Today in our newest Roundtable from the OS Slack Channel, we gathered up Mike Lowe, Ryan Spencer, and Kevin Groves to talk about the game along with Editor Chris Sanner. In this roundtable we have an over-arcing discussion of Madden NFL 17 complete with talk on modes, gameplay, and presentation. Give it a read!
Chris Sanner: Hey guys! Welcome to our newest Roundtable, this time around we’re discussing Madden and how your experience with the game has been thus far. We’re going to hit a variety of topics from gameplay to presentation to the modes. So first thing out of the gate: How is your Madden experience going thus far?
Mike Lowe: Madden 17 is definitely a good game, and a safe bet to already be the best Madden to date. We have a team at EA who seems committed to making their game better, and as much as we wish, no game can become perfect overnight or even in one yearly development cycle.
Kevin Groves: I’m enjoying it so far. Of course it has it’s issues but for me it’s the best playing Madden in quite some time. I haven’t jumped into Franchise mode yet as I’m trying to get a feel for what team to use by playing Exhibition games so I’ll soon see what that has to offer.
Ryan Spencer: I’m having a great time with it so far. Gameplay is mostly solid with a few areas that could use some tweaking (OL/DL battles come to mind). Special teams is no longer a snoozefest. Commentary is a breath of fresh air. There’s a lot to like here.
Chris Sanner: Since Kevin hasn’t played franchise — have either of you other guys dived into the mode?
Ryan Spencer: I’m just getting started with it. I’ve never been a huge fan of the XP concept, but it works a bit better this year than in the past. I still feel that CPU teams lack variety in strategy, playcalling, personnel decisions, etc. which puts a bit of a damper on the mode.
Chris Sanner: I don’t mind the concept of XP but XP is so gamey. Attribute points or something makes it sound more sports-like and less RPG-ish. But the concept of improving players via performance has always been a positive to me.
Mike Lowe: Franchise mode is easily where I spent the majority of my time in just about any sports game, and Madden is no different. I absolutely love the Play The Moments feature, and am so thrilled that the Madden team finally has their quick sim engine working properly. I also love the new practice squad. The constructive criticism of this mode that I can offer would be that the menus are still laid out in a very clunky and “Windows 8” kind of way. There’s just so much scrolling and clicking to find anything, and some options appear in more than one place–it’s just very confusing. Lastly, it’s still disappointing to see certain stats like “Thrown to” still not being recorded in played games, so you’re that one team who has to use other stats to evaluate your DBs. Other stats not really matching up to simmed games well either such as touchbacks, assisted tackles, and tackles for losses. Small in the grand scheme of things, perhaps, but they take away some of the realism when comparing your played game stats around the rest of the league.
Ryan Spencer: I agree Mike, the UI is still laggy and not well thought out.
Chris Sanner: Also am I the only one in here that’s actually into their second season of Franchise already then?
Ryan Spencer: Wow! I’ve been spending too much time with MUT, the skills trainers and Draft Champions. I usually wait until the first big patch to fully dig into franchise mode.
Mike Lowe: And that news section…goodness, EA might need an entire new team to make that look even remotely worthy of entering into.
I’ve advanced ahead to other seasons and played with the draft some–which is really well done–but just to examine long-term stats and development.
Chris Sanner: Ok Kevin, you wrote a piece on the passing game and you’ve been way too silent thus far. What about the gameplay sticks out to you in this year’s game versus previous years?
(You other two can answer after Kevin gives a well thought out and well written diatribe on the gameplay)
Kevin Groves: To me the biggest difference is the revamped zone defense. I just love being to call zone based defenses now and have confidence that my teammates are going to behave like professionals. It influences so many other areas like the aforementioned passing game.
Mike Lowe: Agreed. Defensive play is much stronger making it a lot more fun.
Chris Sanner: I agree with that. I actually (at times) have found myself preferring zone over man. That’s like Madden apostasy right there.
Mike Lowe: Oh, and for the record on franchise mode, nothing is needed more than a realistic and working new injury system where ANY player can actually get hurt on a given play–complete with probable/questionable/doubtful/out designations.
Chris Sanner: I agree with that Mike.
My only complaint about defense thus far seems to be blitzes rarely get adequate pressure on the QB. Are you guys finding that?
Mike Lowe: Yes, zone is definitely great for when you feel your defense is vulnerable.
I have my pass blocking setting to 60 or 65, and it’s been good. I go games with zero sacks against the AI, and then last night saw Joey Bosa have 3.5 and a total of 5 team sacks.
*slider (not setting)
Kevin Groves: I’ve had varying degrees of success depending upon the team and what player I control. I often user control blitzers (especially Mike LBs) because I have confidence in my secondary now with the new revamped zone AI.
Ryan Spencer: It is much too hard to create pressure. When I face a JJ Watt or Justin Houston, I should be nervous on every play. Those guys force their opponents to change their gameplan. In Madden, though, they get stonewalled too often.
Mike Lowe: I still don’t like the whole OL/DL interaction–still feels like a fight in Nintendo Ice Hockey.
(mash mash mash mash mash, yes! I win!)
Ryan Spencer: I think it actually took a step backward this year.
