Madden NFL 19 wasn’t a highlight for the franchise, with gamers unsatisfied with the title’s gameplay and bugs marring the experience well beyond launch. This has created a tall task for developer EA Tiburon: How to address issues from last year (and even further back) as well as adding new wrinkles for the next edition.
Where to start on such a formidable job? Here are some of our ideas, and please add yours down in the comments section below.
- Clean Up The Gameplay
Madden 19 was rife with bugs, including bad fumble pickups, player warping, tackles/touchdowns/catches not registering, scores not adding up correctly, and more. EA Tiburon can’t release Madden 20 in a poor state and then try to fix it after the fact. These bugs – and others – need to be cleaned up before the game goes live.
- Smooth Transition Animations
Animations and the transitions between them need to not only look smooth, but also make sense. Madden 19 didn’t always do a great job of this, leading to things like suction catches and running backs feeling like they’re automatically getting tackled behind the line of scrimmage as soon as the ball has snapped. Last year’s Real Player Motion (RPM) movement system needs to produce more fluid animations and realistic moves.
- Finally Fix Blocking
Blocking has been addressed in recent years, but we’re still seeing offensive linemen ignore defenders as they charge by unabated. They should at least register the defender and stick an arm out or react in some way even if they can’t make an actual block.
- Add Initial Burst To Running Backs
Running behind the line of scrimmage shouldn’t feel slower than when you hit the hole and go past the line of scrimmage. In past Maddens, they feel like two different states.
- Redesign The Injury System
The injury system in Madden 19 was maddening, with the same players experiencing game-ending injuries week after week. Tiburon should rework the injury system to make it more realistic and present more risk/reward related to starting injured players. Persistent damage like NBA 2K’s would be great, and become a factor as you weigh resigning a player or ranking free agents.
- Nerf The Spin Move
After years of being worthless, in Madden 19 the spin move came back with a vengeance, so much so that it feels too overpowered and predominant. Tiburon should retain its usefulness, but reign in the situations where it’s effective.
- Accentuate Player Differentiation
Players need to feel more different from each other so you can feel their strengths and weaknesses. This should extend to tweaking A.I. stat lines so stars like Drew Brees or running quarterbacks don’t produce mediocre stats game in and game out.
- Give The A.I. Better Intelligence
Playing the CPU has lost a lot of its luster over the years because it always feels like you’re playing the same team. EA should fix A.I. playcalling so it’s more varied, related to the situation, and team-specific.
- Add The Run-Pass Option
The run/pass option (RPO) that the Eagles made famous on their way to their Super Bowl victory couldn’t be implemented last year, so it needs to be in Madden 20.
- Bring Back Custom Playbooks
The rigidness of the current Madden playbooks creates a me-too online experience where most people are employing the same few schemes. We’d like to see EA embrace differentiation by letting users build their own offensive and defensive systems.
- Add More Challenges
Players need to be able to call challenges for a variety of situations and the CPU needs to award the correct decision. For years the option has simply been greyed out in the pause menu even when you should be able to challenge.
- Rework Scheme Fit Logic
Madden 19 introduced a new scheme system that governed how players progressed. Unfortunately, it also brought along new problems. As such, multi-dimensional players shouldn’t be punished for not fitting into the mode’s pre-set schemes, instead favoring a rating threshold for receiving the XP boost. Overall, the system should open up more to let users create the team they want according to their roster’s strengths rather than relying on rigid templates.
- Give Free Agency The Makeover It Desperately Needs
Free agency should add the pre-free agency “legal tampering” period where teams and soon-to-be free agents negotiate backroom deals. This could introduce drama to the game’s free agency – like Anthony Barr’s last-second change of heart to shun the Jets and return to the Vikings – and help make this a vital part of the offseason. Franchise mode could even include free agent scouting and negotiation resources to give you more to think about.
- Expand Relocation Options
The selection for relocation cities is woefully underdeveloped. We’d love to see this field expanded to see more variety.
