How do you build an Ultimate Team without spending money in Madden NFL 22? EA Sports has come underfire these past few years for the prevalence of microtransactions in its Ultimate Team modes. By purchasing Packs, players have the opportunity to collect Cards which can be used to assemble rosters. As part of our Madden NFL 22 guide, we're going to explain how to build an Ultimate Team without spending money. For more information on How to Win the Super Bowl in Franchise, All Trophies and How to Get the Platinum, and the Best Class for Face of the Franchise and The Yard, click the links.
Madden NFL 22: How to Play Ultimate Team
Before you can learn how to build an Ultimate Team without spending money in Madden NFL 22, you'll need to get started with the mode. You can access Ultimate Team from the main menu, and you'll need to complete a number of onboarding tasks to help get you started once loading it for the first time. You'll automatically be assigned a selection of basic players in each position to get you set, although your overall rating at this stage will be around 64 or so. Your goal, over the course of your Ultimate Team career, will be to strengthen each position with better players.
Understanding the Power Curve
One thing worth keeping in mind before you start Ultimate Team in Madden NFL 22 is understanding that each season follows a power curve. This means that, in essence, EA Sports will gradually trickle out better players over the course of the game's lifecycle. As a result, there'll be a ceiling to your lineup's rating until better cards are released.
It's also why we'd recommend against purchasing Packs unless you plan to be a competitive player. This is because what are the best cards in the game in August will not necessarily be the best cards in January. As the season moves on, you'll gradually unlock better and stronger players in each position, boosting your overall rating as the season matures.
Madden NFL 22: How to Build an Ultimate Team without Spending Money
First and foremost, there's nothing wrong with purchasing Packs in Ultimate Team if you have the disposable income and enjoy the experience. However, before you invest real money do keep in mind that your Ultimate Team will be worthless when Madden NFL 23 releases, and that Packs are random so you have no control over which cards you'll get. Always pay attention to the odds of any Packs you purchase, and never spend more than you can afford. Remember that you're effectively paying for pixels. As long as you're aware of these things and spend responsibly, then go ahead and have fun.
For the purposes of this Madden NFL 22 guide, however, we're going to focus on how to build an Ultimate Team without spending money. While it will be difficult to assemble the best possible roster in the game using this method, you can put together a competitive and fun squad. If you're particularly good at the game, then you'll also be able to beat players with better teams than you by outperforming them on the field, although obviously once you get to a competitive level any minor disadvantage will impede your performance. Try to focus on having fun first and foremost, as this is the most important thing.
Obviously, in order to build an Ultimate Team then you're going to need cards. While the quickest way to collect cards is to purchase Packs, we'd largely advise against this if you're not going to spend money. This is because while some Packs can be purchased with in-game Coins, the price is often extremely high, and there's no guarantee you'll get the cards you need. Instead, we'd recommend you use your Coins on the Auction House to buy players that strengthen key positions or can be used to complete Sets.
However, Packs will still be important to progressing your Ultimate Team, and there are ways to earn these through natural gameplay. They are:
- Missions: Pay attention to Missions and try to complete as many as possible. Many of the Missions in the game are cumulative, and include tasks such as accumulating yards and points across all Ultimate Team modes. As you level up throughout each Season, you'll also earn Packs and Coins, so pay attention to what the game wants you to do.
- Challenges: Challenges are single player or co-op assignments which will see you using your Ultimate Team to face off against a variety of opponents in unique situations. As you collect more Stars in each program, you'll have opportunity to unlock Packs, so pay attention to each objective and try to collect as many Stars as possible.
- Solo Battles: Solo Battles allow you to play offline matches against other squads from the Madden NFL 22 community. By completing these on higher difficulties, you'll earn points, improving your overall score and allowing you to earn Packs and Coins every week.
- H2H Seasons: Depending on how good you are at Madden NFL 22, you can choose to play competitive online matches in H2H Seasons. Events change over time, but you'll have the opportunity to earn Coins and cards, relative to how well you perform. Some events may require you to pay Coins to enter.
