Get ready to return to the gridiron with Madden NFL 18
In recent years we have seen some pretty big advancements in the Madden franchise. Madden NFL 16 made significant changes to the passing and receiving game. Madden NFL 17 focused on offensively and defensively owning the ground war.
This year, Madden NFL 18 has undergone some significant changes. This year’s game includes a story mode, incorporates a cooperative twist in Madden Ultimate Team, and is now powered by the Frostbite graphical engine.
With all of these changes both on and off-field, Madden NFL 18 is not only the most accessible Madden NFL game, it is the most true-to-life NFL game ever on a home console.
Madden NFL 18’s single-player story mode makes its debut
Thanks in part to the game switching over to the Frostbite engine, Madden NFL 18 has a brand new mode called Longshot. It is a single-player mode where you play as Devin Wade. Along with your friend Colt, you are both trying to make it from high school all the way to the NFL draft. It’s about a four to five-hour journey that is filled with a roller coaster ride of emotions. You get everything from friendship, to overcoming your own demons, and personal growth.
To be honest, when I first heard about Madden NFL 18’s story mode I wasn’t really all that excited for it. I really didn’t see how it was going to fit in with the game. However, after playing and completing it, I loved every minute of it. In part, what helps make Longshot a success are its production values and fun gameplay.
EA is dedicated to making Longshot a staple in the franchise
It’s clear to see EA’s dedication to make this successful in so many ways. First off, they enlisted the help of BioWare to help develop the story. Second, they spared no expense with the voice acting. You’ll find academy award-winner Mahershala Ali, who plays your Dad. And, NFL Hall-of-Famer Dan Marino leading the cast of voice actors. EA did a fantastic job at making the characters relatable and believable.
Though, it’s really Longshot’s gameplay that sealed the deal for me. Essentially, it is a playable film where you must make decisions that shape the outcome of your story. You decide if Devin, Colt, or both get drafted to the NFL. EA took it one step further by allowing you to continue Devin’s career in Franchise mode or Ultimate Team after you have completed the journey.
Overall, I came away impressed with what EA has accomplished in Longshot. I’m interested to see what type of influence it will have on future EA Sports games.
Madden NFL 18 is now more accessible than ever
Madden NFL 18 now gives you three ways to play that make it more appealing to each of the core player types. Arcade allows from some high-scoring matches and opens up play completely. It makes it perfect for the casual football fan not worried about learning blocking schemes and route trees.
Competitive has far fewer penalties and is rewarding if you like to use the skill stick moves. While Simulation gives you the authentic NFL experience filled with strict realistic sets of rules.
Consequently, with three new and different ways to play on the field, it makes it that much easier for everyone to enjoy Madden NFL 18. The arcade mode is perfect for those new to football or not heavily infested in football. Additionally, it allows those who want to learn more about the game a good place to start and then transition to Competitive and finally to Simulation.
Precise passing with Madden NFL 18’s target passing
One of the biggest new gameplay features that Madden NFL 18 introduces this year is target passing. Instead of relying on each player’s predetermined path, target passing allows you to more directly aim where you throw the football. Simply holding down the left trigger while passing enables target passing and by using the left analog stick you can choose where to throw the ball in relation to the wide receiver.
It seems like a simple concept, but it does take a while to get use to. I did find that the better I got using target passing, the better I was able picking apart my opponents coverage. It made seeing exactly where the ball was going before I threw it easier and forced him to throttle down by placing the ball between zones.
Online teamplay returns with Madden Ultimate Team Squads
As mentioned, Madden NFL 18 includes some exciting new changes in the way we play. Most note worthy is the introduction of MUT Squads—a three-on-three online mode. MUT Squads take everything that you love about online team and then blends it perfectly together with team building and virtually unlimited line up combinations.
Each of the three players get to choose a role, Defensive Captain, Offensive Captain, or Head Coach. As the Head Coach your main focus is on setting the lineup before the game starts. While both Defensive and Offensive Captains take over their respective play-calling during the game.
Even though MUT Squads can be challenging, I still had a lot of fun playing. In addition, remember that communication is very important and is key to ensuring victory.
Say hello to the Frostbite graphics engine
As I mentioned earlier, Madden NFL 18 has gone through a complete overhaul and it’s never been as easy to see by the game’s graphics. Madden NFL 18 ditches the IGNITE graphics engine in favour of EA DICE’s robust Frostbite graphics engine. This is the same graphics engine that is used in AAA games such as Battlefield 1, Star Wars Battlefront II and Mass Effect: Andromeda.
The game, more so than ever captures the player’s likenesses. I was blown away by Dan Marino’s likeness in Longshot. He is literally a spitting image of the real Dolphins legend on your screen. Not only do players look and animate more realistically, stadiums look exactly like their real life counterparts.
However, to truly appreciate what the Frostbite engine is capable of, you’ll have to play Longshot. This is really where the graphics engine flexes its muscles. You’ll travel to some pretty neat locations and get to see other things other than football stadiums.
PlayStation 4 Pro owners can expect both 4K and 1080p support with the core gameplay running at 60fps. Having reviewed this game by playing it on a PlayStation 4 Pro and Xbox One S, I can tell you no matter what system you own, you wont be disappointed.
Madden NFL 18 is the most complete and balanced game in the series yet. This year’s game offers some of the most welcomed and franchise defining changes yet. MUT Squads are fun to play with friends, and Longshot is engaging.
Madden NFL 18’s new gameplay styles cater to different core groups of players, which make it more accessible than ever. The new target passing mechanic allows you to precisely move the ball down the field with amazing pinpoint accuracy. And, the transition to the Frostbite engine allows the game to produce some truly stunning visuals.
When all is said and done, Madden NFL 18 is one of if not the best sports titles ever produced by EA Sports.
+ Most balanced Madden NFL game in franchise history
+ MUT Squads are fun to play with friends and has never been more engaging
+ Longshot’s gameplay and production values are top notch
+ New target passing allows for precise passing
+ The best visuals in franchise history
– Franchise mode has not been updated much
Lasting Appeal/Replayability: 4.5/5
Overall Rating 4.4/5 (88%)
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