It feels like so long ago, but we’re not even two months into Madden NFL 17 and the game still has as much play value as it did on day one. Even with that being the case, now seems like a great time to get started working on a wishlist for Madden NFL 18 before it’s too late in the development cycle.
To be blunt, Madden NFL 17 was a great game and one of the best in the series. However, in the middle of EA’s best football run in a decade, what needs to be added in order to make this game the best of the best? The main thing to note is that this wishlist focuses on gameplay, presentation/atmosphere, and connected franchise when it pertains to coaching or being an owner. At some point soon, I will likely do something about the player franchise mode, but I do not plan on talking about Ultimate Team or Draft Champions in a wishlist.
Simply put, I do not play MUT and Draft Champions is as close to a perfect mode as you can get, so what is there to change? Adding more rounds? Adding more throwback cards? Let’s get to business.
- Fix CPU quarterback accuracy and wide receiver catching. This has been a problem in the series for the past few years, but I’m seeing quarterbacks complete way too many of their passes even with sliders on. This is partly due to receivers being able to catch nearly anything, even if a defensive back or linebacker is applying perfect pressure and the ball should not realistically be caught. This actually leads into part two.
- Better defensive play from defensive backs. There is no way that Richard Sherman or Patrick Peterson should be allowing such easy, long touchdowns on a regular basis from wideouts in the mid-70s, nor should they barely make an attempt at deflecting a ball. Ironically, this is one of the things that older Madden games in the previous generation of consoles did perfectly, and we complained too much because they weren’t picking the ball off. Let’s just find a perfect balance and roll with that.
- Penalties have gotten better, especially with sliders, but I still think we’re missing a few big ones — and no, I’m not talking about taunting. The main ones that come to mind are intentional grounding and clipping (I don’t think I’ve seen one), though I am expecting more progress in the penalty department come Madden NFL 18.
- Bad snaps from the center and long snapper if the player in question is of a bad enough overall. With the revamped special teams this year that changed the punting and kicking game, let’s add a new factor in the form of long snappers. If your center gets hurt on a block and you have to replace him with a center in the mid-60s or even an offensive tackle, how does that change the game in terms of gameplan? Do you change things up and just go behind center if you mainly operate from shotgun? If your long snapper gets hurt, do you maybe go for it on fourth down when you’d normally punt? This could be a huge game changer if EA were to stop making every single snap automatic.
- Gameplan adjustments from the CPU. If a second-string running back is getting hot and breaking off some big runs, then he should get some more snaps over the starter who may be struggling to get anything going. The same goes if a defense is clamping down on play action plays and longer passes, maybe we see the opposing coach start calling more runs or shorter passes.
- Make a quarterback slide back into square/x rather than having to hit the left trigger button at the same time. Does it add a challenge? Sure. Should a QB sliding be a challenge? Nope.
- Injury history contributing to the possibility of more injuries for that player. Take someone like Jamaal Charles who has had two separate ACL injuries, meaning his knees should be weak points. Now, his durability rating means he’ll be hurt more, but I’d like to see an injury model similar to the NBA 2K series.
- Better injury animations and the addition of non-contact injuries. If my running back tears his ACL, I want to see him on the ground with his arms clutching his knee, not holding his arm behind his back. This is something that NBA 2K has done perfectly.
- Dynamic weather conditions and the ability to select weather for games that aren’t exhibition games, but have realism factored in; no snowy games in September, nor should there be a Steelers-Ravens playoff game where it’s 80 degrees. As for the addition of dynamic weather, I feel it’d be an interesting one that would add a bit more strategy to the game. How does a team that’s been struggling with the running game adapt when the rain starts falling and the passing game becomes more of a challenge? If you don’t want dynamic weather, then an option should be created that allows you to choose between having it or not, the way that fans could once choose if they wanted to use the rewind feature in earlier Maddens.
- Please, fix the sidelines, because this is one of the few things EA has either lied about or failed to deliver on from their initial introduction of “Real World Sidelines” in Madden NFL 25. How, in this generation of gaming, can you have an entire sideline made up of near-blobs where players are wearing none of the equipment they wear when they’re actually on the field? When does someone take off an arm sleeve or a visor for an entire drive on the sideline? Go back and watch this video EA released in 2013 and tell me four years later what you see on the sideline.
- Bring back cheerleaders! Let’s get some next-gen action on the sidelines of some beautiful girls dancing to celebrate a score or to entertain New York Jet fans during another depressing blowout.
