With the transition to the Frostbite Engine, Madden 18 welcomes a new era of gameplay to the franchise. While early impressions seem to report that the latest iteration is an improvement but not a gigantic leap forward, there are some standout additions to the gameplay and notable concerns. Madden 18, just like every game before it, has a mix of things that work and things that don’t. It should be noted that my experience with Madden 18 has been exclusively with the “simulation” game style.
What Works In The Passing Game
- The CPU quarterbacks move around in the pocket and will take off when there is green in front of them. This really adds a new dynamic to the pass rush, as over-committing doesn’t necessarily result in a sack or a hurried throw.
- Quarterbacks miss throws up, down, to the left and to the right. It’s a nice change of pace, as you can definitely feel the difference between a good quarterback and a bad one.
- Watching a wide receiver and cornerback duke it out while the ball is in the air is really fun. Jump balls, in general, just feel more realistic this year.
What Doesn’t Work In The Passing Game
- Those same CPU quarterback scrambles often lead to the CPU running right into the defensive line for a sack that should have never happened.
- The CPU still holds the ball for sacks during half-back screen passes. This has been an issue for years now, so it’s frustrating to see that it still results in easy sacks. In general, sacking the CPU quarterback is far too easy.
What Works In The Run Game
- It’s really fun to mess around with the new weight system in place. Taking on cornerbacks with Leonard Fournette is fun. Conversely, trying to bulldoze larger defensive tackles just isn’t happening.
- The new and improved juke tools are fun to use. It’s an understated addition, as Madden 18 is the first iteration in a while that make “stick skills” feel important and worth focusing on.
- The run blocking, in general, is improved. Guards making quicker pulls is a noticeably large improvement.
What Doesn’t Work In The Run Game
- The same weight mechanic mentioned above makes for some funky looking animations. There will be times where a player running full speed is decked out by a larger player who isn’t moving.
- There is a notable lack of impact. The running game just doesn’t feel like it has properly conveyed momentum.
What Works On Defense
- Linebackers play more realistically and cover less space.
- Conversely, having large defensive tackles feels much more important than ever. Having a playmaker at the center of your defensive line takes up more space and provides better opportunities for anyone else trying to get to the ball carrier.
- Having a secondary that actually seeks to knock the ball down is a breath of fresh air. Jump balls no longer wiz right by a corner’s facemask, they’ll actually jump out and try to get in the way.
- One of the neater things I’ve seen so far is a handful of hurdle animations. Watching a skilled linebacker hop his way over a chop block and zoom toward the quarterback is a fun addition.
- Defenders tend to play their zone a little more loosely than in the past, allowing them to adapt in coverage more so than in the past.
What Doesn’t Work On Defense
- Similar to the lack of momentum in the run game, it just doesn’t feel like there is an active push on either side of the ball. When you’re running ahead with a defensive lineman and getting stonewalled – almost as if the two players are in scripted wrestling match – it feels as if the play was decided before the ball was even snapped.
- There’s still general ineptitude on the part of defenders and the CPU. On plays right before the half, the CPU will blitz some linebackers and drop into an aggressive zone.
- Defenders will move toward the ball even when they aren’t looking in that direction. It should be noted that this seems to happen less than it did in the past.
What Works In General
- Kicking and punting feels more realistic than ever before, mostly because the football tends to work in a more natural way.
- The play calling feels a bit more dynamic, with the CPU playing more conservatively with their back’s against the wall and a little more risky when there’s room for it.
- The game’s blocking schemes look and feel better, leading to less head-scratching misses.
What Doesn’t Work In General
- The same blocking schemes that have been so improved in the running and passing are almost non-existent on kick and punt returns. While special team play (as a whole) continues to improve, kick and punt returns are still pretty boring and lack potential for big, fun returns. Especially on the CPU side of things.
- Between the easy sacks and odd play calls, exploiting the CPU is still too easy — despite being more difficult then in prior iterations.
What are you finding to be the case with Madden NFL 18?