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Madden 18: Here's What You Need to Know

Madden NFL 18

Madden 18: Here's What You Need to Know

The release of a new Madden game each year habitually brings with it the usual difficult decision of whether this latest release is really worth the money. Die-hard fans will typically point to a host of exciting new features or modes that make it a worthwhile day-one purchase while skeptics inevitably complain about how it’s nothing more than another glorified roster update intended to bilk football fans out of another wad of cash. So who’s right when it comes to Madden 18? The truth is that the value of this year’s release and whether it warrants purchasing will depend at least somewhat on what you are seeking to get out of the game.

(Editor’s Note: This is an overview of our reviewer’s thoughts on the game. Be sure to hit up the links for more in-depth takes on each aspect of this year’s game from our staff. We’ll be adding more content to this page as time goes on and updating our thoughts as the game evolves over time.)

Longshot

Without a doubt, Madden 18 will forever be inextricably linked to the advent of the new career mode Longshot, an ambitious playable movie that sees you step into the shoes of Devin Wade as he embarks on a tumultuous journey to becoming a professional football player. Featuring performances by Oscar winner Mahershala Ali and Hall of Fame quarterback Dan Marino, it’s an exciting and emotional experience complete with multiple endings based on your decisions, and a great gateway to Madden for those who are new to the series or football games in general. Yes, it’s true that you don’t play a single down in the NFL, but that hardly dilutes the impact of this fresh new direction for the Madden series.

MUT Squads

For fans of Madden that have felt like the series has always been lacking in the multiplayer co-op department, the new Madden Ultimate Team Squads mode marks another important achievement in Madden 18. While MUT has become a juggernaut in its own right that sees even further expansion of its ever-popular card-collecting mode this year with deeper content and a nearly overwhelming amount of options, the implementation of Squads brings yet a whole new component by allowing for 3 players to play together on one team against online opponents. This means treating football as the kind of team sport it was truly designed to be, with everyone required to know and perform their role or risk being held accountable by your teammates if you aren’t able to hold up your end of the bargain.

Connected Franchise Mode

Of course, not everything within Madden 18 has been nurtured with the same kind of care. As Longshot and MUT Squads are ushered into the Madden spotlight, it would appear that this has been done at the expense of Madden’s increasingly tired Connected Franchise Mode. With barely any new features worth mentioning aside from some slight tuning to last year’s existing framework, Madden 18’s CFM can’t help but be labelled a disappointment. Anyone with Madden 17 already in their collection who’s only really interested in playing some single-player franchise would be among the most likely to skip this year’s release based on how little the mode has been improved in Madden 18.

Frostbite Engine

Then again, they would miss out then on perhaps the best reason of all to pick up Madden 18, which is the improved graphics courtesy of the new Frostbite engine. While it’s true that the physics haven’t been altered all that much from last year , it would be hard to argue though that the action out on the field doesn’t at least look significantly more impressive. With better lighting and more detailed renderings of players, it’s an eye-popping new foundation to build upon for a future of Madden that now looks brighter than ever because of it.

Gameplay

Overall the gameplay in Madden NFL 18 is coming into greater focus the more we play it. Our early impressions (see our early gameplay thoughts here) were that the game had taken a step forward but perhaps not a huge and notable one. The Frostbite Engine has certainly made the game look prettier, but a lot of the fundamentals feel the same. QBs seem more accurate, zones are a little loose, and penalties are still non-existent. Madden’s brand of football certainly is persisting, though patches will probably make the experience much better in the sim play style. See our more detailed gameplay breakdown.

Other New Features

Aside from this, there are plenty of other ways Madden 18 has improved that may not be quite as prominent but that doesn’t mean they aren’t important. Target passing is a new quarterback tool that is tricky to master but allows you to throw the ball to any spot on the field. On-the-fly coaching adjustments can now be made to customize your game and quickly adapt to the tendencies of your opponent. The new three distinct game styles of simulation, competitive and arcade offer players both new and old the chance to find their own comfort zone while playing Madden 18, whether that includes increased realism, having practically superhuman abilities on the field or somewhere in between those two extremes.

