Home
Preview
Madden NFL 11 Preview (Xbox 360)

At EA’s recent community event, I was able to sit down with Madden developer Ian Cummings and get a very early hands on with Madden 11. With the tagline "Simpler," "Deeper" and "Quicker" being emphasized, I was able to take a look at some of this year's gameplay improvements that the Madden team feels will elevate Madden 11 to the next level.

Gameplay Improvements


Locomotion

When I first sat down with Ian, I was introduced to Madden’s locomotion engine. Much like NCAA Football 11’s movement mechanics, Madden’s locomotion engine promises to provide much more realistic player movement and acceleration on the field. On offense, the right stick now controls a player's upper torso, giving players unprecedented control over a ball carrier's ability to shed and avoid tacklers.

The most surprising addition to Madden 11’s gameplay is actually a subtraction: the removal of a turbo button (off by defaut, can be turned on). Taking a cue from EA’s successful NHL franchise, Madden 11 no longer requires players to spam a turbo button in a desperate attempt to create offensive separation or track down an elusive player on defense. Instead, player speed and acceleration are completely tied to ratings.


While I was a bit surprised when Ian let me in on the removal of the turbo button (again, this is off by default and can be turned back on) once I got my hands on the game, I immediately felt the difference. The best way I can sum up my gameplay experience with Madden 11 is that the game feels very organic in the way it moves. In other words, the days of choppy animation transitions and stop/starts on a dime that were in previous versions of the game should be minimized this year -- replaced now by an an overall feel that sim fans everywhere should enjoy.

Game Flow

During our time together, Ian also informed me that a lot of research had been completed that determined how many plays gamers had been calling in an average game, which was also coupled with some insight from John Madden himself. After these findings, the development team decided to completely overhaul the way plays are called.

The result is what is known as the "GameFlow," a streamlined game-planning option that will allow a virtual coordinator to call in a play for your team via headset based on a number of offensive variables that the game calculates. Now, before anyone jumps to conclusions and immediately writes this feature off as a way to make Madden 11 more "noob" friendly, please note that the feature can be ignored at any point during the game with a simple button press that takes you back to the traditional play calling menu.

As a veteran of the series, I was a bit worried that GameFlow would be something that I would not utilize -- I typically avoid the "Ask Madden" types of plays in my football games. However, after getting some hands-on time with the feature, and grilling Ian on it, I am absolutely hooked because of the depth that its simplicity provides.

First off, you can completely customize what plays end up in the GameFlow playbook, and you can change plays on a game by game basis. You can even rate your plays via a five-star system (like on iTunes) so that you can easily find them on the fly when customizing a GameFlow. I can already see myself putting together different game plans for online and offline franchise mode, which would add an NFL Head Coach-like layer of strategy to the game that has been sorely missing since the removal of the create-a-play feature.

Secondly, GameFlow makes you feel more like a real head coach. As many of you already know, it is a rarity for a head coach to actually call plays while in a game. Clicking over to the GameFlow button, and then listening to my offensive/defensive coordinators call out specific plays based on game situations is undeniably cool. What is even better is executing plays to perfection -- something that is undeniably rewarding. I can see the GameFlow feature being big among coach-mode fans, especially if you take advantage of the playbook customization in between games.

Finally, as advertised, GameFlow dramatically increases the tempo at which the game is played. In a day and age where the "core" Madden gamer is getting older and has more non-gaming responsibilities, it is very refreshing to be able to complete an entire game of Madden in roughly 30 minutes. I was able to play an entire half utilizing GameFlow in approximately 15 minutes, and it did not feel like I had been cheated out of a gameplay or play calling opportunity either. Instead, I felt like I was an actual NFL head coach who had a laminated page of plays in hand. Yes, I know I come off sounding a bit lame by writing that, but as a huge fan of the NFL, it is a feeling I have never had before in a football game.

