All I Want For Madden Christmas Is A Smarter CPU… And A Better Franchise Mode

I try my best to enjoy playing Madden every year.  As much as I gripe about the game every year in one way or another I truly go into each iteration with high hopes only to have them dashed by the time I get into my Franchise Mode.

I tried to play with the Bills on All-Madden after winning the Super Bowl with the Browns on All-Pro in the first season.  It was the same old story – All-Madden is artificially difficult while All-Pro wants to be challenging, it is still hamstrung with the same problems.  The CPU doesn’t adjust to certain plays being called on succession (HB Toss plays from a Twin WR set will almost always get you 7+ Yards if the CPU is in Man Coverage, for instance.).  Money plays are alive and well – and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

The other issue that plagues this game is the idiotic Free Agency process and logic of the CPU.  After the latest update you will see that LeVeon Bell becomes a free agent (which is nice), but then I see him get signed by the Cardinals… the same Cardinals that already have David Johnson.  I rolled my eyes when I saw the signing during this latest run with the Browns (I used the Cloud Franchise to start my season in Week 12 or so).  It doesn’t stop there, unfortunately.

By the time the draft comes around and after I see Bell get signed by the Cardinals the idiocy continues in the draft.  I am convinced that the CPU is programmed to look at your Draft Board and make picks that will push you to take certain players earlier than you should if you want them.  While I enjoy the idea of this at face value I am also annoyed by the relative troll mentality.

Furthermore, Franchise Mode continues to gut the experience and immersion that should be the primary focus of the mode itself.  There is no living breathing league for you to enjoy – its as stale as the cereal at your grandparents’ house.  The ‘News’ section is hidden in the depths of the CFM menu and it’s basically a bunch of crappy tweets from Captain Obvious with a few half-assed tips about the draft class.  I don’t understand how this mode continues to be included in the game if they obviously don’t care about it from the revenue perspective.  The effort all goes into Ultimate Team and the cash cow that it has become.

Madden continues to be the distant second place in sports games for me as MLB The Show maintains a clear advantage in consistent efforts to improve.  Both games are going towards the Ultimate Team/Diamond Dynasty slippery slope, but I still have hope that Franchise Mode will become what I have dreamed for over the years.  I doubt I will get this for Christmas… but I can always hope.

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Lamar Jackson and How EA Continues To Screw Up Franchise Mode

EA recently released a list of the top rookie quarterbacks in their annual hype train countdown to the release of Madden.  This year, they slipped up and unintentionally commented on their simulation formula for Franchise Mode.

‘Lamar Jackson could be the most interesting QB to play as in Madden 19. If you sim a lot of games in Franchise, he’s likely not the best pick at the moment. But holy hell, his base ratings make him fun…’ for more, go to the page here.

NFL: Baltimore Ravens-Minicamp

The issue with this isn’t that Lamar Jackson shouldn’t be rated higher or lower than anyone else.  It is simply the fact that they reference his effectiveness in Franchise Mode to his ratings.  What should continue to worry CFM players is this continuing problem with CFM being tied to overall ratings.  This would be like saying that Michael Vick would be fun to play with but he wouldn’t do much for a team in a simulation.  I’m not saying that Lamar Jackson is Michael Vick, but he is damn close.

This means that EA has not changed their formula of what is important in CFM.  It is still driven by OVR.  This means you won’t have any players that are low rated to start become anything close to superstars.  It also means that the CPU is actually at a competitive disadvantage.  As users, we are able to see certain players with abilities that we can take advantage of – speed, trucking, throw accuracy, hit power, etc.  We can turn a 6th round 67 OVR player into an absolute beast.  The CPU will either cut the player or never play them in a simulation.  Take a look at the practice squads in your Madden 18 CFM – the CPU has some BEASTS that never get a chance to play.  Many of us would snap up these players in a heartbeat.

Until EA makes Madden CFM more nuanced and less dependent on overall ratings I have a feeling we will continue to experience a rather mechanical and less organic CFM experience.