Final Thoughts

In my initial thoughts I said I thought Madden was a step but not a leap forward. But was this year more a transition year or is it worth the price of entry?

While there are admittedly those down years where Madden just doesn’t quite bring enough to the table to justify its cost, the simple answer is that this is fortunately not one of those years. Though it may be tempting for some to dismiss Madden 18 as the product of a transition year with the move to Frostbite and the introduction of a new career mode, it feels more like a first step filled with promise rather than one fraught with the kind of growing pains you might expect. Yes, CFM is still badly in need of a makeover, but it’s at least clear when looking at everything else that was accomplished with Madden 18, that it hasn’t been neglected in vain.

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  1. My Madden Priorities Broken Down By Percentage
    Gameplay- 25%
    Presentation- 5%
    MUT- 0%
    Longshot- 0%
    Franchise- 70%
    Effort Madden Put in to each Area
    Gameplay- 40%
    Presentation- 5% (New commentary)
    MUT- 0%
    Longshot- 40%
    Franchise- 0%
    NBA Live Franchise- 15%
    These are not real numbers by any means, but that is what it looks like from the outside looking in.
    I am an offline CFM guy only, and when Madden puts more effort in NBA Lives' Franchise, I can't help but feel a little disrespect.
    I think the Madden team should feel good if they only see a 20 to 30 percent drop in sales.  The 65 percent CFM guys aren't to stoked on Madden 18 be most accounts, but let's wait and see.  I always bought first day for twenty years, but this time I can wait.  
    bucky60
    How can someone call Longshot a career mode? It's an interactive movie w/o a career.

    I agree with this. While I thought Longshot was enjoyable, it's hardly a "career mode".
    EA are so intent on finding a new market to sell the game to that they're completely ignoring those that have loyally been purchasing the game for years. I hate exclusivity!
    Maybe it's just me but is anybody else not able to complete weekly training in CFM? Everytime I complete he drill you can't click on the continue option, which only allows you to select quit instead. So basically the only option I have is to simulate training for a bronze everytime... I can't be the only one experiencing this right?
    so as an offline coach mode cfm player, its not worth it on face value. the money is irrelevant i am fortunate to be able to throw £50 away but then im over 50 with no kids. so key questions:
    1/ are formation subs any better
    2/ are the playbooks better
    3/ do custom playbooks work properly
    4/ are the defensive issues (zone etc) that bad?
    the graphics are not a reason for me to buy it, i have to play on the 20 inch tv most of the time as the bigger tv is being used by she who must be obeyed :)
    Toupal
    My Madden Priorities Broken Down By Percentage
    Gameplay- 25%
    Presentation- 5%
    MUT- 0%
    Longshot- 0%
    Franchise- 70%
    Effort Madden Put in to each Area
    Gameplay- 40%
    Presentation- 5% (New commentary)
    MUT- 0%
    Longshot- 40%
    Franchise- 0%
    NBA Live Franchise- 15%
    These are not real numbers by any means, but that is what it looks like from the outside looking in.
    I am an offline CFM guy only, and when Madden puts more effort in NBA Lives' Franchise, I can't help but feel a little disrespect.

    Effort Madden Put in to each Area
    Gameplay-15%
    Presentation- 5% (New commentary)
    MUT- 20%
    Longshot- 60%
    Franchise- 0%
    Fixed
    Offline CFM player here. Will be skipping.
    Still crossing my fingers that the crew over at OOTP get going with their Beyond the Sidelines game, that will be a true franchise mode for us single-player gamers.
    I have less than ZERO interest in MUT and online (or Longshot for that matter), but that is now the key market demographic for EA, so therefore Madden I suspect will never truly cater to the single player offline franchise gamer again (unless NFL Head Coach makes a comeback).
    Dazraz
    EA are so intent on finding a new market to sell the game to that they're completely ignoring those that have loyally been purchasing the game for years. I hate exclusivity!

