It’s that special time of year again. NFL camps are open, new possibilities for all 32 teams are on the horizon, and a new Madden game is just around the corner. Of course, with the new Madden game due August 25th, we’ve got a trailer showing off all the new improvements that we should expect out of this year’s iteration. What’s new? It seems like everything.
The first thing you’ll notice is the impressive graphics. What was once a cutscene is now in-game, and the Frostbite engine is elevating Madden into something just below a real broadcast. It’s truly incredible. The engine behind FIFA, Battlefield 1 and Star Wars: Battlefront is serving Madden well.
Then the list of improvements hit rapid fire:
- New Target Passing that will allow the QB to lead passes more properly (less magnet catches). This has been improved over the years, but we still haven’t felt real bullet passes. Threading the needle and leading the passer simply isn’t as intuitive as it should be. Yet.
- “More control” sees Jordy Nelson nabbing a one-handed grab. We need more info on that. Is it analog based? What? Do receivers have a new stat?
- Coaching adjustments can be made on the fly. We see a DBs coverage go from “balanced” to “play ball” in what seems to be a menu as the play clock runs down. This could be great for the competitive mode when you have to adjust quick and for specific matchups.
- This leads into new WR/DB mechanics, showing Josh Norman and Odell Beckham Jr. banging it out at the line of scrimmage. The option to jam dudes and get physical is certainly welcome.
- Blocking and tackling promises to be much-improved after vast improvements over the last few years. Hopefully, they don’t make a strong O-line too strong. There were times in the last few games when the running game was pushed to the forefront of development, where holes would be parted like the Red Sea. We need more between-the-tackle runners and a more realistic running game. Getting 5 YPC should be celebrated and not the norm.
- And “more hits.” More animations are always good.
- User-controlled pass rushers frequently beat their blocks
- User Hit Sticks and Strip-ball attempts will be highly successful
- Spectacular catches occur frequently, especially by elite players
- Broken tackles and ball carrier fake-outs are commonplace
- Chance of throwing interceptions as a user is lower
- Can kick longer field goals and there’s higher chance to block kicks when on defense.
- Expect the unexpected – even highly-rated players have a slim chance of failure on occasion
- Injuries and penalties occur at a rate on par with real-world NFL statistics and data
- Players with elite ratings will be successful far more often than those with ratings below the elite level
- New pass inaccuracy system allows more realistic performances from lower-rated quarterbacks
- Fatigue and stamina have bigger impacts on gameplay.
- Going for an interception with a wide open defensive player who has a good catch rating leads to a significantly-lower chance of them dropping the ball
- Throwing from a clean pocket with the QB’s feet set reduces the chance of an inaccurate pass, providing they have a good pass accuracy rating based on the throw type and that you’re not using any passing mechanics
- There’s a significantly lower chance of a dropped catch when a receiver is considered wide open and has a good catch rating
- There’s a decreased chance of offensive wins in multiplayer catch outcomes, such as throwing to covered receiver
- Only AI players with the big hitter trait can hit stick.
So the cynical question is — will these make a huge impact? We’ve seen continued improvements in the game of football over the last few years in Madden. And despite hardware upgrades and engine changes simultaneously elevating the content within the game, we know this will also delay the enhancements as the devs catch up to the improvements under the hood.
Madden ’18 could be the first game this generation where everything comes together into a cohesive whole that makes even the biggest fanboy not bring up NFL 2K5 in the comment section. (As long as the Franchise Mode delivers.)