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Where We Stand With Madden NFL 18 After a Few Weeks

Madden NFL 18

Where We Stand With Madden NFL 18 After a Few Weeks

Kevin Scott

In what is becoming more and more of an unfortunate trend for new sports games, the state of Madden 18 in its first weeks of release is in a bit of a rocky place. And that’s not even taking into account the hurricane impacting EA Tiburon’s studios in Florida that forced them to expedite the release of a patch this week.

Setting aside for the moment all of the issues the patch may or may not have rectified, Madden 18 is proving a little hard to get especially excited about after spending a couple of weeks playing the games thus far. Sure, it looks better than last year, but it hasn’t improved enough in its core mechanics to make this a benchmark release for the series. There are still some fundamental components (stagnant line play and poor recognition from defenders in coverage, for instance) that are noticeably lacking.

After spending most of my time so far playing Madden Ultimate Team, I’m both impressed and overwhelmed by the multitude of options within the mode. I don’t find it to be quite as easy to grasp and navigate as The Show’s Diamond Dynasty however, as upgrading sets can make for a lengthy and rather tedious process. Perhaps this is why the packs store so prominently features highly coveted items you have to shell out real money to purchase with no option of spending coins earned through the game on them instead.

It’s hard to say at this point which gameplay issues could be patched to satisfaction in the coming months, but it’s increasingly looking like a year where the introduction of the new Frostbite engine and modes like Longshot has come at the cost of any major improvements to the nitty gritty details of action on the gridiron.

Mike Lowe

I agree with Kevin about the core gameplay issues. It seems the only way to get somewhat realistic line play in CFM is to increase pass blocking sliders for the AI. The problem with that is now the only way you get sacks is with a blitz, and to further that problem, you’ll get a sack about 70 percent of the time you blitz. All this leads your linebackers and safeties leading your team in sacks, while your DEs end up with just a small handful. To continue with the gameplay legacy issues, there are still a ton of tackles for losses. There’s also no positional rotation which is another long-time legacy issue. Stat tracking in CFM continues to have the same calculation errors year after year such as fumble recoveries being doubled in simmed games.

Does the game play better than last year? It certainly does, but I can’t help but feel frustrated when such legacy issues go untouched.

Madden to me is quite bland on the CFM front overall — there are no storylines worth reading, and news coverage and stat overlays I find myself skipping past as they offer little to no substance. It’s just the same old story of a franchise experience taking a backseat.

I did try some MUT, and I actually like their setup better than The Show, which I find to be very bulky and cumbersome. However, in playing MUT, it’s far too arcadey of an experience for me to enjoy.

Longshot is very well done, and I can only hope that elements of it find their way into CFM next year.

Matt Llewellyn

After having a few weeks with Madden 18, it’s very clear that the bulk of the development cycle went to Longshot. It is an admittedly good story and was far more entertaining than I had expected it to be. That being said, the development of Longshot definitely took away from the rest of the core experience. The switch to the Frostbite engine has certainly made the game a thing of beauty, but the looks are only skin deep.

CFM hasn’t been touched in any meaningful way. Old animations and odd clipping issues are still ever present. The ball is still lacking in physics, and incomplete passes tend to skip off of the turf like a rock on a pond. Funky interactions in blocking and in the tackling animations serve to remind us that there are still legacy issues that need to be worked out.

Not all is bad though. Madden Ultimate Team remains a deep and engaging mode for anyone who loves the card collector modes that are popular across sports titles. As Mike said, the MUT interface is a step up from MLB The Show. Where The Show has a clunky and bulky interface, Madden 18 has a central hub that labels everything clearly. Solos or Seasons, new players and veterans of the mode know exactly what to do and where to go. The action in MUT itself runs a bit more on the arcade side, but at its core it is still a whole lot of fun to play.

Overall, the difference between the three game styles (Sim, Competitive, and Arcade) is more subtle than expected, but it is there if you’re paying attention. Run blocking is vastly improved, with holes opening up and downfield blocks actually being picked up. Pass blocking is a bit of a mixed bag. Pockets form but only in the most rudimentary sense. Similarly, the WR/DB interactions are also fairly simple with it largely being a slightly more advanced version of rock, paper, scissors. Clearly, more work could be done in these areas.

Madden 18 is not a bad game by any stretch. It’s a fun game of football and any fan of the NFL would not be sorry for purchasing it. There is an initial wow factor when players first see what the Frostbite engine does to the visuals, but once that wears off we’re left with a game that is a solid game of NFL football, but not quite what I hoped for.

