One of the most successful additions to last year's game, Live FUT Friendlies returns for FIFA 22 Ultimate Team, and continues to offer a mixture of knockabout game types and time-limited challenges. Wins and losses here don't count towards the overall W-D-L record for your club, but since most challenges are linked to unlockable player cards and pack rewards, it is a place you can expect to spend a bunch of time.
I expect EA Sports to put loads more content in FUT Friendlies in FIFA 22, as well as stuff like Icon Swaps and unlockable special players
"FUT Friendlies helped solve one of the problems of past FIFA games by letting us grind for objectives in a mode where results didn't matter," says Ryan Pessoa, referring to the way older games expected players to play Rivals matches to fulfil objective requirements -- not something everyone appreciated when it might mean relegation to a lower division. "I expect EA Sports to put loads more content in FUT Friendlies in FIFA 22, as well as stuff like Icon Swaps and unlockable special players. Making sure you're prepared for that with decent nation and league teams is a good thing to do."
Before we get onto specific team setups, tips and tactics though, let's run through how Live FUT Friendlies work in FIFA 22.
Live FUT Friendlies in FIFA 22
Live FUT Friendlies are accessed through the Play tab in the main FUT menu, and you want to focus on the online versions. Navigate to that menu and you'll see a bunch of options that are always there (Mystery Ball, King of the Hill, etc), as well as any time-limited modes, such as the 'New Beginnings' challenge offered during the FIFA 22 Early Access period.
There are some Milestone objectives linked to playing the evergreen Live FUT Friendlies modes, and EA likes to drop friendly-based objectives into weekly objective challenges too, so keep an eye out for those to earn packs and XP. But the more significant and interesting aspect of Live FUT Friendlies is those time-limited modes. These are usually linked to more substantial pack rewards and/or un-lockable players, and last year some of those players were incredibly useful and worth obtaining. (It's also worth noting that some time-limited modes have a limit on how many games you can play.)
A time-limited mode like New Beginnings will generally have a few specific rules and an expiration date. In this instance, starting squads (that's the first XI, not including the bench) have to contain at least one bronze, one silver and one gold player, with a maximum of five loan players. It isn't possible to launch into matchmaking unless your team meets the requirements set by the mode.
The objectives linked to the mode will then be listed in the Objectives area of the FUT main menu. For New Beginnings, there are three objectives in the group: Win 4, Score 10, Assist 8. Each of the three rewards a small pack (1x 75+ Rare Player) and a little XP, and completing all three unlocks a Prime Electrum Players Pack and more XP.
Popular modes: Managerial Masterpieces, One League, One Nation
If you spent any time with Live FUT Friendlies last year, you're probably familiar with Managerial Masterpieces, One League and One Nation. These appeared in the game at various times and stuck around for a while. Naturally, each was linked to specific objectives.
Managerial Masterpieces involved building a squad (first team and subs) with an overall rating of 77 (this was increased to 79 later in the cycle), forcing players to build teams with only a few star players, scouting the lower and middle tiers of the player database for lower-rated players that could still mix it in sweaty competitive settings.
Managerial Masterpieces was pretty much ever-present once introduced, and was used to unlock players linked to specific real-life leagues (through Milestones) and other promotions. Sometimes the objectives would add additional requirements, such as having a certain number of players from a specific nation in your team, on top of the 77 rating requirement.
One League and One Nation were linked to Icon Swaps, and we fully expect to see this again in FIFA 22. The clue to how each one works is in the title. For One League, any squad is viable providing all the players come from a single league. For One Nation, they all have to come from the same country. Which league or nation you choose depends on which objective you are chasing. These are all listed in the Icon Swaps subsections of the Objectives menu whenever Icon Swaps are live (usually two or three times per game cycle, for a few months each time).
We'll go into more depth about each of these modes when they are brought back for FIFA 22, but if you want to get ahead of the market and pick up a few players in anticipation, we recommend having at least a first XI team of UEFA Champions League cards in your club (once they go live in the game) and a reliable silver squad as well.
Keep your loan players
Another key consideration for Live FUT Friendlies is loan players. That's because unlike every other mode in FIFA 22, playing friendly matches does not use up matches on your loan cards. If you pre-ordered the Ultimate Edition of FIFA 22 and you're excited about your loan Mbappe, make sure you keep at least one game unplayed on the card, because then you can use it forever in Live FUT Friendlies!
For this reason, it's also a good idea to hang onto all those little loan player rewards you pick up here and there from reward packs, FUT Drafts, and so on. A 79-rated Bundesliga right-back who can only play three games for your club may have little obvious value, but when you're trying to round out that One League squad in the depths of winter and the market value of Bundesliga right-backs has skyrocketed due to seasonal demand, you'll be glad you kept him around.
One word of caution here though comes from the first time-limited mode in FIFA 22. New Beginning includes the requirement 'Loan Players: Max 5', which suggests that EA may put more limits on loan player usage for this cycle. Or maybe they won't. We'll have to wait and see. (In the meantime, we're keeping our loan Mbabu on ice!)
Gameplay meta and 'friendlies' etiquette
Anyone who tried to grind their way to Icon Swaps and Objectives rewards in past FIFAs knows full well that Live FUT Friendlies are 'friendly' in name only! This mode can be sweatier than Weekend League when it's at its worst, so it pays to play with your head as well as your heart (and your serial impatience). Here are our tips:
Don't chase objectives until you have to: If you have a bunch of objectives to complete, including crosses and finesse shots and yadda yadda, it can be tempting to try and engineer those specific outcomes every time you get on the ball. But the chances are you also need to do something like 'win 15 games', so you might as well just play normally to begin with. The chances are that you will score crosses and finesse shots along the way without forcing it.
Think about your opponent's objectives: They may be trying to do the same thing you are! That means they may want to score from specific positions and situations. Anticipate this and position your defenders accordingly. If you're a master of multiple formations, it can even be a good idea to assemble your squad to shut down specific avenues -- by having full backs who hang back to minimise crosses, for example.
It's not 'Golden Goal', but some people play that way: Depending on the mode and objectives, some players treat Live FUT Friendlies as a 'first goal wins' affair, and may even get angry if you keep playing after conceding. If you want to play that way, it's entirely up to you, but if you just want to have some fun with different cards and play out matches, you are entitled to do so.
Take advantage of impatient players: The 'Golden Goal' mentality that is rife throughout Live FUT Friendlies can be used to your benefit. If the other player throws everyone forward aggressively from the first minute to chase that goal, don't panic. Take the ball away from them when you can and hold it. Their impatience will lead them to pull players out of position and commit silly fouls. There's a flip-side to this, too. If you want to play Golden Goal, then don't be conservative about your attacking play: go Ultra Attacking and try to catch them napping from kickoff.
Take your time: FIFA players are not famous for patiently savouring content. When we see a new player listed in Objectives, we must have them immediately! But when the requirements involve over a dozen wins, as many as 25 goals, etc, then it's going to be a heck of a grind. Pace yourself! You're meant to be having fun, remember. This goes for Icon Swaps, too. You have months to finish those. Chill.