- EA Play: Throughout the season, those who subscribe to EA Play will be entitled to bonus Packs and boosts in Ultimate Team, which will help you to earn cards for your Ultimate Team.
As you accumulate more cards for your Ultimate Team, the temptation may be to promote every highly rated player to the starting position. However, if you're not planning to spend money, then an alternative approach can be to build a Theme Team. This means that you only use players from a specific team, because this improves the overall Chemistry of your roster. The more players you have from a single team, the more their attributes will be boosted.
This can help to compensate for a lower overall rating. You might choose to include a handful of superstars from other rosters, but build the basis of your Ultimate Team around a single real-world team. Remember that as the power curve progresses, there'll be more and more players — such as Legends — from your chosen Franchise available, so while a New York Giants theme team may not blow you away at launch, the opportunity to add players like Michael Strahan later, with all of the Chemistry boosts on top, can eventually transform it into a powerhouse.
When building a theme team, you'll primarily want to sell any players that don't meet the requirements of your roster, and then use the Coins that you accumulate into players that do. You can filter the Auction House based on team. You should also spend Coins on players that can help you complete Sets, but as you'll be trading these cards away always spend as little as possible. You should only complete Sets that reward you with players that will enhance your overall roster.
As mentioned, Sets can reward you with players that seriously boost your Ultimate Team. There are many Sets available, even at launch, and you may be tempted to complete them all. However, the game is not really designed that way: instead you should earmark cards that will improve your team and focus on them instead. If you're building a theme team, then keep an eye out for Sets with players that will both boost your Chemistry and improve your starting lineup.
Always keep an eye on the Auction House for these cards, as sometimes you may be able to buy these cards for cheaper than what it would cost to complete the Set yourself. Sets can be a good way of trading away low-value cards that you'll never use or simply can't be sold because they're marked with NAT (Non Auctionable or Tradeable) conditions. If you don't have the required cards in your Item Binder, then you can purchase them from the Auction House, but never spend more completing a Set than the card is worth. Keep an eye out for new Sets throughout the season, and only complete ones that improve your squad. Alternatively, if you have spare cards in your Item Binder then you can try completing additional Sets to flip the rewards, but only do this if you're confident you can make a profit.
Depending on the type of Ultimate Team you're building, you will eventually unlock cards that you don't need. If these are marked with NAT (Non Auctionable or Tradeable), then you should try to use them in Sets where possible. If not, then first of all consider their overall value. You can search for any card in your Item Binder on the Auction House to get a feel for its overall selling price. If it's low, then also consider using it in Sets, depending on what you're currently trying to complete. If it's high then consider selling it and using the Coins you accumulate to reinvest in your team. Remember, you will be taxed 10 per cent by EA Sports for selling on the Auction House.
Sometimes you'll collect cards that have a better overall rating than anyone else in your team, and fit the theme of what you're trying to build. But depending on the value of this card, it may still be better to sell it away. This is because you could potentially purchase two or three players at a rating of 81 just by selling a single player with an 84 rating. Obviously, if those 81 ratings players strengthen three positions for you, then it's better than just enhancing one position. It's obviously up to you what method you adopt.
It's also important to think carefully about Training points. Some cards can be sold for Training, and if you already have a plentiful supply of Coins through completing Challenges and Missions, then you may consider taking the Training instead. This is because Training can be used to power-up certain items, and even equip X-Factor and Superstar abilities, seriously enhancing some of the best cards in your roster. You can refund Training, but we'd strongly recommend having a semi-fixed lineup before you decide where you want to spend it.
Throughout the game's lifespan, EA Sports will add dozens upon dozens of new Challenges. These are objectives you can complete both solo and in co-op in order to unlock Packs, Coins, and many other rewards. Try to play on the hardest difficulty where possible for the most Stars, and also pay attention to sub-objectives. These can be easy and will reward you with extra Stars, like throwing a passing touchdown or rushing for a certain number of yards.
