Wild Card Football aims to be a unique addition to the football gaming scene, offering an arcade-style experience reminiscent of NBA Playgrounds and WWE 2K Battlegrounds. Developed by Saber Interactive, the game introduces a cartoonish take on football, featuring seven-player teams with an NFLPA licensing deal. While the game has some highlights, it falls short of making a strong impact.
Familiar Players, Arcade Gameplay
Despite lacking an NFL licensing deal, Wild Card Football includes current players from all teams through its agreement with the NFLPA. However, the arcade-style gameplay tends to generalize players, making even star athletes feel athletically similar. The game’s approach provides excitement from seeing familiar faces on the field but falls short in delivering the uniqueness of each player’s skills.
Wild Cards: Hit or Miss
The titular “wild cards” add a layer of unpredictability to the game. Before each play, players can use power-ups and modifiers to either boost their team or hinder the opponent. However, the benefits of these wild cards aren’t always clear, and their activation can feel awkward. The constant use of wild cards, which often leads to offsetting effects, slows down the game and may leave players questioning their impact.
Gameplay Challenges and Quirks
The game introduces a quicktime event (QTE) at the snap of the ball, but the timing window is too short for the average player. Offensive failures in the QTE result in unfavorable outcomes, creating a frustrating gaming experience. The game’s animations, including comical tackles and stiff-arms, bring some fun moments, but post-play flourishes, like player celebrations, tend to extend playtime unnecessarily.
Modes and Customization
Wild Card Football offers various game modes, including online and local PvP, a solo Tour mode, and the central attraction, Dream Squad. Dream Squad replaces real rosters with a fantasy-football-style mode, adding a layer of strategy to team building. Customization features, such as creating team logos, uniforms, and playbooks, provide a more personalized touch to the game.
Challenges in Progression
While Dream Squad offers a more engaging experience compared to other modes, the progression system feels slow, assuming players will devote considerable time to the game. The inclusion of loot boxes, even without a purchase option, may feel out of place for a 2023 console game. Daily challenges and the gradual improvement of player cards contribute to the overall progression system.
Conclusion: A Fun Yet Flawed Experience
Wild Card Football attempts to bring a fun and unique spin to football gaming, but it struggles to consistently deliver an enjoyable experience. Customization and animations bring moments of joy, but issues with wild cards, QTE challenges, and pacing contribute to a mixed bag of gameplay. While Dream Squad stands out as a preferred mode, the game’s overall appeal may be hindered by its challenges and unfulfilled potential. Wild Card Football is a lighthearted attempt at arcade-style football, but its flaws prevent it from becoming a standout in the genre.