First thing I would say is that you are missing out if you are not playing online games and earning coins. The entire game of Madden Ultimate Team is built around the concept that you can literally earn your way to the best team and the best players by completing games and earning coins. The trick here that a lot of our gamers miss is if you quit out, you get zero coins and you lose contracts…not to mention is a pretty scumbag type of thing to do, and it leaves a bad taste in everyone's mouth. Other than that piece of advice, I would suggest the collectors out there to really watch out for the collections this year that we release. We have some cool things planned and some super-rare reward cards planned once you finish the collection.