Madden NFL 19
Madden NFL 19 is changing the way that gamers progress their players in Franchise mode, moving away from buying traits and dumping XP into specific attributes. Instead gamers will choose player archetype buckets that randomly assign which attributes get bumped and how much (check out my previous preview for more info). This new system takes away granular control, but it also generalizes the process and even introduces an element of randomness that might result in a bigger boost for your player than you expected.
I've played Franchise mode, and have some info and early assessments of the new progression system in particular as well as the mode as a whole.
Team Schemes & Player Fits
- You can switch your team's offensive and defensive schemes at any point, and you'll see how your players then fit into that scheme (check out the video below). You can also run any playbook you want, so this doesn't change what you do during games. Instead, it's here to tell you how many of your players are deemed a scheme fit and therefore may grow faster in certain attributes.
- Picking a scheme fit is only about player progression and not about you as a coach setting out playstyles for your players or crafting a philosophy and gameplanning for opponents. The player types the various schemes require (like a Strong Arm QB for a Vertical Zone Run) are general player types like in previous years, are not changeable or tied to how you want to design your offense, for example, and do not utilize the new depth chart designations like your rush defensive tackle.
Maximizing Gains & Archetype Buckets
- Because the new scheme fits system is about player progression and not designing an actual team strategy, you can min/max the players and attributes you want to focus on by changing your overall scheme each week to fit your needs – regardless of what percentage of a fit it is for the team as a whole. You can pick a scheme fit that suits the appropriate players you want to improve the most, and then when they earn a skill point, spend it on the scheme fit player archetype (the West Coast archetype in the screenshot above) to get the most attribute points (after randomization).
- I tested the randomization a number of times and found that it does indeed award more points on average for those players and archetypes which are designated scheme fits, and this is separate from last year's development trait (Superstar, Quick, etc.). For instance, while a non-scheme archetype might grant five points on average spread across your attributes, a scheme fit one was more likely to give you seven.
- On average, EA Tiburon says that at the end of the year most players' progress should net out to be more or less the same as under last year's system. Randomization makes this different, of course, and while during my time the attributes which were increased with each dice roll all made sense, there were times when I got surprises like getting a nice, fat +4 to my pass blocking, or received as many as nine points added to a spread of appropriate attributes at once.
- The randomization can counter player regression in some areas because if you're a scheme fit you'll have gained more XP in training, but players who are a scheme fit are not less likely to regress in areas related to your scheme.
- Factors like your development trait, coming off an injury, how well the team or player is doing, or a players' overall rating do not influence how many points are assigned. However, when you're already highly rated in a category or you're getting up their in years, the chances of getting big boosts are slimmer.
- Traits (like Clutch, etc.) are no longer purchased, are already assigned to players, and will not change during their career. Senior designer John White says the team contemplated some random earning of traits similar to the attribute points, but they declined to do it.
Scouting, Free Agency & The Draft
- Scouting is the same, but it now includes a fast scout button. This lets you spend scouting points to unlock the sequential scouting stages from the main scouting page instead of having to first click on the player.
- During free agency and the draft you can see which players are scheme fits for your team. This changes appropriately if you switch your scheme fit at any time. Players may be more inclined to come to your team if they're a scheme fit, but other than that the system does not affect contract amounts in free agency or in the resigning process.
- During the draft you'll see a live background of the draft stage, and when you make your pick you'll see your player standing next to his information card. I didn't see the NFL commissioner or players walk out on stage and put on the hat, however.
Overall, Franchise mode feels similar to those in recent years, and it seems the new scheme fits system is more like an extension of the weekly gameplan section's Focus Training where you're trying to maximize player growth rather than build schemes as a coach that help on game day.
EA Tiburon's senior designer John White says that in early playtesting sessions, nobody wanted to go back to the old system of manually assigning points. Everyone will have their own preference, of course, but I don't think you can call one system less complicated or less tedious than the other given both involve plenty of planning and menu hopping. Regardless, at a minimum you might get lucky due to the randomization factor, so as always, the NFL is going to be unpredictable.