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OS Scores Explained Madden NFL 16 Overview (PS4)
Pros
Gameplay is truly great this year, graphics and presentation package very solid, new DB/WR interactions long overdue.
Cons
Dynamic Drive Goals are one of the worst features ever, commentary not great, modes all a little bland feeling.
Bottom Line
Madden NFL 16 is a great playing game on the field, and has adequate depth to the modes to keep you busy for a long time to come.
8
out of 10
Madden NFL 16 REVIEW

Madden NFL 16 Review (PS4)

 
Madden NFL 16 is a game where I have faced mixed emotions playing it. On one hand, the gameplay has arrived in every way now, and can be put amongst any other game in our genre in terms of great-playing sports games.

On the other hand, funky design decisions and truly bad bugs really hamper the experience in the game’s main mode: Franchise.

That always brings a tension in reviewing a game. It's brilliant but left wondering why some decisions were simply made.

With all of that said, Madden NFL 16 is the best football game you’ve ever played, and the experience is generally becoming one that can be described as great.
 
 
On The Field

Madden has brought a whole host of new toys to the field. Everything from new DB/WR interactions, animations and gameplay elements, to revamped QBs and a refined running game.

I said in my first impressions video that everything was simply better, and after a few more days of playing the game I still fully believe that. The only gameplay element I think that is just an outright negative is special teams — but if that’s the biggest complaint about a football video game, you are doing something right.

The first, and most noticeable, difference you are going to see this year are QBs being much more realistic in terms of throwing accuracy. If you try to chuck a deep ball with anyone with poor accuracy, you are going to be left wondering why you make bad decisions in life.

Peyton Manning feels completely different than Jay Cutler, who feels completely different from Cam Newton. In many ways, QBs in Madden have felt the same for years in a game about a league where the QBs are oftentimes the biggest differentiating points of offenses.

That’s not the case this year, and it requires you to build a gameplay that your QB is capable of handling. Personally I think throwing on the run isn’t punished enough. In the NFL, some QBs throw on the run great, but most lose quite a bit of accuracy beyond 10-20 yards.

The new WR/DB interactions and mechanics do take some getting used to, as the action moves very fast and the decisions you need to make are pretty much instantaneous. This will be tough for those who aren’t as good on the sticks, but it does add a whole new dimension to the game.

If you aren’t in the know, as the ball is thrown you can select your player to do a possession catch, a run after catch, or an aggressive catch (helpful on jump balls). Because of this new layer of strategy, as a defender you can also choose to play the man or the ball, and all of this plays out with a ton of animations you’ve never seen in a football game (much less Madden) before.
 
This creates a need to actually strategize and think about how you are going to throw to certain receivers and it forces you to play to your teams strengths, especially on higher difficulty levels.
 
The aggressive catches are a bit too predominant in the gameplay, and you see way too many spectacular plays on average — but I wouldn’t go as far as saying they dominate the game. Instead, they happen too frequently but not nearly at a level I’d say that completely ruins the gameplay.
 
 
The run game didn’t get the huge makeover this year, but instead we see a continuation of a now three-year process to remake the run game in Madden. This year, blockers are even better at filling assignments. Lead blockers don’t do as many stupid things, which is just splendid.

Perhaps the more annoying problem with the run game is that the tackles still don’t quite resemble what they should in real life. There are some weird one-on-one tackles in the open field and worse, some weird tackles in the middle of the box as well. Pile-ups don't really happen as they do in real-life either. While the animations are fine, I just don’t think they’re organic or consistent with what’d actually happen on the field all of the time.

Regardless, running requires you to follow your blockers and look for open space. You can tell the difference between the best backs and an average back while doing this. Some guys will seemingly have that ability to just squirt through a hole and into open space, others won’t.

Broken tackles are a much bigger deal this year as well, and you’ll see that play out with (again) better players breaking more tackles. Sometimes it can get ridiculous looking — but in retrospect seeing Adrian Peterson or Jamaal Charles break two or three tackles on a play is something that has happened before.

Perhaps the best thing that could happen to the run game in the future are more half-hearted tackle attempts. Arm tackles, etc. would be a welcome addition and make breaking tackles look that much more realistic.

A major issue last year was the defensive line play in the sense it was overpowered. You were able to get sacks regularly using the power and finesse moves with your defensive linemen. This year, the effect of those moves has been tuned down, and the effect is that its harder but not impossible to get to the QB.
 
 
Franchise Mode

The Franchise mode has saw some major changes this year — first is the name change. I guess we’re back to just Franchise now. I mean, that’s cool and all I guess, and it works for me since I’ve said Connected Franchise was a silly name anyways.

Starting your franchise means you will get the option of jumping straight to the regular season after you start. That’s a nice little touch, and kudos must be given.

