Playing Madden for as long as I have, I’ve seen the game at its best, and its worst. But never has an update to Madden NFL changed the game the way that Madden NFL 16 has this year. With its new ‘Be The Playmaker” mechanic, which emphasizes the 2 or 3 man interaction of the passing game, as well as the new Quarterback mechanics, and the revamped Madden Ultimate Team and new Draft Champions gameplay mode, is Madden NFL 16 the best entry in the Madden NFL series?
Game Name: Madden NFL 16
Platform(s): Xbox One/PlayStation 4/Xbox 360/PlayStation 3
Publisher(s): EA Sports
Developer(s): EA Tiburon
Release Date: August 25, 2015
Price:$59.99 ($53.99 through EA Access)
First things first, the core game hasn’t really changed. All of the buttons and plays are essentially the same. The main change is the Playmaker mechanic, which drastically changes the way the ball is played on both offense and defense.
Once the ball is in the air on offense, you have 3 options to play the ball correctly, dependent on the situation. On defense, you only have two, but both impact the play in different ways.
Offensively, you can either go for a simple Possession Catch (holding A/X), which sacrifices YAC (Yards After Catch) for a chance to make sure the ball is cleanly caught. The Run After Catch (holding X/Square) is best in open space, where your receiver can catch the ball in stride, and when in coverage, you can attempt the much riskier Aggressive Catch (hold Y/Triangle.) The only disadvantage to the Aggressive Catch is that it’s not guaranteed, and may result in a pick if the defender plays the ball correctly. Speaking of defense…
“Madden NFL 16 regains its championship swagger in so many ways. The completely revamped Madden Ultimate Team, Connected Franchise, and the absolutely fun Draft Champions modes are definitely the highlight of this game, by far”
On the defensive side of the ball, you have two ways to play the ball. By holding Y/Triangle, you can actively play the ball, and go for the knockdown or pick, or you can hold A/X to play the receiver out of position. Dependent on the situation and the coverage making that crucial decision is key and can change the momentum of the game in a heartbeat, and that’s what this series has needed for a long time. Big, momentum-shifting plays that feel natural, and the feeling that you messed up when you make a costly error at any turning point.
Quarterback play also has been revamped, with new mechanics that you can utilize, again, dependent on the situation. Left Trigger/L2 and the receiver button is the low throw, utilized for the check down pass to a receiver in the pocket of the secondary, Left Bumper/L1 and the receiver button for a high pass, double tapping the receiver button floats the ball for a lob, and holding the button down sets up for the bullet pass. Combine that with the “Be the Playmaker” mechanic, and you might have the best set of gameplay mechanics for a football game in years.
Outside of that, the hits feel real and organic on defense, the running game feels a lot smoother, the kicking game still hasn’t changed, but it’s still fairly perfect, so there’s no problem there.
Draft Champions May Be The Best Mode in The Game:
Oh man, Draft Champions is so much fun. In all honesty, it’s a better mode than Madden Ultimate Team by far, even though MUT is still one of the strong points of the Madden series. 16 picks on top of a preset team, including picking a coach with a specific offensive and defensive styles, where you have to be strategic with your picks as you go. You’re not always going to get players that fit your style in the rounds that you want them, but it just adds that extra mystique to how your team is going to perform in the championship chase (3 games against the AI and 4 games in online play,) and the beautiful thing about Draft Champions is that it’s almost infinitely playable, for as long as you wish.
Madden Ultimate Team has also been revamped, where the solo challenges are more dynamic and reality-based, where there are different real-life situations that you must replay and complete to beat the challenge, such as re-writing Super Bowl 49. Connected Franchise mode now relies mostly on the cloud, where the games that you are playing can be played solo, or utilizing online multiplayer. Yes, you can still play this mode offline, but the encouragement is to play Connected Franchise with the cloud activated.
* This review was done via the 10 hour EA Access Trial on Xbox One *
Madden NFL 16 regains its championship swagger in so many ways. The completely revamped Madden Ultimate Team, Connected Franchise, and the absolutely fun Draft Champions modes are definitely the highlight of this game, by far. The Playmaker mechanics also make every game feel important, and actually relies on pure skill and football knowledge, and while that will throw off some casual players, tournament level and avid Madden NFL players will love the changes to gameplay. I really feel that this is the Madden NFL game that will be immortalized as one of the best, if not THE BEST Madden Title to date.