Chris Sanner: Yeah there’s some of that. Just feels like pressure has been hard to achieve, like they overcorrected this year. I’ll need to play with the sliders though.
Kevin Groves: Admittedly, I’ve never been good at anything other than the outside speed rush when it comes to the OL/DL interaction.
Mike Lowe: In franchise, it’d be nice to see substitutions happening at a more realistic rate. To be honest, all of this auto-sub stuff shouldn’t even exist in a game. It shouldn’t be our job to make that work, because it hasn’t worked properly out of the box…well, perhaps ever.
Ryan Spencer: One area EA needs to dedicate some resources towards is CPU QB play. The NFL is a quarterback league. No position in sport is more important. In Madden, the QBs are all too accurate, and mostly play the same way. I want to see Alex Smith dinking and dunking. I want to see Cam tear me up with his legs. It just isn’t quite there yet.
Mike Lowe: Agreed! 100%. This should be one of the top advancements for next year. Not every incomplete pass should be an INT or drop either. (Sliders at least help with this)
Chris Sanner: I agree with that Ryan. Madden still has a few areas like that which need improvement.
Chris Sanner: Let’s talk offense. What are you guys trying and having success with moving the ball? Anything seem overpowered or out of hand?
Mike Lowe: I haven’t tried it too much myself, but I’m hearing that if you call a hot route with a receiver, that player always ends up wide open. Other than that, I feel the offensive gameplay has been quite good and realistic. I don’t see many games that don’t get scores of + for both teams though, and it’d be nice to play 15 minute quarters where you actually have scores of 17-16, etc.
Ryan Spencer: Mesh plays and HB screens seem to work very well. Throwing a fly route against press coverage works often, especially against the CPU.
EA has done a good job making Aggressive Catch less of a crutch. Most balls get knocked down or jarred loose, as they should be.
Mike Lowe: I still don’t like when you hit a receiver on 3rd down on a route for a 1st down, but this weird momentum somehow takes him behind the LOS by like 4 yards, and then you end up having to punt.
Kevin Groves: I’m enjoying some good success running out of the gun. For me, patience and laying off the turbo button until I see hole, accelerating through it makes my virtual RB coach happy. I love the screen game but with some of the mixed/disguised coverages have me calling audibles out of fear.
Mike Lowe: Err, behind the 1st down line, not LOS.
Kevin Groves: I agree with Mike, and on certain WR screens the momentum can work against you when you really need to stick your foot in the dirt/turf and get north./south.
Mike Lowe: There are way too much tackle for losses on run plays for both AI and user.
Right, even a simple animation where he just catches it and falls backwards over the first down line I’d be fine with.
Happens all the time in the NFL. The primary objective in almost all situations where you’re not up against the clock call for getting the st down.
Chris Sanner: Ok lastly, let’s talk commentary and presentation. Where’s Madden NFL 7 at compared to its other sports gaming peers in this area?
Ryan Spencer: The commentary took a huge step forward this year. Pretty remarkable for Year of a new team. And with the constant updates, it will only get better.
Mike Lowe: Madden‘s commentary is vastly improved. Heck, just removing Boomer was a huge step forward. I also really like how they can tweak it throughout the year, and hope that some of those updates can also appear in our CFMs. I did hear too many times one of the announcers say, “Ohh, and that’s going to be a loss of a few yards” on consecutive plays when kneeling out of the victory formation.
Ryan Spencer: One thing I’d like to see is more broadcast style stat overlays.
Chris Sanner: “Third down what can they do WHAT WILL THEY DO” I’ve heard that one about x too many times
Kevin Groves: I’m the guy that turns commentary off in all games and just listens to the stadiums sounds/crowd noises but after reading the glowing reviews about commentary I might have to give it a shot. The presentation to me is a mixed bag. At times i feel like all the on-screen pop-ups (yes I know you can change the presentation package) can be a bit much. I don’t need on-screen conformation saying I threw a “Lob Pass”, I know I how I pressed the button.
Ryan Spencer: There’s definitely a few glaring lines that repeat too often, but I’m confident they will get those corrected, maybe even through the regular updates.
Mike Lowe: Yes, I still feel Madden is way behind in their visual presentation. The ticker is a very nice new addition, but it’s a ticker–should have been there ten years ago. We need cut scenes to other games’ red zones, a worthwhile halftime show, etc. Heck, NHL ’92 had cut scenes into other games around the league where you could see goals.
Ryan Spencer: Yes, we need updates from around the league. Could go a long way in feeling more connected in Franchise mode.
Mike Lowe: Yes, I don’t like having all of the visual aids turned on–takes away a lot of the realism for me.
Also, Play The Moment should generate highlights of unseen plays, and not just the handful you participated in.
Kevin Groves: Agree Mike. I’m actually playing right and what pop’s up? “Slot Receiver” over my slot’s head. Thanks
Mike Lowe: A messaging system–including even video–for commissioners in an online CFM would be very cool too (is that presentation?) so that guys could make their own news shows of updates for that week.
Chris Sanner: Ok guys that wraps us up! I want to thank you all for hopping on here for a bit and talking Madden. We’ll be hearing a lot more about all of these features in the coming weeks as we continue to dive deeper into Madden.