- Deliver More Stadium Customization
Whether you are relocating to a new city or upgrading your current facilities, we’d love to see a robust stadium editor to let players develop a true home-field advantage.
- Bring Back The Coaching Carousel
NFL coaches move around the league frequently, changing the fortunes of franchises year in and out. We’d love to see offensive and defensive coordinators return to prominence in Madden. Teams with great offenses or defenses should risk losing these coordinators just like real NFL teams do, which could feed into an exciting coaching carousel. At a minimum, the coordinator signing bug needs to be fixed so you can’t leave the offseason without them.
- Give GMs A More Flexible Contract System
Fitting your team under the cap is a huge part of constructing a roster in the NFL, and Madden needs better more options on this front (restricted free agents, fifth-year options, contract restructures for underperforming players, front/backloading, etc.) to give GMs all the tools they need to run their franchises.
- Bring Back Mystery To Talent Evaluation
Once you understand the scouting system in modern Madden games, it’s easy to game the system. EA needs to add more ambiguity to scouting/rating reveals so drafts become more unpredictable. Similarly, current player comparisons and more prospect news during the season would help flesh out these players and add intrigue to the draft. Anything to get more flavor on the players in general.
- Dress Up Draft Day
Madden 19 added a slightly new draft presentation, but more pageantry is always welcome. EA also has some practical matters to improve. For instance, managing trades during the draft needs to be easier to navigate and less buggy so your offers produce real counter-offers.
- Add Player Morale
A player morale system would make teams and locker rooms more dynamic, and put pressure on gamers to make the right choices for their team. It could also play a significant role in free agency, with certain players willing to pass on the biggest money offer to play for a winner, wanting to play closer to their hometown late in their career, etc.
- Track League History
Those who play franchise modes deep into multiple decades would love to have a comprehensive tracking system that keeps track of all the league’s history, from stats and award winners to draft busts and gems. Being able to look back at your whiffs and scores for certain drafts would be amazing.
- Add League Discipline
We don’t expect EA to touch serious topics like players being suspended for domestic abuse or performance enhancing drugs, but perhaps red-flagged players can be suspended for unspecific reasons.
- Don’t introduce promos that have an extra currency (beyond points, coins, and training points) and reduce the value of items.
- Install a Practice Mode
Rather than making a player venture into the competition to test out new roster lineups, we’d love for EA to add a practice mode so you can see how your current lineup functions/meshes.
- Speed Up the Solo Challenge Experience
The grind for coinage can be even grindier thanks to all the aggressive loads. Being able to load into the next Solo challenge in the series without having to go back to the Solo’s menu would be a godsend.
- Add Auction Relisting
If you’ve tried to sell an item in the Auction House and it doesn’t sell, you should be able to put it up again for the previously listed price. This way you don’t have to re-input the price – especially if you’re selling lots of cards and don’t always remember what you’ve tried to sell them for.
- Create Better Auction Pricing Guidelines
Like MLB the Show 19, adding buttons to sell a card for its current low/average/high price in the marketplace would be a nice shortcut/starting point.
- Bring Team Customization To MUT
MUT is a fantasy mode that allows you to build unimaginable super teams. Why not let us make super jerseys and custom logos as well?
- Clean Up Collection Interface
Managing your cards could be made a lot easier with some user interface improvements. When adding players to sets, players ineligible for the set should not be selectable.
- Make The Marketplace An Even Playing Field
No packs should be available only for real-money points in the store. Everything should be purchasable with coins even if it costs more than using points.
- Add A Real Career Mode
With The Longshot story mode concluded, Madden needs to bolster its Be a Pro options in CFM to compete with what rival NBA 2K has been doing with its player career mode. It is filled with choice, progression, and a behind-the-scenes look at the life of a professional athlete. The NFL has a lot of rich stories to tell, too, that give players agency over their career trajectory at the same time.
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Matthew Kato explores the wide world of video game sports in his column, The Sports Desk. Check back every Monday for the latest analysis and news in the genre from this sports fanatic.
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