Madden 19 Will Continue To Be MUT Focused

For those of you that joined in my cheers about the initial announcements regarding Madden 19’s Franchise Mode – please don’t get too hyped.  If you look at the pre-order bonuses and such, this game is still obviously focused on the cash cow that is Ultimate Team.  In being focused on MUT, there are things that quite simply will NEVER change in terms of gameplay. madden 19 cover

If you watch any of the YouTubers or Twitch guys that post pack opening reactions and footage of them playing online MUT matchups you will see that there is good reason for EA Tiburon to keep the game as loose and arcade-like as possible.  I will admit, I have watched a few of the pack opening videos from various YouTube personalities and I feel like I am basically watching a hyped up commercial on EA’s Home Shopping Network.  I’m not hating on what makes these people happy or gives them YouTube success – keep doing you and get that YouTube money before they decide to find a reason to kick you off the pay platform.

What I find disconcerting is when Madden continues to push a mode that doesn’t encourage gameplay to become more realistic by default.  MUT is not and will never be a mode that encourages Tiburon to make Man to Man coverage a true representation of what we see on Sundays (Thursdays, and Monday’s) in the fall.  I can appreciate this aspect as sometimes it gets frustrating in any game to feel like you aren’t controlling the actions of the primary character at any given time.  MUT has to remain focused on player control and the arcade style that brings the money well after the game has released.

However, why is it that spin moves and jukes from players result in locked animations from tacklers three yards away?  Why do we continue to see AI make gameplay decisions that would baffle a 5 year old?  It’s a continuing sign of what EA Tiburon has a true problem replicating – 11 on 11 football.  Every time you play against a human opponent it becomes a 1 on 1 matchup, not a true football game.  Consider this the next time you switch to the DB in coverage during a long pass down the field.  Sure, it’s supposed to be a game that you play, but it doesn’t bode well for those of us that want some semblance of real football.

The spin, juke and other break tackle functions in Madden 18 were so overpowered and glitched simply from the interaction and animation system that I stopped playing the game in early December.  I played a few MUT games and even won a championship, etc.  At the end of the day, I wanted to play simulation football in CFM (OFFLINE) and I was greeted by such an artificially weak CPU opponent that I couldn’t justify booting up the game.

What do you think?  Are you a MUT player or a Sim Football purist?  Will the history dictate your purchase of Madden 19?

Madden 19 – They Finally Get It Right On Franchise Mode

After years of begging through my own little piece of the internet EA Tiburon has finally granted some of my wishes.  The release of a new trailer and information about CFM has me anxiously waiting for the game to release in August.  This is primarily due to the inclusion of editable draft classes as well as a slowly overhauled draft experience.  Add the refinements to player progression and regression and you have a mode that might keep CFM gamers interested for more than a few months.  Madden-19-Gameplay-1024x576

Here is a quick rundown of the released information on CFM.

Schemes – 

While this isn’t actually ‘new’ here are some of the factoids coming out.

  • Offense has Spread, West Coast Zone Run, West Coast Power Run, Vertical Zone Run, Vertical Power Run, Multiple Power Run, Multiple Zone Run, Run and Shoot.
  • Defense has Base 4-3, Multiple 4-3, Base 3-4, Multiple 3-4, Tampa 2, 46.
  • Players will have indicators to show scheme fit (this goes for the draft as well) which is an improvement in terms of simplification.
  • New Player Ratings will also take effect for some positions – QB has Throw Under Pressure, Break Sack, Break Tackle, WR has Short, Medium and Deep Route Running, and O Line has Run & Pass Block Power/Finesse, and Lead Block.

Archetypes – 

  • Each position has four archetypes (this is much like MLB The Show 18 in Road To The Show, for those that need a reference point)…
  • An Example = QB can be Scrambler, Strong Arm, West Coast or Field General (you will notice that these were part of scheme fits over the last couple years of Madden).
  • An archetype that matches a scheme gets an XP bonus.
  • Each Archetype has its own build under the hood to dictate ratings growth and bonuses (this will be solved on day one).
  • Some players will have multiple archetypes (unknown if this will be something a player can progress in or be customized into in draft classes, or otherwise).
  • Skill points can build any archetype, this includes building a player into the archetype you need in your scheme if he doesn’t fit at first (this seems unnecessary).
  • You can choose Team Captains, which probably means nothing in terms of actual gameplay – the players will have the patch on their jersey.  (This is another place for the implementation of my ideas come into play… see below).

