The Sprint Button Is Your Enemy – Madden 19

Out of all the buttons and functions that Madden NFL has implemented (even the half-hearted ‘read tackle’ in Madden 18) there are few that have caused the gameplay more quality than the sprint button (R2 on PS4 and RT on XBox One).

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After playing too many games to count I decided to start playing with less use of the sprint button in my games against the CPU.  I couldn’t believe how much this little thing changed the entire experience.  All those times where I felt that my user controlled player was being cheated out of a presumably big play I realized that it was because I pressed the R2 button either too early or simply pressing it altogether.

A few things happen when you press the R2 button on offense.  If you are using a QB on a pass play it will put you into a scrambling mode where your passes will generally be less accurate (this is actually a good thing).  The other aspect that tends to drastically change your experience is that it seems to cause the CPU to rush the QB like a beacon.  While this makes some sense as most defensive players would start focusing on a dangerous scramble – it feels too much like a homing beacon.  This is where the real issue comes into play.

You will notice the biggest issue on offense when you are controlling the running back and press the sprint button.  It will cause the defense to essentially speed up and focus completely on the ball carrier.  The blocking from your AI teammates will break down faster and it will essentially dismantle your play before it ever gets up and running (no pun intended).

By using the left analog stick and staying away from the sprint button you will see a few things happen.  The blocks will be better and the defense will actually react in a way that feels realistic instead of some version of mind reading monsters from Dark Souls.

Where I actually noticed the best function change was on defense.  By using the left stick in tandem with the defensive engagement moves, swim moves, etc. it was like a different game.  It felt smooth and actually made defense enjoyable!

If you press the sprint button on defense you will see the QB do all sorts of crazy stuff (including intentional grounding that is never called by the atrocious penalty system that hasn’t changed since Madden 96).  Every aspect of your defensive experience is generally ruined by using the sprint button.  Even the truck stick is better without it!

Give this a shot as you prepare for Madden 19.  You won’t regret it!

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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 18 CFM and Gameplay House Rules

House rules for Madden 18 are here for you to start planning your Madden NFL experience!

Madden 18 – Franchise Mode and Gameplay House Rules

As most of the Franchise Mode players out there know, sometimes we have to make our own unwritten rules in order to keep our team from dominating the CPU in every facet of the game.

Draft Picks – It has always been easy to horde draft picks as the CPU becomes dumber as the seasons go on.  This year, we saw the Browns end up with three first round picks.  It doesn’t happen often, but it also happened – so I understand the view of ‘I do what I want to the cognitively disabled CPU.’.

This year will be the toughest draft house rule set I have ever made.  Also, I highly recommend you create a Franchise Journal in order to track your yearly performance.  I will be posting updates of my own Franchise story this year.  It helps with immersion and also to keep you honest in your franchise!

  • Trading Down – You can trade down three total times during the draft.

  • Scouting and Draft Board – You must fully scout every player you begin scouting.  This will keep you from seeing the first rating being a C+ and moving on to the next guy.  It will also limit how many sleepers you can find every year.

  • Big Board – You must draft according to your big board.  This will make it necessary for you to plan through the season and off-season.  You must also take it upon yourself to rank your big board through the season and build your draft each year.

    • Top Three Rule – While you don’t have to pick the top guy on your board in any situation you must select from the Top 3.

    • Sleeper Rule – You can choose any player up to one round before their projected position.  This will keep you honest and give the CPU a chance to take these sleepers before you get the chance.

  • Draft Pick Limitations – You can only hold a limited amount of picks in each draft.  The rules for your draft pick amounts are somewhat complicated, but they will make for a better experience.

    • Maximum of 13 picks in any draft

    • You can have two first round picks for up to two years in a row

    • If you end up with three first round picks during any draft you must trade one of them to a division opponent for their lowest pick in the next season’s draft.

    • You cannot draft two QBs in two consecutive rounds

    • You cannot draft more than two QBs, HBs, or TEs in any draft

Free Agency and Re-Signing –

  • You can only sign one 90+ OVR free agent player per season

  • You can sign one player outside of each of your schemes during free agency bidding (1 on Offense, 1 on Defense).

  • You can make ONE offer to any player on your team with 90+ OVR during the re-signing period while in regular season.  If they turn down your offer they must be allowed to test free agency.

  • QB Specific – If you have two QBs with 80+ OVR you must allow one of them to test free agency when their contract expires.  If both are on expiring deals you must choose one to re-sign.  This will allow CPU teams to have access to quality QBs and drive realism.

Spending XP –

After finding a serious issue with some ratings creating a broken gameplay experience in Madden 17, which will most likely be the same issue in 18 (WR Release in particular) I have decided to stop spending XP manually.  XP will also be set to ‘Every Four Weeks’ to allow for a better development system for all teams. 

Trading –

During the pre-season you are permitted to make a maximum of four trades (one per week).  Two trades can involve acquiring draft picks.  Two more trades can be made that are player for player.  Any player you acquire must have a lower OVR than what you are giving up OR if they are a greater OVR they must be over 30 years old.

GAMEPLAY HOUSE RULES

  • Play Calling – You must pick a play from as many formations as possible during each game.  I recommend choosing a new formation for every play or every other play. This will add a tremendous amount of depth to your experience and how you play each game.

  • Hot Routes – You can use one hot route per series.

  • Money Plays – If you find a play that works often enough against the CPU that it becomes a go to play, you must either remove it from your playbook or stop using it immediately.