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  1. Article was spot on. At least for me, there's a lot of bittersweet, more so bitter than sweet. You're right: CFM, the mode I frequent the most, is bland and repetitive with no immersion. I've had to adjust Pass Blocking sliders and still give up 6 sacks a game, no matter who I play with. The AI is almost broken (especially Quarterbacks and Safeties).
    The sweet part is that I got forty bucks when I traded it in yesterday.
    Sent from my iPhone using Operation Sports
    Honestly until EA tries to give a damn Madden will always suck. When 2k comes out we are talking about accesories, player likeness, and other authentic things that add to the finishing touches to make a game with great gameplay(even though they can improve) even more steller. But with madden, we cant even get the small stuff right. Gameplay has improed minimally over the past decade. We still have running backs and receivers with the same runnning animations. smh. The gear outside of the helmets is sub par. Player models need improving, cleats havent changed in years. Maddens gameplay is unrealistic to the point of laughter. Canned animations, no physics, pre scripted events all over the place.
    Its not even Madden thats the issue but the developer. We see what happened to Live and how they got laughed out of the gaming basketball arena. They released such a crap product that they canceled the game. Now imagine if that was the only basketball game we had. EA wouldnt have srapped it, but took everyones money. Idc if the grass looks better, and i must say the game is prettier, but who cares. Only thing that is great about this game is the updated roster and official league/team logos. The players are the exact same, they could at least customize them a little. smh. But yea, issa problem that wont be resolved until people stop buying the game. I enjoy football and want to compete by playing madden, but its a insult to my wallet and intelligiance to spend any money on this.
    Ya totally agree.. too many legacy issues with the core gameplay for me to purchase it. If they can fix it with patches I'll pick it up on Black Friday. I find that the problem with EA today. They don't focus on making the gameplay similar to the game time realistic experience but on GTA type stories or other gimmicks. It's sad. If you want to add stuff add real attire, presentation.
    At least it feels like the community is reaching it's breaking point in regards to all the issues it can tolerate.
    Whether that's just the OS community or if this has actually affected the player base/sales remains to be seen.
    Questions that I have:
    What game was being played during the advertising blitz prior to the release of Madden. It seems as though the only thing EA improves on, on a yearly basis is advertising/promotions/ and hype. Kudos to that department.
    Second how can older versions of Madden from the late ps2 days play better than versions on current consoles. cant they just implement those codes
    In addition, how can NCAA 14 (ps3)/ NCAA11 (ps2) stand the test of time. Do developers of EA games share a knowledge base. After all, they are both EA products.
    Something has always been amiss with Madden.
    At this point in time I will just start believing what others have said. Madden is just a yearly money grab buy a company who has no competition.
    Dcooks
    Honestly until EA tries to give a damn Madden will always suck. When 2k comes out we are talking about accesories, player likeness, and other authentic things that add to the finishing touches to make a game with great gameplay(even though they can improve) even more steller.

    I think saying "Madden sucks" is a bit of hyperbole but I completely agree with your comparison to 2K. 2K is not without flaws and the series might not receive major changes year to year but the development team touches on just about every aspect of the game each year. You'll rarely find a mode or feature that has gone untouched from one year to the next. That doesn't mean this always leads to improvements but you can't fault the team for not trying or caring.
    I would love to see Madden work on individuality when it comes to players such as adding signature styles and animations. QBs, IRL, have unique stances and throwing motions. Some running backs and even receivers have signature running styles (running low to the ground, running up right, holding the ball differently). Receivers might have signature catching styles. OBJ seems to love one handed catches or highlght catches in general. He should be one of the only receivers in the league making ridiculous one handed grabs. As good as a receiver like Antonio Brown I don't recall him making spectacular one handed catches like Odell (I could be wrong though). It details like this that would make Madden feel and look even more authentic (though the game probably has more pressing issues when it comes to gameplay).
    As for the main topic of the article I agree based on the time I've spent with the game. I was disappointed with the lack of changes I noticed once I started playing. Graphics are definitely an improvement but not as drasitc as I was expecting. Gameplay is a bit better but doesn't feel too much different from last year. To be fair I have yet to try out the new passing system which could make a difference. I only have the trial version so Im not yet willing to waste my trial time messing around and learning the new passing mechanics.
    Glad I passed this year. Doubt I'll even buy around Black Friday. I'm not spending my money on a Story Mode I didn't want and MUT, which I never play. MUT wins...i guess. Sad indeed.
    I only play online H2H..
    I stopped playing cfm/franchise years ago because it was boring and just God awful. In the past Id buy the game just to play franchise/cfm Mode. Not anymore.
    Now Im happy with the game I think its the best Madden ever. I think they've done a great job with it this year!
    I feel like with Madden the gameplay has gotten better over the last 2-3 years.  Running seems a little more fluid, and glitchy awkward animations aren't as common.  With saying that, there hasn't been any update to the different running styles.  Derrick Henry and Darren Sproles run the same way.  There is a slight difference in quickness when playing with different players of size, but not enough to make them feel like two different players.  Madden 18 has gotten the closest to this feeling, still a ways away.  I think they're biggest miss is with player builds/likeness.  Simple things like mouth pieces, mid forearm armbands, different chin straps, arm sleeves (took forever to get in the game!) all add to the authenticity of the game.  There are so many high profile players that lack face scans and proper body builds.  Terrell Suggs is a grown ass man in real life, on Madden he has the build of a running back.  Same for Khalil Mack.  These misses, and lack of detail really hinder the game from taking that next step ie. 2K.  With all the other issues i can understand not knowing the correct coding to get a player to fall, catch a ball, or even run correctly.  But, gear and player likeness, thats concrete stuff.  You can miss that and hope someone doesnt notice! When you're the only game you have the luxury of slacking.... Madden you have slacked in all the wrong places and put resources in all the wrong places.  Longshot will not make your game better, should have addressed that next year maybe.  This transition to Frostbite was highly anticipated and from a buyer of Madden since the mid-late 90's I was very disappointed.  In saying that, its the only football game i have, so ill keep playing and hoping next year will be the year! 
    I'm loving m18, it's a little buggy and needs smithing out in some areas but it's a solid patch away from being excellent. I really like the running game B4 the 1st update. Cutback lanes, cutting back against the grain, and using defenders momentum against them were possible for the 1st time in years. I struggled to hold the cpu under 100yds on the ground consistently. Now it's a lot closer to m17.
    I hope the just focus on bug fixes, smoothing the game out, and making the game work as they envisioned. Not spend the whole year redesigning the game for whinners & cheesers.
    I think it is so frustrating this year because of how close they are to a great game. It just all boils down to what I believe is EA's identity crisis, they are trying to balance SIM and on-the-field and arcade/MUT/longshot and it really doesn't work. For example just throw on an NFL game and watch little things like the line play, or the way QBs move in pocket, or even the presentation side of things with the sidelines or commentary. It all is just out of whack. I really think that EA would be better suited to have two games one a arcade MUT style micro transaction game and a NFL Head Coach style game where you can actually play on the field. Until they stop trying to play both sides it will either continue to improve at a crawl or not at all for one side of the fence, which always will be the SIM crowd.
    A few weeks after release and I'm where I usually stand with the madden franchise. On the sidelines. I genuinely love football more than any other sport and it's not close, but I'd rather do a run through of the Last of Us for my 10th time than play madden and we are only two weeks into the NFL season.
    kjcheezhead
    A few weeks after release and I'm where I usually stand with the madden franchise. On the sidelines.

