The December update is here, and per usual brings with it some changes that are sorely needed.
Sometimes the best thing to do is simply give the fans what they want, and the development team listened here with the return of the franchise player-lock camera. It’s always appreciated to see the team have the desire to try new things, and equally appreciated when they realize those new things fall a bit short.
A few weeks ago, when the developers announced that they would, for the first time ever, be able to update playbooks via updates, my eyebrows raised. Tweaking gameplay is important, but tweaking how each team uses that gameplay is an element that has been missing for too long. Now, with the addition of tendencies matching with each team, my eyebrows have nowhere left to reach. Let’s hope that they can push this feature as far as it deserves to go.
There is always a tug of war governing how much one can enjoy playing online, with part of the game plan being planning how to fight the exploits that players are using this week. For this, any leeway made against said exploits is always welcome. This time it comes in the form of not being able to essentially “cancel” the iced kicker effect on offense by calling a timeout.
This takes away what became another reason to hold on to an extra timeout as the defense, and banishes yet another path for those who prefer to play code breakers rather than football.
However, and this could simply be the Madden gods frowning upon me, there appears to be more of an instance of blocked punts and kicks by the CPU.
Another removed exploit allowed defenders to have a perfect jump on field goal block attempts, essentially making a mockery of the “off the line” mechanic. Something that should have rewarded anticipation instead gave the unskilled an advantage by spamming RT/R2. The addition of a stamina hit and potentially a penalty for overdoing it is very much welcome.
As usual, there are several on-the-field adjustments found within the coverage and blocking games. Coverage in particular is always worthy of a look because it can result in game-changing momentum swings. With this update, the defense gets smarter on assignments while running Cover 3 Match, both in the seams and flats.
Many things remain to be fixed, such as the cringe-worthy sloppiness of trying to recover fumbles, or various points of CPU logic in CFM. But I believe that the team in Orlando has made good on its promise to be a watchful steward of this game post-release. An already solid title continues to run in stride.