It’s that magical time of year when EA Sports franchises emerge from their yearly hibernation, with a glimpse of what’s awaiting players this fall. Last week we were front and center at EA’s annual Summer Showcase and given hands-on to every sports title on the slate for 2018. The first title shown will also be the first to hit store shelves this fall: Madden NFL 19. So without further ado, let’s kickoff the new gridiron season and dive into the new developments in store this year.
A big emphasis this season across the entire EA Sports suite is the Frostbite engine’s revamped Real Player Motion physics enhancements. The goal is to create a core set of shareable interactions, natural animations, and physics models that can be shared across all studios using Frostbite. In the case of Madden 19, this was an initiative that started last season when they initially transitioned to the engine, and received further enhancements for this year’s release.
This time around, a core goal of the development team was to make mid-air collisions actually be reflected in the animations. Factors such as the direction, velocity, and weight of the players involved in the contact will now have a more organic impact on how the animations play out on the field. These elements result in more natural character model reactions, such as trying to regather a dislodged ball while falling through the air or a receiver bracing for a hard landing when a pass is deflected. This is a substantial improvement when compared to Madden 18, where the same receiver would fall to the ground, frozen in the “catch” position, sans ball. It may not sound like a major thing, but upon viewing a side-by-side comparison, the difference is dramatic.
Another impactful introduction this year are quarterback signature styles. Instead of every QB in the game sharing the same handful of behaviors, every unique quirks and nuanced mannerisms will be present and accounted for. If you are an eagle-eyed observer, these telltale duplications will be obvious, so be sure to pay close attention to your favorite backfield general. Though the enhancements currently only apply to quarterbacks, the plan is for this to become something that extends to other position players in future seasons.
One of the biggest developments in the NFL last season was the relaxing of rules around player and team celebrations. You can expect this welcome change to also be present on the digital gridiron as well. Anyone who has ever shown off after a penalty kick goal in FIFA knows that EA is well-versed in the ways of athletic jubilation. So it should come as no shock that the development team over at EA Sports Tiburon has been burning through game film, in search of the best individual and team celebrations of the last 12 months. You can expect to find those, as well as dozens of other original celebrations, just waiting to be uncovered.
There’s No ‘I’ in Team
Franchise mode is yet another element that has been given a significant spit shine. Coaching schemes now play a pivotal role in not only the progression of the team, but also the individual players as well. Going into any week’s match-ups, three players can be selected by the coaching staff to get special skill points depending upon the performance of the individual and the collective team. There will also be an additional boost if the selected players have skillsets that fall under the team/coaching staff’s selected scheme.
Luckily there is no need to worry about being married to any single game plan, because the schemes can be changed on the fly throughout the season. This could be done for any number of reasons including changes in team personnel (and their respective skills) or the needs of the organization as a whole. Heck, even a head coaching shakeup would be a valid reason to try and venture in a new direction.
My personal favorite improvement to this season’s franchise mode is the ability to fully edit and share draft classes amongst the Madden online community. Gone are the days of getting “Random Shmoe #2” with the first pick in the draft. You can now individually edit every player in a randomly generated draft class, adjust their name, team, physical attributes, and even tweak their skill point distribution.
Undoubtedly, this is a fantastic move that will lead to full draft classes being available to the community on or near draft day. If you are the poor sucker investing countless hours, poring over Mel Kipper Jr’s Big Board to make the perfectly authentic draft class to share with the world, I salute you.
Filling a Role
One last area that has been fine-tuned is the individual player progression system. In the past managers were forced to micromanage each stat point, in order to build their ideal Franken-Linebacker. This has now become far more streamlined. Now, players will continually advance, but it will be directed by the specific archetype that they are currently assigned. Stat points will be applied in a way that will move the individual closer to their ideal archetype. It wasn’t detailed whether archetypes were locked in permanently or if it can be changed on the fly like the coaching schemas. Fortunately, we will find out soon enough, when Madden NFL 19 hits store shelves on August 10, 2018.
Keep it locked to PlayStation Lifestyle for rest of the week for our continued coverage of the EA Sports Summer Showcase. Tomorrow we will be covering the second edition of Madden’s popular Longshot mode and our first impressions of FIFA 19. Don’t miss it!
Madden NFL 19 PS4 hands-on preview was done at an event. Travel and accommodations were provided by Electronic Arts.