Progression –

  • Players that match schemes progress faster than players that don’t match (this is a bad sign for fans of progression based on production).
  • Skill Points will give random bumps to player ratings.  This is a good thing for online leagues and for those that enjoy some semblance of balance in offline CFM.
  • You can no longer dictate player traits through XP use!!!  This is huge in terms of stopping the abuse of creating a team of under-the-hood All Stars!
  • Development no longer has ‘Slow’, but it still has Normal, Quick, Star, and Superstar.  A small amount of players are supposed to have Superstar development and it can still change from season to season.
  • Gameplanning and Training is still a thing… Why?  Who knows.  I have yet to see anyone actually use this as if it were necessary or enjoyable. (Hint to EA Tiburon – Make every game during a CFM season an event unto itself… give us a reason to gameplan or train our team to face someone like Antonio Brown, OBJ, JJ Watt, etc… then maybe we will focus on this!)
  • Regression has been changed to continue the fix from Madden 18 that saw Speed Ratings for players take a nosedive after hitting 30 years old, etc.

CUSTOM DRAFT CLASSES!!!!!!!!

  • Can you tell this is my favorite Madden news in over a decade?!
  • You can choose which draft class you want in Week 3.
  • You can use a pre-made, created, or imported draft class.
  • Determine hidden gems, etc. (This kind of thing is a possible game breaker and it makes me wish they would overhaul scouting to make it a bit more realistic and/or difficult to find a gem in late rounds.
  • The Draft presentation has been changed a bit, there will be a stage with players being introduced, which is a cool add-on.

The custom draft class feature is a huge move that truly opens the mode for more realism.  Some might say that it opens up the game for people to scope out Superstar potential or create some sort of all star class laced with a bunch of top talent.  Sure, if that is what you really want – go for it.  For those of us that want to create a better spread of talent with more realistic depth – it seems that our wishes have been granted by the CFM genie.

Some questions persist and once they can be answered they will be featured here on NoobTubeTV.

  1. Has scouting been overhauled in any way?  CFM needs to add a Scouting Department to every team just like coaches and coordinators.  I would like to see more depth in this regard and make it more like MLB The Show – whether it be a letter range, number range or a simple +/- rating for players.
  2. Player Morale and Personality needs to play a larger role.  There should be badges or sub-categories for players of all types.  Someone like Tom Brady should have ‘Leader’ and/or ‘Competitor’ qualities, Dez Bryant and Odell Beckham Jr. should have ‘Diva’ traits or the like.  It is an integral part of the game to have these types of players.  While I believe a lot of this kind of labeling would be denied by the NFLPA in terms of labeling players as anything other than a position player – it would add much needed depth.
  3. Team Schemes still need work.  The idea that a team is going to have the same desired setup for certain players at certain positions is questionable at best.  For instance, the assigning of a Left Tackle with Pass Blocking to a Vertical Zone Run scheme leaving the rest of the line as Agile is oversimplifying a scheme at best.  This also doesn’t seem to take into account whether or not a QB is left handed – the entire scheme would have to flip in this regard – have they done that?  I think not.M19_CFM_Scheme_Fit_01
  4. User Persona is something they could add to this game and almost make the suggestion for Morale and Personality a thought of the past.  Give the user a chance to choose or create a persona within the game.  Owner Mode should have labels such as Tyrant (Jerry Jones), Clueless (Jimmy Haslam), etc.  The same goes for coaches if that is the route you want to take.

As more information is released expect to find it on NTTV!

Madden 19 Franchise Mode – Only One Direction To Go

As we near the NFL Draft in a matter of days it is starting to leak out of the rumor mill that Madden will be focusing on ramping up the quality of Franchise Mode.  Hopefully this means we can expect a bit more depth in terms of how the mode is represented in a few different ways.

madden-nfl-15-screen-19png-e0e9e8
Because EA is the Johnny Manziel of sports game developers.

