Like most years, the new Madden title has gameplay additions and tweaks from previous years that mean that even long-time players may face an adjustment period. Its focus on competitive play has also resulted in some gameplay and mode changes take some getting used to. Here are some of the nuances and my recommendations for dealing with them.

For more on the game, be sure to check out my review, a guide to the Longshot story mode, and a primer for Madden 18's new Target Passing.

The running game feels really good in Madden in 18 – and that's before you even juke, spin, or stiff arm. In fact, I suggest not using the precision modifier (left trigger) to change direction at the line, which can only slow you down and even initiate a strange pullback animation where your running back skips his feet.

A smooth run using the left-analog 

The downfield blocking and lane creation by the offensive line can be pretty good, creating visible paths to run through, so be on the lookout for backside cutbacks and branches once you get past the line of scrimmage.

Blocking lanes 

Unfortunately, you still get a few of these from time to time.... 

Once out in the open, I strongly suggest you perform some sort of stiff arm, juke, or right-stick move to shake would-be attackers. I can't say if these moves are overpowered per se, but I feel like they're more central to the running game than ever. Once you're on defense, don't forget to counter those fancy moves by laying down the right-analog hit stick wood.

 

ID the Mike is a new pre-snap feature that helps with the offensive line and running back(s) pick up blitzes. Before the snap, Press L1 (on PS4, LB on the Xbox One) and hold down X (A on the Xbox One). You'll see an icon over one of the linebackers as you scroll through them with the left stick (keep holding L1/X). Move it to center your blocking scheme in preparation for a blitz from that direction and release X. This assigns the appropriate line protection, double team, and assignments to pick up the blitz. If you guess wrong, then someone's coming free at your QB. Guess correctly, however, and you're in business. I highly suggest you play around with this in practice, as it can save your life.

 

In past Maddens, it felt like your defensive ends had a hard time generating pressure by themselves. In Madden 18, ends get sacks, but this seems to occur mainly when you don't control them yourself. In games when I was controlling a linebacker or corner, my ends got good pressure anyways. Add on the fact that you can sack quarterbacks even when you don't have a clear shot at them, and defensive ends seem to have an advantage. There's another advantage to not controlling the defensive end. In my time with my game I repeatedly saw my defensive end pause and perform an unnecessary hand animation when coming off the line – despite timing my jump of the snap correctly. It appears to happen when the end is one-on-one with a tackle as he starts his backpedal.

DE Stutter Animation 

A note to QBs regarding defensive ends: Watch your dropbacks. This year more than ever, don't drift backward or to the side, as a defensive end can disengage or even press the shoulder buttons while engaged to stick a hand out and grab you.

Reach sacks 

Speaking of quarterbacking, there are more errant throws for all QBs, and not just the low-rated ones. I like this addition, but there's are times when they seem unrealistic. One of the situations it seems to happen is if your pocket is collapsing. Even if you have your feet set correctly, when you see the "under pressure" red text at the bottom of your screen, you could have an errant throw coming, even if it's an easy throw to a wide-open receiver. So, be sure to step up into the pocket to avoid sending the ball into the stands or into the ground.

Under Pressure throw 

It may take getting used to not playing as a defensive end (see above), but fortunately, this year's game makes it fun to play as a defensive back. The right-stick defensive back jam moves against wide receivers is a cool chess match against wide receivers, who are using their right analog to fake you out and get a clean release off the line. While the camera for this doesn't always allow you to see all of the field in single-player (the feature is primarily designed for use in MUT Squads co-op), it's still viable when controlling the slot corner. Unless I'm in a man-to-man matchup against an inferior receiver, I like to backpedal a little after the snap (press L2 to strafe) get a read on what the receiver is going to do, then either jam them hard by going down on the right stick, or steer them left or right. I may have even gotten away with this kind of contact after five yards...

More than just a jam at the line 

Although, watch out, as this can happen.... 

They sound good on paper, but the Coaching Adjustments options at the front of the playcalling menu are limited. You can match up your best overall corner on their receiver, or match them by speed ratings, but it only does it for the top defensive back and receiver, even if you match personnel like a nickel defensive formation against a three receiver set. I'm not sure why it would go down the line and match up the second- and third-bests with each other as well.

If I see more stuff that might help you with the game, I'll try and post it in future editions of The Sports Desk. In the meantime, if you have your own tips you'd like to share – let me know (info below)!

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Have a suggestion or comment? Put it in the comments section below, send me an email, or reach me on twitter at @mattkato.

 

RELEASE LIST 

Madden NFL 18 (PS4, Xbox One) - August 25
F1 2017 (PS4, Xbox One, PC) - August 25
Everybody's Golf (PS4) - August 29
Pro Evolution Soccer 2018 (PS4, Xbox One, PC, PS3, 360) - September 12
NASCAR Heat 2 (PS4, Xbox One, PC) - September 12
NHL 18 (PS4, Xbox One) - September 15
NBA 2K18 (PS4, Xbox One, Switch, PC, PS3, 360) - September 19
Project Cars 2 (PS4, Xbox One, PC) - September 22
FIFA 18 (PS4, Xbox One, Switch, PC, PS3, 360) - September 29
Forza Motorsport 7 (Xbox One, PC) - October 3
GT Sport (PS4) - October 17

 

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

New FIFA 18 Trailer Hits Gamescom 

EA Sports Starts Madden NFL Club Championship Esports Event With all 32 NFL Teams 

Thrustmaster Introduces New High-End PC/Xbox One Wheel 

Pro Evolution Soccer Adds David Beckham to MyClub Licenses 

Visual Concepts Outlines NBA 2K18 MyTeam Changes 
Also check out a trailer for the game.

No HDR Support For Madden 18 at This Time 

Forza 7 Tracks Revealed 

Football Manager 2018 Gets A November Release Date