Madden NFL 18 Review – NFL Meets Interactive Drama
August for NFL fans marks the arrival of a new Madden game which means Madden NFL 18 is almost upon us. While the improvements made to Madden 17 were praiseworthy, it did leave a few things to be desired. These things consequently paved way for Madden NFL 18 and changes it promises to deliver. The most notable changes include the inclusion of Frostbite Engine and a single-player story mode – something that the series never experimented with before. Where Madden 17 took a step in the right direction, Madden NFL 18 has made the biggest leap forward in recent memory.
Madden NFL 18 Review
Inspired by The Journey from FIFA 17, Madden 18 features a single-player story mode titled Longshot. Longshot chronicles the journey of Devin Wade, a high school prodigy and former quarterback for Texas Longhorns, with his dreams of being an NFL draft pick after being forced to quit. While Wade’s journey is inspiring, it is far from being perfect and is potentially predictable. It is essentially the classic underdog story, often seen in various shows/movies. Longshot features well fleshed out characters but sadly, Wade is not one of them.
Getting Wade closer to his dreams revolves around mastering a range of QTEs and making plenty of decisions. Despite minor hiccups here and there, Longshot is an enjoyable experience, especially if you are a fan of Telltale’s narratives. The main characters eventually manage to grow on the audience who are compelled to help Wade realize his dreams, which does not take long to be honest. Completing Longshot takes about 4-5 hours at most but the multiple endings can extend the duration by a small margin. Overall, a story mode is a nice, little addition to Madden NFL and one that we hope will return in years to come.
For Madden NFL 18, Electronic Arts decided to do away with Ignite Engine and replaced it with Frostbite Engine that powers titles like Star Wars: Battlefront, Mass Effect: Andromeda, and Battlefield 1 among others. A few noticeable graphical improvements include better lightning, improved shadows, realistic facial animations, and textures that are more detailed. On top of that, animations and on-field interactions feel smooth and responsive. You may experience a fistful of minor annoyances related to ball physics and lengthy loading times but they are few and far between and can easily be ironed out with post-release patches.
Getting into Madden is easier than ever, thanks to three distinct playstyles: Arcade, Simulation, and Competitive. Each of these styles fine-tunes the entire experience to what you would enjoy the best. Arcade is wide-open gameplay with big catches and ideal for newcomers. Simulation is meant for NFL veterans seeking an authentic football experience. Finally, Competitive is for players who prefer online play and eSports to anything else. EA’s decision to incorporate these playstyles should make Madden NFL 18 more accessible to newbies.
Coming to gameplay, one major tweak/adjustment is Target Passing. By pressing L2/LT during a play, players are given complete liberty to aim where they want to throw the ball using the left stick. The mechanic also requires players to select the receiver. All of this might feel to be a tad overwhelming at first but spending a little time in Practice Mode should give players more control over each play. Manual Passing most certainly feels more authentic, requires practice to master, and will definitely distinguish better players from average ones. Apart from Manual Passing, Madden 18 brings some new ways to tackle, new pre-play options to choose from, ability to change the coaching strategies on the go, and running the ball is fun and works as intended.
Franchise Mode largely remains the same and seems like EA took the approach of ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!’ However, some minor changes include the inclusion of Practice Squads and Play Now Live. PNL enables players to play along the real-life NFL season with up-to-date stats, commentary, and storylines. The new commentary team of Brandon Gaudin and Charles Davis – introduced in Madden NFL 17 – return and remain an improvement over Jim Nantz and Phil Simms. What is not improved is EA’s bland taste in music that might force players to rely on their own music library.
Other returning modes include Ultimate Team and Draft Champions with the latter now being a part of the MUT as MUT Draft. A big addition to Ultimate Team is the inclusion of a 3-on-3 cooperative game mode called MUT Squads. In MUT Squads, three players combine their cards to form their own football team. One players takes on offence, one player takes on defence, and the final player assumes the role of Head Coach. All three players play simultaneously with each of them commanding their respective side and making pre-play decisions. If you have friends coming over for the weekend, MUT Squads is the perfect game mode. As always, MUT can be played offline and head-to-head.
Madden NFL 18 is Madden for everyone. Does not matter whether you are new to the series or an avid fan, Madden 18 will make it worth your while. While the transition to Frostbite Engine can cause minor annoyances rarely, these are non-existent compared to the new modes and features that Madden NFL 18 delivers. Small things such as Manual Passing, Play Now Live, Practice Squads bring the game to an authentic NFL experience – more than ever before! All things considered, Madden NFL 18 is a significant improvement over its predecessor.
We will also have guides dedicated to Franchise Mode, Ultimate Team, and MUT Squads once the game launches so make sure to check back!
Madden NFL 18 launches on Aug. 25, 2017 for Playstation 4 and Xbox One. An Xbox One digital review code was provided by EA.