New Line Interaction

Similar to the NCAA series, shoddy line play and interaction has been something that has plagued the Madden series for years. However, the new locomotion engine has gone a long way towards improving what some considered "broken" line play in past iterations of the series.

Since players now have to plant before moving, suction blocking and lackluster AI seem to have at least been minimized when it comes to the offensive and defensive lines. During my limited amount of time playing the game, I was able to get solid pressure on the QB when it made sense. In addition, the CPU also pressured me if I attempted to hold the ball for too long in the pocket.

Presentation Upgrades


Outside of the new GameFlow feature, I was able to see some of the improvements EA has made to the presentation in Madden 11. While Ian was feverishly button pressing through some of the more secretive options (more on those in future Madden blogs), I was able to catch some team-specific introductions (example: Drew Brees' pregame "speech"), and even cuts to players preparing for the game in the locker room. On the field, you will see new cut scenes between plays that look more natural than those in the past, and new animations for sideline catches, big hits and mid-air collisions.

Graphically, the game looks to be largely unchanged from Madden 10. Player models, stadium lighting and the turf look like they received minimum upgrades at most. It is worth noting, however, that the build of the game I played was very early in development. In other words, many of the aesthetic details most likely will be improved by the time the game releases.


As a side note, the kicking meter has also been completely redone. It now more closely resembles the putting meter from the Tiger Woods games. Ian explained to me that this change was the best way to differentiate kicker ability in the game because the old meter would not allow the developers to create the differences that truly exist in the NFL. The meter feels great to use, but since I was only able to use one kicker during my time with the game, I was unable to feel any difference in how the meter reacted.

Final Thoughts


It is very difficult to pass any judgments on Madden 11 at this early stage in the game. But, what I can say is that the locomotion engine and GameFlow additions have the potential to fix some of the nagging issues from Madden 10. Since both elements already work very well at this early stage in the game's development, I am very excited to see what the final product looks like come August.


Look for more hands-on previews from OS as E3 approaches, and as always, stay tuned for the most up to date Madden 11 media and information.

Make sure you follow Operation Sports on Twitter and Facebook.


Madden NFL 11 Videos
Member Comments
# 1 mm boost @ 04/26/10 09:05 AM
The presentation part was the highlight of that article. All of the articles posted this week have been relatively the same, so the presentation bit has been what has stuck out to me. Players in locker room, mid air collisions, etc. This is my cup of tea!
 
# 2 ch46647 @ 04/26/10 09:10 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by mm boost
The presentation part was the highlight of that article. All of the articles posted this week have been relatively the same, so the presentation bit has been what has stuck out to me. Players in locker room, mid air collisions, etc. This is my cup of tea!
They have been very quiet when it comes to Madden and "presentation" upgrades. NCAA has had huge news in this department, none of the previews out today so far have even mentioned Gus Johnson or the new "audio" improvements.

This leads me to believe they are waiting to really blow out the presentation/franchise news closer to release (Still really hoping for real broadcast presentation since NCAA got ESPN. I would love to get CBS)...
 
# 3 roadman @ 04/26/10 09:12 AM
This was a good in depth article. Only thing missing was the strategy pad, which was in another preview.

Maybe they didn't have enough time.
 
# 4 Exonerated @ 04/26/10 09:13 AM
In online games. The average Madden gamer only chose 13 different plays from over 300 plays in the playbook.

That tidbit was in other previews, no idea why it was ommitted here.
 
# 5 Blaise @ 04/26/10 09:15 AM
Its so early for information @this point, that all the previews are the same thing pretty much. I am glad that the general opinion has been good overall in the previews. I would like to hear more about other features(franchise, presentation, etc) but I have a feeling that stuff won't come out till around E3, or @ the very least a blog. Either way, it looks like good things this year
 
# 6 Bumble14 @ 04/26/10 09:33 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by fcabanski
"During our time together, Ian also informed me that a lot of research had been completed that determined how many plays gamers had been calling in an average game, which was also coupled with some insight from John Madden himself. After these findings, the development team decided to completely overhaul the way plays are called.

