FUT chemistry glitch explained: What's going on with chemistry in FIFA Ultimate Team?

Before we get into the chemistry glitch, we need to FUT on a more basic level.

In FIFA ultimate team, you collect virtual football cards and build squads using those cards in order to play matches against other players. Each card has an overall rating (ranging from the low 40s for the worst players to 99 for the best players), 6 categories of stat attributes visible on the face of the card (e.g., shooting, dribbling, passing, etc.) and many more specialized attributes that are only visible by digging into the detail in-game (e.g., long passing, heading accuracy, etc.)

In order to maximize your chances of winning, you want to build the best possible squad that you can. One of the main ways of optimizing your squad is by putting together a team of the highest rated players with the highest desired attributes. Generally, you would expect that an 80 overall rated player with 85 dribbling would be the better choice than a 79 overall rated player with 83 dribbling. However, one must consider the impact of the chemistry system when selecting their players.

What is chemistry?

Chemistry is a system designed to reward players who are in their preferred positions and playing alongside their familiar teammates. EA has been extremely vague when it comes to explaining the exact mechanics, but we know certain aspects for sure. Players who are in their exact preferred position receive the most increases to their chemistry, players who are badly out of position receive the most decreases to their chemistry, and players who are not in their preferred position, but are in a closely related position receive a smaller increase to their chemistry. In addition, players who are in a squad next to a familiar face - someone from their club, country, or league - will also receive increases to their chemistry. Players who are expected to play next to strangers will receive a decrease in their chemistry.

Players' chemistry can also be boosted by other influences, but these are the major factors. The combined effect of all the influences will result in a player's chemistry ranging from 0 at worst to 10 at best.

So how does chemistry impact players?

Each player has 6 categories of stat attributes visible on the face of the card. These attributes can be increased or decreased based on the chemistry. Players with low chemistry will receive a decrease to their stats and players with high chemistry will receive an increase to their stats. Which stats are affected by chemistry and by how much is based on which chemistry style is chosen by the user, but is not relevant for this discussion

The important point is that 80 overall rated player with the 85 dribbling might actually be worse than the 79 overall rated player with 83 dribbling depending on the chemistry. If the 79 overall rated player has 10 chemistry, his dribbling is likely to be greater than the 80 overall rated player with less chemistry.

Before we can go any further, we need to understand the different kinds of player cards available

When FIFA Ultimate Team is first released, there is a basic population of player cards available. We will refer to these as "day one" players. Then, over the lifespan of the game, many different kinds of players are introduced into the game. For example, players who have exceeded initial expectations receive upgraded player ("UP") cards with higher overall and stat ratings. In addition, players who transfer between clubs receive new versions of their cards reflecting their new club. Players who have a stand out performance in the real world receive limited edition versions of their basic cards that are released for a week or less in ultimate team. Each week a selection of "in form" players are released for 7 days. After major tournament games, "man of the match" players are released, often for 24 hours. These are just a few of the myriad limited edition players released into FIFA ultimate team. We will refer to all players who are not day one players as "post day one" players.

Now on to the chemistry glitch

Post day one players are not properly affected by the chemistry system and have a fixed chemistry number regardless of what position they're playing and who they're playing alongside. People are still debating exactly what that fixed number is (anywhere from 4 to 6, but we'll use 6 in this article), but the chemistry glitch means that any post day one player may have higher or lower stat attributes than expected.

For example, assume there is a day one and a post day one player with identical stats, positions, clubs, and countries. They are both 80 overall rated with 75 dribbling. Both are played in the same position alongside the same players and should have 10 chemistry if everything is working as intended. For sake of argument, let's assume that with the chemistry effect, the 75 dribbling should be increased to 80 points with 10 chemistry. Due to the chemistry glitch, the day one player will have 10 chemistry and 80 dribbling, but the post day one player will have 6 chemistry and something less than 80 dribbling.

This can have positive or negative implications

As discussed above, the identical players will have different stats despite all else being held constant. This penalizes a user who is playing a post day one player in a squad that should warrant 10 chemistry. However, this can also benefit a user who is playing a post day one player in a squad that should warrant less than 10 chemistry. For example, a post day one player who should have 2 chemistry will instead receive the effect of 4 chemistry. Due to the glitch, the negative affect on the player's stats will be less than it otherwise should have been, allowing users to play with post day one players in ways that were not intended. However, if users believe that the chemistry system is working as intended, they are much more likely to utilize the players in a way that maximizes chemistry.

So what's the big deal?

Players are only introduced into the game when users open virtual packs of cards. Post day one players, especially the limited edition versions, are found very rarely in these packs. The packs can be purchased using in-game currency earned by playing matches and trading players or they can be purchased using real world currency. The uproar around the chemistry glitch is magnified by the fact that post day one players are marketed to users as being better than their day one counterparts and hundreds of millions of real world currencies have been spent by users trying to obtain the rare players.

Users may spend a significant amount of money to "upgrade" their day one player to a post day one version only to have the actual effect be a decrease to that player's stats. The anger is compounded by the lack of available information on exactly how the system operates and the fact that the chemistry glitch appears to have existed for years without anyone noticing.

So after all this time, how did people finally figure it out?

As discussed above, EA does not provide explicit detail as to the inner workings of the chemistry system. It required saavy users to figure out an in-game behavior that was only possible when a player had at least a certain number of stats. Once this move was identified, users could test various day one and post day one players with differeing stats and chemistries in order to determine when chemistry was being applied to boost stats over the required levels and when it was not. Credit for the discovery goes to the joint efforts of contributors on the FIFA subreddit, EA FIFA forums, and youtube.

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