Madden has tried many things over the last few years to draw in players. The additions of a story mode, Superstar KO, and The Yard were previous years’ marketing schemes and to some extent, they worked. Copies were sold on the promise of these modes but quickly they all fell to the wayside of Madden’s two most popular game modes, Madden Ultimate Team and Franchise.
While Madden Ultimate Team gets constant updates, Franchise has stayed relatively untouched for many years now, prompting the #FixFranchiseMode to gain a massive following before the release of last year’s game. However the impact was not felt last year as the hashtag became popular very close to launching, instead, this year has been touted as the year of the franchise. However, with the first list of features released, how much of it truly is new?
While the cover of Madden is by no means a feature, it is interesting to note that only once before has a dueling cover athlete design been used, back on Madden 10 with Larry Fitzgerald and Troy Polamalu. Two great players who also had dueled it out in the Super Bowl the year before, just as Pat Mahomes and Tom Brady did. While the dueling art looked amazing for that game, I think most people agree that fans created better cover art than EA did for this one.
The first feature to touch on is one that EA is promoting a lot, Dynamic Gameday. Fans are updated as well as chants and gameday traditions, all coming together to make gameday in-game feel like the real thing. There is also a momentum meter that makes certain in-game tasks more difficult for the opposing team.
Sadly, none of this content is really new, in fact, it was in games almost 10 years old. NCAA 14, the most recent NCAA football game, had a similar momentum system which led to squiggly lines for routes as well, similar to the new added difficultly from momentum in this Madden. In addition, NCAA games would also have louder or softer fan noise based on momentum and they even had the actual team fight songs that would play, just like how Madden is adding in team chants and other noises such as the Bucs firing off the cannons.
However, even though this was a feature long ago, we haven’t seen it present for many years and I am excited to see how this new system affects games. One thing I would like to see added in addition is a pregame show similar to Madden 10 and 11 where we see fans interacting around landmarks of the stadium before the game, this would add another touch of realism to a pregame that most people simply skip.
One feature that is brand new is the implementation of Next Gen Stats AI. While Next Gen Stats did make a late appearance to Madden 21, Madden 22 boasts that it will implement the real-life stats directly into the AI for the players. This aims to fix many of the realism issues in Madden currently, issues such as scrambling quarterbacks having few rushing yards and most quarterbacks throwing a lot of dump-off passes.
However, it has not been stated how this system will work for drafted players in franchise mode. They don’t have a counterpart to follow in the real world, so do they automatically regress to Madden 21’s issues, or do they take on a real-life player counterpart?
Since I play a lot of franchises, I am worried that the issues they aim to solve may still be prevalent so until more information is released I am hesitant to get too excited. However, adding in Next Gen Stats to be seen throughout the game should add to the realism and be beneficial to players when assessing their competition.
The largest changes that are most exciting to a Franchise Player like me are the coach skill tree and improved scouting. Before I go any further, it should be noted that the NCAA and Madden Head Coach series did have coach skill trees for all coaches and NCAA had scouting similar to what is being described for this year’s Madden so these are not new unique features.
Nonetheless, it is still exciting to see EA listening to what fans want, the improved scouting and addition of offensive and defensive coordinators have been requests from fans for a while. The skill trees should look to benefit players who keep the same coach while it hinders first-year coaches, just as we see new coaches struggle a bit in their first years more often than not.
NCAA had their system in place to benefit players with multiple different pathways focused on different aspects such as scouting while the Head Coach had more generic bonuses encompassing all aspects of the coach. This year’s Madden appears to be going the way of NCAA, having multiple aspects of gameplay that can be benefitted but still containing it to one theme. These perks include XP upgrades, trade acquisition benefits, and buffs for players’ stats.
As for the scouting, there are multiple scouts for different areas and a national scout similar to NCAA, how the system works outside of this has not yet been released but if it continues like NCAA, we could see a system in place where we get all of the players’ ratings for fully scouting them.
Another interesting revamp has come in the training department, now there will be XP for everyone and a trade-off between more XP and injury risk when doing higher intensity training. This was a feature in Head Coach, training players may leave them fatigued for games or even have them injured.
This feature will add to a sense of realism as well as make players weigh the pros and cons of increased training however there should be dramatic pros and cons so this is an important decision, and not something that players soon ignore as training has been for a while now.
The additional decision of training starters, backups, or a split was another thing seen in Head Coach, although that game also gave you the ability to train specific players as well. As long as there is truly a difference in these training modes and choosing different ones can have a large impact, I believe this will bring training back to relevance in Madden Franchises.
Madden’s scenarios are being brought back too and this time there is a huge difference. 30 new scenarios have been brought in and gone are the text messages, now there is cinematics to go along with them. This may seem small but the scenarios had large impacts in the past Madden and these new ones will change up the game again.
These new cinematics show areas such as press conferences, the GM’s office, and the locker room. These new scenarios will expand upon the ones already in the game and move towards more useful rewards such as temporary buffs for your team or debuffs for the other, permanent buffs or debuffs, Superstar X-Factor activation at the beginning of a game, and more. This expansion on the previous year’s work is something I am excited to see in-game, and I am left questioning how often these scenarios occur if there are so many.
With all these new additions to Madden’s Franchise Mode, this year looks like the best for many Franchise fans. Even though many of the features are revamps or carbon copies of previous ones in other titles, there should be lots of excitement to see the Madden team working in the right direction with Franchise Mode. Madden 22 comes out August 20th and is available for pre-order now.
Photo: Oliver VanDervoort, Game Rant