The Sports Desk – The Madden NFL 19 Wishlist
Developer EA Tiburon just announced Madden 19's release date (August 10) and first features, which is a great launching pad to air some of our hopes and dreams for the franchise.
In our recent conversation, new senior producer Carlos Guerrero, said that Madden 19 was a "much more balanced offering," giving us hope that all aspects of the game – including the recently neglected Franchise mode – get improvements and new features.
Matt Bertz and I put this wishlist together covering most of the game's bases, offering many possibilities for this year and beyond.
- It's good to hear that this in Madden 19 runners push their linemen ahead instead of just running into them, and this, in conjunction with the one-cut system should make navigating the line of scrimmage easier for running backs. Similarly, we'd like to see action behind the line of scrimmage feel more smooth. Taking a handoff and accelerating afterwords (including using speed boost) feels like you're moving in slow motion, with tackles behind the line of scrimmage feeling pre-determined.
- The circumstances that trigger sacks need to be cleaned up, taking out those produced by awkward animations and situations that QBs should otherwise easily get out of. In real-life, quarterbacks have different levels of pocket awareness, which could perhaps come into play here. In the end, there should be fewer sacks from simply bumping into another player.
- QBs' actions with the ball while in the pocket need to be clarified. In Madden 18 there are too many times when they improbably get off a pass when you'd expect a fumble or sack.
- Magnet catches are still noticeable in Madden 18 – particularly on the lower gameplay styles like Arcade.
- A.I. QBs need to become smarter and show more variance in their play and stat lines. In previous games there were only two kinds of A.I. QBs – those who could barely read a defense and those who could pick you apart too easily. There need to be more QBs somewhere in the middle. They also need to conform to their real-life play styles like dink-and-dunkers vs. those who like to bomb it downfield. Each QB's overall risk tolerance and what kinds of throws they can and can't make could also be molded.
- Man-to-man coverage needs to be a more viable option than in Madden 18 versus zone coverage depending on the situation.
- Offensive linemen on the perimeter need to pick up or at least get a hand on defenders passing in front of them instead of blindly ignoring them at times.
- Coaching challenges for ref calls need to work – they haven't in years. This ranges from the game properly recognizing the spot of the ball or if a player's feet are inbounds, for instance, as well as letting you call the appropriate challenge to begin with.
- We liked a lot of things about the mode so there's not a ton to change, but I would like to see more of a mix of gameplay styles, from quick-time events, regular Madden gameplay, and more. On the whole, regular gameplay should be the predominant flavor.
- Last year's scouting report was a behind-the-scenes element, so seeing it surfaced more with a progression system for Devin (we assume this new Longshot simply takes place after last year's, with Devin now in the NFL) would be a nice way to invest more in the character beyond just the story.
- Like my criticisms of FIFA's The Journey story mode, I'd like to see more NFL league, team, player, and fanbase flavor so you really feel like you're part of a team going through the ups and downs of the NFL season and not just one man in his own head.
- Add key branching points to the story that lead players down meaningful paths of differentiation.
CONNECTED FRANCHISE MODE
- We're curious how the new player progression system based on positional archetypes and team schemes are balanced. Will it allow for all-around great players? What skills and attributes will these archetypes highlight? How will they handle potential and regression? The new progression system should be more about making the most of the players on your roster and not just a way to limit how gamers apply XP points. Similarly, the positional archetypes will hopefully allow you to find mid- and lower-level free agents and draftees that can grow and thrive in your team's particular schemes.
- We'd love to see coordinators become important parts of your franchises' gameplans, offseason moves, and player development. This should include a coaching carousel during the playoffs where teams not in the playoffs vie for the hot coordinators and head coaching candidates.
- More contract perimeters like restricted free agents, transition tags, the fifth-year contract option, front-loading, incentives, and more should be tools by which you can entice free agents and finesse the cap.
- The draft needs to be overhauled to give it more juice. Pre-draft misinformation, news of other teams' needs and potential moves, media mock drafts, player visits, further personalization of draft picks (like college stats, personal stories, etc.), and much more can put you in the draft mood well before draft day. Your scouting can take into account all this information, making it your scouts' info on players vaguer, but also more intriguing.
- On draft day, trade logic and options need to be re-worked so it's not just an instantaneous yes/no situation. Getting on the phone with other GMs and going back and forth trying to hash out a deal as the clock ticks should be fun part of the draft that could be spun off into its own segment.
- Free agency should utilize the not-so-secret negotiations before actual free agency opens up, consist of multiple waves (like veterans dropping later), and not be so concrete in its information. Like the draft, a little vagueness can spur our imagination in a big way. We'd love to see a system similar to NCAA Football's old recruiting system come into play where you only have a certain number of hours to allocate toward wooing unrestricted free agents. Do you spend all your money and time on wining and dining a game changing player, or do you spread your resources to address multiple needs in the early days of free agency instead?
- Player morale could touch on weekly performance, contract negotiations, and scheme fit. Players' personalities in general could also come into play in these ways, with some players more or less willing to go to teams with winning or losing reputations.
- Mid-season trades need to be more prominent, reflecting their recent rise in the league itself.
MADDEN ULTIMATE TEAM
- It's great that EA has announced that training cards are a way to progress players, and it could be like last year's Power-Ups, that this will be for certain cards and sets. Hopefully, it doesn't cost more than its worth like Power-Ups, however. Team tokens also need to be not as cost-prohibitive.
- There should be fewer non-auctionable/tradable (NAT) cards.
- Thresholds like zone coverage need to be blurred so they aren't activated so harshly. This would make cards just under the threshold still valuable and not blow up the market for cards meeting previous thresholds.
- We'd like more diversity of cards right out of the gate so that we don't come up against the same rosters with the same legends in the beginning.
- Do away with contracts. They don't mean anything anymore.
- Put in a practice mode so we can see how our cards play out in the game before we take them into live action.
- We'd like a way to access the auction house via a browser. This, provided of course, that EA could make it secure and cut out bots that run auto transactions.
- Like FIFA, a compare button to instantly see what your card is worth in the auction house would be great. Also like FIFA, it would be cool to see what you originally paid for a card. This goes along with having stats for cards in general.
- Being able to equip your players with classic uniforms, helmets, facemasks, and all manner of equipment items would blow up.
- A minor quality-of-life improvement would be to be able to add players to sets directly from your lineup page. It would also be nice if, when adding cards to sets, if all ineligible cards where automatically removed or not selectable.
- Packs and items bought in the store only with points (which are bought with real money) should be eliminated. Everything should be purchasable with coins as well even if, as a tradeoff, some packs/items cost a lot of coins.
- Who gets a card and when needs to be spread out better so you don't have too many versions of one player and not enough of somebody else.
A quick rundown of some of the sports news from the week
GT Sport Gets Major Update
The famous Circuit de la Sarthe, nine cars, and three GT League events added.
Pro Evolution Soccer 2019 Adds 7 Full League Licenses, 2 More On the Way
Includes an exclusive license for the Russian Premier Liga.