People always talk derisively how yearly sports titles don't iterate enough. Well one year Madden developer EA Tiburon gave gamers a new feature that showed them a future they frankly weren't prepared for: QB Vision. Lasting only three years starting with Madden NFL 06 (cover star: Donovan McNabb), the vision cone was an optional feature that for the most part was not well liked, but which I think adds a gameplay wrinkle that gamers deserve to grapple with. Having played a bit with it recently, I'm just as convinced as I was back then that QB Vision is a Madden feature that should return.

QB Vision projected a cone of light onto the screen that represented where on the field the QB was looking. Gamers used the right analog stick to move the cone across the screen, simulating the QBs eyes as he scans the field. Accuracy bonuses and penalties were applied if you tried to throw to receivers inside and outside of the cone, respectively. The idea was based on real life, in that good QBs could go through their read progression and scan the field, while lesser ones would tend to focus only on their primary receiver. Before the snap, the vision cone centers on the selected play's primary receiver and automatically shifts to that side of the field once the ball is hiked. This can be changed, however, to default to the center of the screen if you like.

The QB Vision tutorial from Madden NFL 06 on PS2

Playing with the vision cone again after all these years, my impression remains the same as when I reviewed Madden 06 back in 2005 (issue #149) – I think it's a good idea that should have been developed further. While some do not like the vision cone, saying that it renders lower-rated QBs too hard to play, I appreciate the added dimension of the vision cone. It was an attempt to reclaim the game from the arcade chuck-and-duck gameplay that many Madden players still use, and simply made me become a better player. In fact, in my review I even chided the game for letting you throw to receivers not in the cone and wished that it could be used to manipulate defenses, similar to how QBs trick safeties with their eyes by looking them off of their intended target.

Moving the cone around with the right analog doesn't take much effort, and it helps to default the cone to the center of the screen pre-snap. During the play you can also depress R2 and press a receiver icon to have the cone automatically snap to the receiver, but I prefer using just the right analog. It's easier, and the movement of the cone feels like it's responsive without feeling too touchy or automatic.

QB Vision was an extra gameplay layer that some players found hard to get used to, and from a user interface perspective, probably isn't that visually attractive. However, it's a gameplay element firmly rooted in real-life football that has strong applicability in video games, and which should have evolved instead of being abandon.

Tarvaris Jackson's QB vision cone...

...compared to the one for vet QB Brad Johnson

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THE TICKER
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Two Competitors Fall Afoul of Madden Championship Rules 

Draft Day Sports: College Basketball 2017 is Now Available 
Also check out the already-release college football title, and my interview with that game's creators.

Milestone Announces New Off-Road Racing Series 

3on3 Freestyle Basketball Game Is Now On PS4 For Free
Check out some hands-on impressions from the beta.