Playing from the Madden 21 broadcast cam (known usually as Coach Cam) is simultaneously beautiful and frustrating. It’s jarring and wonderful. It’s annoying and magnificent. But in a grand sense, to me it’s just agonizing. It’s been so close to being so good for so long, and yet it has gone untouched for years now.
Madden is being taken through the wringer right now, and part of that frustration comes from a general stagnation in multiple areas of the game. Legacy issues have remained legacy issues, and certain features that are half-baked have remained under-developed or passed over year after year.
There are some obvious under-developed areas that have received most of the publicity this cycle, but one area that goes overlooked right now relates to the Madden 21 broadcast camera.
It’s an open secret on OS that the broadcast camera in Madden is a special weapon of sorts. It simultaneously totally changes the gameplay and unlocks a level of beauty in Madden that goes overlooked far too often. Madden really does not get talked about as being a “pretty” game in many circles. The nature of the default camera being a “behind the QB” camera does not provide the game ample opportunities to look like a real TV-style broadcast. Its best chances to show off come from pregame, pre-play cutscenes and other moments where you’re not in control of the action.
However, if you rotate the camera into the broadcast view — and remove the HUD elements — I think you could fool some people into thinking Madden 21 looked like the real thing if they just gave it a quick glance.
Now, this is not a unique trait to Madden. NBA 2K, FIFA, MLB The Show, NHL all can look photo-realistic at a glance, but all of those games also have a fully functional “broadcast” camera in a way Madden still has not quite tried to embrace in the same way. That’s a missed opportunity.
NHL putting the broadcast camera into the game was one of the best changes the series has made in recent years. It was in the same position as Madden with the “behind the action” view, and giving folks a broadcast camera gave the audience a chance to take notice and say “okay, wait this game actually does look pretty good” — again, not talking how it even plays, just in terms of graphics.
When MLB The Show put in the realistic stadium cameras for all 30 teams, it changed the perspective on pitching. Hitting is another story, but you can in theory play from that pitcher view when hitting — I know some on OS and beyond do it. FIFA has a broadcast camera, but that’s probably the closest comparison to Madden still where both these games are pretty, but you have to play from so far out that it hampers the appreciation for the player models. (It’s also a reason their trailers are generally exciting yet a bummer at the same time because you don’t play the game from these zoomed-in views.)
Then we have NBA 2K, and basketball games in general, and they go without saying here as broadcast cameras have been standard (along with 2K cam) for the longest time. That being said, NBA 2K is also the best example of the gameplay differences that come out when you switch between 2K cam and the broadcast camera.
You See The Game Differently
Speaking of NBA 2K, long-time fans know there’s a clear difference between how people play on broadcast versus the 2K cam. 2K cam players throw way more long outlet passes and see more passing lanes than broadcast players. Broadcast players tend to understand the spacing on the interior a bit more and utilize the baseline more. It’s a perspective switch doing its job (horizontal vs. vertical), and the same holds true in Madden. When playing behind the QB, the field looks narrow at times. You see different run lanes, and you just fall into patterns that you’ve become accustomed to through muscle memory.
But then you switch to broadcast view and new avenues open up. You start using the “high” side of the field more than the low side because you can see the top of the screen better than the bottom part of your screen. It now feels like things are more open sideline to sideline. The field just looks wider and bigger. Admittedly, I generally only like the broadcast cam on running plays most of the time, but it absolutely changes everything about how you play, again, due to perspective.
On top of that, the game is just way more visually appealing. Cam Fam on the forums explains why he likes the Madden 21 broadcast cam:
It’s a beautiful challenge of mastering routes and timing while also mastering pre-snap reads. In certain coverages, the safeties are closer to the line of scrimmage — tipping off the type of coverage. In conjunction, you also have to pre-read whether the corners are pressing. It’s a very real-life strategy played out in the game. In addition to all this, if I notice press coverage, it alerts me to begin to shift WRs or even RBs in motion (to see if my thinking is correct and to ultimately create an unbalanced alignment to my advantage). That’s the cat and mouse beauty of playing with this camera. That’s why it will always be my choice of view.
The Madden 21 Broadcast Camera Workaround
The problem with the “default” broadcast camera in Madden 21 is that, again, it’s not ideal for passing plays. However, another person on the forums by the handle Ram209 has been working with the broadcast camera to make it more functional for years. The issue with the default broadcast camera is you just don’t see enough of the field. It’s still more daunting on passing plays even with this workaround, but there is a way to mostly make it work. Ram209 posted a video in the recent thread detailing the workaround that goes back to Madden 18:
Cam Fan comes back to explain the general way to do this if you don’t want to watch the video:
What you do is, once you call your play, you cycle and click LS twice for player lock (generally a WR). Then before you snap the ball click LS twice again to unlock and the cam zooms out. As it begins to slowly zoom back in, let it zoom in enough for your liking while still being able to see the entire field and then snap the ball.