    I'm with you. I had high hopes that I would be able to start a franchise and be playing right along with the actual league. But here we are, one more game until week three and my franchise is sitting at week four of the preseason, waiting to advance. Why? Because I'm hoping upon hope that this QB sackfest will be patched and that the bugs within supersim will be fixed soon. Meanwhile, with each passing day, I'm becoming more disillusioned and less interested in Madden.
    One of my biggest concern is the kicking stats issue. It's only keeping track of certain teams kicking and punting stats in our online CFM. I dont understand how this happens
    The gameplay, animations, everything, just seems so authentic to me, such a pleasure to play my cfm games. easily captures the feel of football better than any other iteration of the game.
    BigSexy
    Article was spot on. At least for me, there's a lot of bittersweet, more so bitter than sweet. You're right: CFM, the mode I frequent the most, is bland and repetitive with no immersion. I've had to adjust Pass Blocking sliders and still give up 6 sacks a game, no matter who I play with. The AI is almost broken (especially Quarterbacks and Safeties).
    The sweet part is that I got forty bucks when I traded it in yesterday.
    Sent from my iPhone using Operation Sports

    Lol glad to see that. After using some about-to-expire best buy bucks, madden cost me $11 out of pocket. Hoping to turn that into 30$+ towards FIFA.
    Be Good Or Be Gone
    Sent from Galaxy S8+
    GT roll2tide
    Let's play Madden or Fifa!
    scottyp180
    I think saying "Madden sucks" is a bit of hyperbole but I completely agree with your comparison to 2K. 2K is not without flaws and the series might not receive major changes year to year but the development team touches on just about every aspect of the game each year. You'll rarely find a mode or feature that has gone untouched from one year to the next. That doesn't mean this always leads to improvements but you can't fault the team for not trying or caring.
    I would love to see Madden work on individuality when it comes to players such as adding signature styles and animations. QBs, IRL, have unique stances and throwing motions. Some running backs and even receivers have signature running styles (running low to the ground, running up right, holding the ball differently). Receivers might have signature catching styles. OBJ seems to love one handed catches or highlght catches in general. He should be one of the only receivers in the league making ridiculous one handed grabs. As good as a receiver like Antonio Brown I don't recall him making spectacular one handed catches like Odell (I could be wrong though). It details like this that would make Madden feel and look even more authentic (though the game probably has more pressing issues when it comes to gameplay).
    As for the main topic of the article I agree based on the time I've spent with the game. I was disappointed with the lack of changes I noticed once I started playing. Graphics are definitely an improvement but not as drasitc as I was expecting. Gameplay is a bit better but doesn't feel too much different from last year. To be fair I have yet to try out the new passing system which could make a difference. I only have the trial version so Im not yet willing to waste my trial time messing around and learning the new passing mechanics.

    Well the core problem here with individuality is that 90 man coverage has no animation tied to it. Nor does 95 man coverage, or 67.
    That's my question to anyone here - what does 67 man coverage look like vs 97 man coverage?
    Heck even block shed - 97 block shed vs 67 means that the 97 guy will just win against his match up faster but it won't look any different at all.
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