During EA Play 2017 and the Electronic Entertainment Expo, we were blitzed with Madden 18 information.
Not everyone has been tracking the information since the release date and cover athlete was announced, so I thought it would be helpful to put together a list of the most pertinent information that has been released/confirmed about the game.
There is still a lot left to learn, but here are the 30 most important details on Madden 18.
Tom Brady is the Cover Athlete
The future Hall of Famer, five-time Super Bowl champion, 4-time Super Bowl MVP and 2-time NFL MVP Tom Brady will grace the cover of Madden 18.
Madden 18 will release nationwide on August 25, but it will be available on August 22 for fans who pre-order the game.
In addition to receiving the game three days early, fans who pre-order the G.O.A.T Edition will receive one of five Elite G.O.A.T. players, an Elite player from your favorite NFL team, 12 Squad Packs, 2500 contracts and one uniform pack in Ultimate Team.
Pre-orders for the standard edition will receive up to $15 in additional value including an Elite player from your favorite NFL team and five Squad Packs in Ultimate Team, the complete NFL team-building mode where you build, play and win with your ultimate team of today’s NFL superstars and legends.
Early Access Date
Subscribers to Xbox Access will get a 10-hour preview of the game on August 17.
First Time on Frostbite
For the first time, Madden will run on the Frostbite Engine. The Frostbite Engine was used to deliver Battlefield 1 and other beautifully rendered games. The visuals are expected to be greatly enhanced because of this use of technology.
The impact of Frostbite is real. You can see from this off-screen video that the game looks cleaner and crisper. Imagine what it will look like in person.
The great news is it looks even better in 4K. That means PlayStation 4 Pro and Xbox One X owners should see the game at its best. Here’s an image of Madden 18 in 4K that was tweeted by Operation Sports’ Steve Noah.
A Story Mode
Finally, Madden will have a story mode. It’s called Longshots and it’s very similar to FIFA 17’s The Journey. The interactive film stars JR Lemon as Devin Wade, a QB prospect in need of a second chance to fulfill his dream of making the NFL.
Scope of Longshot
Longshots is an origin story. There are high school and college football elements in the adventure, but Wade never reaches the NFL. Expect this mode to be very story driven and offer an alternative Madden experience, not one that is anything like what you’ve played before from the series.
Multiple Endings to Longshot
There will be multiple endings to the Longshot story. Not everyone’s Wade will achieve his dream. That could serve as a reason for gamers to complete multiple playthroughs.
Longshots MUT Cards
Wade and other characters from the story can be unlocked for use in MUT. The version of the player you get in MUT will depend on the ending you reached in the Longshot story.
I’d like to go on record saying I asked for this feature or something like it in my Madden wishlist. I’m thrilled to see it in the game and I believe the developers have implemented it perfectly. Essentially, target passing eliminates the old button-assigned passing and allows users to throw to a spot.
It’s much more realistic, but it’s also a little more challenging. Those who have tested the new feature say it’s nothing like the vision cone that fans hated in the 1990s. What’s best of all is that the feature is optional.
Like Sony, EA is finally not forcing their newest features on its fanbase.
In an interview with SimFBall Critic, executive producer Rex Dickson talked about improved zone coverage. According to Dickson, there will be better zone discipline with defenders who are assigned to the flats staying put, while those that are tasked with covering mid-range throws also staying true to their areas.
You can see the interview below. The conversation reveals a few other nuggets.
Pressing Tight Ends
One of those nuggets is the ability to press cover tight ends. With guys like Rob Gronkowski, Travis Kelce and others in the league, defenses need to have the ability to press cover players at that position. Per Dickson, that’s in for this year.
WR/DB, Best on Best Matchups
Gone are the days when you had to always try to move your best defensive back to the CB1 or CB2 position to matchup with a specific wide receiver. In Madden 18, you’ll be able to set up best-on-best matchups. You can set the parameters by overall rating, height or speed.
One of the best features we’ve learned about in Madden 18 are the three different play styles. Arcade, competitive and simulation styles could help deliver the ideal experience to Madden gamers of all types. The arcade style will be more wide open and less realistic. The competitive style will lean primarily on stick skills while the simulation setting is paced by ratings.
Stick skills can at times overcome poor ratings, but it will be understandably harder to accomplish. Anyone that knows me knows I’m drooling over that concept of sim play.
