The countdown to Madden NFL 18 has already begun, but we don't know yet what the title is like. What areas are developer EA Tiburon focusing on? Will Madden Ultimate Team continue to loom large? We shall find answers to some of these questions and more at E3 next month, so in preparation I've compiled a wishlist for Madden 18.

Have an idea of your own or have something to say about the list? Please add your two cents in the comments section below.

GAMEPLAY

  • Madden 17 introduced new offensive/defensive line concepts as well as the promise of better defensive coverages. Both of these were to some extent manifest in the title, but the job in these two areas is not yet done. Offensive linemen still struggle with recognizing defensive players right in front or even going by them, and some users have expressed frustration at the ineffectiveness of man-to-man coverage.
  • I'd also like work to continue on the game's animations and physics (and the blending of the two). The game has clearly gotten better the past couple of years on the latter front, and I hope it continues to improve – there are still times when runners stumble their way awkwardly past piles of bodies, get stuck on players, or players' bodies contort unnaturally.
  • One aspect that seems to have regressed last year was the suction of receivers to the ball and linemen into their blocks, so hopefully that's not a problem in Madden 18.
  • Of course, there are numerous tweaks, bug fixes, and outstanding issues (including swerve catches, passes to the flat drifting out of bounds, passive receivers, and more) we'd like to see as well, so hopefully EA Tiburon fixes many of them.
  • Such quirks also mar the gameplay from the the coaching side of things. The game rarely knows what exactly you want to challenge when initiating a coach's challenge (if you're even allowed), receiver shadowing needs to come back, players becoming invisible through formation subs needs to be fixed, and starters need to stop showing up on special teams during pre-season games.

MADDEN ULTIMATE TEAM & ONLINE PLAY

Given the sheer amount of players coming in to your MUT lineup, I'd like to have a practice mode to judge which players I'd like to use apart from the Best/Chemistry lineup auto-tools. Similarly, I'd have a greater understanding and attachment to my players if they had lifetime stats for their performance in the mode. This attachment would make losing some players via wager matches all the more exciting and potentially heartbreaking. Also on the competition front, users have complained about uneven matchmaking.

In the quality of life department there are numerous small changes that could make a big difference for users and their patience such as adding a "Next Challenge" button once you complete a Solo Challenge instead of being kicked back to the sub-menu, allowing multiple players to be transferred from your binder into a set, creating a set filter for the binder, and much more.

Apart from the above changes to MUT, I'd also like the team to take a stab at bringing back online team play.

CONNECTED FRANCHISE MODE

One of the main things I'd like to see for CFM is a coaching carousel where teams have head coordinator positions. Coordinators would add to your players' XP and gameplan, vie for positions around the league, and have to interview for positions. You can have an actual scouting department as well (perhaps including the use of increasingly popular analytic data), which could enrich the two biggest offseason pieces of CFM – the draft and free agency.

The Draft

  • More info is needed on potential draft picks and to help you make up your mind, including mock drafts, college stats, a customizable big board (where you can scout specific player attributes and traits), NFL player comparisons, and more. 
  • Meanwhile, there needs to be more drama in the draft. Madden 18 can expand upon the current news stories about players to include which teams might want to trade up/down, misinformation and rumors swirling around, and even differing opinions about players from within your own organization. The NFL has elevated the draft into primetime, and there's no reason Madden shouldn't too.
  • As far as being on the clock during the draft, better trade logic, compensatory picks, better position/gem/bust distribution, the scramble for undrafted free agents, and a new visual presentation would give this aspect of CFM a shot in the arm.

Free Agency

  • For many fans legal tampering period before free agency begins is exciting because teams are talking with players and rumors are flying around. I'd love for this aspect to be represented in the mode somehow, and not only should that first week of free agency be frenetic, but it should be less transparent and points-based as Madden 17.
  • Back-and-forth dialog during player visits (perhaps using Pro Evolution Soccer's system of allocating a limited number of hours to tasks) would increase the pressure to land that big fish and have you juggling your cellphones to keep up with everything.
  • Free agency should bookend the draft with multiple periods consisting of different kinds of players – the pre-draft period with your big-ticket players and most of the free agents, and the post-draft period with well-known vets waiting for that right opportunity. Having a training camp with injuries and players unexpectedly disappointing you would tie into the need for this post-draft period as well.
  • When you do sign a free agent, more contract variables (front-loading, incentives, multiple years for players mid-season, etc.) would be nice, as would the fifth-year option, the transition tag, and restricted free agency. I liked how some players in Madden 17 were very steadfast in their demands, and I welcome more expression of players' wants and needs, whether that's them considering retirement or willing to take a paycut for the good of the team.

Player Regression & More

  • Team morale could increase/decrease player ratings, which could also be affected by hold-outs and locker room cancers.
  • Speaking of players' ratings falling, Madden 18 should do away with Madden 17's hard regression and expensive XP attribute costs for players over 26. Perhaps each player could have a progression curve assigned to them that dictates out how they progress as they age (peak early, middle plateau, steady increase, rise late, etc.).
  • Finally, CFM's owners mode desperately needs more relocation cities, more (if not fully buildable) stadium options, league expansion, and a Forza-like shape-based logo creator. I'd even say simplify the whole monetary system that feeds into this, because it's not that people are owners because they want to manage their money, it's because they want to spend it on lavish new stadiums and bonus/incentive-laden contracts.

WHAT'S THE STORY?

Madden is expected to follow in the footsteps of last year's FIFA title and include a story mode (which was indeed confirmed after I wrote this).

I don't think Madden's story mode will just be the same as FIFA's, and to what extent it's different is the million-dollar question. I personally would like to see it somewhere between the story conveyor belt of The Journey and the grind of NBA 2K17's MyCareer.

A story mode is a good chance to continue to expand the game's equipment selection as well as touch on aspects I've already mentioned such as morale; contract options; and general off-the-field, free agency, and draft drama.

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THE TICKER
A quick rundown of some of the sports news from the week.

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Steep's Winterfest DLC Now Available 

Handball Manager – Team Out Now 

Customization Trailer For Official Motocross Title MXGP3