But really, after that change, I’m not sure the changes to franchise were necessarily good.

The Dynamic Drive Goals might be one of the worst game additions to Madden ever. In no way, should my playcalling or team performance or team progression be based on me having to call three pass plays to a single player on a drive.

Failing to throw a touchdown pass (and instead running it in) shouldn’t hurt my team’s confidence and hamper my team's ability to improve, much less the right tackle who just helped open up the hole in the first place with a pancake.

The idea of having goals for the season and game that players can meet to increase confidence and even performance is a great idea. However, the Dynamic Drive Goals feature is utterly unrealistic, completely unnecessary, and makes the gameplay experience worse. This was a bad idea which should have been nixed at the very start of the brainstorming process, but instead its here in Franchise making the experience worse.

Not only do many of the goals themselves make absolutely no sense, completing them is almost necessary if you want valuable game boosts which boost your entire unit, sometimes up to ridiculous team wide overall ratings. Because of dynamic drive goals, your third string center could end the game at 85 overall just for sitting on the sideline watching you throw to Dez Bryant three times a drive and scoring with pass touchdowns despite the fact a run would've been more prudent. It’s an insanely poor thought out feature in a product that otherwise tends to tread the realism balance quite well, to put it mildly.

Again, the idea of game specific goals (get 100 yards rushing or 300 yards passing) or season goals is a great idea. At first I thought that’s where the feature was heading, but what we have is some sort of evil alien creature that has invaded an otherwise authentic experience and taken over — forcing me to bend to its will and throw a pass despite the fact I’m on the one yard line and want to run it in.

Now that I think about it, apparently Pete Carroll had dynamic drive goals on last season in the Super Bowl.
 
 
Digressing from that, the new visual team depth chart is a great idea and addition. In all reality, its something I’ve wanted for a long time, but never actually knew I wanted it. This is how sports games should display data — quickly and easily. Major kudos here.

Again the new player cards have the same well thought out process, as does the entirety of the Franchise Mode interface. I’m actually a fan of how information is organized and how quickly you can move to different aspects of the mode. In that sense, EA has nailed it with regards to menu navigation and information presentation in a way I hope other sports games mimic.

On the flip side of that, franchise mode is still relatively dead, with a lifeless and dull experience surrounding the action. The NFL is a pretty big deal on Sundays, and seeing what’s going on around you while in game and seeing storylines play out across the league in the mode is something that simply needs to happen next year.

Overall, franchise mode is adequate. It has some truly well thought out features like the interface. However, the lifeless feel of the mode plus the cancerous tentacles of the Dynamic Drive Goals and how they impact progression and full game experience mean that Franchise isn’t the game’s strongest suit.
 
 
Draft Champions and Ultimate Team

Draft Champions is EA’s newest game mode which is going to attempt to woo you into playing Ultimate Team eventually (at least that’s what it seems like).

The mode itself is a fun little sideshow, as you will quickly go through a draft and get a team together to then go face the world in a gauntlet style setup. I personally found the drafting to be fun, and the mode was fun the first couple of times through — but I’m not fully convinced its something many people are going to play dozens of times.

The approach of the mode is certainly straightforward, but I’m personally not seeing the long term value presented here unless you want to gain some quick currency for Madden Ultimate Team.

Speaking of MUT, the mode is back and it works relatively well with a few big changes.

Solo challenges are easier and more streamlined, as it only takes a few minutes to complete many of them. That’s a nice change of pace for sure, as before solo challenges felt like they were a waste of time versus what you actually earn.

Objectives have a bigger role this year, and there will be scenario games throughout the season which allows you to re-enact iconic moments from the NFL season. That’s going to be cool as the features get more fleshed out with the NFL season’s start.

Generally, if you liked Ultimate Team before this year — you will likely like it again this year. If Ultimate team is something you weren’t info before, there’s not much here to change your mind.
 
 
Commentary, Graphics, Etc.

The more superficial elements of Madden do continue to improve. Graphically, the lighting and details within the game are a solid step above last year. Keeping in mind we’re not seeing generational leaps anymore, the refinements are what you would expect.

Commentary seems adequate and not downright poor this year, which means it improved. Repeated lines are still there, but not nearly as bad as last year. The big thing that’ll always gripe me about sports games is a lack of situationally aware commentary.

If its fourth and inches, and my season is on the line, it’d be so much cooler to have the presentation really draw that out and let you know the gravity of the situation to add to the intensity. Instead, a game-winning Super Bowl pass is like tossing your first touchdown in the pre-season.

Also, with just 32 teams — there really is no excuse not to have fully authentic in-stadium experiences. Everything from the traditional crowd chants to what plays when teams score, etc. — these are all details that should not be a problem to add. The fact they aren’t in the game is mind-boggling to me.
 
