Madden NFL is a series that's as certain as taxes. It releases every year and serves as the kickoff to the highly anticipated upcoming NFL season. Every year hardcore NFL fans always ask the same exact question: Is Madden NFL worth buying this year? This question comes up as often, and a history EA Sports has set up for themselves in regards to expectations. There's always a worry in the back of people's heads that they're wasting $60. It is a hot-button issue that seems to stir up plenty of debates regarding value and innovation.
It seems that, for the most part, Electronic Arts has been listening and is looking to add value to the franchise in new and exciting ways. At E3 2017 they announced that Madden NFL 18 will include, for the first time, a full-fledged story mode centered around a specific character named Devin Wade. This single-player mode is called 'Longshot' and looks to be building on this narrative story mode focus EA Sports implemented in last year's FIFA 18. We've recently heard some great details regarding improvements in the game and how Madden NFL 18 is a step forward. There are also plenty of cautionary flags that have popped up that may lead to some disappointment amongst fans. It's a literal toss-up at this point whether or not this year's entry will deliver fans to the promised land. Let's discuss the 7 reasons Madden NFL 18 might suck, and 8 why it might be the best entry in the entire franchise.
15 Best: More Touchdown Celebrations
So, a huge area of contention in real-life is the lack of personality and celebration in the NFL after a touchdown is scored. There's been a long-running rule against many forms of celebration due to the feeling that it took away from the pace and presentation of live broadcasts. At the beginning of the new league year in 2017 Roger Goodell has informed fans that many of the restrictions for celebrations have been lifted or eased up on. Madden NFL has been really good about provided players with tons of celebration animations after scoring touchdowns in the game. Hopefully with these recent announcements they were given a little bit more freedom in terms of variety, implementation, and possibly appearance rate. The Madden games and the NFL are better products when people are able to express themselves fully.
14 Worst: Less Than A Year Of Development
Madden NFL faces the issue that many annual franchises face. If your game is coming out every year, then you're subject to a tight, rigorous, and short development cycle. Unlike the Call of Duty franchise, Madden NFL is mainly developed by one specific studio. This means that it takes them a couple of years to implement huge additions to the franchise and can lead to years in which the game is more familiar than innovative. This problem is one that's entirely created by the publisher. You should never blame the developers directly for these type of matters. Electronic Arts needs to create multiple teams dedicated to Madden that work in a rotation. This ensures greater quality jumps, more improvements, and a better-polished game. Activision has many questionable practices, but they do some things right.
13 Best: More Jerseys In MUT
A cool addition that's grown to be the largest mode inside of Madden NFL is Madden Ultimate Team. This mode has garnered a ton of popularity and is arguably the biggest source of revenue for EA through Madden NFL. Last year they made it a point to add more variety to the game's jersey selection. Before a lot of the unique and throwback jerseys were hidden behind difficult or time-consuming collections, you would have to complete in order to use them for your team. They seemed to make these items more accessible and easier to obtain in Madden NFL 17. This allows a lot of replay value and adds to the feeling of making your team feel unique and special to you. Here's hoping they continue with this and add a lot more jersey, stadium, and coaching variety to spice up the inevitable melting pot.
12 Worst: Track Record
Sports games are notorious for rarely making drastic changes that justify fans paying $60 every single year. Yes, sometimes fans are overly harsh and critical about the lack of improvements. There have been numerous times where Madden NFL has made some tremendous strides and proven the value of an annual purchase. However, there are plenty of other times in which people felt that they were being publicly robbed of $60. At $60, games are relatively the cheapest they've ever been if you account for inflation and such, but if a customer feels you're not providing equal value, then they might have a reason to feel this way. Players need to make an active decision to vote with their wallets. If you want something to change then stop giving it your money.
11 Best: Madden Ultimate Team
We've touched on Madden Ultimate Team but let's focus specifically on why fans should feel optimistic about this mode heading into Madden NFL 18. This is the bread winner for EA when it comes to Madden NFL. They earn an ungodly and absurd amount of profit from their Ultimate Team modes across their catalog of annual sports franchises. Give EA some credit though, year after year this is the mode that sees the best improvements and the highest quality refinements. If you're a fan of Ultimate Team, then you should feel confident that it will be as solid or even better than last year's version. On the other hand, if Ultimate Team isn't your jam then hold reservation and wait to receive more information about the quality of the franchise, multiplayer, and story modes.
10 Worst: Lack Of Presence At E3 Is Worrisome
It's a strange year when Madden NFL 18 has little to no presence during any of the E3 conferences. In 2017, fans weren't treated to anything outside of a story mode trailer and a few screenshots on stage. This is odd considering that in past years Madden has been a 2-5 minute demo/section on either or both of EA and Microsoft's conferences. They were willing to show us a brand new narrative driven story mode that fans have asked for going on three plus years. EA was also willing to talk about how beautiful it will look on Microsoft's new console, the Xbox One X. Unlike years past, they didn't bother to show much gameplay at all or talk about new features on stage. This is odd considering both FIFA 18 and NBA Live 18 both had decent sections in the show dedicated to gameplay. Be worried.
9 Best: Hinting at NCAA Football
The single player story mode is something we've touched on previously in this list, but there's a specific part of the trailer that's getting fans excited. During the trailer you see the main character, Devin Wade, begin to endure the trials and tribulations of training to become a player in the NFL. You're going to be working every day to improve your draft value and hopefully avoid consequences that could lead to you going undrafted. During the trailer, we see Wade in high school as well as college football games. Interestingly enough he's in an official NCAA uniform which means the NFL still has the license for use. Does this mean that EA has found a workaround to all of the NCAA athlete issues that caused them to postpone the beloved franchise? We'll just have to wait and find out.
