“Madden NFL 18” (“Madden 18”) may have a glossy new engine to make it look pretty, but on the field, it drops the ball to make this year's game fresh in terms of refining the actual gameplay.
The graphics in “Madden 18” are absolutely stunning thanks to the upgrade to the Frostbite Engine. It finally looks like fans expected it to when the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One first launched four years ago.
Factors such as body types, lighting effects and uniform and stadium details are all drastically improved from last year. Players need to look no further than the Atlanta Falcons’ new Mercedes Benz Stadium and the attention to detail given to the Buccaneers’ orange trim and the Seahawks’ lime green. It is dazzling and illusive.
On the field, the Frostbite Engine makes the gameplay fluid and responsive thanks to more reinforced movement and new interaction animations. One-on-one interactions between cornerbacks and wide-receivers as well as line plays all look seamless.
While it is nice to see improvement, it still does not feel all that different from previous Madden games and the little changes are for the most part disappointing.
One of “Madden 18”’s unique new features is having the ability to choose between Arcade, Simulation and Competitive modes. This is a great feature because it provides different play styles for different skill levels.
Without question, the highlight of “Madden 18” is that EA Sports finally invigorates life into a single player campaign called Longshot. Longshot is a short but fantastic story-based experience using a great cast of characters and writing that is sharp and filled with career-altering decisions.
The story follows Devin Wade, an up-and-coming young quarterback through high school, college and the NFL Scouting Combine trying to pursue his NFL dream. Longshot presents players with button prompts that can affect Devin’s football IQ, social status and draft stock.
It is a bit puzzling that Longshot does not rely much on actual gameplay to succeed, especially in the first couple hours where you do nothing more than press a few buttons and do a quick on-field challenge. Still, the story itself stands out and Longshot definitely plants a seed for Madden to build upon in future releases.
After the story is finished, players can go straight into Madden Ultimate Team and complete Longshot-specific solo challenges, which harken back to the days of the EA Sports NCAA Football franchise. It is nice to continue the story and a good way to earn coins to build your Ultimate Team.
Madden Ultimate Team adds a new feature to this collectable card mode called MUT Squads. MUT Squads is a 3-on-3 online mode where three players assume the roles as head coach, offensive captain and defensive captain. The teams themselves are a mix of the three players’ Ultimate Team lineups which opens up some interesting possibilities.
Communication and team chemistry are the keys to success in this mode. Just be prepared to spend some hard earned money if players want to have a good squad.
Like Longshot, MUT Squads plants a seed for EA Sports to build upon and I hope other video game franchises such as “MLB The Show” can take some ideas from MUT Squads and apply it to Diamond Dynasty.
The move to the Frostbite engine, the fantastic new Longshot story mode and MUT Squads definitely make “Madden 18” a foundational title in the series.