What We Know About Madden 18

We’re only a few weeks away from the release of Madden 18 (circle August 25th on your calendar, folks) so I thought it’s about time we broke down just about everything we know about Madden 18 so far.

I’m going to go ahead and get a couple of these out of the way quickly before we really dive into gameplay and other features – namely Longshot mode and the new soundtrack.

Longshot mode is EA’s shot at the 2k My Player…but it looks more like an interactive movie than a true My Player game mode. If that really interests you then you can find out more over on EA’s site. 

As for the soundtrack, EA just released some details on what we’re going to see – be warned those of you that aren’t rap/hip-hop fans, this soundtrack will not be for you.

If you’re looking for leaked ratings for release, worry not as we have those as well. Skip the EA day-by-day position group posts and head over to our Google Sheets document with all of the release day ratings leaked a short while ago. Beware, some of these ratings will change for the week 1 rosters but they’re a solid starting point.

Online Team Play is Back! …Well, Sort Of

EA does sometimes listen to community feedback, we can’t deny that. They’ve finally deemed to bring back online team play, although it’s a built-in part of MUT – which will probably be a massive disappointment for most people. This is good news for some – it’s actually in the game – and bad news for others, as playing MUT Squads requires you use your team leader’s MUT team.

So, if you want to play MUT Squads at least one of your team has to have a solid team to use or else you’ll likely be matched up against a team 20 overall better than yours. I don’t know about any of you but I really don’t want to be playing MUT just to have a better team for online team play.

If you’re looking for more info on MUT Squads, check out this blog from Madden producer Jake Stein.

Game Styles Will Make a Difference in Franchise Mode

This year EA has decided to implement a system they call “game styles” for managing game play, broken down into three styles: Arcade, Simulation and Competitive.

EA describes each (briefly) as the following:

  • Arcade is the high-octane version of Madden
  • Simulation is the authentic NFL experience
  • competitive is all about head-to-head competition and tournament play

If you want to play Arcade I’ll simplify things for you – it’s like playing MLB Slugfest or NFL Blitz. All realism is out the door as you see huge plays and big turnovers all game long. I can tell you now EOTP will not be considering this play style at all.

The key to Simulation is that players will play true to their ratings. Bad QBs will look bad passing. Elite players will dominate at their respective positions. User input matters, but building your team will likely matter more.

EA has already stated that they will be automatically setting Competitive as the style for all tournaments and ranked play. In Competitive ratings matter, but less so than user input. If you’re the better player, you’re likely winning regardless of the team in this style. Furthermore EA has already stated that this style does not include injuries, few penalties and “random outcomes are rare.”

Personally I’m leaning towards setting the style to Simulation for our league – franchise mode is about building your team, after all. This should let us both immerse ourselves in the league and stay competitive.

I’m sure this topic will be up for debate. If you’re looking for more info on each game style take a look at the blog on EA’s site detailing each style.

Madden 18 Focuses on Revamping Offensive Game Play

As was predicted by many after the defensive game play additions/adjustments of Madden 17, much of the game play changes in 18 are heavily biased towards the offense.

This includes target passing, refined blocking mechanics, revamped WR/DB interactions and various defensive adjustments like limiting the effectiveness of user coverage that will undoubtedly make Madden 18 swing towards the offensive side of the ball again.

Target passing is an interesting mechanic that could limit the effectiveness of any coverage by allowing more precise ball placement on passes – given you have a good QB. You can still pass like normal but I’m sure this feature will be a favorite for many, as it is effectively replacing directional passing from previous games.

Blocking has been refined to be better at picking up rushers, something that has definitely been an issue for years in Madden. However, it is highly reliant upon awareness – to the point that your offensive line gets a boost if their average awareness is 80 or higher, and the whole offensive line will do a worse job of picking up blitzes if the center has low awareness.

In addition to blocking adjustments the development team has tuned defensive line moves to make elite players more effective and lesser players significantly less effective. Stacking the box will become more important than ever in run situations as less defenders means running will be much easier. All-in-all the blocking and defensive adjustments in this area all point to running being even more impactful to games in Madden 18.

Much of the WR/DB interactions will be out of user control and depend on ratings, routes and coverages – however there is plenty of user control possibilities in MUT Squads and if you like to get into intricate usering after the snap. It isn’t entirely clear how these automated interactions will play out concerning ratings/traits yet, but EA is indicating that phantom pass interference and no-calls should be a thing of the past with the new game engine.

Other various adjustments include user control of defensive players being more limited by athletic ratings like agility and acceleration, so just because a player has high speed won’t necessarily make them a good user player. In addition picks will have to be better timed to avoid missing the pass or simply dropping a potential interception. Size and weight will play into the game more than ever so having undersized defenders will be a problem on run plays or when contesting passes.

There is a plethora of small but very impactful changes being put in place by the development team this year, so I would highly recommend checking those out on EA’s blog.

Be the Coach

Last, but not least, there are several coaching adjustments that you can make this year – including matching personnel on passing downs.

The coaching adjustments option in-game is finally making the jump from NCAA Football of yesteryear in Madden 18, which is great news for those of you who like to micro-manage everything on the field. You’ll be given the option of being aggressive, balanced or conservative on basically every part of the game.

Want to aggressively get after the QB all game? Done. Want to make sure your tacklers go for the big hit every time? Not a problem. Want to tell your receivers to focus on catching the ball above everything? Can do.

Every decision has positive and negative effects, so I highly recommend giving the breakdown a read.

Additionally, CB assignments are back in a way. You still can’t assign players to individual receivers, but you can tell them to match up by overall, speed, size, route running or depth chart – making it much easier to assign coverages the way you want without flipping corners and making substitutions throughout the game.

I don’t know about all of you, but I’m pretty excited about Madden 18. The developers did a decent amount of work to bring in game play features that were heavily demanded for years and it should (hopefully) make for a solid improvement on Madden 16 and 17 for those of you that didn’t particularly like either game.

Now, if only they’d improve franchise mode a bit that would be great. Guess we get to wait another year (again).