Just by playing and completing Challenges, you'll really strengthen your Ultimate Team with a lot of big rewards. If you're a new player, you should always play through the Campaign first. This is because it will teach you many of the concepts of American football, and will give you some very important rewards, like a Team Captain you can upgrade over the course of the season, for example. If you're having trouble with the difficulty, then you can always play on Easy to begin with, and gradually increase it as your Ultimate Team and gameplay skills improve. Do keep in mind, however, that some Challenges have an expiry date and are designed to be completed within a specific window.
Solo Battles and Head 2 Head Seasons
In addition to Challenges, the main game modes in Madden NFL 22 include Solo Battles and Head 2 Head Seasons. The former is a single player mode where you'll take on the fantasy rosters of other players from the game's community, and attempt to beat them for points. Performing better on harder difficulties will reward you with more points, and depending on how many points you accumulate, you'll be rewarded with free Packs the following week. If you're not very good at the game, this can be a great way of developing your skills and getting rewarded for it.
If you feel that you have a competitive roster and, crucially, the stick skills to compete with other players online, then you can also earn rewards for playing Head 2 Head Seasons. Your goal in general here is to win as many matches as possible, but there are time-limited events where you'll need to dig into your Item Binder in order to create a team that meets certain competitive conditions, akin to a Salary Cap. Some of these have a buy-in which you'll need to purchase with Coins, although you will be guaranteed rewards at the end.
Strategy, Playbooks, and Power Ups
In addition to player cards, you'll also need to use Strategy cards to deepen the Chemistry of your team. Effectively, the best Strategy cards will depend on your personnel and how you want to play. If you prefer to place a focus on running the ball, then you may want to consider using Strategy cards that emphasise running plays. If you're more pass heavy, then cards like Deep Route Specialist will work better. Obviously do think about the types of players you're using and what are their strengths and weaknesses. Also, consider using a complementary Playbook that not only benefits the attributes of your playing staff, but also gives you the best opportunity to leverage your Strategy cards.
You can upgrade Strategy cards with Training to make them more effective, but you should only do this once you're semi-settled on a style of play and the types of boosts you'd like to take advantage of. Similarly, remember that certain player cards can also be upgraded with Training, and that you can equip X-Factors and Superstar abilities on some players. Again, deciding which players to upgrade and which X-Factors and Superstar abilities to equip will depend on how you want to play and the kind of tactics you want to employ in-game. The beauty of Ultimate Team is that you can effectively tailor your roster to your tastes, so pay attention to attributes and your available personnel before making any decisions. And don't be afraid to experiment as well.
EA Sports has said that it'll be adding more Strategy cards over the course of the season, but at the time of typing there are three tiers available: Common (Silver), Uncommon (Green), and Rare (Blue). Again, it depends on your personnel and what you're trying to achieve with your team, but some of the best Strategy cards include:
|Let It Rip||Quarterbacks||
|Deep Route Specialist||Wide Receivers||
|Out My Way||Halfbacks||
|Pave the Way||Offensive Line||
|Play Fake||All Offensive Positions||
|Man 2 Man||All Defensive Positions||
|Mind Reader||All Defensive Positions||
You can equip two offensive and two defensive Strategy cards at once, although there are also Strategy cards for Special Teams which occupy a defensive slot. Think about how you want your team to play before settling on a specific card. You'll also want to keep in mind the type of Playbooks you plan to use. Some of the best offensive Playbooks include: Buffalo Bills, Kansas City Chiefs, and Seattle Seahawks. We're also enjoying the New York Giants' defensive Playbook, but experiment and decide what will work best for you.
How do you build an Ultimate Team without spending money in Madden NFL 22? Tell us about your roster in the comments section below, and be sure to refer to our Madden NFL 22 guide for more information.