They have tried to change how free agency works from the Auction system a few years ago to making offers before advancing and hoping the guy you wanted chose your low-ball offer.  Between bad financial logic and worse player and team logic – Madden hasn’t exactly been a beacon of realism for wanna-be GMs.

They must find a way to push gamers in this mode to eventually spend their money on veterans without looking at every 28 and 29 year old player like they are going to become Stephen Hawking at the age of 30.  Yes, there is certainly a youth movement in the thinking of NFL General Managers.  Yes, this means that drafting top talent over keeping ‘aging’ players is a common strategy.  It doesn’t mean that Madden should get a pass in making players in their late-20s and early 30s relevant in Franchise Mode.

On top of the age nosedive in terms of player ratings, the other aspect that needs the most help in Madden is the Draft and Scouting.

Scouting has quite simply been a lazy effort by the developers.  It isn’t difficult to find the superstar players later in the draft.  It isn’t hard to find the busts in the first round.  By the time you figured out the scouting dynamics in Madden 17 you were more than okay with the point reversal in Madden 18 that was supposed to make that aspect more challenging.  All you need to do is look for the first rating to be a B+ or higher and you are on your way.  It’s not rocket science… and that makes for an insanely boring experience that is arguably one of the most involved and talked about in all of sports.

They must address the lack of immersion in our experience week by week.  There is ZERO immersion in Franchise Mode from an overall league perspective.  There is no feeling for the salary cap when it comes to managing the team.  There is no excitement in Franchise Mode… NONE.  The Super Bowl has been the same stupid celebration and musical experience for years.

Madden 18 was the final straw for me as a Madden fan in a lot of ways.  It was the only Madden I have stopped playing before the Super Bowl was over.  It says more about the staying power of Franchise Mode than anything else.

Madden Ultimate Team has killed what made Madden a fun experience for those of us that don’t enjoy online sports gaming.  I am hoping that Madden 19 will make good on their chance to convince me to buy this game as a pre-order for the sake of giving my annual guides for all of you out there.

Madden 18 – Hiding Behind A Bad Movie

Everything is falling into place as we prepare to enter August.  The Dallas Cowboys have another problem with a star player just as the season is getting ready to start and they might have to place all of their hopes and dreams on the back of their one year wonder at quarterback.  NFL Camps will start very soon, and with that excitement blowing in the soon to come autumn wind – we have another year of Madden NFL only a few weeks away.

The crazy part about this is that up until this point there hasn’t been any gameplay footage released by EA.  With the fans clamoring for some proof of life in that regard it is hard to have a lot of pity for them.  They should know what the game looks like by now.  EA is trying their best to market their version of NBA 2K’s My Player Mode with The Longshot.  I wish I could say that this was going to be some sort of huge jump in sports gaming – but it quite simply won’t be anything close to that. According to some of the tweets and interviews, this mode has been in development for around three years. To think they have been working on this for three years and we still don’t have functional Challenges, sideline detection, real-time injuries, and many other simple football gameplay needs… Longshot had better be a masterpiece with zero bugs.

The problems that Madden NFL has faced for over a decade involves more than not measuring up to 2K’s basketball story mode experience.  It is everything that 2K would have done if EA didn’t have the monopoly on NFL Football.  It’s hard for me to think about how great an NFL 2K18 would be and by how much it would most likely outsell Madden 18. Madden has made some strides in recent years, no doubt… but, compared to where either game could be had there been competition?  We would have seen gameplay footage by E3, if not sooner.

Madden continues to push the line that they are leading with their new Longshot Mode for marketing.  I find it interesting that this is their strategy.  This is mostly because I can see through their thin veil of BS.  They aren’t showing gameplay footage because, frankly… they don’t have to show anything and the game will still sell.  Madden hasn’t changed in any major way since Madden 10.  Now that we have come to the point where they don’t even have to market the game itself with any actual gameplay footage it does beg one to ask yourself as part of the Madden horde… why are any of you pre-ordering this game?

Madden 18 CFM -The Annual Dumpster Fire Keeps Burning

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. 

The results?

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. 

That said…

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.