  • Running Up The Score – If you are up by 21+ points in the fourth quarter you must switch to Chew Clock and choose a running play while rotating new HBs as well as a new QB in the final two minutes.

  • Passing No Switch – Do not user control a WR until after the catch has been made. This will add realism, challenge, and more animations! 

  • No Huddle – This can be used only on the first drive of the game and during the final two minutes of either half.  It cannot be used to keep other personnel on the field outside of the situations above.

  • 4th Down – You can go for it if you are losing the in the fourth quarter or if there are fewer than five seconds left in the half and you are within fifty yards of the endzone.

E3 Is Dead – Long Live Corporate Prosaicism

As we move past E3 2017 and into the second half of the year it is starting to feel more and more like gamers are reaching a similar jaded point to movie-goers.  Then again, maybe it’s the other way around – take a look at the box office numbers for a majority of movies anymore and you will see a similar downward spiral.

No matter how you look at it, the state of video games is still strong.  I feel like the trend of indie games has finally hit a downslope as there isn’t much out there that I am hearing about to make me think of some of the big hits we experienced a few years ago.

E3 came and went without giving me much pause this year.  The Xbox One X doesn’t impress me any more than the Nintendo Switch does with portable controllers.  It’s just a lot of ‘meh’ when it comes to my needs and general taste as a gamer.  Maybe it’s because I am a bit more difficult to impress as I get older.

The few games I am looking forward to that were either covered at E3 or are simply coming out soon are:

Shadow of the Colossus –

This was one of my favorite titles on PS2.  I fought the urge to buy it on PS3 simply because I didn’t have a lot invested in the system or my game library.  SotC was one of the most beautiful games I had played simply because it felt like I was walking through a misty dreamscape the entire time.  The idea that a world was there with giant bosses to hunt down and figure out on the fly made it all the more intriguing.

Wolfenstein 2 – The New Colossus (yes, another use of the word ‘colossus’) –

The New Order truly surprised me from a story perspective.  It included a lot of humor and some unsettling circumstances that made it fun to kill Nazi’s again (it doesn’t actually get old).  Wolfenstein was announced by Bethesda while they didn’t announce anything for a new Elder Scrolls game that wasn’t MMO related or money grab related with their newname for a paid mod system.  Wolfenstein looks like another game that will be fun as hell to play through.  My only wish is that it had some sort of multiplayer along the lines of the old PC game ‘Return To Castle Wolfenstein’.

Call of Duty – WWII –

I can’t help but find myself excited to play through this campaign.  Why?  Because there aren’t going to be stupid booster jumps and wall running.  There won’t be any sort of futuristic guns that can somehow shoot plasma charges or whatever the hell they have been doing since Advanced Warfare.  The multiplayer in COD has taken a back seat for me over the last few years.  Now that I have more important things to take care of or spend time doing, I really don’t care about my place on leaderboards.  I probably won’t buy this on day one, but I will certainly give it a try.

Crash Bandicoot – N Sane Trilogy –

My brother and I used to play the Crash Bandicoot all the time as kids on our PS1.  This game really has my nostalgia more than anything.  I think it might be something I wait to buy for some time simply because there isn’t anything ‘time sensitive’ about this game in my opinion.

 

I am on the fence with one of my annual purchases…

Madden 18 – Of the many things I am hoping for, it is the continued improvement of Connected Franchise Mode.  There are so many parts of the Madden experience that can be improved for fans of franchise mode that I find myself on the fence when it comes to disappointment or content with the progress.  The new cinematic mode ‘Longshot’ seems to be playing at the desires of Youtubers and their ilk.  I must say, it looked somewhat interesting, but if I want to play a story game I am going to stick with legit RPG’s and such.  Madden needs to stick to what it is trying to do the best – and that is making a strong simulation football game.  If you want to be honest about sports games at this point you will see that they are turning into microtransaction machines for their Ultimate Team modes far more than improving the actual game.  I can’t really blame them for bending to the whims of their corporate masters.  I can speak with my wallet and to that end, I have been siding with the growing numbers of people that wait to play these games until they come down in price or get them on eBay just to keep the money out of the publishers hand a bit more.

The other aspect of Madden that has all but turned me off completely is the community that EA Tiburon has generally focused on over the last few years.  I refuse to give these guys any sort of shout out or publicity – suffice to say that they all generally gather in a specific online sports gaming forum, run YouTube Channels, are a part of the ‘Game Changers’, live on Twitter, or a mix of all of those things. They seem to think they are experts when it comes to the game of football.  They also seem to grovel at the feet of EA Sports.  They will occasionally say something to make a point of false contention, but in the end – they are in this for their own motivations and have no reason to bite the hand that feeds them (monetarily, with free games, extra access, etc.).

Obviously this criticism comes off as me either being a hater or some sort of jealousy.  I am actually proof reading what I type down and try to remain honest and critical when it comes to my work as well.  My real beef with the Madden community is that it isn’t a functional community anymore.  The YouTube crowd and Madden Tournament crowd has destroyed this community.  The idea that there is almost literally no other football game for anyone to play goes further in destroying the community in terms of feedback, conversation, and synergy.  The ongoing monopoly is hampering creativity with Madden as well as MLB The Show.  When these games both have to copy the style of NBA 2K in order to bring something new to their games it would be laughable if it wasn’t so sad.