 
Final Thoughts

Last year, I gave Madden a 7.5 — and really, except for a few items (I’m looking at you Drive Goals), the game is better in every facet.

On the field, Madden plays the most complete and most authentic game of football we’ve ever gotten to play. There are gripes you can still levy on the gameplay, but those gripes have quickly gone from basic elements of the game not being right to very specific and football oriented complaints on the field. Real progress has been made and there are no truly overly weak spots on the field sans special teams.

What’s holding Madden back this year is the flat feeling feature set around the core gameplay. Franchise mode is something which is just begging for life (and begging to be rid of those drive goals), and the rest of the feature set is something you either like or loathe. Ultimate Team does nothing to convince you its worthy of your time if it hadn’t before, and the rest of the mode offerings really don’t move the needle. The modes are all best described as adequate to good, but nothing stands out as truly great.

With that said, franchise went sideways, Draft Champions is a worthy new mode, the trainer and gauntlet are still fun distractions and the gameplay is better in every way. Madden NFL 16 is truly a great sports game worthy of your time and dollars investment. If you are a fan of football, this is the year you should jump in with Madden.

Score: 8.0 (Great)

Madden NFL 16 Videos
Member Comments
# 1 BenGerman @ 08/28/15 02:34 PM
Well written, Chris. This is easily the best Madden in a long time. Hopefully next year they focus on the game modes and continue to build on the solid gameplay.
 
# 2 Armor and Sword @ 08/28/15 02:37 PM
A very fair and thoughtful review. I gave it a 7 because of all the CFM bugs as well as the Defensive Camera (what I hope is a bug that can be patched) design decision (it was perfect last year and now I get dizzy with it sometimes what the heck happened?) it shipped with.

Once those CFM bugs are patched here shortly I feel this is solid 8.5 overall.

On the field it is a solid 9 for me. CFM still needs more presentation elements added, and in game we need a score ticker (not a dumb drive goals ticker) like the NCAA football series. Dynasty mode on NCAA 14 is probably the most robust football franchise mode ever. Madden is getting there.


The future is bright and let's enjoy M16 on the field where is shines brightly.

And Draft Champions is highly addictive and has so much potential to be expanded upon with a bigger player pool and the ability to play head to head with friends and even set up tournaments!

I can easily say M16 and NCAA 14 are my two favorite football titles ever (and a special shout out to Tecmo Super Bowl).
 
# 3 CM Hooe @ 08/28/15 02:40 PM
I think this review jives with my opinion that the on-field experience is going to hold up the Madden NFL game this year. I'm not as offended by Dynamic Drive Goals as the reviewer is, but I do admit that I'm generally ignoring them, making the feature essentially a nonfactor for me.

Hoping for more substantial additions to Franchise going forward. For now, the football gameplay is plenty good enough for me to want to continue forward in the decent experience that Franchise offers now.
 
# 4 Armor and Sword @ 08/28/15 02:42 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by CM Hooe
I think this review jives with my opinion that the on-field experience is going to hold up the Madden NFL game this year. I'm not as offended by Dynamic Drive Goals as the reviewer is, but I do admit that I'm generally ignoring them, making the feature essentially a nonfactor for me.

Hoping for more substantial additions to Franchise going forward. For now, the football gameplay is plenty good enough for me to want to continue forward in the decent experience that Franchise offers now.
I share the same sentiment. Put that ticker resource into next years game with scores around the league while we play CFM.

But I make believe it does not exist.
 
# 5 jb12780 @ 08/28/15 02:42 PM
Great review. Once CFM gets fixed this game will be very addicting and hard to put down.

Sent from my LG-LS980 using Tapatalk
 
# 6 CM Hooe @ 08/28/15 02:45 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Armor and Sword
I share the same sentiment. Put that ticker resource into next years game with scores around the league while we play CFM.

But I make believe it does not exist.
I actually really like the goals ticker. As long as the game revolves around XP for player progression, I want to know how close I am to XP reward thresholds. To that end, the goal ticker is extremely useful for me.

It's specifically the Dynamic Drives Goal feature is what I'm ignoring - "throw a passing TD this drive", "get a QB sack this drive", etc.

I definitely would like to see out-of-town scores added to that ticker, however, to add to the immersion of the game.
 
# 7 mva5580 @ 08/28/15 03:05 PM
You say franchise is the "main" mode of the game and I would wager ea sports doesn't think that way anymore.
 
# 8 Armor and Sword @ 08/28/15 03:09 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by mva5580
You say franchise is the "main" mode of the game and I would wager ea sports doesn't think that way anymore.
I can almost assure you their data shows CFM being widely used and played.

MUT and CFM are the core modes.
 