The result is what is known as the "GameFlow," a streamlined game-planning option that will allow a virtual coordinator to call in a play for your team via headset based on a number of offensive variables that the game calculates."

Maybe this isn't well explained, but what does the number of plays called in a game have to do with a virtual assistant calling in plays, or play execution? This section of the review seems to take an odd turn -

They researched the number of plays people were calling, they had input from John Madden, so now there's a virtual assistant so players feel more like head coaches.

Did the writer mean number of pass plays vs run plays? I thought the set-up was for a discussion or address to raw number of plays, so there would be more accurate results like stats and scores. But then the discussion turned to the virtual assistant calling the plays and execution.
What I meant by this is that Ian and Co. were looking for a way to streamline the entire playcalling experience. This means that you spend more time in game vs fiddling with plays. The virtual assistant is like "Ask Madden" on steroids, selecting the best possible play based on your customized gameplan, or a number of variables that the features logic computes. I'm not sure this feature will result in more accurate scores or stats. I do know that it cuts down the amount of time I spend playing the game- which is a big plus for those not wanting to invest 1.5 hours per game.
 
# 7 Bumble14 @ 04/26/10 09:36 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by roadman
This was a good in depth article. Only thing missing was the strategy pad, which was in another preview.

Maybe they didn't have enough time.
I spent a few minutes playing with the strategy pad. Basically it is all of the old pre snap plays just integrated onto the pad to be brought up and displayed. It's a streamlined pre snap experience. Ian didn't really go into this more in depth, and expect to see a future blog on it.

You guys need to understand that the build I played was VERY early in development. This will be the first hands on of many, so stay tuned, and don't read too much into any of this early information.

NCAA 11 on the other hand was a very advanced build, so what was taken from that should be read more seriously.
 
# 8 ch46647 @ 04/26/10 09:37 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bumble14
What I meant by this is that Ian and Co. were looking for a way to streamline the entire playcalling experience. This means that you spend more time in game vs fiddling with plays. The virtual assistant is like "Ask Madden" on steroids, selecting the best possible play based on your customized gameplan, or a number of variables that the features logic computes. I'm not sure this feature will result in more accurate scores or stats. I do know that it cuts down the amount of time I spend playing the game- which is a big plus for those not wanting to invest 1.5 hours per game.
How did you feel about the removal of the "sprint" button? I dont know if you play the EA NHL series but I love the way the analog stick, and ratings control how fast you move in that game.

Is the analog responsive enough to handle the lack of a sprint button? What I mean by this is if I see a hole can I jam the left stick up and the player will immediately start accelerating into his sprint?

Also, could you elaborate a little more on the new kicking meter?

Thanks for any feedback!


EDIT: When you say the pre-play controls were streamlined. Was it similar to the old PS2 pre-play controls? Those were infinitely better then what we have now.
 
# 9 adembroski @ 04/26/10 09:42 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bumble14
I spent a few minutes playing with the strategy pad. Basically it is all of the old pre snap plays just integrated onto the pad to be brought up and displayed. It's a streamlined pre snap experience. Ian didn't really go into this more in depth, and expect to see a future blog on it.

You guys need to understand that the build I played was VERY early in development. This will be the first hands on of many, so stay tuned, and don't read too much into any of this early information.

NCAA 11 on the other hand was a very advanced build, so what was taken from that should be read more seriously.
Can you comment on the run blocking assignments and execution?
 
# 10 Steve_OS @ 04/26/10 09:45 AM
Christian. As posted by Boregard, in this thread. http://www.operationsports.com/forum...-controls.html

Did you see anything like this?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Boregard
Breakdown of legacy gen pre-snap assignment adjustments

Note: when using defensive playmaker controls there was no need to hit X first and all the adjustments were on the R-Stick which made this way way faster and way easier to use
and you could indivudually bumb or play off by hitting triangle, the receiver icon and up or down on L Stick or d-pad, and shade by hitting triangle the icon and L1 to shade left or R1 to shade right.