    Couldn't possibly agree more.
    I don't think a franchise overhaul is asking too much.
    Just give me what I had in M2004. Very basic, stripped down, with progression/regression, ability to hire and fire coaches, a player draft and free agency.
    I find it impossible to fathom in this day and age that is a massive, time consuming undertaking.
    Sent from my iPhone using Operation Sports
    As a 29 year old male who primarily plays sports video games, I think the time has finally come for me to realize that the aspects I once loved about sports games are quickly fading away. I've always been one for the franchise and MyLeague experiences. Personally, I have always had more fun creating a custom league and playing against the CPU or other human players within a season in which the wins matter within that one season. With the recent release of Madden 18 I felt robbed by EA. I've been playing Madden now for I don't even know how long and this year in particular I've noticed more about the EA company than ever before. In past articles EA has stated it isn't moving away from franchise modes and they're an integral part of the sports games. At this point, I feel like that was just a lie, every year it seems EA wants its consumers to pay more and more to enjoy the full benefits the game has to offer. Maybe I am just getting old and gaming is completely changing and I am one of the minorites that still like a good franchise mode. I know how many die-hard fans are playing online and that's what they prefer. After seeing absolutely not a single change in this year's franchise mode, which is well overdue for an overhaul, I cannot help but think of how well 2K implements it's franchise type modes and just hope this doesn't ever change. From my perspective it seems that EA has completely abandoned any improvements in this department to focus on other aspects of the game. This years gameplay is pretty much Madden 17 with a fresh coat of paint on it. I can't help but feel disappointment for this series and feel like I was robbed my hard earned cash for last year's same game. Maybe sports games just don't do it for me anymore or maybe EA just really dropped the ball. Here's to hoping 2K will once again, one day be able to acquire the NFL license. Until then, I'm stuck shelling out $65-$95 year after year in hopes of getting an improved product. So disappointed
    And this is why I got out of buying Madden about 5 years ago when they ruined the offline Franchise mode that my friends and I used to play religiously every year.  Thanks for saving me money every year stupid madden developers who dont listen every year to anyone and just keep pushing dumb shit like look we upgraded the fucking lighting again for the 5th year in a row yippee!  Thanks to the stupid arrogant game developers more and more people are jumping ship and going to things like board games where people can get together and hang out.  These greedy game companies that dont understand that video games where built off of people hanging out Together on couches not over the internet on stupid microphones.   
    Fifa made changes to their career mode.
    2k updated theirs.
    NBA Live's new career mode looks engaging and in-depth.
    But Madden... the longest running sports game out right now... did basically nothing for the 3rd-4th year in a row.
    It sucks bad that Madden is the only NFL football game out right now. But I'm glad there are other sports games that actually put effort into their career mode this year.
    Toupal
    My Madden Priorities Broken Down By Percentage
    Gameplay- 25%
    Presentation- 5%
    MUT- 0%
    Longshot- 0%
    Franchise- 70%
    Effort Madden Put in to each Area
    Gameplay- 40%
    Presentation- 5% (New commentary)
    MUT- 0%
    Longshot- 40%
    Franchise- 0%
    NBA Live Franchise- 15%
    These are not real numbers by any means, but that is what it looks like from the outside looking in.
    I am an offline CFM guy only, and when Madden puts more effort in NBA Lives' Franchise, I can't help but feel a little disrespect.

    70% to franchise mode every single year?
    I think gameplay needs more than anything else, it is the core of the game after all.
    Shogunreaper
    70% to franchise mode every single year?
    I think gameplay needs more than anything else, it is the core of the game after all.

    When I say MY priorities, I say how much of it I actually focus on when I play. Or how much I care about. Not how much effort they should put in.
    0% to MUT would be absurd, and I hate what that mode stands for.
    Shogunreaper
    70% to franchise mode every single year?
    I think gameplay needs more than anything else, it is the core of the game after all.

    I love the gameplay every year, i get used to it.

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