I have a confession: I’m not a Madden "noob" in the purest sense of the term. Actually, I’ve been dipping in and out of this series since '99, but I never really took the time to learn the game -- or even the sport -- aside from its fundamentals.
I’m a UK citizen, so I naturally gravitated towards sports such as soccer throughout my childhood. In recent years, I’ve had a renewed interest in American football, a sport that continues to rise in popularity throughout this part of the world.
With the advent of new subscription-based services such as EA Access, I'm now able to get my hands on the latest incarnation of EA’s long-running series without dropping full price on it. So, as someone who is far from a skilled Madden player, here’s my perspective on a game I know very little about.
Madden 16’s graphics are some of the best in the business. Arenas are unique, crowds look great and players are incredibly detailed. Some awkward animations I noticed in previous years appear to have been nixed, especially in terms of tackling. The menu screen also features some awesome slow-motion celebrations that are almost indistinguishable from the real thing.
While Madden 15 looked impressive, and Madden 25 less-so, this year’s game has taken things to the next level, elevating it above FIFA and possibly even NHL in the graphics department. That said, I have noticed touchdown animations still look awkward, as players appear to stop in their tracks and subsequently take a second or two to merge into a celebration.
Coach Suggestions Are My Savior
I don’t know how often Madden veterans rely on this, but there’s no better tool for a budding newbie than the Coach Suggestions feature. The UI is well-designed, offering a selection of plays that are easy to comprehend. Sure, there’s occasionally some questionable offerings, but most of the time I can find what I want.
It seems like this feature has become more streamlined in recent years. EA is well aware of the impact football has begun to have across the world, and I’m sure Coach Suggestions have converted a number of sports fans to the series with its pain-free learning experience.
I Have No Idea What I’m Doing On Defense
Despite my coach’s best intentions, I just don’t understand defense. And now, there’s a bunch of other stuff to think about. The new defensive camera appears even more confusing than the original one. I’m also too busy concentrating on the field to participate in the button-prompts feature that allows me to put pressure on the quarterback. It’s all just a bit too much to focus on.
All-in-all, this is the one area where I don’t feel like I have any control as an unprepared noob. I’m blindingly picking whatever the coach thinks is the best option, and it’s often picked apart as I flail around on defense desperately trying to intercept a pass.
All is not lost, however, as the Skills Trainer appears to have everything I could want. There are not many (if any) sports games on the market that boast such an exhaustive set of tutorials. Veterans may overlook it, but this feature is very much appreciated for a novice like me.
Connected Franchise Is Awesome...In An Overwhelming Sort Of Way
While I’m sure some Madden purists would argue that the emergence of Ultimate Team drew the series' focus away from Franchise mode, I have never played such a seemingly comprehensive EA season simulation as the one that’s incorporated in Madden 16.
The ability to play in a variety of roles, both offline and online, is something FIFA has yet to attempt, and NHL tried unsuccessfully a few years back. Playing online with friends is great, and I wish EA would incorporate this mode into more of their sports games.
Most of the season settings make no sense to me, so I assign most tasks to the CPU. It’s nice to be able to focus on my game while I’m learning, rather than the backroom stuff. I also like that I still feel in control, even when I don't really know what I'm doing.
Accessibility Is The Key
I’ve only had access to Madden 16 for a short period, but I’m having more fun than ever with the series. Basic flaws in gameplay appear to have been rectified, the graphics are stunning, there’s a vast number of comprehensive game modes, and most importantly, it’s much more beginner-friendly than I remember.
I almost feel like I have advocated for this game too much, but that’s the nature of a noob. I don’t actually know if there’s inaccuracies in the gameplay, such as if my players are holding their positions correctly or if pass conversion rates are too high. I can’t compare it to the “good ol' days” as I never really played during that era, and I would not be qualified to judge in any case.
Veterans of the Madden series will be quick to point out the numerous issues that need fixing, just like I would with my favorite series, but as a casual pick-up-and-play fan, Madden 16 will do me just fine.