Opinion: Chasing the META will inevitably ruin your gaming experience

Published: 13:17, 21 January 2021
Updated: 08:51, 05 April 2021
Kevin De Bruyne shooting a free kick in FIFA 21 FUT mode
FIFA 21 - Ultimate Team mode

Obeying the laws of META may be a tried-and-true way of accomplishing your in-game goals, but is winning by any means necessary really the only thing that matters?

We all have different reasons and sources of motivation for playing the games we play. Be it a mainstream title like FIFA, or a hidden indie gem that you simply cannot believe is not all the talk of the Internet - we all indulge in this modern-day goodness because it makes us feel good, for one reason or the other.

While there is an absolute array of gaming genres out there, just ready to be experienced and loved (or hated), the undisputed fact that online multiplayer games are utterly dominating the market at the moment still very much stands, and it is here that all players have the one, same goal: winning.

No one likes taking the time out of their day to sit down in front of a screen and lose, right?

This is why most gamers resort to discovering the META (Most Effective Tactics Available) of their favourite game and sticking to it come fire, come rain - all with the sole purpose of snatching that glorious win.

But, is chasing - or downright abusing - the META really the best way to enjoy your game? Well, if getting as many Ws on your personal record is literally the only thing you care about, then sure - being a complete META slave will most likely yield you the results you want.

Personally however, I would be hard-pressed to say that following the unwritten rules of the META - most of which are plain boring beyond belief, more often than not - to secure a win equates to having actual fun with the game.

Let's take FIFA 21 as an example of what I am talking about. FIFA Ultimate Team is by far the most popular mode of this mammoth sports title, and it has been its absolute bread and butter for years now.

EA Kai Havertz wearing a Chelsea away kit in FIFA 21 FUT mode Kai Havertz repping the Blues - even in FUT.

The idea of it is that players get to experiment with virtually endless combinations of players to create their "ultimate" starting eleven. Sounds wonderful, doesn't it? Well, that's because wonderful, it truly is.

Being able to use your favourite footballers, including those of days past, is bound to awaken all kinds of lovely emotions in every fan of the world's most popular sport. Unsurprisingly though, being the most competitive mode in FIFA, FUT is very much a fertile ground for META style of play.

In FUT, META means choosing players who will take most advantage of the game's arcadey mechanics which rely almost exclusively on the players' pace.

At the moment, players like Varane, Mendy, Rashford, Gomez and Walker are pretty much a must for your team if you want to compete at a high level. 80 per cent of the teams I have come across in Weekend League so far have utilised these exact players, paired with some obvious choices like Mbappé, Neymar, C. Ronaldo and the like.

EA Mason Mount shooting the ball in FIFA 21 FUT mode Mason Mount doing what he does best.

Now, choosing these players would be well and fine if you were really an actual supporter of these lads and they genuinely were part of your ultimate team fantasy, but I think I stand on very firm ground when I say that that's most likely not the case. These players are simply designed to give you the most bang for your buck at their respective positions - the very definition of the FUT META.

But, doesn't that defeat the very point and purpose of this mode? Isn't choosing players you actually like in real life and scoring a screamer with them far more exciting and fulfilling than just blindly following what the majority of other players are doing for the sake of making the experience easier?

This is why most FUT players fall victim to the notorious burnout effect halfway through the game's cycle, which is not surprising at all. I, for one, cannot fathom playing through 30 games of Rivals and/or Weekend League - let alone grinding Squad Battles - with players I do not actually care about.

FUT was designed to let your wildest football imaginations run loose, and stifling this genuine sense of wonder by following the crowd and chasing the carrots disguised as Ws will only take you so far, and is most certainly a surefire way of making you hate the game eventually.

EA Arjen Robben in a Chelsea kit in FIFA 21 FUT mode Seeing Arjen Robben in a Chelsea kit once more is a magnificent sight indeed.

I urge you to change your approach to this mode, and even if you find yourself on a losing streak because you started, say, Inzaghi instead of some "must-use" pacey striker up front, I promise you that the one goal you scored with the Italian legend (provided that you are an actual fan of his, of course) and hearing the commentator shout his name will give you infinitely more pleasure than yet another 5-2 sweaty win with a full META squad.

The same principle can be applied to other games as well - like NBA 2K21, for example. On next-gen, the go-to META MyPLAYER build is a Scoring Machine at the Power Forward position.

The City, Rec and Pro-Am are just teeming with a bunch of 6'7" Power Forwards being forced to run as Point and Shooting guards, all because they chose to pick the PF position because it gave them the highest badge count. Is it effective? Absolutely. Is it original? Absolutely not.

2K NBA 2K21 MyPLAYER holding the ball in a Houston Rockets jersey Sticking to the SG position, despite the PF META.

Keep in mind that NBA 2K's MyPLAYER Builder lets you create a player tailored to your liking, almost down to a T, and sacrificing all that creative freedom for META is just... a shame.

But of course, since everything in this world is relative and subjective, perhaps chasing the META is indeed your very definition of fun - in which case, right on! More power to you. Keep stacking those wins.

However, if, in your heart of hearts, you find yourself lowkey hating the game you play every day and start looking at it and treating it like a chore - I highly recommend you step out of the META circle, and go for whatever makes your adrenaline go haywire, even if it means taking a few Ls along the way.

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