Madden Rating Explanations
Dickson also confirmed some sort of rating explanation guide could be on the way this year. Players need to know what each rating means–especially in simulation play. If the game will lean as heavily on ratings as Dickson says it will in simulation, players need to have all of the appropriate information to build their teams in MUT and CFM.
Another feature I requested has finally made it into Madden. This year’s game will finally allow off-ball injuries. This happens in the real NFL on a regular basis, thus it needed to be in Madden.
I didn’t get all of my wishes. I’ve been asking for the injury presentation to change in CFM. In real life, injuries aren’t completely diagnosed for days. We don’t learn the timetable for a return until after an MRI has been done, etc.
In Madden, we know how long a player will be out in minutes. I’ve always thought it would be more realistic if the full details of an injury were revealed after the game in CFM. Unfortunately, per executive producer Seann Graddy, that presentation tweak will not be in Madden 18.
MUT Squads Equals Co-Op Play
Madden is bringing back co-op play. MUT Squads is three-on-three play with one player serving as a head coach, offensive, and defensive captain.
You Can Play as an O-Lineman in MUT Squads
There were a few questions about this earlier in the week, but users can control an offensive lineman in MUT Squads.
In the interview with Dickson, he mentioned this was a light year for presentation which likely means no new halftime show. That’s unfortunate, but there are a few new things. Graddy told me:
“A couple presentation elements you’re going to notice right away are the pre-game sequences. We call them “up-cuts” and they’re meant to be fast paced establishing shots of both environments and players coming out ahead of the game.
Stadium shots with fireworks, tunnel entrances and visual effects as players enter the field are all new.”
Sideline Interactions, Updated TD Celebrations
Dickson also mentioned a few other presentation elements. Sideline interactions are upgraded. Players who are not in the game will help fallen teammates up. There will also be updated TD celebrations. The NFL has loosened the reins on celebratory displays this year and Madden is ready to help bring back some of the fun on the virtual field as well.
More CFM-Focused Commentary
The commentary from Brandon Gaudin and Charles Davis in Madden 17 was the best in video game history, in my opinion. It appears another layer is set to be added to this area of the game. Graddy said:
The team is back at it again this year, with hundreds of hours of new content, heavily slanted towards Franchise mode. They’ll be talking a the MVP race, the playoff hunt, player of the week awards and more.
It’s really going to add to the immersion factor of Franchise. We’ve also focused on more contextual awareness for end-of-game moments, for better recognition of blowouts vs tight games. Coupled with improved late game AI, this should make the end of games more authentic.
They’ll be talking about the MVP race, the playoff hunt, player of the week awards and more. It’s really going to add to the immersion factor of Franchise. We’ve also focused on more contextual awareness for end-of-game moments, for better recognition of blowouts vs tight games. Coupled with improved late game AI, this should make the end of games more authentic.
CFM Pickup At Any Point
This feature wasn’t being discussed heavily in the Madden community, but it could be a great addition. According to Dickson, you’ll be able to play any game from the real NFL schedule in a Play Now mode. These games will have accurate depth charts with relation to injuries and rating updates.
Once you complete the game, you’ll have the option to start a CFM from that point in the season with the team you played with in the exhibition game. This is a blend of NBA 2K’s NBA Today feature and it’s Start Today enhancer to MyGM and MyLeague.
Speaking of MyLeague and MyGM, NBA 2K17’s franchise mode concepts are the best in the business. This year, they introduced league expansion to those modes. I was hoping that concept might make it to CFM, but per Graddy, that won’t be happening this year.
Customization in MUT
Get ready for a few more “no’s.” Unlike NBA 2K’s MyTeam and MLB the Show’s Diamond Dynasty, fans still can’t customize their teams, uniforms or stadiums in MUT.
Legends in Other Modes
At one point, you could use the legends you unlocked in MUT in other modes within the game. That option will not be returning to Madden 18.
Editing Draft Classes
Likewise, fans still will not be able to customize draft classes.
Improved OL A.I.
There is a developer diary coming that will discuss the changes made to improve offensive lineman A.I. This has been a legacy issue for me, and I’m interested to see what the devs have done to improve this area of the game.
New esports Concepts
There are plans to expand the Madden esports portfolio with MUT Squads and the possibilities are exciting, but unfortunately, that does not include CFM events.