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Madden NFL 20: Biggest Pet Peeves (Part 2)

Madden NFL 20

Madden NFL 20: Biggest Pet Peeves (Part 2)

We’re back with part two of our pet peeves series for Madden NFL 20. If you missed part one, you can check that out here.

Coverage AI

To give credit where it’s due, coverage in Madden has improved quite a bit in recent years, with defenders showing more tenacity in trying to separate receivers from the ball whether in man or zone coverage. But there are still serious lapses that will happen from time to time, with players not patrolling their zones correctly or failing to hold up well in man coverage. This even occurs with those who are considered elite defenders at their position.

But the most glaring issue that will occur far too frequently in Madden 20 is defenders not making any play at all on a ball that sails right over their head. This means you can call the right coverage and have your guys exactly where they need to be in order to break up a pass, only to watch in agony as they stand there like a statue on a ball where they only need to raise their arms to intercept it.

It’s such an issue, that it’s become known that sometimes the best thing you can do now is throw directly at a defender’s head because they simply don’t animate at times. Of course, you could always try to switch to the defender in question in order to avoid them doing absolutely nothing, but it would be nice to think you can rely on your AI players to hold their own instead of having to worry about always having to do everything yourself.

Blocking Logic

As with coverage AI, blocking logic has come a long way from where it used to be in Madden. Offensive linemen are now more consistent at picking up blitzers (especially with the correct line adjustments) and opening up holes for your running back. Notably, you’ll now even see wide receivers hustling downfield to make that one last block on a defensive back that might just spring your back for a touchdown.

But that doesn’t mean there aren’t still the occasional hiccups when it comes to how blockers behave, particularly when you get them out in open space. It still happens far too frequently on screen passes, or when you have a pulling guard escorting on outside runs, that linemen will pass on the opportunity to block the defender right in front of you. Instead, they will favor someone else further up-field that you’ll never even need to worry about because you’ll be annihilated by that guy they completely disregarded before then.

It’s this total lack of common sense that can regularly remind you that your blockers are digital avatars who are victims of poor coding rather than the kind of highly evolved brutes in the real NFL who can be relied upon to make sound critical judgments about who to eliminate in order to make a play work correctly.

Physics

This is the closest I will get to going beyond a pet peeve to a larger and much more complex issue. That being said, perhaps the weakest area of Madden 20 remains its reliance on questionable physics to determine the results of each play, an issue that becomes problematic both in how players are tackled and how the ball bounces when contacting anyone.

Remember Backbreaker? It was a last-gen football game that touted entirely unique tackles on every play thanks to the way it generated dynamic animations based on realistic physics. So how is that we are now here one generation of consoles later and yet are still stuck with the kind of canned animations in Madden 20 that often don’t make a lick of sense when faced with variables like the direction a player is moving and the direction and force of an opposing player colliding with him?

If it could be accomplished all the way back in 2009, I’d be inclined to believe that EA can provide the kinds of tackles that don’t rely on seeing the same bunch of animations over and over again. This is a hugely important component of the sport of football that Madden will continue to fumble until it can give us something that looks and feels a little more realistic.

The fact that a football itself is a bit of a weird shape makes it an inherent challenge to re-create how it bounces in the digital realm and Madden has always struggled with this. Yes, there are real-life instances where a ball will bounce off players’ hands, bodies or even heads, but these are neither as frequent nor as pronounced as you see on a regular basis in Madden 20. As it stands, it’s far too easy for a ball to be jarred loose from a receiver and popped into the air in a cartoon-like fashion before bouncing off someone else’s hands only to then be intercepted. Does this happen sometimes in real football? Of course, but not nearly at the rate you see in Madden 20.

Kicking

Madden has tried many different ways over the years to replicate the realism of someone attempting to launch an oblong ball with their foot through a set of narrow uprights, but it seems like they’ve never really been able to get it right. As in most other years, it’s decidedly far too easy to consistently kick the ball straight, even with the least accurate kickers in the NFL. In real life, kickers have struggled more in 2019 than in recent years, with many of the best ones even missing an extra point from time to time. But this is extremely rare in Madden 20, and that’s because the mechanic used on kicks — a three-click endeavor that has you pushing a button at the end of a bar for power and then hitting the same button again within a small window for accuracy — is simply too easy to routinely execute.

I’d like to see them return to something similar to what they’ve used in the past that challenges players with pushing the right or left stick straight down and up to perform kicks, with even slight deviations from a straight line resulting in the ball being pulled or hooked one way or the other. This kind of mechanic works quite well in The Golf Club 2019 game, where it often sees you missing fairways and greens all because you were slightly off with how you worked the stick. It seems like it would translate rather seamlessly to the kicking game in Madden while also being more realistic than its current state.

While there are plenty of other small things we could pick at, that wraps up our pet peeves series for now.

