On Thursday, the cover athlete and several new features for EA Sports' next game in their storied football franchise, Madden NFL 17, were revealed. As was speculated earlier in the week, New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski was named the cover athlete for this year, marking the first time he's graced the cover and beating out Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton.
But enough about the cover, what's the actual game going to look like?
EA Sports released the "first look" trailer of the game, and in their features announcement posted several in-game screenshots. In a leaked posting on the Xbox online store Wednesday, the game's bullet points described a heavy focus on improving franchise mode and mechanics focused on revamping controls as a ball-carrier. They confirmed the latter point on Thursday:
So now, expect your bigger bruising backs to be more effective with truck moves and stiff arms, while smaller, shiftier backs have more effective jukes and spins. Now don't worry if you're not a magician yet on the sticks. New Ball Carrier UI Prompts help teach moves available to you, while the new Path Assist helps you navigate and anticipate down field.
Last year's focus was on the passing game and interactions between defenders and wide receivers, while this year the focus seems to be on giving the player more control with the football in their hands. The running game did feel unpolished in last year's game, so this is a welcome change. EA also announced that lower skill levels will allow players to have the game pick the proper moves for them.
They also touted a new "Defensive AI System," which includes "Gap Play, Force Defenders and improved Zone Coverages," giving more depth to strategy on that side of the ball. The gap play is an interesting note, as the front play on the defensive line is usually on auto-pilot with player control typically designed on rushing the quarterback and not much else. If there is actual nuance to the gap play up front, it could bring a new level of strategy to the series.
Still, that's a big "if." Last year's wide receiver/defensive back interactions mostly resulted in a handful of new canned animations that didn't really add any life or authenticity to the game. They were positive changes, but overstating the gameplay effect that is had with their yearly changes is a staple of EA Sports and the Madden franchise. Still, it's a promising feature set.
Lastly, the final features described involve improved play on special teams. The release suggests that special teams is getting it's "excitement" back with a new kick meter designed to increase challenge, the ability to ice the kicker, new trick plays and a new block mechanic will "add new elements to the risk and reward of special teams."
That all sounds fine, though icing the kicker is already met with eye rolls in real life and one can only imagine what an afterthought it could wind up being in Madden. Either way, that's the first look of features of the game.
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Bending the rules in Breaking Madden
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