As is so often the case with these things, there’s no way to truly be sure about these changes until you actually spend some time progressing through a few seasons of a franchise and seeing how things really play out. That being said, I think this at least seems like a step in the right direction at first glance.
As someone who mainly plays online franchise, I want to believe that this is going to make things more difficult for anyone who was adept at building super teams solely by gaming a flawed progression system and knowing which attributes would help improve a player quicker. I hope it will create a more dynamic and realistic collection of players while still allowing smart GMs to find hidden gems that are perfect scheme fits.
What makes me most skeptical though is that progression appears to still be tied, at least in part, to how a player performs on the field, furthering the fallacy that players somehow improve by having a good game rather having a good game because they’ve improved. This unfortunately will always allow users who are clearly already superior on the field to then also have better players, too. In short, the rich will continue to get richer.
I think everyone would agree that Madden’s franchise mode has been severely lacking over the last several years. Gone are the days of the “Tony Bruno Show” and weekly newspaper headlines. Instead, it has become a flawed, repetitive system that sees players rewarded for play on the field, rather than what is done off. However, with all of that said, I do see lots of promise with this year’s franchise mode.
Player archetypes are intriguing, and I’m anxious to see how players progress from season to season. Furthermore, I like what EA did with each position, and the different types of player types each contain. Choosing a player that best fits your scheme will help in the long run.
The same can be said for the coaching staff and what schemes best fit your team’s strengths and weaknesses. Mike Shanahan might favor players that fit a West Coast offense, while others might prefer a “run and shoot” offense. How you choose your offense and defensive schemes could drastically alter your players’ ratings. This isn’t an entirely new idea, but EA has made the necessary adjustments to make it more successful in Madden 19.
Lastly, the new and improved positions on the depth chart are HUGE. Users will now be able to dictate which receiver is in the slot, where defensive ends line up and which player takes goal-line snaps in key situations. Custom draft classes are long overdue, and will add to the realism of franchise mode through many, many years.
Although I’m hesitant to get excited, it appears EA has finally made an effort to bring franchise mode back to where it once was. I’m cautiously optimistic, and look forward to hearing more in the coming weeks.
I know there have been some inevitable complaints that the changes in franchise aren’t enough and don’t go far enough — really pick your phrase here for general disappointment.
But let me take a contrarian view of sorts. If the scheme/archetype system works as it seems it will, roster building in Madden (and perhaps within sports games) just changed in a big way. I can see a future where you can create your own schemes with desired archetypes and playbooks with the current system still largely in place to organize rosters and develop players.
I do think these additions are a big deal for this year and the future of the series in that sense.
What I do think franchise still needs, and its what it doesn’t seem to be getting, is a face lift and make over on how Sundays are presented. I think the NFL is a perfect target (more than basketball, soccer, hockey or baseball) for bringing a digital sports world alive.
So while the thing franchise needs most probably isn’t happening, another thing it needed (redoing how you build your rosters so it’s not so mindless) did happen. Any steps forward are good steps, so I’ll celebrate that and I look forward to the new strategies to building teams that’ll come around this season.