# 9 jkra0512 @ 08/28/15 03:10 PM
Well then, looks like a buy to me! I always wait for my buddy's opinion, because he's a Maddenite through and through and the OS Review, and both were very favorable this year!
 
# 10 ultralow36 @ 08/28/15 03:16 PM
great game dont know about the score since i put no stock in it........
 
# 11 MelR2000 @ 08/28/15 03:28 PM
We NEED a history log for Franchise. Super Bowl winners losers, MVP, year to year leader boards, ect... It's sad the madden customers have to go build there own excel spreadsheet to to keep trade of there Franchise. Make the seasons history relevant year after year. Why is this concept soooo hard.
I swear they dumb down Franchise to MAKE you try MUT. I will never get suckered into that bs.
 
# 12 adayinthelife @ 08/28/15 03:30 PM
Likely the best football game I've played. Personal highlights in this series for me were 2005, 10, 15 and now this.

I have no idea if it will sway folks that really don't like the series, but if you've ever been a fan at any point in the series' history, I don't see how this game wouldn't put a smile on your face.
 
# 13 JKSportsGamer1984 @ 08/28/15 03:48 PM
Lmao @ the Pete Carroll reference! Good review. I completely agree about the Drive Goals. Seems like a wasted opportunity to use the ticker for.....Oh I don't know.....UPDATES FROM AROUND THE LEAGUE? Come on EA! Presentation is so far behind where it should be by now. The guy you brought in from NFL films is a nice start but we need much more than that (highlights from games around the league, a weekly wrap up show, etc..) It's also time to completely go away from cut scenes & use Real-Time presentation at all times. These are things that I thought were a no brainer for Next Gen. This is holding the game back from greatness. Gameplay is finally solid & moving in the right direction (although still sloppy at times with RB's arms still bending behind their back with the ball stuck in their hand, defenders still looking like rag dolls on gang tackles, etc..) It's time to go all out on everything else with the game going forward (Sidelines, Presentation, Franchise, Superstar/My player mode, etc..)

All in all Madden 16 is a solid effort. It needs a few patches because there are a lot of bugs & gameplay fixes needed.
 
# 14 DBMcGee3 @ 08/28/15 03:55 PM
I'm hearing such mixed reviews thus far. It's always hard to tell when people have legitimate gripes, or just sour grapes from losing a few games, but I've heard lots of people complaining about the CPU pulling vintage cheese when losing late. Any truth to that?

I'm eager to get my rental on and give it a go myself.
 
# 15 roadman @ 08/28/15 05:31 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by DBMcGee3
I'm hearing such mixed reviews thus far. It's always hard to tell when people have legitimate gripes, or just sour grapes from losing a few games, but I've heard lots of people complaining about the CPU pulling vintage cheese when losing late. Any truth to that?

I'm eager to get my rental on and give it a go myself.
Probably because they are losing playing Maddenball instead of football.
 
# 16 Sphinx @ 08/28/15 05:42 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by MMChrisS

Madden NFL 16 is a game where I have faced mixed emotions playing it. On one hand, the gameplay has arrived in every way now, and can be put amongst any other game in our genre in terms of great-playing sports games.

On the other hand, funky design decisions and truly bad bugs really hamper the experience in the game’s main mode: Franchise.

That always brings a tension in reviewing a game. It's brilliant but left wondering why some decisions were simply made.

With all of that said, Madden NFL 16 is the best football game you’ve ever played, and the experience is generally becoming one that can be described as great.

Read More - Madden NFL 16 Review (PS4/Xbox One)
I couldn't agree more with this review. Well written!
 
# 17 Dazraz @ 08/28/15 06:07 PM
Sluggish Menus, Carbon copy Madden 15 presentation, On Field Individusl Performaces that are NOT Reflective of their Ratings....how do these not get a mention? 8??? 7 at best.
 
# 18 redsox4evur @ 08/28/15 06:10 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dazraz
Sluggish Menus, Carbon copy Madden 15 presentation, On Field Individusl Performaces that are NOT Reflective of their Ratings....how do these not get a mention? 8.5??? 7 at best.
The menus are sluggish for me. Can't say anything about it being a carbon copy of 15 because I never played 15. And the performances could be related to the issue brought up by completing drive goals.
 
# 19 asu666 @ 08/28/15 07:29 PM
For a game that evolves from year-to-year, the number and significance of bugs is unacceptable. They caused me to skip a purchase, because I buy what is on the disc.
 
# 20 ShaiLeGran @ 08/28/15 07:41 PM
About the ticker bringing out-of-town scores, let me quote a tweet reply from Clint Oldenburg, answering my question why they are not in there: "nothing is impossible, just not anything we've had time to do yet". Maybe it is patchable? If not, then it will be next season I guess.

Just adding a ticker with other scores would have upt the immersion quite a bit.
 

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