DEFENSE CONTROLS - DEFENSIVE PLAYMAKER
For Defensive Playmaker, highlight player, then press Right Stick UP = Linebacker hook zone/Defensive back deep zone:Right stick
DOWN = Blitz:Right stick
DOWN twice = QB Contain Blitz:Right stick
LEFT = Go into QB spy coverage:Right stick
RIGHT = Play a flat zone:Right stick
RIGHT twice = Play a curl zone:Right stick

 
# 11 rudyjuly2 @ 04/26/10 09:45 AM
It's hard to comment on how turbo being removed affects gameplay but I'm a big fan of ADDING options and not removing them. The NCAA team has left the turbo option in so why not Madden? This might make some happy but this could piss off some people.
 
# 12 roadman @ 04/26/10 09:47 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by rudyjuly2
It's hard to comment on how turbo being removed affects gameplay but I'm a big fan of ADDING options and not removing them. The NCAA team has left the turbo option in so why not Madden? This might make some happy but this could piss off some people.
Rudy-

They didn't remove it, it's an option. It's off on default.
 
# 13 statum71 @ 04/26/10 09:48 AM
That presentation stuff sounds really good.
 
# 14 rudyjuly2 @ 04/26/10 09:55 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by roadman
Rudy-

They didn't remove it, it's an option. It's off on default.
Are you sure? Sounded like they took it out of Madden completely.
 
# 15 Steve_OS @ 04/26/10 09:57 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by rudyjuly2
Are you sure? Sounded like they took it out of Madden completely.
According to other previews, it is an option.
 
# 16 rudyjuly2 @ 04/26/10 09:58 AM
My bad.
 
# 17 dmick4324 @ 04/26/10 10:38 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by TheCreep
I still dont understand how Gameflow is going to make the game go any faster than it already goes. I'm not seeing what exactly is being taken out that will cut the game to half hour vice 1 to 1 hour and a half?

I utilize the Ask Madden feature and then pick one of the plays in that selection, doesn't take long at all. My games still last for a good hour. What is gameflow going to do that'll make my games go faster that I'm not already doing? See what I'm getting at?
Does my offense not walk up to the line of scrimmage anymore? Are my players lined up already immediately after I hit X to choose the Gameflow option? And more importantly, does the CPU immediately snap the ball when on offense resulting in a predictable snap count? I also don't understand how the game time can be cut down because I too use the AskMadden feature.
 
# 18 PacMan3000 @ 04/26/10 10:47 AM
I think GameFlow can potentially be great if the offensive and defensive coordinators have ratings, and based on their ratings, there's a better chance that they'll call effective plays.

I would also hope that, if I'm in year 2013 in Franchise mode and I fire my offensive coordinator, the new guy I hire will come in with a completely new playbook, and I'll have to roll with that if he's the man calling the plays.

One thing I didn't quite understand--does this new feature require the purchase of a headset of some sort--or will we hear the coordinator's voice through our television speakers?
 
# 19 swiftychampleone @ 04/26/10 10:47 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by ProjectSRT
What if we like our games to last over an hour? I want my game to be as close to authentic as it can be, and playing a full NFL game in 30 minutes goes in the opposite direction.
Gameflow is an option from what I'm hearing. You can still go through your playbook if you want. Honestly, I like the Gameflow option where you can set your plays before a game for certain offensive situations. I don't think I'll use the Gameflow to "tell me" what to run. I know I haven't purchased Madden since 06, but I'm an experienced player.
 
# 20 TreyIM2 @ 04/26/10 10:47 AM
The best thing I read in all these previews was "Madden 11 also looked better than its predecessor, and art director Mike Young explained that the team hadnít even put in its improved lighting model yet". That came from Destructoid, and I suppose that Madden 11 will look just as great as NCAA 11, from a visual standpoint.
 

« Previous1234567Next »

Post A Comment
Only OS members can post comments
Please login or register to post a comment.