- I love the commentary between Brandon Gaudin and Charles Davis in their first year, so don’t expect me to start demanding a change. What I do want to see, though, is a sideline reporter who can do interviews and bring some actual insight to the game rather than what Danielle Bellini did in her couple Madden years. Maybe this is where Larry Ridley comes in as he — or whoever EA appointed the job — could discuss injuries (both before and during the game), benchings, and storylines. I’ll talk a bit more about this below in franchise.
- More customization features that focus on players, coaches, and teams. I plan on doing an article on this in the future, but this especially pertains to relocation and rebranding, two assets that the NBA 2K series has successfully mastered.
- Morale and player styles. Football is a sport where player behavior is important, especially when things are going wrong or free agency is looming. Let’s start with giving players both personality traits (Cam Newton, for example, may be “expressive” or “immature”) and roles (Tony Romo is injury prone and J.J. Watt is a leader-type) and work our way up from there. How does an expressive player react to the drafting of a player at the same position compared to another player? Would they ask for a trade, or would they put up with it but, due to being angry, lower the team’s morale? This would be an excellent thing to add to the draft because, as we’ve seen in recent years with players like La’el Collins and Johnny Manziel, players will often fall due to off-the-field or behavioral concerns and even if it’s not going in-depth (i.e. this player was suspended for a DUI), give us something to think about when looking at players. Is the risk of a franchise, generational talent defensive end worth it when they’ve had behavioral issues that caused him to miss two games his sophomore year?
- More draft information, including injury history, collegiate stats, player comparison, and evaluations from scouts and NFL Draft insiders. What does Matt Miller see in this offensive lineman that Todd McShay doesn’t? What injury caused this defensive back to have a low grade in durability — was it an arm injury that won’t make too much of an impact, or was it something like a torn ACL that could affect him later?
- Coaching carousel and assistant coaches — or at the very least, a revised coaching system. As a longtime franchise player, this was one of the things that really bugged me when franchise became “Connected Franchise” in Madden NFL 13 because for years, I had built my coaching staff up, and, when the time came, I did my best to retain the assistants who helped build a Super Bowl team. Before coaches like Mike Zimmer, Todd Bowles, and even Josh McDaniels were getting NFL head coaching jobs, I was recruiting them in Madden, and though it’s a tiny feature to some, I’d love to get assistant coaches back in the game.
- True coach styles. For as important as the basic three traits your coaches start out with are, we should have the opportunity to see if our coach is more of a player’s coach or a strict authoritarian; if they’re someone who prefers a passing offense and airing it out or if they’ve made a name for themselves by building up an elite defense. When you’re building a team, this adds a bit of strategy, especially to the morale of your players. Would a wide receiver used to getting the ball 100 times a year be alright with the team hiring a coach that leans more towards a run-heavy offense? Are you alright with hiring a coach like Rex Ryan who has a coaching style that is “expressive” and could greatly help the morale of your team which helps the player’s stats, or would you rather hire a strict, Bill Belichick-like coach with better stats who may cause some players to become frustrated and feel uncomfortable? It’s all about strategy, friends.
- Revamped goals for both players and coaches with the ability to set several instead of just one. With a young quarterback, the goal should be “throw less than 12 interceptions” or “complete 63 percent of your passes” instead of the current system, where it’s either passing yards or touchdowns. I feel like the current system appeals to casual fans too much with a heavy emphasis on stats despite us living in an era where we know that the basic stats only mean so much. The amount of tackles determined by a linebacker should not impact how good they are, but tackles for loss and tackling efficiency should; the same goes for defensive backs and interceptions, as those with a high pick total often means quarterbacks don’t fear throwing to them. With coaches in terms of system goals, I’d like to see a system that puts more of an emphasis on things like clutch wins, home W-L versus road W-L, and how the team performed in a certain area. If you’re a coach who has an emphasis on the running game, how did your backs do when it came to average yards per rush, broken tackles/breakaway percentage, and other stats?
- An improved practice squad system. Enough of second-round players ending up on the practice squad and then being cut, but because this was the first year, I’ll give EA a slight pass. Fix this in year two.
- This is small, but the great people at Operation Sports have pointed out there is no longer a website/app for Connected Franchise. In the words of DJ Whoo Kid, bring it back!
[Featured Image by EA Sports]