Second and goal at the 1-yard line. Who do you get the ball to? If you’re last year’s Penn State Nittany Lions or this year’s Giants, you damn well get it to Saquon Barkley, and if you’re EA you certainly hand it off to Madden NFL 19. Now I know I’ve rated two separate Madden NFL titles a full 5 stars each, and that’s a high standard that has been set. However, we must look at Madden NFL 19 as its own title, and answer the burning question: Is Madden NFL 19 a step in the right direction for the Madden NFL franchise? Yes. A resounding yes.
Game Name: Madden NFL 19
Platform(s): PC (Reviewed;) also on Xbox One and PlayStation 4
Publisher(s): Electronic Arts
Developer(s): EA Tiburon
Release Date: August 10, 2018
Price: $59.99 (Standard)/$79.99 (Hall of Fame Edition)
System Specs: Intel Xeon E3-1231 v3, Nvidia GTX1060 6GB, 16GB DDR3 RAM
Every down is important in American Football. These are the moments that dictate every game, from the opening kickoff to the 4th quarter comeback that you blow by not handing the ball to Marshawn Lynch at the 1-yard line at the SuperBowl – I’m still a bit salty about that. This is where Madden‘s Real Player Motion comes into play. The fluidity of cutting into the defensive gaps in coverage, being able to turn on a dime without sacrificing momentum or overshooting the path of the ball is a dream come true, enhanced by the smooth year-over-year acclimation of the Frostbite engine by the Madden NFL team. I love being able to break tackles as a QB and break for 7+ yard scrambles, as well as being able to break tackles while using my halfback in the open field, and quickly picking up momentum as I race towards the sticks for that first down. This isn’t just an offensive tool, as on defense this works to your favor, getting to the ball for the swat or the pick, as well as sticking to your man whether you’re in the trenches or the open field, making for spectacular stops or bone-jarring user stick tackles. The possibilities are f*cking endless, man – and it doesn’t end with the whistle to whistle game. Madden Ultimate Team has gained some improvements as well.
This year, MUT ups the ante with a new currency known as Training, that are used to upgrade your MUT player cards beyond what they can do. While this sounds like a one-way transaction, it’s far from it. You can regain a fraction of your Training – approximately half of what you spent – by undoing upgrades that you made to a specific player, but that’s not the only way. You can sell duplicates and extras from your MUT collection and receive anywhere from 2 to 20+ Training – dependent on what level card you sell off. This does mean that selling your cards for coins is no longer an option, but in my opinion, this is better, especially if you have a Legend card that you want to power up just a bit more to make your MUT squad unstoppable.
This year also marks the addition of Solo Battles in MUT, where players can take their team into weekly match-ups against pre-made squads from influencers, Madden YouTube personalities, and celebrities to achieve the highest battle score they can to generate rewards in-game. You get 13 games per week, refreshed every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, as well as a featured game which offers a massive battle score multiplier. The catch? You only have one chance per match to get your highest Battle Score. I played a couple of these challenges, and they really put the screws to you early if you don’t have a squad that’s up to snuff. These are the best of the best, and you have to be confident that you can go in and get that W week in and week out to maximize your rewards on the ladder. Madden Ultimate Team is the standard bearer of fantasy sports in video games, and no other game comes close, not even other EA Sports franchises, like FIFA.
Madden NFL Longshot makes its return under as Longshot: Homecoming, and you pick up the story of Devin Wade and Colt Cruise, one year removed from the ending of the last game, where Devin is now on the Dallas Cowboys as a 4th string QB, fighting for his spot on the team and Colt is back in Mathis waiting for his call-up to the NFL. This time around, the decision making has been removed from the story mode, but it doesn’t take away from the story in any way. For the three hours that I spent playing the game, I connected with quite a few of the characters, yet wondered why some are there. There are characters like Colt’s sister Loretta ‘Lo’ Cruise – portrayed by Joey King (The Kissing Booth, Ramona and Beezus) – who play what might be considered the most pivotal role in both Devin -albeit indirectly – and Colt’s story by reminding Colt what’s truly important, but then you get Rob Schneider’s character, the GM of the Dallas Cowboys. For me, he was just there and didn’t play much of a role outside of the antagonist to Earl Coates, the QB coach for the Cowboys. The story ties things up in both Franchise and Madden Ultimate Team this year, where you can play out the rest of the Mathis Bullfrogs’ miracle season in the ‘Chronicles of Longshot’ solo challenges – note, no XP will be earned – as well as Devin’s continued run in the NFL in Franchise Mode.