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  1. I'm compelled to say that these are fundamental  (and unacceptable) PROBLEMS.  Not pet peeves.  That's giving EA too much credit.  Nonetheless, I agree with all of these points.  The game needs a new developer, outlook, and platform for execution.  It's clearly too much to ask for them to humble themselves and merely look at Backbreaker, APF 2K8, and even their own Head Coach 09 and just take the ideas.
    I actually don't mind the three point click system for the kicks.  The issue is that you can be well outside the blue and it's still straight down the middle and when the CPU misses it's almost always way short.  It's not very often that you or the CPU miss wide.  The sliders don't seem to do anything either untl all of a sudden you can be what feels and looks perfectly in the blue and it's still a shank like I'd kick it.  And I 100%agree that there is no basis in reality.  The CPU kickers never miss extra points or anything inside 40 yards that I've seen.
    As far as the ball going over defenders heads.  be careful what you wish for.  if they make your guys jump it will be back to super linebackers picking passes out of the air.  I'd rather it as is.
    I wanted to add with the kicking.  I wish they'd add a real kicker percentage like NBA 2k Hoops has for free throws.  You still push the buttons and would control the players if there is a block but it would be based on the kickers data.  They'd need more ratings, like specific ones for Extra Points and maybe every 10 yards but at least it would make it more realistic.  I get it's a video game but I prefer to get something closer to a sim and don't want to be 100% on kicks just because I hit the sticks right..
    agree with these guys.....just tweak the difficulty with the button pressing based on the kicker's real-life percentage. in other words, (even if you do the buttons just right) the kick still might be off depending on how bad the kicker is. and yes, don't want linebackers super-jumping for interceptions either. blocked kicks and punts should factor in a bit more as well. if madden had some competition, really believe they would be much more innovative with the features and content.
    1) Patching the game away from OOTB which usually has been the best version of the game.
    2) “One Size fits All” Updates/Patches
    - not allowing the User the ability to choose which update/patch they want to apply and/or revert back to a previous version.
    I agree with this article except for coverage AI. There are other things going on that are more important than CB's not looking to go up for contested balls.
    You should use the tools within the game that the game provides. I will constantly switch between defending the ball or WR throughout the game. I don't notice CB's not going for either the ball or WR if they are near either one on a pass play.
    Agent89 12-17-2019 09:36:28 AM (EDT)
    I'm compelled to say that these are fundamental  (and unacceptable) PROBLEMS.  Not pet peeves.  That's giving EA too much credit.  Nonetheless, I agree with all of these points.  The game needs a new developer, outlook, and platform for execution.  It's clearly too much to ask for them to humble themselves and merely look at Backbreaker, APF 2K8, and even their own Head Coach 09 and just take the ideas.
    roadman
    I agree with this article except for coverage AI. There are other things going on that are more important than CB's not looking to go up for contested balls.
    You should use the tools within the game that the game provides. I will constantly switch between defending the ball or WR throughout the game. I don't notice CB's not going for either the ball or WR if they are near either one on a pass play.

    I dunno, it's a pet peeve thing, and I'm not just defending it because I edited this piece haha. I think the defenders reacting worse when the ball is thrown right at them rather than going psychic mode and tracking down passes they can't even see is a pretty big deal, but also a pet peeve because it's one component of the coverage AI.
    Yes you can click on usually, but sometimes you're late or think the AI has it under control because the ball is thrown directly at their face, yet they won't contest the pass. I see it even in competitive games, which is troubling.
    I agree with most of the AI improvements, however even if you watch real football guys make fundamental mistakes all the time, just because someone is in the right place doesn't mean he should make the play. One example is that OL on the screen play shown, yes he should make that block but not 100% of the time. If anything I think there should be more animations for him attempting to block the guy and miss, that I can agree with. But I've seen too many videos on youtube where someone gets upset for the AI making a mistake, yes the animation may look dumb but that's what needs to be changed not the fact of the guy actually making a play. If we aren't shouting "What is he doing?" at the TV then it is not realistic because I do that a lot in Real Life games, although I am a Panthers fan so maybe that's why.
    Balldude777
    I agree with most of the AI improvements, however even if you watch real football guys make fundamental mistakes all the time, just because someone is in the right place doesn't mean he should make the play. One example is that OL on the screen play shown, yes he should make that block but not 100% of the time. If anything I think there should be more animations for him attempting to block the guy and miss, that I can agree with. But I've seen too many videos on youtube where someone gets upset for the AI making a mistake, yes the animation may look dumb but that's what needs to be changed not the fact of the guy actually making a play. If we aren't shouting "What is he doing?" at the TV then it is not realistic because I do that a lot in Real Life games, although I am a Panthers fan so maybe that's why.

    I agree with this general sentiment, but yeah, there need to be more animations then to better signify this. Also, if it's the only guy around, it hurts more to say he should not block him etc.
    khaliib
    1) Patching the game away from OOTB which usually has been the best version of the game.
    2) “One Size fits All” Updates/Patches
    - not allowing the User the ability to choose which update/patch they want to apply and/or revert back to a previous version.

