With almost two months to go before Madden 18 graces us with another year of incremental updates we are starting to get a similar message about Franchise Mode (CFM). Sports games have moved more and more towards the micro-transaction over the last few years. It makes sense from a business perspective, but in terms of actual improvement and innovation of the game itself – no so much.
It turns out that Franchise Mode is once again more or less on the back burner. At this point, it is safe to say that it’s actually in the microwave and waiting to be heated up again as a left-over from a few days ago.
Sports games have all decided that they want to move in a direction of Story Mode rather than any sort of immersive Franchise Mode experience. This is great for the YouTubers out there that seem to make their money from their over-the-top internet ‘personalities’ and gameplay videos. I guess it is a matter of taste, but they don’t do much for me when I am trying to play my own game. Maybe we live in a more vicarious gaming world than I thought.
No matter how you slice it, Madden has moved towards completely focusing on two modes in particular this year. They are banking on the Longshot Mode to be their saving grace in offline experience. As usual, they are going to bring all of their post-release cash grabbing from Ultimate Team. I see this as the continuation of sports gaming’s innovation decline more than anything else. I don’t post much about MUT or any online sports gaming experience because it’s tiresome and really takes away any sort of gaming immersion.
Franchise Mode announcements have come and gone. The primary aspects of change that have been announced are that they have introduced MVP chatter into the commentary as well as new quick entrances and fireworks in the stadiums that we will continue to hold the X or A button to skip through. The developers in charge of this mode seem to believe that CFM needs more visual bells and whistles than actual immersion in the guts of running a team on the management level.
One of the things that really killed my experience in Madden 17 CFM was a combination of the XP System and terrible Defensive AI (especially with DBs and WRs). One of the easiest things to do after leveling up during the first season or two is increasing your WR’s Separation ability along with a few other mechanics. I did this with Corey Coleman and managed to not only turn him into an unstoppable force, but also made RG3 into one of the best QB’s of all time. All that needed to happen was for the CB on Coleman to play him in a Man To Man Press (up close to the line of scrimmage). Coleman has great speed and acceleration already. By the time I finished building his separation and strength attributes in 2016 all I had to do was call a hot route in 2017 if he was being pressed. Even with safety help, he would burn the opposing team for a huge TD on a fly route over 60% of the time.
I built my team into an absolute juggernaut on both sides of the ball. The fact that I could score 70 points a game on All Madden without blinking made the entire experience feel as disposable as the developers seem to believe it is.
One of the aspects about Madden 17 that I really enjoyed was feeling like I could play defense most of the time. This took a lot of slider adjustments and house rules (including a ‘no switch’ rule). The no switch rule will actually improve how your defense plays through the game. Why? Because your AI players will stick to their assignments for the most part if you stay with one player during each play. The AI will start to break down as soon as you switch players at the wrong moment. This includes run plays especially as your entire defensive squad will essentially be rendered useless and the CPU will break off a big run most of the time if you have to switch to the other side of the field to defend against a run. (You are actually better off trying to run with the original player than to switch to the closest defender on CPU run plays to the opposite side. It doesn’t make sense, but then again… neither does Madden.)
Madden 18 won’t have editing for Draft Classes. It will have the same relocation mode, but no expansion options. CFM also won’t have any real changes to the injury system other than supposedly including off-ball injuries. It seems like Franchise Mode effectively died after Madden 2005. With the PS3/360 consoles bringing high speed online gaming to the forefront of almost every gaming experience it’s really no wonder that this mode has lost so much momentum if not gone backwards a few steps over the last decade-plus.
This genuinely feels like a Madden CFM experience that most would be better to wait on for a purchase rather than buying on release day.