Let’s get one thing straight: I don’t know much about American Football, but I sure do like the spectacle. Wild Card Football, is a new American Football game that’s more NFL Street than Madden, and all the better for it. If your idea of a good time is men the size of a double door fridge freezer running into each other, then Wild Card Football is good times all the way down.
This is because, unlike Madden, Wild Card Football has a card-based system that lets you power-up your team during a given Down by speeding up your players, slowing down the enemy, buffing your strength or even just manifesting tornados or bumpers onto the field, throwing the game into disarray. Each match feels like a 7v7 brawl, which is a lot of fun, even if the finer details of American Football are lost on me.
I was introduced to Wild Card Football in a hotel room near Summer Games Festival, where I was shown the game moments before I was given a chance to play it for the first time. I had the opportunity to face off against Colin Kaepernick, the former NFL quarterback and civil rights activist, who is working with the team behind Wild Card Football not only to promote the game, but also to help ensure that Wild Card Football is the kind of game he’d want to play, too.
Each of the 7 teams in the game has one quarterback leading it, with the team itself named after its figurehead. Kaepernick is playing as Kaepernick. To be polite, I pick another of the quarterbacks and do my best to hold up against a relentless offense.
“He won’t hold back on you, you know,” claims one of the myriad of people buzzing around the room. When I said I’d prefer to win some points fair and square, Kaepernick laughed: “A true contender!” Then he messed me up, stifling any of my forward offensive plays and effortlessly outrunning my defenders as he scored touchdown after touchdown. It’s a natural fit for couch co-op, and as we were sprawled next to each other on the sofa I found myself having fun from the get-go.
Getting destroyed by someone you’ve only seen before on the news is a hell of a way to learn a game, but outside of trying to get my head around the myriad of plays you can attempt, it’s very easy to learn the fundamentals. I became immediately over reliant on a juke ability that could get me past one defender, often running straight into the arms of another but winning myself a few extra yards on my slow rumble up the field.
Some people will be drawn in by the big names on offer and if you’re here for that you can line up with players like Joey Bosa, Ja’Marr Chase, Aaron Donald, Jalen Hurts, Justin Jefferson, Patrick Mahomes and more.The big names aren’t what gives Wild Card Football its edge, though; that comes through the game’s satisfying moment to moment play. Passing, tackles and even just trying to thread a needle through the charging defensive line.
I challenge anyone not to chuckle as their quarterback doubles in size and charges through the enemy, but somehow even getting monumentally screwed over makes you laugh even harder. You might expect having your attack countered by a massive tornado to be annoying, but, instead, I just got a touch of the giggles.
Wild Card Football is feel good fun and offers a Madden-like experience for a more casual audience. I quickly got hooked on it, although it’s definitely the sort of game I’d only want to play on one TV, shoulder to shoulder with pals.
While I didn’t score a single point during my first game, I pleaded for clemency and was allowed to play another half. Digging in and focusing on my defense, I found an opening: with the go faster card, I opted for a running play and managed to get one of my players behind his defensive line with the ball, with 30 yards to go until a touchdown.
It was a long run, but as my card let me run twice as fast and there was nothing between me and the end zone, I made it. The room cheered, Kaepernick and I got a photo, and I resolved to write an article about Wild Card Football centered around the fact I’d scored a touchdown against Kaepernick, where I wouldn’t mention my crushing defeat.
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Jake Tucker is the editor in chief of TechRadar Gaming and has worked at sites like NME, MCV, Trusted Reviews and many more. He collects vinyl, likes first-person shooters and turn-based tactics titles, but hates writing bios. Jake currently lives in London, and is bouncing around the city trying to eat at all of the nice restaurants.