    Also, patches having so many unintended consequences. Patches aren't perfect, but it seems like Madden ones have gotten a lot buggier over the last few years.
    Whenever a new patch comes out, a lot folks' immediate reactions are "Ok, what did it break?" as opposed to "Ok, what did it fix?".
    ChaseB
    I dunno, it's a pet peeve thing, and I'm not just defending it because I edited this piece haha. I think the defenders reacting worse when the ball is thrown right at them rather than going psychic mode and tracking down passes they can't even see is a pretty big deal, but also a pet peeve because it's one component of the coverage AI.
    Yes you can click on usually, but sometimes you're late or think the AI has it under control because the ball is thrown directly at their face, yet they won't contest the pass. I see it even in competitive games, which is troubling.

    I didn't mention this in my previous post, but I use coaching adjustments for cb's to cover the ball or WR and I will switch it up a lot. For me, this helps cut down on the cb's not making a play, but YMMV.
    roadman
    I didn't mention this in my previous post, but I use coaching adjustments for cb's to cover the ball or WR and I will switch it up a lot. For me, this helps cut down on the cb's not making a play, but YMMV.

    But it's not just you it's the CPU also. Playing on all-madden with Sabo's mod and still this happens to both the player and CPU. There are times where I knew I screwed up and the ball is going to be pick by the defender, only to have the defender track it and then just not do anything and watch it go over their heads for a catch. It's horrible and it is game breaking. Too many times I or the cpu get a free 20 yards if not a TD because of this. Sabo trying his best to help fix this but even if you switch for yourself, it still leaves the CPU to mess up for it's team.
    burter
    But it's not just you it's the CPU also. Playing on all-madden with Sabo's mod and still this happens to both the player and CPU. There are times where I knew I screwed up and the ball is going to be pick by the defender, only to have the defender track it and then just not do anything and watch it go over their heads for a catch. It's horrible and it is game breaking. Too many times I or the cpu get a free 20 yards if not a TD because of this. Sabo trying his best to help fix this but even if you switch for yourself, it still leaves the CPU to mess up for it's team.

    That makes perfect sense regarding the CPU and that may very well be. I just haven't noticed it much on all pro, but I will be looking more for it.
    The sad part for me is that I am still playing M25 on the 360, and most of these pet peeves from '20 are on my list with the older game. In fact most of these pet peeves go back 15+ years. It doesn't give much hope for the future.
    I do think the kicking game is in need of a major overhaul. A few things could be done even with the existing three-click system.
    1. Make the accuracy for rainy games the default for ideal weather conditions. Rain games can be unforgiving if you're just off the mark....I'd like to see this be the case in all games.
    2. Get rid of the ball arc and vibration. Get a general arrow direction to show where you're aiming, but not where it's extended all the way out to the goalposts.
    3. Speed up the meter. The current All Madden setting should be the setting for Pro, with All Pro and All Madden getting bumps.
    4. Make CPU kicking more variable from short distance (i.e., stretch out those accuracy ratings)
    5. For sim, allow for an option for real FG% (where you just click it and the kicker ratings drive the outcome). But that has to be coupled with number 4.
    6. Revert the punt distance to what it was in the M20 Beta. It was SO good - the kicks were shorter (more realistic) and it really allowed for the return team to get blocks set up. This was something that stoked me about the Beta...by OOTB, it was back to the same booming 70 yard punts we always see.
    7. Since comp guys don't like things difficult, they won't like these and will just try to bypass the kicking game altogether. So, EA needs to implement the old 'fair play' option for all online modes (i.e. no going for it on 4th except in certain circumstance).
    What does it say about Madden when it takes, not one, but two whole articles to list all the pet peeves? I bet we get a third and possibly fourth article too!
    My big one is when you throw a touch pass to the flat and the receiver jumps up for it and then gets destroyed. Rather than just waiting for the ball to come to him.
    Herschie
    What does it say about Madden when it takes, not one, but two whole articles to list all the pet peeves? I bet we get a third and possibly fourth article too!

    To be fair, with pet peeves it's a little different. There are games I absolutely adore where I could create 3-4-5 articles on small things that chap my ***.
    Parts 1 and 2 were great write ups, got me to thinking.
    Can't really add much to the pass coverage, etc.
    I'll focus on presentation. Yep, things like sideline reporters, game breaks/actual highlights (could they have Johnathan Coachmen record a few more lines?), refs, all those things are sorely missed. I'd like to see them get rid of that cheesy 4th wall breaking attempt too (line where Charles Davis says somehting along the lines of cuz it's a video game!). NHL and FIFA continue to have on ice/sideline reports (although FIFA's are pretty bad) and FIFA has that goal news thing that adds a little immersion. People that don't like it certainly have the option to turn it off too.
    Kicking is another thing I'd elaborate on. It is a bit too easy, yes. Not to sit and deify FIFA (as it certainly has it's own issues) and because football isn't soccer(though soccer is football...yeah anyway lol). FIFA introduced a new set piece system (penalties, corners, free kicks), maybe go that route.It's a bit more difficult to aim and time everything. When it works, that is.
    Certainly do something to make the AI miss on occasion. I get more blocks defending than are realistic, do something about that too.
    I find myself wondering if I'll even buy Madden 21, or anything on the next gen systems when I get one. Too much missing, too many flaws. I like MUT to an extent but I'm not spending real $ or a lot of time there.

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