Monday was the first day of the E3 expo that annually features the newest video games due to release for various consoles.
With Madden 15 set to drop on Aug. 26, EA Sports, the makers of the king of the virtual gridiron was sure to provide a plethora of information on the upcoming release.
I had an opportunity to talk about gameplay and presentation enhancements with Rex Dickson and Brian Murray. You can listen to our entire conversation in the video above. There's also snippets from the official trailer for Madden 15 included.
On the heels of the Seattle Seahawks winning Super Bowl 48 behind their stifling defense, Madden 15 has put a major focus on improving gameplay on the defensive side of the ball.
Dickson and I discuss some of those new features, but quite honestly, there's so many new things headed Madden fans way this year, we couldn't cover it all in one conversation.
To fill in some of the gaps, here's the lowdown from EASports.com on some of the other gameplay goodies.
Remember the old vision cone that freaked out 90 percent of the sports gaming population in Madden 06? Something loosely similar is on the way for the defensive side of the ball.
Before you freak out, it's not nearly as difficult a concept to master. You can turn the visual effect off, and it makes a ton of sense overall.
Now defensive players will have a tackle cone when they are approaching a ball-carrier. The size of the cone is dictated by the player ratings. The cone simply determines whether or not a defender has the ability to attempt a conservative tackle to bring down the ball-carrier, or if he must try to stop the rock with an aggressive tackle.
If the player is outside of the cone, a defender must use an aggressive tackle, which would be a dive of some sort to make a last-ditch effort to make the stop.
If the ball-carrier is within the cone, a defender can still choose to use an aggressive tackle. These attempts will result in a hit-stick tackle that has a higher probability of causing a turnover.
There's a risk-reward factor involved.
Aggressive tackles are more apt to cause the defender to whiff on contact, while conservative tackles simply bring the man down.
I love the concept here. We'll see how it plays once we get a chance to see the finished version.
It's immediately clear that the game has taken a quantum leap in regards to graphics.
The image above is proof, but to really see the difference, you need a comparison shot similar to the one provided by Operation Sports below.
Colin Kaepernick truly comes alive in this shot. Geez, I like football.
Player Sense 2.0
Perhaps the most important part of gameplay on any sports video game is the artificial intelligence. If players don't react the way they would in real life, the game is losing from the very beginning.
Player Sense 2.0 is designed to take things to the next level on this front in the Madden series. Basically, both defensive and offensive players are supposed to behave more intelligently, or not-so intelligently, depending on their real-life football IQ.
For example, Dickson told me during the interview, gamers will really be able to tell the difference between playing against a quarterback like Peyton Manning or Tom Brady as opposed to someone like Chad Henne... Sorry, Chad.
The stars will make quicker reads and play smarter. He also said scramblers will use their legs in real-life situations, whereas guys like Peyton will never run.
I like it, but again, the proof is in the pudding.
War in the Trenches 2.0
One of the few things that was noticeably different on the generation-four version of Madden 25 was the play on the line of scrimmage. This aspect of the game was greatly improved, and it appears that Madden 15 looks to build on that success.
Thankfully, the pass-rushing moves have been moved from the right stick to the buttons. To choose power-rush moves, the gamer presses the X/Square buttons. For finesse moves, you press the A/X buttons.
To combat players who love to scramble and roll out excessively with mobile quarterbacks, you can now disengage with a blocker to keep containment on a quarterback or running back trying to get outside the tackles.
Nano blitzing has been a bit of a issue in previous Maddens. Dickson indicated to me that extensive work has gone in this year to prevent this from being exploited in gameplay in Madden 15.
He says the team is so confident they have this particular issue licked that the game will again allow gamers to try and jump the snap count at the line of scrimmage.
New Passing and Catching Features
In Madden 25, it was difficult to throw an incomplete pass that wasn't either batted down, intercepted or simply dropped by the receiver. The ball always seemed to hit a player at some point.
In the NFL, that's not how it works.
There are passes that sail way left, right, high and low. Madden 15 seeks to emulate this dynamic by expanding the areas in which a thrown pass can land. It's all about throwing ratings, situation and QB pressure.
Per EA, the throwing accuracy ratings have never been more important.
Am I the only one who wanted a halftime show so bad I could taste it? If I'm not alone, EA has answered the call as a part of a complete presentation overhaul.
These efforts were spearheaded by Murray, and he discussed the details of the halftime show with me in the interview.
In addition to that much-needed feature, there's also a pregame show, as well as a good number of on-field animations.
Per EA Sports:
Scripted celebrations and on-field moments have been phased out to allow for emotional moments to be shown with variety and energy. Players now celebrate big plays (even by their teammates) with organic, unscripted excitement.
The improvements are also evident with polished transitions coming in and out of timeouts. Quarterbacks can now jog towards the sideline while music plays, just like you’d see on TV heading into a commercial break.
Good Game Bro had a representative at E3 who played the game firsthand. The following account totally backs up what EA has written on its website.
Celebrations are all dynamic. This adds a sense of realism and makes the game look more fluid.
The best example I saw of this was when Alfred Morris scored a touchdown against me. I tackled Morris into the end zone and he rolled over and celebrated by pointing both hands in the air. After celebrating on the ground, he got up off the turf and did his signature “home run” celebration.
This all happened without any cut scenes; all of this happened in real time.
That's pretty exciting stuff.
Also, Jim Nantz and Phil Simms recorded over 80 hours of new audio for the commentary side on the game.
It seems there is a lot to like about Madden 15, but like any hardened Madden fan, I'll be the judge when I'm on the sticks.
Follow me. My name is Brian, and I'm a sports gamer.