The draft mode is outside of the main business of buying packaging, building teams and play against online opposition. It is like a premium single entry Ultimate Team tournament in which players build a temporary team position by position, opening a pack for each location and decide which player inside best fits the part being built. The team finished then played against players of other projects with larger than usual rooms rewards for a winning race (the maximum streak is four wins).
Putting aside longstanding fears about how Ultimate Team commodifies the magic of football and how it kind of encourages children to play, it’s great. Project takes the pleasure of building a team – assembling strong chemistry, opening the packets of thrill – and it gives you without the need to pull your whole team out. It costs 15,000 coins (or 300 points microtransaction FIFA) to enter, and of course the Draft mode is, in the end, to make more money. But that’s OK if it’s something to pay for, and the project offers something more substantial than just the chance to be a random selection of players. Building a new team is a complex puzzle that is different for each project, and win some games offer substantial rewards (my first of four consecutive victories has given me a total return of about 60,000 coins, which is a good start to the season).
FIFA needed a year like that. Without serious competition from Konami PES in recent years (so far), and Ultimate Team keeping the players to play and pay all year, there was no urgent motivation to ring changes. Annual titles will always evolve gradually, but recent advances have felt cold. FIFA 16 can be stubborn and stuffy, but it feels gloriously new, and having to learn strategies and new shades in a series of games like this is a pleasure almost forgotten.