Every year we get a fresh iteration Madden with more features and updated graphics, but this year, Madden 18 truly seems to be bringing a new level of changes to the football game that tries to please millions of unique fans that yearn for the features only they want.
EA Sports has divided up the gameplay into three distinct play styles: Competitive, Arcade, and Simulation, while also introducing something never before seen in the series: Longshot — an interactive story mode in which you guide a player from high school to the pros.
On top of that, Madden 18 has transitioned to the Frostbite engine, which powers the likes of Star Wars: Battlefront and Battlefield. With a plethora of legacy issues being fixed, player locomotion being more realistic than ever, and a more nuanced approach to passing, Madden 18 could be one of the best releases in years. As they say in the industry, it’s “feature rich.” And we haven’t even got into Madden Ultimate Team’s changes.
To parse through the massive amount of new info surrounding this year’s release, we spoke with executive producer Sean Graddy.
Creative Director Rex Dickson said Madden 18 was the “Year of the User.” Could you explain that?
I think what Rex is implying there is that we’ve been listening. Rex is probably one of our best at being on the forums and twitter and listening to what the fans are saying specifically about gameplay and delivering a feature set. We’ve got big back-of-the-box features, if you will, with Longshot and MUT Squads this year, but he’s acknowledging that we have done a ton of work in the gameplay space with blocking mechanics, tackling mechanics, the wide receiver DB coverages, all that type of stuff, which is really focused on what our core users want. That’s what we mean when we say “Year of the user.”
A lot of those mechanics in tightening up legacy issues – does that come from making the transition to the Frostbite engine?
That is really independent of the Frostbite engine. The Frostbite engine helps the game holistically, but its biggest impact in year one is going to be what it means visually. I’m sure you saw the trailer we released back in April, which was kind of our big reveal and our announcement for Frostbite. It just focused on what the visual impact is from the engine.
It also adds to the physics, correct, or am I mistaken there?
No, there is not a physics package inside Frostbite that we’re using right now. It’s an updated version of a physics package that we previously had. That said, with EA Play and with our influencers and our Game Changers that have been in, that have been playing the game, they’ve noticed an improvement in the feel of the game and the way that our physics engine is driving the animation. Our goal with the transition to Frostbite was to make everything feel better, to look better, to play better as best we could. Even though the Frostbite engine isn’t driving physics per se this year, we did make an attempt to make the core gameplay feel better holistically.
Could you expand on that a little bit more? Not only holistically, but could you give me a few words on how the gameplay feels in a visceral sense? Is it harder hitting? Do you feel it more as far as the blocking on the line? What are the users gonna take away from this in the first few minutes and be like, “Wow. That just feels very different.”
From what I saw at EA Play, just watching people as a bystander behind them, the language that I was hearing — I ultimately want the fans to decide how it feels versus my soundbite, but what I was hearing the fans say was that it felt more fluid, that it felt more intelligent. That tackling, as an example, using the hit stick on the actual stick versus on the buttons felt better, felt “right.” My sense is that the fans feel like it is feeling more the way that they want it to feel as opposed to bigger hits or something like that.