FC 24: I took a week off work to play FIFA - and my Ultimate Team looked insane

EA FC 24 marks a new dawn in football gaming (Image: EA Sports)
EA FC 24 marks a new dawn in football gaming (Image: EA Sports)

With the release of every FIFA, it's a great opportunity to take a trip down memory lane.

Ultimate Team players look back on old starter squads, Pro Clubs superstars remember that Division 10 AI move like a robot stuck in custard, and Career Mode players say a fond farewell to their treble-winning Accrington Stanley.

With the release of the new EA Sports FC 24 upon the horizon, I too have been casting my thoughts back to the releases of yesteryear. In fact, one year I took a week off work just for the launch of a new FIFA title.

Sorry Sue, your email will have to wait.
Sorry Sue, your email will have to wait.

The year was 2018 and after a long summer, a wide-eyed young journalist had way too much annual leave to use up by December. So I booked a week off for the launch of FIFA 19.

Personally, I'm almost exclusively an Ultimate Team player (although have very fond memories of Pro Clubs nights with the boys) so used that week to get myself the best team I possibly could.

I set my out-of-office on, stocked up on Doritos, Dr Pepper and Fruit Pastilles, and loaded up the game.

While everyone else had Jermaine Defoe, I had Dembele and Griezmann on my side. (Picture: Futbin)
While everyone else had Jermaine Defoe, I had Dembele and Griezmann on my side. (Picture: Futbin)

For those who are new to EA's Ultimate Team mode - or perhaps need a refresher - you start off with a team of low rated players from lesser teams like Leyton Orient, Malmo, Spezia and Sheffield Wednesday. As you play, you earn coins to buy better players, with the goal of having the likes of Messi, Pele, Mbappe and Ronaldinho all in the same team.

You get to pick a nation for your starter squad, and I opted for France; being the nerd that I am, I had already looked at an online database of players and knew who I wanted to work towards.

I was presented with the likes of Mapou Yanga-M'Biwa, Rémi Walter and Yannis Letard in my starting XI... don't worry if you don't know who they are, because I had no idea either.

With financial whales loading up FIFA points like I load up at the Harvester salad bar, playing offline squad battles is a great way to get early coins without playing against people who have completed the game on day one.

I'm playing as many games as humanly possible, only leaving the comfort of my chair to cook dinner, use the loo or go to bed. The coin total racks up, and new players sign contracts for Jellicoe FC.

Upamecano, Thomas Lemar and even the rat king Ben Yedder are soon in my team, and I'm grinding Division Rivals, having a field day against kids who think Shane Long is a good option upfront, and middle-aged men who only sign players they know of IRL. Chris Smalling is not good. Stop trying to make him work.

The arrival of Antoine Griezmann into my team was huge, and by the end of the week I was already in Division 4.

Taking a week off for the release of a new game always gives you a massive headstart - but in a game like EA FC 24, and especially in Ultimate Team, it can make you the envy of your friends, and the bane of multiplayer casuals everywhere.