Final thoughts on Madden NFL 15… for now!

EA released a patch that fixed a lot of issues; that’s all to the good. Here’s a few words about Madden, after two full seasons (and two Super Bowl wins):

— Sack-a-palooza is still present, but it’s toned down somewhat. My players (Jabaal Sheard and Barkevious Mingo) typically lead the league in sacks, but they aren’t routinely making bitches out of all time sack records. That’s a positive.

— They finally fixed QB accuracy so that bad QBs throw badly. Instead of going five games without an interception of the opponent, I’m now getting 1 to 2 on average. My season high was 4 (I forget who the QB was, but somebody bad).

— The game is much more stable; in fact, I can play multiple games in a row without the game freezing up. You still get molasses about once or twice a game, where the frame rate slows to a crawl, but it’s less often.

However:

— The AI is still way too conservative at passing. I see 3rd and long screens maybe five or six times a game. It holds on to the ball too long (resulting in sack-a-palooza). Even QBs like Peyton Manning rarely throw an outright bomb; if they get big plays, it’s because a medium depth pass resulted in a huge YAC.

— DB-receiver battles have been broken for a long time. My own bombs only succeed (with a Johnny Manziel 96 THP) off of play action. This despite Josh Gordon. And my rookie, who’s 6’4″. In a jump ball situation, the DB almost always wins; that’s why in my slider set I’ve got AI INTs turned way down.

— The draft seems to be more of a crapshoot. It might be my schemes, but I’m rarely getting rookies above the mid to high 70s. Could be my draft position, I suppose. Scouting doesn’t seem to help very much, because you can’t get enough scouting points to unlock number ratings. I’d rather the system be more logical. Go back to the way it used to be; instead of scouting points, let me scout a fixed number of players each week, and if I scout a player so many times, give me virtually everything on him.

— Player progression, however? I love it. I never realized how much I hated the old random Madden system until it was gone. “Oh, your QB is a six time MVP? He’ll go from a 77 to… an 82! What’s that you say, you’ve shattered all the QB records? Better make that an 83, stud!” You get XP based on weekly practices (many of which are purely simulated) and in-game performance. You apply the XP to the stat of your choice, based partially on secret “hidden” factors (I’ve had some linemen pick up run blocking easily; others not so much). Speed for a running back is difficult, for a WR nearly impossible boost. Team goals, awards, winning the Super Bowl — all of this helps.

— Negotiating contracts is a pain in the ass. The game rarely gives you enough information to negotiate. It isn’t even clear how much you have to spend. The players give you horrible feedback, usually just “it’s not good enough.” They mean they want a higher bonus, but they never come out and see it. Very frustrating.

— Owner mode, which makes you rely on the cash you earn from the game, is actually a welcome change. Again, information could be better, but it’s great to see on-field success giving you more cash to sign your players with.

If they do another patch, I really want: more stats in the game (they include drops, but only for each individual game, never as a season stat); a clearer interface with better feedback for contract resignings; contract renegotiations; and maybe further improvements to AI. I’m not delusional enough to expect scouting be revamped.

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