NCAA Football 11: Online Recruiting on the Go

Take your dynasty with you in EA Sports' upcoming college football game.

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If you love EA Sports' NCAA Football series, chances are you've been neck-deep in the online dynasty feature ever since it was introduced back in NCAA Football 09. Getting together with a group of friends online and duking it out, not just for wins of the field but also five-star recruits, is one of the series' great pleasures. However, as good as it is, online dynasty has a noticeable flaw: You can't work on your recruiting while in the bathroom. Or when you're at a posh dinner with your in-laws. Or when you're pretending to "work" while on the clock at your job. Consider that problem solved with the upcoming NCAA Football 11, which, in addition to giving you "120 ways to win," will be giving you the chance to manage your recruits in online dynasty wherever you have access to a Web browser or mobile phone.

It's SEC vs. Big 12… errr… Big 10… err… Pac-10… You know what, forget it.
It's SEC vs. Big 12… errr… Big 10… err… Pac-10… You know what, forget it.

Developers from EA's Tiburon studios were on hand in Los Angeles in May to show off a work-in-progress build of NCAA Football 11 and demonstrate how the remote recruiting will work. If you've played with the browser-based Teambuilder featured from last year's NCAA Football 10, however, you'll already have a good idea. Everything that you can do with regard to recruiting will be accessible to you via the Web site, and it's all attractively organized and easy to understand. In fact, from the looks of things, ease of use was a big aim for the designers behind NCAA Football's 11's recruiting this year; not only is it easier to navigate with a mouse on a Web page than in the game's sometimes sluggish interface, but it's also easier to understand just how to make strides in recruiting this year, thanks to some changes to the recruiting feature.

For instance, consider the phone call feature, which will return in NCAA Football 11. As in the past, you'll need to make phone calls to individual recruits to pitch them on specific aspects of your program, and once again, your success will be found not just by your school's various ratings among the 14 different categories, but also by the specific recruit's interest in that topic. When you phone a recruit this year, you'll be able to choose anywhere from one to six topics, each costing you 10 minutes apiece (from a 10-hour pool per week). However, which topics you pitch will be random once the phone call begins. From there, you'll be able to navigate around that specific pitch to find out your potential recruit's interest, try to sway a pitch, make a promise, and so forth. In addition, improved comparison screens will let you show how you stack up against a recruit's other interested programs, and a hard point value will show you exactly how many points you've earned toward landing that recruit (say good-bye to the ridiculous smiling/frowning footballs forever!) For more on the phone call system in NCAA Football 11, check out the recent post on the official NCAA 11 Football blog.

So, if you have access to a Web browser, you'll have access to your online dynasty's recruiting board and will be able to fill your board, change recruit priorities, make pitches, and more. EA producers also touted the fact that you'll be able to recruit with your mobile phone, but it won't be through a dedicated iPhone/iPod Touch app; instead, you'll be able to access your dynasty via your phone's built-in browser. Beyond finagling for new recruits, you'll have access to other online dynasty tools, including one that will let you share your dynasty's story with all of your friends. After each game in your online dynasty, you'll be able to create a story from scratch detailing your win or loss, along with accompanying screenshots and video highlights that will either be added automatically or painstakingly selected by you, the player.

While you'll be able to pull screens and video, as well as come up with stories (plus headlines and captions for your photos) from scratch using the game's interface, if you're really into this feature, you'll want to use the PC/Web-browser interface. Stories will accommodate up to 4,000 characters--yes, a keyboard will be a good idea--and publishing to your online dynasty's news page will be more or less instantaneous. In addition to the standard game recaps, the types of stories you'll be able to recruit seem to be pretty open ended. One producer showed off a story highlighting one of his soon-to-be-graduating defensive players. In addition to the written story, there were a number of screens and videos compiled from various uploaded highlights throughout the course of his player's collegiate career.

Though these two features are both online-dynasty-centric, it seems they are aimed at two different audiences. While even casual fans will probably enjoy the ease of use in tending to their recruiting board even when away from the game, it seems that the storyteller feature is meant for the hardest of hardcore online dynasty fans--or at least those who have a lot of time on their hands. However you plan to spend your time with NCAA 11, there will be plenty of ways to keep busy. When you put these features together with lots of updates to the game's visuals and gameplay, NCAA 11 is looking like one of the stronger entries in the series. College football fans will need to endure a long summer of meaningless baseball games before the pigskin kicks off, but take heart, NCAA Football 11 is set to arrive on July 13.

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