Wild Card Football Preview: Sportsball for All!

Wild Card Football Preview: Sportsball for All!

Summer Game Fest threw a ton of experiences at me, the most surprising of which was Wild Card Football. If you know me, you know that anything sports related—especially football—should not be directed toward me. I’m the person that yells “Go Sportsball!” in public—loudly. Sports fans hate me. So, imagine my surprise when I walked into a preview in LA to be greeted by Colin Kaepernick, and yes, I knew who he was.

Colin Kaepernick and the NFL Player’s Association (NFLPA) are working closely with Saber Interactive to bring us Wild Card Football, the latest arcade-action sports game coming to PC and consoles later this year. The game brings some of the biggest names in football, like Colin Kaepernick, Jalen Hurts, Patrick Mahomes, Justin Jefferson, T.J. Watt, Joey Bosa, Ja’Marr Chase, Aaron Donald and more, throwing caution to the wind on the football field, and the name of the game is chaos.  

YouTube video

If you’re reading this thinking that I should not have been the one to take this preview on, I couldn’t have agreed with you more. However, now that I’ve sat down and played hands-on (and almost beat Kaepernick, might I add), I would say I was the perfect person to take on Wild Card Football.

Accessibility is a word thrown around a lot lately, and there is little more important than making video games accessible and inclusive for everyone. This can mean anything from helping people with low vision or mobility to making a game anyone can jump into and enjoy. This game is the latter on the list.

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Speaking to a Producer on Wild Card Football, Matt McKnight, this was clearly part of the plan, “The goal is to make simplified, accessible football for everyone. That’s kind of the motto, and that’s what we want to do is make it accessible and easy to play and pick up, and everyone gets it.” Even having not heard that, I’d completely agree. Trust me, I listened to 30-minutes of me playing against Kaepernick, and I was having a blast the whole time.

Wild Card Football is a perfect entry point to football, or video games, depending on who you are. I don’t know the first thing about football, but I do know that I sat down for 30 minutes and played every second of this game with a smile on my face. I know that my brother is huge into football and would love this game, and I can sit down next to him and play something that is more in his wheelhouse than mine and have a great time.

This can be said for families the other way around, too. Are Mom and Dad huge football fans? Are we in the off-season? Are the kids dying to get involved? Wild Card Football is the way to go. Think of the Madden as Call of Duty and Wild Card Football as Fortnite. Wild Card Football is a great way to involve the whole family in something that might be a bit more niche to some members, and it truly makes it fun for everyone involved.

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After all that, how do you play Wild Card Football? You choose your team, playing seven on seven instead of the usual line-up, and customization plays a big role here. You can design your logo and even choose your uniforms, and no, you aren’t expected to be even slightly normal here.  We saw the players dressed like berries and scuba divers, so it’s safe to say anything goes. I decided to be Colin while I was playing against Colin, and all chaos ensued. 

Wild Card Football is a great way to involve the whole family in something that might be a bit more niche to some members, and it truly makes it fun for everyone involved.”

From here, you go into your modes, which will include a Dream Tour Mode (McKnight said this was like NFL Blitz and Street), but the fun twist is their wild card system. If you’ve ever played something like FIFA, you’ll know about the card packs you can get in-game. Well, this is kind of like that, but completely different. 

Playing through the game, you’ll unlock these packs, and they will be filled with players or Soomerzmodifiers of various qualities (your standard common to legendary) that you unleash on the game before every play. These could be something simple like your opponent has to run a specific kind of play, or completely insane, like you turn into a tornado and swirl across the field. You know, sports stuff. 

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These modifiers are what make Wild Card Football a lot of fun and more accessible to non-football fans. My kids can laugh at the giant running across the field while my brother takes his plays seriously, only to have the floor wiped with him by the giant child. Satisfaction for all! Not to mention you can be doing all this on a field in Niagara Falls. It’s always interesting. McKnight mentioned, “We’ve got 30 plus baseline items and then hundreds of customizable additions you could do with gloves and boots and stuff to make it unique.”

Wild Card Football is an arcade entry to the world of football for some of us and a lighthearted break in the off-season for the hardcore fans.”

For football fans, Wild Card Football aims to be very player-centric. Getting the NFLPA involved lets Sabre Interactive access real players and their real feedback, including Kaepernick. McKnight mentioned, “We want it to be a player-centric, player-driven game.“ This meant a few things. Of course, they want to have the best-known players involved, but it sounds like Saber Interactive really cares about involving all kinds of players in Wild Card Football.

“The marquee players are going to be present in the game. We’ll also get current rookies that have been drafted that stand out. We’ll put them in the game as well, and eventually, we’ll do Hall of Fame players like the Joe Montana’s and the Tom Brady’s of the world. They will also make their way into the game as well. But again, it’s a player-driven league, and we want to emphasize that element to it. This is also why we have brought Colin into this. Colin—being one of the more dynamic electric players to play the game—it made sense for us,” said McKnight.

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Wild Card Football is an arcade entry to the world of football for some of us and a lighthearted break in the off-season for the hardcore fans. The NFLPA, Saber Interactive and Colin Kaepernick himself are on board, paying attention to every detail, serious or silly, to make sure that Wild Card Football does right by anyone that might pick up a controller. I had a great time, and I’m sure you will too.

On October 10th, 2023, look for Wild Card Football on consoles and PC.

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