Madden NFL 19 Franchise Mode has seen a bit of an overhaul itself, with the addition of an immersive 3D environment for the main menu. If you’re a player, you’ll be prepping in your locker room for the next game. As a coach or owner, you’ll be nestled in your office, hard at work. The little touches matter, presentation-wise. One thing that really gets me about this year’s Franchise Mode is the addition of player archetype ratings. In the NFL, every player is different. In the case of wideouts, where Odell Beckham Jr. is primarily a deep threat, someone like Brandon Marshall – I know, Go Jints – is a Red Zone threat. Either way, you have options to grow your player based on their archetype, leading to more varied skill branching, especially with the new age regression system. With that system in place, it provides long-term planning and understanding of your players’ abilities as they get older in the game, and honestly, that’s what this game needed in Franchise Mode.
The commentary in Madden NFL 19 is just as fun as it was in Madden NFL 17 and Madden NFL 18. Brandon Gauding and Charles Davis bring a conversationalist’s commentary to the booth as they have the last two years, and it’s refreshing to hear something so natural. The dynamic nature of the commentary even extends to Madden Ultimate Team solo challenges and the halftime breaks. It feels like Gaudin is speaking to you and not at you. Hearing things like: “Oh, we’re skipping the halftime show? I was just finishing this apple, let me spit it out” put a massive smile on my face the first time I heard it when I decided I wanted to keep my momentum going in my franchise game. What surprised me, even more, was the inclusion of WWE Raw color commentator ‘The Coach’ Jonathan Coachman, who takes over pre-game and halftime duties for Larry Ridley. Unfortunately, this means Byron Saxton’s still in WWE 2K (despite me loving Corey Graves yell “Shut up, Saxton,”) but to get back on topic, Coachman is a fantastic addition to the series and feels a lot more comfortable in this role than he does sometimes on Monday Night Raw. The sounds of the game are just as real as the commentary, I promise. The crunching of the pads, the hits, the crowd noise, the arena sounds, everything is as immersive as if you were in the crowd yourself, with the right setup of course. But even with a standard stereo speaker system, you feel it. The Madden sound team did a wonderful job working on this game’s immersive atmosphere and it shows.
Since we are talking about Madden NFL 19 on PC, we must talk about overall performance. Madden supports up to 4K (2160p or 3840 x 2160) resolution at an UNLOCKED frame rate – if you so choose. Depending on your system, you can either unlock the frame rate, lock it to 30, lock it to 60 or have framerates alternate between 30 and 60, depending on the scene. Based on my impressions, you’ll want to have your setting set to Auto, if only for consistency if you’re running a GTX 1060 or an RX 580. You can also choose between DX11 and DX12, again, dependent on your GPU and what it can handle. I saw no real issues with any setting, getting a fairly consistent 60+ fps across the board no matter what setting, only getting a few frame dips during close-ups and cutscenes on High and Ultra settings. EA recommends an i3-4350 or an FX-4330 and a GTX 670/Radeon R9 270x and 8GB of RAM, so most computers can definitely handle the game. I’ve yet to try it on my Lenovo Legion Y520, but I should have no real issue with playing the game.
There isn’t a borderless windowed option, nor is there any way to remap your buttons, both of which are slightly disappointing. It doesn’t however, hurt the fact that this is the best looking Madden on any platform. It’s been over 10 years, and it doesn’t look like the game has lost a step at all. The fluidity of the keyboard controls is a dream, with your mouse acting as a virtual thumbstick for stick moves and precise movements – although I’ll be sticking to my Xbox One controller.
Review Disclosure Statement: Madden NFL 19 was reviewed on a retail copy acquired using Origin Access Premier. For more information on how we review video games and other media/technology, please go review our Review Guideline/Scoring Policy for more info.
Am I wrong to say that Madden‘s re-debut on the PC Gaming front is the right choice? If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, and trust me, EA Tiburon understands that more than anyone. Madden Ultimate Team continues to be the standard bearer for fantasy sports in video games, Franchise Mode continues to evolve and Longshot closes out a two-year storyline with some stellar storytelling. The gameplay is crisp, and even though its the only game in town, Madden NFL 19 doesn’t rest on its laurels one bit.
- More things to do in Madden Ultimate Team
- Longshot’s masterful storytelling
- Franchise Mode offers more in terms of presentation and overall options
- Unmappable controls