8 Worst: Franchise mode stale
People are clamoring now that they will finally have the story mode they've wished for in Madden NFL. Their website lists all of the improvements and explains what's new in Madden NFL 18. Strangely enough, there doesn't seem to be a single area of improvement in franchise mode outside of a companion app that helps you manage it on the go. There are two sides to an argument in which this can be seen as a bad thing. On the one hand, it is disappointed that they fail to mention any adjustments to a fan favorite mode. On the other hand, the newly announced single player mode 'Longshot' and Madden Ultimate Team were their areas of focus in development. One adds a refreshing new experience, and the other makes EA an incredible amount of money. Can we get NCAA Football back, please?
7 Best: MUT 3v3
So, by now we know why EA focuses on Madden Ultimate Team. It makes them an incredible amount of money and is their premiere game mode by a staggering amount. It's no wonder that their focus revolves around MUT and they try and improve on it with new variations and additions. They've announced through a press release and multiple E3 interviews that Madden Ultimate Team will now feature a 3 vs. 3 mode where you can team up with two other players and take on other squads of 3. This is smart because it adds another layer to the mode while at the same time creating an environment where players pull their friends into MUT in hopes of having fun playing Madden NFL 18 together. It's a win-win situation for EA and provides for versatility for the franchise's best mode.
6 Worst: Exploits
Playing online against other players is a huge part of the Madden NFL community. Proving your skill and football knowledge by systematically defeating someone else is a thrilling and heart pumping experience. Sadly, after a few weeks, players from all over the world learn what the exploits are in this year's version of the game. When you have millions of players spending millions of hours running, catching, tackling, and scoring plenty of problems with arise. You'll never have play-testing accurate enough to see what millions of players can exploit to their advantage. Considering the lack of iteration and short development cycle it doesn't seem like eliminating these competition crippling mechanics is an area of concern. Will rocket-catching return in Madden NFL 18? Unfortunately, that will probably be the case.
5 Best: Team Play Returns
Madden Ultimate Team is getting a 3 vs. 3 mode which means that team play returns to Madden NFL's online lineup. This has been an even bigger area of contention amongst fans considering it was removed simply because it probably wasn't being used enough to justify its infrastructure. Luckily it's been implemented in MUT which means it will probably be here to stay. The team play mode is great because it allows a group of friends or random players to each control a position group of players during a game. It takes the team aspect of football and translates it into the video game realm. Hopefully, they've fixed the network issues that plagued the mode and caused tons of frustration. Once again considering it's a new feature in MUT it will probably be stronger and more reliable in every aspect.
4 Worst: Focus On Graphics
Early on in this article, I talked about how we really didn't see much in terms of gameplay during any of the conferences. There seemed to be a focus on story mode as well as the graphical improvements due to both the Frostbite Engine and Microsoft's brand new powerful console, the Xbox One X. When a new console comes out, there seems to be a common trend with that year's Madden NFL game. These often tend to be the entries that offer the least amount of improvements in terms of pure gameplay. EA likes to focus on making the game as visually stunning as it can, and that was apparent when they simply showed us screenshots in 4k resolution. If you're a fan of graphics and detail, then you shouldn't worry, but if you're expected more from Madden NFL 18, tread with caution.
3 Best: Tom Brady On The Cover
I know what you're going to say. How is Tom Brady gracing the cover of Madden NFL 18 good? I absolutely despise that guy. We have to come together and realize that the Madden curse is still a thing that may or not be a possibility. By no means am I wishing for Tom Brady to sustain a terrible injury, but I'm not saying I would like to see him providing moral support from the sideline. Let's be real for a second, though. Even if he's out, we've seen that the Patriots win because of their cheating — I mean coaching, their coaching. The one silver-lining is that there's no possible way he'll ever grace the cover again in the foreseeable future. So if you hate looking at a Patriots jersey, you should either learn graphic design or maybe close your eyes every time you load into Madden NFL 18.
2 Worst: Tom Brady On The Cover
Tom Brady's on the cover. Honestly, it's a surprise it's taken this long for Tom Brady to land the cover of a Madden NFL game. If you're a Jets, Bills, or Dolphins fan, I think EA will completely understand if you skip this year's entry in the series. Not only do we have to wait an entire year before we can see a different face grace all of the marketing and promotional materials for Madden NFL 18, we'll probably see his face on a special Hall of Fame edition in the next ten or so years. The worst part is: even if the Madden curse occurs and Brady's sidelined, we've seen that unlike Peyton Manning, he doesn't really matter to the Patriots in the grand scheme of things. They could plug-in Geno Smith and probably still win 11 plus games.
1 Best: Story Mode
Narrative single player modes seemed like something EA was willing to experiment within FIFA 17. With the same type of experience headed to Madden NFL 18, it seems like this is a priority for EA and an area of focus in terms of bringing added value to the game. Players will take control of Devin Wade, an NFL hopeful with a lot on his plate. It's touted as having decisions that will directly affect the outcome of his journey as well as including several very different endings to the story. Fans were also treated to a sequel to Alex Hunter's story in this year's FIFA 18, which means Madden NFL fans should also be excited. This means that you're more than likely going to see Devin Wade again next year. Get ready to experience a journey that's entirely your making, without a single loading screen throughout.