OS slider guru Mike Lowe shows off how it looks on defense here as he makes a pick:
There are no doubt some issues with this workaround. It’s 100 percent annoying to have to do the player lock thing every time. The camera can get touchy and not work if you get pre-play cutscenes that activate before you player lock. Even at its most zoomed out, the camera still can not do its job if players run far enough up the field on deep pass plays. In short, it’s usable but not to a degree where everyone is going to be sold on it. The development team would need to alter the camera so it either tries to keep everyone on the field on camera at all times, or it would need to find new objects to lock onto in order to rotate as needed depending on if it’s a pass play, run play or special teams.
Of course, we also have a modding scene out there on the PC now.
The Modding Scene
On some level this goes beyond just discussing a broadcast camera. In general, I’m championing custom cameras and new ways to play Madden.
With the PC modding last year, I played a lot with a custom “Zoom” camera and there were some other interesting camera mods out there. The PC community generally understands that these cameras all have “event” stages to them. There’s transition events, pre-play events. etc. so you need to mod multiple cameras to get what you want, but it also provides multiple chances to change the camera depending on the state of the play — something that is unique to Madden and football games due to their stop/start nature.
All videos below come from TheBleedingRed21 — the person who detailed how to use the camera mod tool in Madden on OS.
This is a “Wide” base with “Zoom” pre-play and “Zoom” post-play:
Here is “Zoom” base with “Broadcast” FG in flight (To avoid further confusion, Madden calls the “Coach Cam” what we would call a normal TV broadcast camera, so “Broadcast” here does not mean TV-style. I have been calling the “Coach Cam” a broadcast camera throughout this article because it’s just easier to understand, but just realize the naming conventions are different in-game.):
Here is a look at a camera that starts in a TV-broadcast style, flips to All-22 for the start of the play, then flips back to broadcast when the ball is in flight:
There’s a nice variety of options here, and really what people want is a custom camera option. PC modding is helpful enough, but this could be a much more helpful user tool, and it’s one of the various areas where Madden has sort of fallen behind the times in terms of providing versatility to its game. NBA 2K and The Show do great work here providing many more camera options — and ways to customize them — and while Madden is trickier due to their camera changing based on pre-play, during play and post-play, The Show has figured out how to provide more options when hitting, pitching and fielding, which is the closest comparison.
I don’t have any grand ideas about the broadcast camera being a paradigm shift for everyone. Folks are going to want to play from the view they’re used to or the one that gives them the best chance to succeed. After all, the 2K cam has a large amount of support because many folks think it gives them a competitive advantage. On top of that, the 2K cam has also continued to thrive simply because it was the default option way back when. (Even today, you’ll still see people creep out of the shadows to remind you you’re not a “true” 2K player if you don’t play from 2K cam.) The Madden broadcast camera has a steep hill to climb in those ways.
However, there is no doubt custom cameras should exist by now in Madden. There’s also an argument to be made that EA should try to push people towards playing from a broadcast camera by default. These companies talk so much about how to engage and bring in more people to a game and not scare them off. I would argue new users who come in and play Madden for the first time will see a game that does not look like what they see on TV. If users get by the grueling tasks of figuring out how to call plays and the base-level controls, they’re still then going to be in this foreign camera view.
I don’t know about you, but I strongly dislike when games on TV use a “Madden” sort of camera during plays. I have no actual insight into how TV broadcasts work, but there’s probably a reason the “Madden” view is sparingly used during broadcasts. In that same way, the All-22 camera is certainly great as an analysis tool, but it’s not a casual viewer’s preferred way to watch full games live.
So what if EA had inserted a prompt this year that just said “would you like to try out the new and improved Madden 21 broadcast camera?” Or what if the “first game” experience you were dropped into just showed the game off from that broadcast camera. Would some people stick with it from there? Would the user rate with that camera creep up?
Lastly, if the focus on franchise mode and more types of gamers is going to be a talking point once more for EA, a broadcast camera is simply something logical to look at improving. There’s no question that some invested in a franchise mode are invested in it based on the dynamic of being lost in a virtual NFL they care as deeply about as the one they read about and watch every week on TV. So if love and care is going to go into franchise mode itself, then the same love and care should go into presenting the game the way it shows up on TV every Sunday.